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.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Depression; My Journey Through My Blog

Without a doubt, writing about my experiences with mental health is what has helped me to accept, deal with and to start the journey of moving on from such an emotionally challenging, traumatic and life changing time in my life.

I must admit that while I was right in the middle of my depression, I swore my friends and family to secrecy as I didn't want people to find out and think any differently of me.

There is no way, that during that time, I ever would've had the courage to blog; I wasn't in the right frame of mind, I couldn't concentrate, I had switched off from the old side world and I was too ashamed to accept my illness.

Sometimes, I wonder whether the reason that I started my blog was purely a selfish one. Did I start it so that people could try to start and understand depression so that if it ever did return when we moved back to the country, that people would be more accepting of it?

Did it start out as my way of saying hello world, this is me and all of me, you may have heard about my illness through whispers and this is my way of telling the story and setting things straight? 

Was I scared of how people would react when they found out and would think I'm some nut job and distance themselves from me when we moved back to the small country town that I grew up in?

Maybe they were subconscious reasons, that at the time of writing my first blog, I hadn't given a lot of thought too.

The truth is, that whatever the reason, I was determined to speak more openly about mental health to try and help others in similar situations, and to try like hell to stop anyone from going through what I did; if I could reach just one person then it was worth putting my story and experience out there for the world to read about.

So where did my journey start?

The first ever blog post that I wrote was called 'Grabbing Life by the Balls and Going For It.'

Blogging was completely new to me, and I wanted to test the water and peoples reactions when I first ever posted my opinions on a public forum.

One of the very first things that I said was

'I'm totally stepping outside of my comfort zone to explore whether sharing my life experiences in blog form is beneficial to me and others'.

I was so uncertain, but I had this deep burning desire to write, and to write truthfully.

After that first blog post, I grew more confident.

In the second post, I knew that I wanted to slowly open the doors to depression, and start my attempts at trying to break down the stigmas.

I don't think anyone but a depression sufferer could possibly know how hard it was for me to write 5 small words.

I titled the post 'Knowing the Difference Between I'm Good and I'm Really Not Coping But I'll Say I'm Good Anyway.'

Five little words at the end of the post broke my heart; 

It started with 1 in 3 people suffer from a mental health.

I am one of them.

Five tiny words carrying the weight of my world.

I bawled and bawled and bawled when I wrote that first piece; I'm pretty sure I sobbed.

It was the first time that I had outwardly admitted to those outside of my closest friendship and family groups that I had suffered from a mental health illness.

I am sure that there were people who knew of me, or knew me, that were completely shocked when they read that sentence; there were people in my netball club and people who I worked with who would've had no idea just how sick I got; I just went missing for a couple of months.

Of course people would ask where I went, but they were met with diversions from my friends and family as I had told them to keep it quiet while I delt with it.

Again, the response that I received blew me away. People who I didn't really know emailed me, people would give me hugs apologising that they didn't know or weren't there for me, and I think people were genuinely in shock.

I didn't realise but that was a real turning point for me; it was like a cork had been placed in my mouth that stopped me from talking about my experience and then all of a sudden, once the cork had shot out like it would from a champagne bottle, the words started to flow.

I wrote my third blog post addressing depression called 'What It's Like to Suffer From Depression.'

I remember writing it at 530 in the morning. The idea came to me and I knew that I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep until I had the words down on paper. Once I had finished it, I read it to my loving partner, and then I very nervously clicked the post button and waited for the reactions.

I think I checked the blog post count 1,000 times that day!

The post gave me a chance to reflect on the causes of my depression, and made me realise just how far I'd come to be able to accept that there were both uncontrollable factors (my genes) and controllable factors (just how busy and stressed that I was) that contributed to my depression.

I remember my friends all celebrating that I could finally speak openly about it for they all knew how tough that blog was to write.

I realised that like me, there were many other people who had experienced similar stories, which made my experience start to feel 'normal' for someone suffering from depression. At the time that I was sick, I thought that surely no one else must of been feeling as low as I did, or that I just wasn't handling it at all and why could everyone else, particularly because I did have the support of my loved ones, but as other peoples stories started rolling in, I knew that I was not alone.

After that the next toughest blog post was called Depression; the Silent Killer. I knew that I wanted to make a real impact to people when they read it; I almost wanted to shock people with the use of pictures of me when I was healthy and sick, into seeing that even though the illness is invisible it is very real.

It was the first blog post that I shared onto ABC Open. I think at the time I was going through my angry stage of dealing with my illness. I was still angry that people questioned the illness; how could they be so blind? With all of the rates of suicide, how can people still think that it's all in people's heads?

I thought that if I was honest with my experience, then maybe it could open peoples eyes.

This post lead into Depression; Breaking the Myth Around Happy Pills.

People had obviously started asking more questions about my depression, and how I had overcome it. I knew that I wanted to write something to show fellow sufferers that it's okay to take the medication, and to show that you wouldn't think twice about taking panadol, so why doubt depression tablets?

I knew that there was a stigma out there about them making you all ga ga and happy all of the time, and I really wanted to make people think twice.

I think deep down that I wanted to make people feel comfortable to take the medication, because if I had've taken mine sooner, then I'm sure that my illness wouldn't have gotten so bad. For so long I was determined that I didn't need them and that'd I'd get better; I didn't want to have to accept that I needed help as the illness was outside of my control. As soon as I accepted that the medication was my last choice, and that I had tried everything else, I finally started getting better. While the medication did take some time to kick in, once it had it allowed my moods and thinking to stabilise so that I could start to gain control over my life again; it gave me back my will to survive.

My confidence grew with my posts and I knew that ultimately, I wanted to address the taboo subject of suicide; after all my blog was called Unspoken Conversations and if I couldn't talk about it openly in a forum like this, when would I ever? I started to realise that if I wanted to be able to break free from the anger, regret, self loathing and sadness of my actions during depression, then I needed to be able to let it all out.

By far, the hardest post to write was 'l Almost Lost My life to Depression'. I remember reading a newspaper article about the government hiding suicide statistics that made me so angry that I knew it was time to be open about my experience.

I forwarded on the post to my closest friends and family before I put it up on my blog. Obviously my suicide attempts had affected them immensely, and I didn't want to make them hurt anymore then I already had.

As soon as I wrote that blog, I felt free. It sounds silly, but I could finally admit to myself that I had in fact, gotten that low, that suicide had impacted my life.

Don't get me wrong, I still cry over just how bad my depression got. I still think how on earth did I let it get that bad? I'm still grateful that I'm here to tell my tale and that's exactly why I wrote that post, because I am still here, unlike so many others in the same position that I was in.

Remembering those dark and lonely days, where I was scared, and felt so far from myself, breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to think that there are people out there today, who are feeling exactly that way, with no light insight.

I wanted them to know that suicidal thoughts were all part of the illness.

Even though I began to feel better as I wrote more openly about my experience, the thing that i couldn't let go and stop blaming myself for was how my depression affected those around me. My mum wrote a blog post on how it affected her and my dad. I remember reading it and falling apart. 

No parent should ever have to see their daughter in the Intensive Care Unit struggling for survival after a prescription drug overdose. Knowing that I could never taken those images back killed me.

But the fact that I could write a blog post openly about my suicidal attempt, showed just how far I had come in my journey with moving on from depression, that my friends and family were super proud.

Since then, my most difficult blog post to write was 'Remembering Those Who Lost their Lives to Depression'.

My heart breaks thinking of those who lost their life to depression; I know the pain they were feeling, and I know jut how low you must go to think that suicide is the only answer to the illness that at the time robs you of life, and makes you feel like the world would be a better place without you.

I guess I really wanted to write the post so that people could see that suicide isn't a selfish act; it's a serious outcome to a silent and deadly illness; an illness like no other.

I thought that perhaps I could help the loved ones of people who have died from depression to get a glimpse inside the heads of the people they'd lost, and just for a minute, maybe begin to understand their reasoning a little more.

Without a doubt, the journey of my post depression has been made a whole lot easier through my blog; and I have been able to deal with my experience much better by being open to myself and others.

I truly hope that my honesty has helped others.

To say that depression will never happen to me again, or that I am completely over it, is a complete understatement, and something, that I'll probably never be able to say.

You never get over depression, or at least, the memories of it and I am grateful for that, because it makes me stop and appreciate the little things, and just how lucky I am to still be alive, and to be happy.

There's still a long journey ahead for me, and at the moment, I'm struggling with whether I should start to decrease my medication, but I don't think I'm quite ready yet.

But I thank my blog, and my readers, for giving me the courage to face my demons, and to be able to slowly move on, and to turn my experience into a positive one to help others.

Look after yourself and those around you,

Kirsty xxxx

1 comment:

Jessica Frost said...

Good on you! You should be proud x