I remember when I first started sinking into depression in March 2013, under a year into a new job, which I thought would be a good move, but was actually a disaster. I ended up with high blood pressure, headaches, sleeplessness, anxiety, suicidal ideation, the whole shebang.
Going to the doctor’s, I was asked a load of questions about my mental health, scored highly on the Depression scale and walked out with betablockers, SSRIs and sleeping tablets. For the first month, I rattled when I walked, and after 5 days off work, I returned stoically expecting everything to be just fine.
You see, if you’re in an unsupportive workplace, going back there won’t turn those leaders into supportive versions of say Mother Theresa. Their actions (or lack of actions) caused my 90 pill prescription, and going back was like stepping into an abusive relationship where someone looks like they won’t hit you again.
But they do and they did.
Now what I should have done was walk away from that school and that profession and saved my sanity.
But I wasn’t behaving rationally and by November had sunk into severe clinical depression, which had taken me 8 months to slide into and 3 years to climb out of.
Depression is like that.
An analogy Richard used which I loved was this: depression is not only not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel but not being able to see the actual tunnel.
I laid for weeks in bed, getting up to medicate and return there with no motivation, zero self-esteem and a refusal to stop harking back to what happened. I was a manic maniac, in every sense of the word.
Alcohol abuse increased and I got to a point where I was barely functioning until August 2014 when I decided to leave teaching.
Depression though didn’t leave the building until about February 2017 and I’d say, it’s probably only a little later that I accepted the past, reconciled myself with it, stopped getting pissed and found healthier lifestyle choices with a rescue dog being adopted, a teetotal regime and membership of Bannatyne’s.
Depression held me in its grip from 2013 to 2017 and it was utterly debilitating.
I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, having lived with it myself for so long.
If you are depressed, seek advice and help.
Accept there’s no shame in it.
Be prepared for a long recovery.
Take time off work or change workplaces if that has caused it.
I medicated early days but didn’t allow them to work, as I drank heavily whilst on them.
But I would say, quite categorically, the one thing that has made me better is not only time – but committing to sobriety, not for a few days, a few weeks, or a month, but for the rest of my life.
I miss alcohol yes.
But life is much better without beer, cider, gin goggles on.
If you’re depressed, stop drinking immediately and let your brain, mind and body mend itself in a lifetime of teetotalism.