Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Depression; How it Changed The Person that I Am

Two years ago my life changed forever; I suffered from Depression and it forced me to question everything I knew and everything that was important and special to me.

All of a sudden, things that used to matter didn't and things that I once took for granted became vital to my survival and happiness.

My life changed forever.

While I could've started a pity party, and question, ponder and dwell on why such a horrible illness happened to me, I have chosen a different path and way of dealing with, moving on and accepting my illness; I started a blog and I grew stronger.

I chose to see my illness as a positive experience in my life, that changed me for the better and has made me a much more confident, forgiving, understanding, patient, relaxed and determined little lady.

So how did depression change who I am?

1. I now have the confidence in myself and my limitations to know when to say no, and to trust my guts in knowing that that's the best decision for me. The 'pre depression me' was a 'yes' girl, who would do anything for everyone else and would leave my wants and needs until last; I thought that was the selfless thing to do. What I didn't realise was that if I didn't look after myself first, then I couldn't help anyone else, as I would have no energy left in my tank.

I learnt that there was a difference between being selfish and selfless and that it was okay to put myself first and that didn't make me a bad person.

2. I stand up for myself. Before depression I was a door mat; people would say thinngs, often u intentionally that would hurt me, and I would let it slide because I feared confrontation and I didn't have the confidence or faith in my own voice. I felt like to be liked, I had to go with the flow and agree with other peoples opinions, instead of staying true to my beliefs and values.

Now, I stand up for myself, I know my limitations and I know that no amount of stress is worth my health. I now know that everything in life requires your energy, both good and bad, and even if you love something, if it is draining your energy and causing more stress then happiness, then it's not worth it. I never ever ever want to go back to the place that I went, and I would hate it if I did go back there because I didn't listen to the warning signs that my body was telling me. 

Believing in my voice, and trusting my guts, means that it's easy now for me to stand up for myself, and to voice my opinion if something is really affecting me, instead of letting it well up inside. If I don't voice my opinion if something that I believe in is being questioned, then it plays over and over in my mind, so it's best just to let the person know, so that there is an opportunity for change.

3. I'm not as involved as I used to be. Having said that, I still work full time, coach a netball team, play netball and I am on a social committee, but I just help where I can, and I don't beat myself up if I can't make a meeting or attend training. To be honest, I probably did over commit a little this year before scoring my job, as I didn't realise how full on it'd be, but it has just meant that I have been honest with the people around me about how I am feeling, and I have had to bail on training if I'm emotionally and physically drained. The old me would've felt too guilty and like a let down. The new me knows that my health is far more important then a meeting.

4. I realise now that money and work isn't worth your happiness. You must choose a job that you love, no matter if it means taking a pay cut, for you spend more time at work and with your work mates then with anyone else. If you are unhappy and stressed at work then you have to speak up and sort advice, and if all else fails and you've tried everything in your power, but things don't improve, then a job isn't worth your health.

5. I am much more honest with my feelings. This has been a very difficult task. I have to be mindful of things like social media, and what I say, as I do not want to worry or stress those closeset to me if I say I'm struggling or having a tough time. Instead, I speak to them openly and directly, so that they know exactly where I am standing, and so that they can support me. One of my mistakes while I was sick was hiding my true feelings, and this helped no one. Now I know that I must be honest, and admit when I am not coping, which is a very difficult thing to do.

6. I listen to those closest to me. If they can see that I am stressed, or need to slow down, then I take on their advice. Obviously those closest to me are on alert and are constantly monitoring my stress levels, behaviour and moods to ensure that I am okay and happy. They are always looking out for warning signs of my depression returning. I am grateful for their love, support and honesty.

7. I value my health above everything else. I can not work if I am sick. I can not be a loving and supportive partner if I can not function. I can not be there for my friends and have fun with them, if I am suffering from depression. I can not fulfil my goals and dreams if I become a stressed mess. I can not play netball if I have no energy. I can not be me, if I am exhausted. I need to focus on my health, and beware of my stress levels and to be prepared to give up things that I may love, if I am not coping.

8. I have an ultimate level of respect for anyone affected by mental health, including those supporting loved ones.

9. I am determined to create awareness about mental health.

10. Depression gave me the courage to start my blog, something that brings me so much joy and satisfaction.

So yes, Depression has changed me, but it's made me more honest and respectful of my feelings, it's made me slow down and relax, it's made me stand up for myself, given me the confidence to voice my opinions and has made me more open to peoples opinions of my coping mechanisms.

Depression has changed my life, but I choose to see it as a positive.

How has depression changed your life or someone you care abouts life?

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxx


Eesh said...

Excellent post.

At the age of 15, I thought that I was suffering from depression. I tried to commit suicide. I thought about it every day after and came to the conclusion that it was just a cry for attention. Fast forward 7 years later and depression truly hit. It took me a while to overcome but in the end, I reigned "victorious".

It's not something that should be taken lightly! And sometimes people don't seem to take you seriously when you say 'I'm depressed'. During that time in my life, a friend had told me to get over it...black people don't get depressed. I wasn't aware that depression went by ethnicity. Needless to say, I got rid of that friend and that was a start to my cure. All of the negativity had to stop.

I'm glad that you are free from that illness and wanting to become an advocate for mental illness. It's a passion of mine as well.


Anonymous said...

Great post thanks for sharing