I am going to try and explain what it is like living with depression. People’s experiences with depression vary and so not everything I say will be the same with everyone who suffers.
I have wanted to write about my experiences with depression and anxiety because whilst a lot of people understand the symptoms I don’t think they understand the impact it can have on your day. If you are having a particularly bad day the simplest tasks suddenly take more effort and time to get done than they normally would.
I used to take my antidepressants in the morning but found it would upset my stomach so I now take them at night just before I fall asleep. I have to put them on the bedside table otherwise I forget. I go through times where I can’t be bothered to take them for it is difficult to see if they are working. Even though they are “happy” pills, they don’t make you happy they just take away the sad. My boyfriend has to keep reminding me that the pills are working even if I can’t feel or see it myself.
Most nights I sleep around 6/7 hours, however, I go through periods where I either sleep too much or suffer from insomnia. Insomnia isn’t the worse as I sometimes use the time to get some writing done when I’m up at 3 am. But when I sleep too much I then spend the whole day feeling lazy and fatigued. Regardless of the amount of sleep, I have had around 2 or 3 in the afternoon my body decides it wants a nap. On good days I can make myself a coffee, move around a bit and get back to doing my work. On bad days I have a 2-hour depression nap. I call it a depression nap because most of the time I’m not tired, I’m just sad or bored and want to escape the world for a bit. I always wake up feeling guilty because I’ve wasted time.
I’ve been working from home since September. I think sometimes it makes my situation better but sometimes it can make my situation worse. At heart, I am quite an introverted person so not having to interact with many people daily makes me feel warm inside. When I used to work in an office and I had days where I had to really force myself to shower the last thing I wanted to do was interact with a bunch of people I didn’t particularly know. But sometimes being stuck in one room all day can be damaging. I write myself a to-do list at the beginning of every day and once I’ve accomplished what I believe to be a decent amount of work I treat myself to either YouTube videos or watching a tv show. When I’m having a bad day I make sure to not feel guilty over what I haven’t done and more feel proud about what I have done, even if it is small.
I’ve always had a problem with food, both binge eating and counting calories to the point of starving myself. Since finding out about my gluten and lactose intolerances it has got easier to not binge eat because I now can’t eat everything in the house. Unfortunately, when I am feeling sad and want to treat myself with a nice dessert or a sweet snack I always buy more and suggest they will last me a few days. And spoiler they are normally gone in that night. I have got better with not feeling guilty about eating. At the end of the day, I have never been a fat or chubby girl and so I know if I have a bad day I try to make up for it and eat better the next day.
I think the biggest struggle I have when it comes to my mental illness is boredom. It may sound strange but I have such a low tolerance to boredom anyway and when you are having a bad day normal activities don’t keep you entertained as they normally would. I will be sat there watching a TV show that normally makes me laugh sitting in silence, watching it only to past the time. I will be reading a book and find I don’t have the energy required to actually process what I’m reading. As a writer, it is also difficult because on bad days I also struggle the most when it comes to my writer’s block. Sometimes I call my boyfriend or message a friend to help me out of the dumps, however, a lot of people around me are also suffering so you feel guilty for ruining their day with your problems.
I know this blog post was a long one and so if you got this far, congrats! Whilst I suffer from mental illness daily I don’t let it define who I am and I certainly am not ashamed for having it. I shouldn’t have to keep quiet about any of this and I’m not “weak” for having it either. The more of us who talk openly about it the better. #SicknotWeak
Gracie Victoria Hemphill x