You can look at depression in many ways: seen as a negative to most people, especially when they are being forced to endure it. To live with the daily turbulence that rumbles within their own head. A turbulence that does not engage with the other people surrounding you but can engage these people internally within your own mind. These people may be the reason for a downbeat thought, or the reason for an upbeat one. But the exterior will not know this. The exterior will be oblivious to the pilots position and the direction they are sending you in. There may me the odd vocal announcement but that will be camouflaged in calmness. You will appear to be safe and secure. A flight which is destined to arrive in the correct location, much like the majority of other planes which take off each and every day. But yours, well, it can have dodgy engine. A skewed wing. A pilot who is overtired or stressed. Another disrupting passenger on your own private jet. Because that is what the mind is, private.
I realised this, but not quickly or efficeintly, but in time. I realised that the elaborate thought process you have is often intertwined with the belief that you will beat this illness. And trust me, it is in there. But this minute possibility is enveloped by all the other demoralising reasonings that can torment your mind. But as long as you can see these minute, hidden jewels amongst your negative crown, then you will be able to keep yourself motivated. That is what your focus should be based upon, always. Motivating yourself so that you can conquer this illness and improve your own standard of life.
I also decided that I needed to let someone in. Let them have the best understanding they could of the emotions and ideas that were circulating inside my plane. This, for me, was my girlfriend of the time. A person that I will be eternally grateful towards. She was my metaphorical, and literal, shoulder to cry on. The one I trusted and she helped guide me in the direction I needed to be. There is no right person for this role. It is only whoever is right for you; a person who makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. It may be your best friend, a good friend, an acquaintance. It may be a family member: mum, dad, brother or auntie. It may end up being a professional, psychiatrist.
It may be your milkman postman, local shop worker. It does not matter who it is. It can come from a decision by you to turn to someone in a real moment of struggle. It may come from conversing randomly and the topic arising. I would never have thought to sit down and decide who was the most suited to my needs. Creating a pros and cons type list of all potential candidates as if it was a job vacancy. That’s not what is needed. You need that trust in someone. That instinctual thought that these are strong enough and mentally right to support and help me through this time. That you feel they will give you the advice you need and not force you to be proactive too soon.
The other beneficial was pressure, or really, the lack of. No one who is mentally ill should be pressured into doing anything. If they are not ready to speak then they should not. If they are not ready to go to a doctor, then they should not. I believe in this strongly, purely for the fact that when you do decide to make a step, however big or small, it is you that is feeling proud with oneself and overrides everything else that may be going on in your own mind. You feel like you’ve taken a chunk out of the negativity in your mind. The positive becomes the dominant mind set. This, for most, probably will not last but it does if give you that reminder that you are able to progress. That you are able to feel positive. And that you will beat the illness. That’s the spirited, hero attitude that will keep you motivated. Well, it did for me. Your ability to self-motivate is the decisive element in all of this battle. This can be kickstarted by the person you trust, by the time you were given or by the relaxed manner in which it was approach to give you the best possible chance.
But, maybe for you it is not the self that motivates but the role of others. I often would be feel like I am letting others down, which would rest heavy on my mind and cause me to overthink, become down. But the real moment was when I realised that maybe there were some positives to my character. After all, there had to be reason why I had a girlfriend, there had to be a reason I had good friendship cirlces. There is always a reason to flip your mindset. However small or insignificant you may think it is. Use a magnifying glass on this element and really focus on it. And I promise, that if you keep working on it, then you will no longer need that magnifying glass. The positive feeling will become a lot more regular and you will become a lot more happier. And eventually, like me, the depression will actually go. Because in my mind, I am no longer depressed. I am no longer worried about the thought of it coming back, but if it does, then I now have the mind to deal with it a lot better. And it will not be disrupting my life any more.
Chris is an English Literature & Creative Writing graduate. Writing pieces to #LiftTheStigma on Mental Illness and get people openly talking about it.