Self-Care Tool Kit Part 2 – My Depression Journey, Learn To Speak Out

Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 18.30.36.png

The way you speak to yourself matters. 

This week I am going to cover the next section of my Self-Care Tool Kit Series. I don’t know how many of these I am going to do but I feel as if these will follow with me as I go through my journey as a writer and as I learn to cope with life and the situations I am faced daily with. Of course, we all know our little tips to help us get through the day and to make harder situations that little bit easier. But sometimes, it is nice to read through someone else’s story to reassure you that you’re not alone in this.

We all experience bad days and sometimes, it can take us longer than usual to overcome them. That’s ok, things take time and being so hard on yourself won’t always be the answer. Of course, we have to motivate ourselves to a certain extent sometimes, we need to motivate ourselves to take a step back and reflect, rest and re-energise. We sometimes need to re-evaluate our situation and why things are occurring around us. I truly believe everything happens for a specific reason.

The things we go through are leading us to another destination. However, whenever we experience something negative, we aren’t always sure as to why it happens at that time. Be patient and time will tell. Honestly, we have to experience the bad times to appreciate the good times. The difficult situations are preparing us for something greater and they are making sure you have a strong body of armour to tackle the challenges of life.

Sometimes if we don’t sit back and evaluate our current surroundings, we can become slightly overwhelmed and over time this can become incredibly suffocating. At the beginning of this year, I experienced depression like never before. It had a hold of me and wouldn’t let me go. I was a two-dimensional drawing, metaphorically speaking, no living thoughts – I lost my whole personality and connection within myself again. I experienced a moment of sadness in a personal relationship and the feeling of loneliness brought back flashbacks from the past. There was a heavy feeling of tightness in my chest like someone had died, even though no one had. This depression occurred because I never dealt with the depression at the beginning of my journey. I never evaluated how I felt at a particular moment and I never admitted I was upset, lonely or angry.

Depression is different for everyone. One of the common misunderstandings about depression is that it’s the feeling of sadness. Although I did experience sadness, depression is much more severe and becomes uncontrollable. My symptoms of depression lasted for years and made most ordinary activities very difficult to carry out.

I believe my depression and anxiety was triggered off by not caring for myself first and not talking about my problems. I shelved many issues for many years and I always ignored my thoughts. Until eventually, I experienced heartbreak and it crumbled my life. This trauma in my life at the beginning of the year allowed me to dig deep in my ‘shelves’ in my head and begin my self-care from the root of the problem.

DSC01829

This image was taken at the Singapore Botanic Gardens; a place of true healing.

It’s a bad day, not a bad life.

My depression first occurred when I was bullied at school. I suffered a difficult time with my weight, confidence and health. I lost all connection with my inner being. I disliked my appearance, I didn’t want to go out and I eventually refused to attend school. I was homeschooled for one year, after being signed off by the doctor.

At this stage of my depression, I did not cope with it, I just shelved my issues and I didn’t speak to many people about my thoughts. This isn’t recommended, as now I am 21, it has gradually caught up with me and now I am dealing with the root problems head-on. Maybe this is better I dealt with it this way because I am a little older and a little wiser. However, I should have spoken about my issues when I was a teenager, this would have released some of the pain I experienced at the beginning of the year – 2017.

Because I didn’t receive professional help my depression stayed with me throughout college, however, the levels of depression varied depending on my stress levels. I didn’t know who I was as a person. In college, I started my blog and forced myself to make other people happy and positive, ignoring how I currently felt at that time and creating an imaginary person online.

As I grew older, the depression became deeper and on the occasional break down I would feel suicidal, this would only occur in moments of high stress. At this stage, I did begin to slowly talk about my mental demons and I did realise that talking helped me along my journey. Even though this was happening, I still put a mental ‘cap’ on my thoughts and I didn’t feel that I was worthy of having a voice.

DSC01705

This image was taken on Haji Lane. A neighbourhood in Singapore that radiates colour, good vibes and quirky beauty.

Say… I will fiercely love myself deeply within. This will make me strong, unstoppable and confident.

For someone who isn’t aware of depression or who has never experienced it, it can be difficult for them to understand. Depression affects many people in many different ways. However, in my case… Depression made me cry myself to sleep every night, this was the only way I would drift off. Eventually, my eyes would burn and I would give in and fall to sleep. Depression had me waking up at 3 am because my heart was racing for no reason. Depression made me stress over things that may or may not be real. Depression made me question my purpose every moment of the day ‘Am I worth it?’, ‘What is the point in this?’. Depression made my mood change in a matter of minutes, from smiling to unbreakable crying, the crying that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go, causing you to choke and feel sick and even make you want to die.

Depression made me uncontrollably sweat in many situations, this was a huge fear of mine and made me very self-conscious. I couldn’t wear certain clothes because I was scared I would have sweat patches. Once I had finished sweating, I would go from hot to cold. Depression made me cry, real, deep, painful tears that made my heart ache. Depression made me feel nausea. Depression made me feel crippled. I had to make up excuses for my behaviour and make excuses for why I couldn’t attend an event. It had me closed away and I was very isolated.

What I realised was that no one had inflicted this pain upon me, it was me that had been in control of this whole situation. Of course, I had experienced many traumatic situations but how I dealt with them was what inflicted the most pain deep within. That leads me onto, how we deal with situations. The way we can react to situations is our biggest gift, we can choose to dig deep and feel depressed or we can learn from our situations and grow from them and eventually move on. Difficult situations have many positive elements. Although on the surface they seem negative, deep within every single component has a true reason for its purpose.

Crying is normal, it’s an emotion and a release mechanism. My thoughts were created in my mind and triggered various responses around my body. When I made this connection, I knew that I could heal myself from natural remedies; hypnotherapy, meditation, yoga, reading, breathing practices and therapeutic activities – all activities that required me to zone-out and step away from the darker side of my mind.

Sometimes we need to spend a period of time in that dark place to experience it and to make us stronger. It’s ok to want to be alone sometimes, we can all get a little suffocated by life. But just tell yourself, you can do this. You are strong. You are unique. You’re beautiful and you’re more than just a ‘being’. You deserve to be in this world, just like anyone else. You’re loved and you’re totally ambitious. Please don’t give up.

DSC02686.JPG

This image was taken in a small temple in Singapore. A place of worship, respect and wellbeing.

It can sometimes be hard for the observer to understand the thoughts and feelings that the individual is experiencing through depression – taken from my interview with Press: London – The Squeeze. Luckily my parents were understanding and patient with my condition and did everything they could to make things a little better. Some people did view me as being irritable, angry and withdrawn from situations. This was true, but ultimately, I couldn’t expect them to understand. I was drawn to the ‘correct people’ in my opinion and I shared my thoughts with them.

I shared my thoughts with the people I felt comfortable with and sometimes, they don’t always have to be human! Animals are also incredible listeners and they are incredibly healing to be around. I may sound daft, but whenever I felt a little low I would cuddle my dog and I would instantly feel 1% better sometimes. You must remember, difficult situations can highlight the individuals you need in your life the most, it can also bring you closer to old friends. So in a way, it does have incredibly positive elements.

Another way of talking about your troubles or your issues that worry you is, writing them down. Write everything down on a piece of paper. Scribble, scratch, draw, engrave – your thoughts on the page. I didn’t keep a diary whilst I was going through this trauma as this would stress me out even more. However, in the past, it has certainly helped me to write down my worries.

This post is based on my own experience with depression. This does not mean that the things that worked for me, will work for you. You must understand that we all very different. I am sharing my story to inspire others and show that people aren’t alone in their temporary darkness. Healing WILL happen, just have faith. Please.

I am incredibly grateful for my life and for everything I have. I have achieved many accolades in my 21 years on this planet and I thank the universe daily. Despite my successes, I still managed to feel low, isolated and broken. Don’t think just because someone is perceived as having a ‘perfect life‘ that they don’t get upset or angry. Being upset or annoyed with your situation doesn’t mean you are ungrateful. It means you’re focused and you want more. Be thankful for what you have at every stage of your journey and slowly, more will follow. Remember, the things that will no longer serve or grow you will be removed from your journey to make way for something new, fresh and exciting. I promise.

Even now, I have ‘bad days’… Who doesn’t?! We are H U M A N. Not robots. We all have bad days, it’s normal and the stresses of everyday life can certainly make an impact. It’s how we respond, that truly matters. Be aware of the stress, take some time out to relax and don’t forget to cherish every moment by yourself; relish the opportunity to learn who you are as an individual.

I accept that low days make me stronger and they allow me to enjoy the good days with gratitude. Without rain, there are no rainbows. Without rainstorms, flowers cannot grow. Some days we have to create our own light and that’s ok.

I am in control of my mind and that’s the most important thing. I have learned not to shelve my thoughts because one day, you will have to visit that ‘shelf’ again and deal with the worries.

Don’t be afraid, someone out there is waiting to listen and cares. You would be so surprised at how many people care about you. If you’re in a dark place, just know, you’re not alone and many people are experiencing the same. You’re normal and you care. Please seek advice and help. Talk to someone soon and please remember, you’re totally worthy.

The following information is taken from MIND. 

When can they help?

If you’re really struggling with difficult feelings right now and need to talk to someone immediately, but you aren’t ready or able to access emergency support.

Who can I call?

  • Samaritans. Samaritans are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to listen to anything that is upsetting you, including intrusive thoughts and difficult thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Their national freephone number is 116 123, or you can email jo@samaritans.org. Samaritans also offer a Welsh Language Line on 0300 123 3011 (from 7pm–11pm only, seven days a week).
  • SANEline. SANEline offers emotional support and information from 6pm–11pm, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0300 304 7000.
  • The Silver Line. If you’re an older person (over the age of 55), the Silver Line is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide information, support and friendship. You can call them from anywhere in the UK on 0800 4 70 80 90 (freephone).
  • CALM. If you’re a man experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58, and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
  • Nightline. If you are a student, you can look at the Nightline website to see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
  • Switchboard, the LGBT+ helpline. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, Switchboard is available from 10am–11pm, 365 days a year, to listen to any problems you’re having. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+. Their national number is 0300 330 0630, or you can email chris@switchboard.lgbt.
  • C.A.L.L. If you live in Wales, you can contact the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L). for a confidential listening and support service. Their number is 0800 123 737 or you can text ‘help’ to 81066.

Who can I call?

For general mental health information and support:

  • Mind’s Infoline. For mental health information, Mind’s Infoline is open from 9am–6pm weekdays. You can contact our Infoline on 0300 123 3393, text 86463 or email info@mind.org.uk.
  • NHS 111 / NHS Direct. If you need medical help or advice fast, but it’s not a life-threatening situation, you can call NHS 111 (in England) by dialling 111, or NHS Direct(in Wales) on 0845 46 47.
  • Papyrus HOPEline. If you’re under 35 and struggling with suicidal feelings and self-harm, the Papyrus HOPEline can offer practical advice. They’re open weekdays 10am–10pm, weekends 2pm–10pm and bank holidays 2pm–5pm. Their national number is 0800 068 4141, or you can email pat@papyrus-uk.org or text 07786 209 697.
  • Your local NHS Trust may also offer a crisis phone line, or information and support on what to do in a crisis. Check your local NHS trust’s website for more information about their services.

For problem-specific information and support:

  • Anxiety UK runs a helpline on weekdays between 9.30am–5.30pm, on 08444 775 774.
  • b-eat run a helpline for people experiencing an eating disorder. The national number is 0845 364 1414 or you can email them at help@b-eat.co.uk.
  • Bipolar UK has an information and support line open weekdays between 9am–5pm, on 020 7931 6480.
  • Carers UK offers help and advice on weekdays between 10am–4pm. Their national number is 0808 808 7777 or you can email them at advice@carers.uk.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care can offer support if you’re feeling in crisis after someone you know has died. Their helpline is open on weekdays between 9.30–5pm (and until 8pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings). The national number is 0844 477 9400 or you can email helpline@cruse.org.uk.
  • No Panic run a helpline for people experiencing anxiety disorders, open 10am–10pm, 365 days a year, on 0844 967 4848.
  • OCD UK has an advice line open weekdays between 9am–5pm on 0845 120 3778, or you can email them at support@ocduk.org.

If you can’t find a helpline here that suits your situation, visit The Helplines Partnership website for a directory of all the helplines available in the UK, including regional helplines, which you can search to find the best telephone support service for you.

The helplines are there for you. Don’t ever feel like you can’t pick up the phone. You aren’t bothering anyone, they are there to listen to your problems.

Want to read more about my journey? Head over to the Press: London, The Squeeze website … Click here to read more

If this has helped one person, then my job has been achieved. I have shared my story to support my readers. Never judge a book by its cover and always be grateful. Let’s be kind to one another. 

Happy Wednesday everyone! If you think your friends or family will benefit from this post, please share it with them. Thank you.

Want to share your story? Please let me know…

Jessica, x 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s