It’s a hard life. Especially when a little friend I like to call Derp (I’m not too sure why either) is there by your side, trying to guide you back into the darkness.
I don’t want to dwell too much into ‘my story’ and how Derp has affected me as I want this to focus more on the positives of overcoming Derp. How to kick it’s butt. But, before that I am going to dwell just a little bit. I hope that’s OK.
Here it is. The great story of Derp and I. If you hadn’t already guessed, Derp is what I call depression. It’s not a proper abbreviation, however I think it suits it pretty well. I’m too not too sure when I started to feel ‘down’ exactly, because before I realised I had a low mood I generally felt quite numb. Going through puberty and throughout my time at secondary school all I can remember is feeling a lot of nothingness. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I didn’t hate it either. It was a wishy-washy time for me. I was quite quiet, pretty unsure of myself, fairly anxious and lacked confidence. It was around this age that I started to develop disordered eating – not an eating disorder. Well, not quite yet. When I was 14 I started to count calories and restrict what I was eating. When I was 16(ish) my disordered eating started to turn into an eating disorder, as I used eating to try and help me cope with other things that were going on in my life. My eating disorder and Derp developed hand-in-hand together. They pushed me further and further along the path into darkness.
My parent’s relationship had been fairly rocky throughout my childhood. It worsened dramatically when myself and one of my younger sisters reached our teenage years. My parents eventually started the process of getting a divorce when I was 16. The years leading up to this, and the years after, were absolute hell. That’s all I’m going to say about that for now. It’s still very, very painful. As well as the divorce, when I was 14/15 years old I witnessed a man committing suicide. It happened right in front of me. I believe that these events, along with having low self-esteem and low self-confidence led me on a path of self-destruction and depression. It has been an on and off love/hate affair with Derp, and only recently have I managed to dig myself out of the darkest hole.
What I have learnt…
The first thing I have learnt about depression and how to tackle it is that you have to be proactive. Trust me when I say I know how hard this is. It is SO hard. The temptation to stay inside all day, to be by yourself, to sleep the day away is intense. I know. However, it is so important that you are active – for me I force myself to go on a walk, to go running, to do yoga, to see a friend, to go buy milk, to read a book, to write a list of chores to do and to complete it. It was small little movement that were accomplishments to me and keep me in touch with reality.
Next, it’s always a good idea to seek help. I have previously had counselling, spoken to a doctor and have sought after help from my local hospital for my eating disorder. Without seeing any of these people I probably wouldn’t be at the stage of clarity that I am at now. I put off seeing a doctor and getting antidepressants for a while, years in fact. But, I definitely recommend that you do research into the medication first as antidepressants can have a lot of side effects.
If you have someone that you feel comfortable talking to then confide in them. I am lucky enough to have a supportive family, a lovely best friend and an amazing boyfriend that I talk to whenever I feel down. However, it took me ages to admit to any of them about how low I was feeling. I believe the less you suppress your negative emotions, the better you become. Talking to people I loved has helped me tremendously. Allowing myself to be myself around these people has also helped a lot. Me and my boyfriend are always acting silly together and constantly making each other laugh.
I have learnt that doing positive actions helps to lift my mood. It’s very easy for me to cut myself off from my friends and family at times, but I find that giving a close friend or family a call helps to lift my spirits. Speaking to a homeless man, smiling at a stranger, paying someone a compliment, or sending a friend a card not only may put a smile on their face but has an overall positive affect on yourself. Trying to find small, kind things helps to push away the darker, negative thoughts/actions.
The Benefits of Being happy…
The benefits of being happy are pretty obvious, but I wanted to say a little more about what being happy can do for you. Being happy is worth it. It’s worth being able to smile and it’s worth being able to laugh, I mean REALLY laugh at jokes. Hell, it’s brilliant being about to make jokes. I love to sing (albeit not very good), to be silly and to connect with people. I found that the world is a more beautiful place and that I had things to be excited about. One huge difference about being happy is being able to think more clearly, having more creative ideas and having more motivation to get sh*t done!
It’s extremely tough and scary at times. I definitely still have down days but I feel that I have learnt techniques that allow me to fight back. I feel that Derp is always around, but I know that it’s temporary and if I’m proactive I can keep it locked away. If you are suffering with depression the number for the Samaritans is 116 123. Remember that you’re never alone & it really does get better. Be kind to yourself, you’re amazing and worth it.