My GP hasn't really given it a name other than 'Depression'
What is that?
Depression, also known as Clinical Depression, Major Depression, Unipolar Depression, Unipolar Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder; is a mood disorder characterized by persistent low mood lasting for 2 weeks or more without noticeable improvement. Symptoms include, feeling sad, anxious, empty, worthless or helpless for long periods of time. Sufferers will often feel very pessimistic, hopeless about the future and may experience excessive or inappropriate guilt. They often have decreased energy or fatigue and can become more irritable or agitated, they struggle to concentrate and may experience trouble with memory and making decisions. Sleeping and eating patterns are often disrupted, with sufferers eating or sleeping too much or too little. Sufferers will often get little or no pleasure from activities they would usually really enjoy. Recurring thoughts of death or suicide are quite common with some sufferers turning to self harm and others attempting or committing suicide.
"This emotional rage also manifests in physical rage and I have on occasion punched things, thrown things, and smashed up my personal possessions"
It affects me emotionally in many different ways. I suffer periodically with bouts of feeling useless and worthless, that my life is meaningless and everyone is better than me, more intelligent, more talented etc.
I have frequent bouts of rage, everything and everyone annoys me and I cannot control or withhold those emotions. The smallest thing can seem like it is the most infuriating thing to ever happen and I get very angry. This emotional rage also manifests in physical rage and I have on occasion punched things, thrown things, and smashed up my personal possessions.
I have had a couple of what you could call 'breakdowns' where I have become maudlin, depressed and upset to the point of crying uncontrollably and threatening to kill myself. At times when my depression is at it's most extreme, I have suicidal feelings and on a couple of occasions have made serious plans to kill myself. On one occasion my mother had to wrestle a scalpel blade away from me during one of my breakdowns. I also seem to suffer from short periods of euphoria where i am very hyperactive and enthusiastic and everything is great. These periods usually only last a day or two at the end of which I crash, almost like a caffeine high and crash, and everything is pointless again. It can also affect me physically and I get very tired and lethargic and spend days in bed.
" I was surprised and relieved that he took me very
seriously and did not look at me like I was 'crazy'"
I have only recently sought out assistance for my depression and was diagnosed about 5 months ago.
How long did it take to get diagnosed?
I have had no counselling or psychiatric assistance at this point so the only diagnosis I have is from my GP. I have experienced the issues I have described above on and off since I was about 15 years old, so that's 19 years now!
How did you feel when you were diagnosed?
I have a very good new GP and when I went to him with my issues, after my second 'breakdown' in 3 months (which is a very short period of time for me to experience them in) I was surprised and relieved that he took me very seriously and did not look at me like I was 'crazy'. He sympathised with me and gave me a choice of staring medications and suggested Citalopram. It was nice to have someone listen to me and allow me to have a say in my treatment options.
Have you ever been hospitalized due to your condition?
No. Until recently I have managed to cope with my condition. In all honestly 'cope' probably isn't quite the right word, I have spent 19 years sweeping it under the carpet and I guess pretending that I don't 'really' have a problem.
"According to the Psychoanalyst I needed immediate psychiatric
help of some kind, but after 5 months I have still not received any.
The waiting list at my local hospital is up to 1 year"
My GP has been fantastic. I could not be more pleased with his help. He referred me to the practice Psychoanalyst, she was pleasant for the hour I spent with her, but my treatment from the counselling aspect has come to a stand still. That, I am not overly impressed with. According to the Psychoanalyst I needed immediate psychiatric help of some kind, but after 5 months I have still not received any. The waiting list at my local hospital is up to 1 year and one suggestion I got from the Psychoanalyst was to try and seek help from my work place as I work for the NHS. My work place only offers short term counselling help for staff and not normally for these types of issues.
What treatment if any are you undertaking?
I am taking Citalopram tablets and awaiting counselling/psychiatric help.
Does your treatment have any negative side effects?
So far it has only helped me emotionally. The one side effect I have noticed is that it upsets my Crohn's disease, that is a side effect I can live with though, if the medication stops me feeling awful emotionally.
Have you tried any other treatments?
I did try counselling once when I was about 19. It was a free service provided to 18-25 year old's in my local area. I had a very bad experience with them though and did not return after 4 sessions. That experience coloured my view of counselling and psychiatry greatly for many many years after that so i never sought further help in that form.
"We can now talk about them freely to one another when
they are affecting us, meaning we can support one another"
I shared my diagnosis with my closest family and friends. I also shared it with my work colleagues, I felt that it would make things easier at work if they understood my sometimes "off colour" behaviour.
Interestingly my Mother has not spoken to anyone about my diagnosis. She has a closer relationship with some of my relatives for example my aunt and my brother. She did not tell them about my diagnosis, I did once I realised she had not.
Did any of your family or friends have a negative reaction?
All of the people I've told have had a great reaction. In fact it has brought me a greater support network. I was surprised that a lot of the people that I told responded by confiding in me about their depression and/or anxiety issues. We can now talk about them freely to one another when they are affecting us, meaning we can support one another.
"When I told my new group of friends about it they were exceptionally supportive"
No. Everyone has been very good about it and were actually pleased that I'd sought help. My depression has been no great secret in my family.
Do you think your family and friends understand your condition?
I think that my friends do. My family, not so much. My closet cousins, even if they don't understand it, they're very sympathetic and supportive.
Do you tell new people about your condition?
So far I haven't told new people that I don't consider as friends about my condition. I have however recently made a new group of friends and I had to skip out on an engagement with them, so when I saw them again I was honest about it. They are the friends I mentioned earlier that have been or are in, a similar situation to me.
If so, what kind of reaction do you usually get?
When I told my new group of friends about it they were exceptionally supportive.
"My depression makes me see myself as someone who
is different in a bad way. I see myself as 'the odd one out'
'the weird one' not as someone who is just individual"
In my case I think that the people I have told actually understand me better. I think a lot of people saw me as a giant pessimist at times, but now that they know there is something behind that pessimism that causes it, they seem to be more understanding.
Do you feel your mental health has an impact on your self-esteem?
Definitely. It gives me self esteem issues and sometimes I feel like I'm a crazy person in a sane person's world. It also causes me to doubt my level of intelligence, my abilities and my appearance.
Is your self image affected by your mental health?
Yes. I've always seen myself as different but in a good way, you know like the way I dress or the things I like, but when it comes to my mental health issues my depression makes me see myself as someone who is different in a bad way. I see myself as 'the odd one out' 'the weird one' not as someone who is just individual.
"Losing someone when they die is heartbreaking enough but
knowing that your loved one chose to die, seems to be especially
devastating. I know what me killing myself would do to my mother
and I have made the choice that I will not inflict that pain on her"
That is a difficult question to answer as it has never been posed to me before. I guess it's my friends. I have two in particular that are very important to me and support me no matter what, when I'm struggling they are my go-to people. They automatically know when I am 'down' without me having to tell them and they try their utmost to cheer me up and make me laugh.
What keeps you going?
The fact that 'I have to' I guess. Even though I have suicidal thoughts and on the rare occasion tendencies, I would never kill myself, despite wanting to. I work in a Mortuary and I take care of people who have killed themselves on a regular basis. I can completely understand why or how they got to the place where they felt that was their only way out, and unlike many people I do not see suicide as a choice made through cowardice. I have also met the families of people who have committed suicide and because of this I could never imagine causing that kind of pain to my family. Losing someone when they die is heartbreaking enough but knowing that your loved one chose to die, seems to be especially devastating. I know what me killing myself would do to my mother and I have made the choice that I will not inflict that pain on her.