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My attitude was 'get over it'

Having witnessed friends, boyfriends and family members go through depression I never thought it would happen to me. My attitude was ‘get over it, think of third world children and then tell me how unhappy you are’, a rather callous approach. I couldn’t understand why they were depressed. They had their health, family, friends, it didn’t make sense.

The first time I realised I was having the same feelings I tried to give myself the same advice - I wanted to slap myself in the face. Not only did it make me feel guilty for feeling the way I did, I realised how uncaring I had been to the people closest to me. My attitude had been ‘think positive’, but as everyone knows, when you’re in the throes of depression, thinking positive is an impossible task.

Another thing I hadn’t realised was the un-relentless gloom of depression. It stayed with me all day every day. Every time I got on a train, went shopping, met friends, watched tv, ate dinner. I couldn’t do anything without the overwhelming fear I was about to topple off a cliff. I feared being alone, trying to spend every second of the day with friends and family, only to feel worse when they left or were busy. I lost interest in everything I was passionate about. I used to be a keen runner, but suddenly the idea of going for a jog felt like a mountainous task. I’d lost all my fun, everything that made me who I was, I felt miserable about everything.

After months of going in circles and getting nowhere I took a new approach. I started to take one day at a time. Instead of spending the day worrying about what to do next Sunday, I limited myself to how I was going to spend that evening. This method helped. By forcing myself not to think of the future, I couldn’t get worried by the unknown. I began to feel more in control of everything, and when I went through negative episodes I had a way of calming myself down.

One day, when I was in a positive mood I wrote myself a list. I wrote down everything I felt grateful for - my best friend, my supportive family, achievements, my happiest memories etc. I also wrote what NOT to feel depressed about, such as lost relationships, or failures. I felt pretty stupid when I was writing it, but remembering what I was like in a negative mood forced me to do it. I put it in my purse, and carried it around with me.

Things have got better. I couldn’t say whether it was due to the list, or the controlled thinking or just due to life, but the feelings of standing on a cliff only recur occasionally. I still wouldn’t be able to give valuable advice to someone suffering with depression. It has to come from within yourself, but don’t give in, because one day, those negative feelings WILL go away.

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