Here I am again. It’s been quite a while since I last wrote, maybe 8 months? No, I didn’t forget nor did I get bored of writing. It still is my passion and it has been heartbreaking having lost it for so long.
I’ve been suffering from what they call a ‘clinical depression’ for the past 10 months. It’s basically a diagnosed depression of a severe form. For those who know me well it might be a shocker, as you most likely know me as a cheerfull and bubbly Aldona (or I like to think that you do).
A lot of people have only heard of depression, or maybe just heard the word ‘depression’. They might think that only those shy and reserved people can be touched by it. A year or so ago I also thought lightly about depression and believed that you must be weak if you let something as ugly as depression take control over you. Let’s kill the myth already…EVERYONE can end up being depressed. And we’re not talking about feeling down for a day or two because your relationship number 3, 5 or 11 didn’t work out. Or you got told off by your boss. Or you dropped your iPhone in the toilet. Anyway, you get my message.
It’s not easy to explain how you really feel when you’re depressed. I guess only those who have been there, will fully understand where I’m coming from. The lovely lucky people who have not suffered from depression, please carry on reading – you might have to be a support to your loved one at some point and it’s always good to learn something new. There are thousands and thousands of people who suffer from depression and the majority of them will never show it to the outside world. Every single person most likely knows at least one person who is suffering from depression right now, or have in the past, or have a friend who does. Don’t try to figure out who that person is, there’s no need. Just remember about this and be kind, as you never know who around you needs a little act of kindness today…
I arrived in the beautiful Western Australia exactly 9 months ago, not knowing I had been depressed. I thought I was just having a down time, there was a few small things going on at the time, visa process being one of them. Nothing major. Nothing obvious. After having spent my first few weeks in Australia mostly crying or sleeping, I realised what was going on. I wouldn’t admit it and say it out loud but after browsing hundreds of websites about the depression symptoms, I had no doubts. Me, the strong independent fearless me, who travelled the world and was excited about the simplest things like sun shining or eating yummy foods, me who was pretty much the happiest person I knew, lost it all. I had no interest in going out and seeing all the cool stuff everyone talks about Australia, I didn’t feel like taking photos, meeting new people, going to the beach that is down the road, and I definitely didn’t feel like celebrating. All the negative emotions that were inside me took the best out of me. On the outside I guess I was O.K. I remember trying my best to look ‘presentable’ when I would go out to a shop or skype my parents. Just so no one knows. I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I totally lost all my positive energy and liveliness. I stopped writing and doing everything that once was such fun to me. It hurt a lot. It was a constant battle with my thoughts and a very exhausting one. Depression took all the positive feelings of me and gave me the apathy instead. Nothing made me excited anymore and I just stopped caring. In my head I was invisible. I stopped talking to friends back home simply to avoid questions. I was lost and hopeless.
I knew I had to find a job and that was my only aim in life at the time. It took me a whole lot of online job applications of which none responded, before I pushed myself to go out and search for a job, in person. It took a couple of hours. After starting my new job at a hotel’s bar, I got slightly better. I guess the new place and people, lots of new things I had to learn occupied my mind and I felt the happiest I had for 3 months. I didn’t mind staying back at work, working crazy hours and weekends. I actually preferred it than being miserable at home. It kept me and my mind busy. It felt like I was cheating my mind. It felt good. The thing about depression is that it almost doesn’t change you on the outside. If you are a bubbly person, you keep that part of you, for the outside world. As soon as you leave your house, you put a mask on and pretend everything is fine, but you feel very lonely at the same time. What goes through a massive transformation is your mind. It’s never at peace. You are constantly feeling anxious and worried, almost like something really terrible is about to happen. My biggest issue has been what feels like a ‘knot’ in my stomach. It is ALWAYS there. It has been there every single day for the past 10 months. It’s there right now. I’ve learnt how not to let it control my mind, I am still working on making it disappear completely…
A couple of months in my (not so new anymore) job, once I learnt everything I had to know, my mind had all the time again to focus on my knot and my shitty condition. There I was, miserable not only at home but also at work. Again, not on the outside. Still, no one knew. But I did and it was killing me. Eventually I had no choice but tell my manager as I started to have panic attacks at work. Not fun.
The worst of all is the fact that I don’t actually know what caused my depression. From being full of energy and optimism, loving my life to the fullest, appreciating what and who I had in my life, I turned to being a total wreck of a person, filled with anxiety, lacking self-confidence and not really caring about the days passing by. For months on end all I was doing was trying to figure out WHY I was depressed. I got nowhere. I still knew I had everything and more than I could have ever asked for in life. But the pain was stronger than the appreciation. My favourite and only thing I liked doing was sleeping. That’s when I didn’t feel the pain. Waking up, on the other hand, was pretty horrible.
After about 3 months of hating myself I decided it was time to see a specialist. I knew what I had but hearing it from a doctor kind of sucked even more. Soon I started my weekly sessions with a psychologist. I guess it felt kinda good to be able to tell someone absolutely everything without worrying of being judged etc. the problem was I didn’t exactly know what to say most of the times as I had no idea why I was so unhappy. Slowly from week to week the doctor started to form an idea in my head of what could have caused me feeling like this. It’s just an idea though and nothing specific. Possibly a few things that piled up over the last couple of years got me in the wrong time. Apparently being a perfectionist doesn’t help. Small failures and disappointments can take you out in no time.
After 4 months of dealing with depression, I finally was brave enough to say ‘yes’ to the medication. I had been very hesitant for a long time being sceptical and I guess, embarrassed. But that was my last resort. I was prescribed to be on antidepressants for at least 6 months. I was told the first 2 weeks could make me feel even worse, but it wasn’t that bad. I was just really drowsy. After a few weeks, some of the symptoms tamed down. I had less ‘bad’ days and more ‘o.k.’ days. I knew this was somehow a progress and what I also knew was that one day I would be back to my old self. I got to the point where I could actually talk about my feelings without bursting into tears and feeling sorry for myself so much. And that’s when I started to realise how many people around me also have or at some point of their lives had a depression, or know someone who has/had it. It made me feel less lonely and more hopeful. Also, I started feeling the sympathy and compassion again. Even feeling drained mentally and awful physically, I still knew I was gonna get better. I had too much to lose and too many people I loved and I knew they loved me back. I knew I was blessed and I had to take it into my own hands, with the help of my close ones and the meds, I wanted to turn it into a big life lesson. Maybe be able to help others going through a similar thing one day?
It’s now coming to 6 months on medication and I am feeling much better. I wouldn’t say the pills did all the work, but it seems like they made me do that first step into recovery. Somewhere along the way I also lost my connection with the food. The motivation for all the things I used to love was far gone, that included cooking tasty dishes. Sometimes I would go to sleep only so I didn’t have to prepare food. I normally ate my breakfast and then depending on vegetarian availability at the staff buffet at work, I would eat again or I wouldn’t. You’d be surprised how many things you can swap for a sleep. My diet for many months consisted of eggs, rice and bananas. No wonder everything tasted blunt.
I have always been a believer, whether it is the God, or whatever it is, I do believe. I have never lost the hope and the belief in getting better. I have never had suicidal thoughts, so that’s pretty good, I guess. I knew that eventually something would come about and would bring me back.
And it did. The loved ones have helped me heaps, the meds helped a lot, and I also reconnected with food and nutrition on a higher level. All I know at this point is that I have had the most energy during the past 3 weeks, to what I have ever had in my entire life. Comparing to me sleeping at night, before and after work, napping for 3-5 hours, I have not had a single nap for full 21 days! I am feeling really blessed and lucky to be where I am right now and I can’t wait to share my energy, love and what I am learning, with everyone. I am getting there and this is the start of the rest of my life, the amazing beautiful exciting life. Love you all so much!