Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sunshine and Showers

That's me. On cloud 9 one minute, and desperately unhappy the next. Just like "sunshine and showers" someone once described me as. 

It was recently #MentalHealthWeek and after taking part in some research for awareness it got me thinking about how many young people suffer in silence with depression (and anxiety). Therefore, I reckon a it's a topic worthy of it's own blog. I hope this proves to be re-assuring and educational to those who are suffering and helpful to people reading who need a nudge towards a more positive outlook. 

So what is it exactly? (Here's the science bit). It's an illness that shows no (unless you're super tuned in) external symptoms, and one that unless you have suffered yourself, is hard to empathise with. It's debilitating, all consuming and isolating. One definition describes it as; "A mood disorder, thats causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest." 

  1. 1.
    feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
    "self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression"
    synonyms:melancholymiserysadnessunhappinesssorrowwoegloom,gloominess, dejection, downheartedness, despondency,dispiritedness, low spirits, heavy-heartedness, moroseness,discouragementdespairdesolation, dolefulness, moodiness,pessimism, hopelessness; More

It's difficult to articulate quite how it feels, and extremely hard to discuss. I've been unfortunate enough to experience depression both personally and 2nd hand through a close family member. I'm conscious many other young people have too, and may not have sufficient or the appropriate support. It's not an illness that discriminates, you can have "everything" and still suffer. A person who seemingly on the outside is perfectly happy and successful may be battling some really tough times. 

So what am I looking to achieve from this blog? Awareness. Be considerate, don't judge and have an open mind. 

Depression can be brought on by many different things. Death, divorce, redundancy, childbirth, a stressful time period, illness, money worries.  A whole host of circumstances can act as triggers. Perhaps a combination of things have been the trigger? 

Symptoms again, are not definitive and can be both physical and psychological. To name a few; continuous low mood, continuous sadness, being tearful, irritable, guilty, regretful, having low self esteem, feeling hopeless, feeling angry, low motivation, intolerance, being indecisive, having an increased heart rate, having no enjoyment from things you usually enjoy, feeling anti social, feeling very anxious. Perhaps your not sleeping, your appetite changes, you lose your libido, experience stomach aches or feel very lethargic. 

The important thing to remember, is there IS light at the end of your gloomy tunnel. There is help available. In the midst of my own grey cloud of grief and sadness, which in turn became a period of depression, I found it difficult to see a way out. And obsessed with routine as a way to cope. Structure, compulsive exercise, precise times to eat, the shapes vegetables were chopped, the way the bed was made. It seems somewhat trivial, but I became almost impossible to live with. I felt i'd genuinely forgotten how to laugh, how to give a genuine smile, how to feel full of energy and love the things I used to. BUT you can re-learn. 

For me, dealing with my triggers was key. Not be-littling them, or telling myself I was being stupid and over dramatic. (This is a common behaviour for sufferers.) Don't be-little your feelings. Give them their moment. Acknowledge them, question how you might combat these negative or angry feelings and set out a plan to do so. Being aware of your feelings, and in time, learning how to nip the bad feelings in the bud, is a skill. And not one that comes easy to us negative nelly's. 

SO here's my take and a few simple tips on starting to overcome the pesky negativity and helping others to understand YOU. 

>>See your GP. This isn't always easy but it's a good first step. It may take seeing a few different doctors for you to feel satisfied with their help,(I've had a couple of useless ones) but it's a good start.

>>Headspace - Free App. I found the Headspace App only recently, but would recommend it. It ensures you take 10 minutes of your day to give your nervous system a rest. It's essentially a meditation app, perfect for re-training your mind and re-focusing.  Even if you only manage it once a week. Mindfulness is a phenomenon that's starting to gain more exposure. No, it's not just for hippies. Real life people and celebrities practice it too. It's a concept whereby you simply pay attention to your self, your surroundings, the present moment. Don't knock it til you try it. 

>>Exercise. You've heard it all before. It releases endorphines, blah, blah, blah. But for me personally, exercise is always a good idea. It may be swimming, running, pilates, when you're focusing on moving your body, keeping your balance, trying hard, you may find, even it it's for just 5 minutes, there's not so much room in your brain for worrying. 

>>CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This treatment helps you to overcome negative thoughts by understanding your feelings and changing the ways you deal with them. Are you going to sit there feeling upset and hopeless or are you going to challenge those thoughts? Thinking more wisely and deciding how to act toward your negative thoughts will in turn effect your behaviour and before you know it, you'll be on the glass half full team. 

>>Read - It sounds silly, but have you considered how many others have experienced what you're going through? You feel like no one will understand, but in actual fact they will. You aren't the first and won't be the last person, and many have written very helpful books on the topic of overcoming depression and thinking yourself happy. Google it and see for yourself. Read yourself well. 

>>Moodscope - A website you can use to track your mood, measure your mood and lift your mood. Give it a go, you'll be surprised to see yourself improving. 

>> STOP Comparing Yourself - Nope you don't look like Candice Swanepoel. Even Candice, doesn't really look like Candice. People put on Instagram what they want you to see, not every minute of their whole life. I bet even you are guilty of that. Untagging photos you hate? Yup. Don't believe every photo you see. We only ever post the flattering ones, perfect lighting, perfect angle, a few filters, bit of ab tensing, you have no idea what people actually look like. So there. 

>> GIVE YOURSELF A BLOODY BREAK. What's the worst that can happen? If you need to have a cry, have one. If you need a tub of ice cream. Have one. If you're too knackered to go to go to body pump today, miss it. There's always next week. Learning to recognise when you're body is showing signs of stress (do you get ulcers, cold sores, spots, headaches, frequent colds??) is something you're gonna have to at least try and acknowledge. No one expects you to be wonder woman, expect yourself. And everyone else can't be wrong. So have a think, are you over doing it?

I think I'll forever be on my journey to achieving balance, and having many hiccups along the way. If you have suffered with depression or need some help, please share! Big hugs and good luck on your journey's.

B xx 



  1. I think this is really well articulated Becca :) Having experienced depression in many different forms and situations, its inspiring to see someone open up about the realities of the struggles of mental health but also the achievements. The battles you go through in life only make you stronger! Keep up the good work xx


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