I have suffered from a reactive depression for much of my adult life;
martial breakdown, coming to terms with my sexuality and guilt at the break
up of my family being the primary causes. Coming from a Roman Catholic
background I was very familiar with the adage that “God helps those who help
themselves”. This became my mantra, I put all my energies into my work as a
mental health professional and blocked out the black thoughts. This worked
for a while, and then all of a sudden without warning I was a wreck. In
retrospect all the signs were there but I was so focused on helping myself
that I had forgotten what an insidious beast depression can be.
For the first time in my life I experienced the awesome power of the mind.
At times I was overwhelmed by the strength of the feelings of complete
worthlessness coupled with suicidal ideation, and yet conversely at other
times I felt that I existed in a void with no emotions what so ever. I was
fortunate that my G.P. was sufficiently aware of mental health issues that
she recognised that I was not ready for “talking therapies” at that stage,
and that I needed medication in order to lift my mood to allow me to engage.
I was aware that medication could take up to six weeks to really take
effect, six minutes felt too long to continue in this state, I needed to
feel better immediately. Two trips to A&E one week apart had very different
outcomes. The first time I was petrified that the duty Psychiatrist was
going to detain me, on the second occasion I was terrified of being sent
home. Psychiatric wards are not pleasant places to be but I felt safe and
this for me was the turning point, I no longer had sole responsibility for
myself someone else was in charge. Through my treatment plan I came to the
understanding that for me the idea of taking my own life was about control.
I had lived for so long amidst a maelstrom of emotions that I felt
completely out of control and therefore suicide would have been the ultimate
in taking charge of my own destiny. My key worker helped me to set realistic
targets, initially very small, and to focus at the end of each day upon the
positives that I had achieved as opposed to the negatives. I was assisted
to evaluate my life and to plan for the time when I would no longer be
working and have the social contact that my job provided.
Most importantly I was helped to see myself in a positive light and to come
to the understanding that there are certain things in life over which we
have no control and therefore have no culpability for. I have been well now
for over five years, I still have odd days when I feel a black cloud lurking
and it is then that I remember the seven R’s:
Recover your confidence.
Rebuild your life.
Rely on support and understanding.
Restore your faith.
Rekindle your creativity.
Respect your beautiful mind.
My journey to good mental health has not been easy but I am a much stronger
person for having undertaken it. I have been helped along the way by various
professionals and some wonderful friends. I could not have done this alone.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please do remember that
whatever stage your journey is at you need not travel alone.