Get up! Let's talk about depression.

Depression is a lot more common than we think, yet it’s barely spoken about amongst each other. I can say this from personal experience due to the nature of my job where I deal with people from all walks of life who suffer from depression and I see it amongst my fellow colleagues. I know depression all too well because I am also a repeat sufferer. This time, I want to get rid of it for once and for all - if that's possible.

One morning of struggling to get out of bed, I found myself yelling to myself "Get up! Get up! Get up!" then I remembered a Silverchair song I used to love called "Emotion Sickness" where Daniel Johns sung "Get up... get up... get up... get up... won't you stop my pain!". It clicked. He was singing about his depression. I guess around the time I was listening to this incredible album, I wasn't suffering from depression, so I never associated the words to their meanings when I listened to it. I more so valued the instrumental uniqueness and loved David Helfgott playing the piano. When I made this connection, I grabbed my old CD and listened to it in my car. I cried. It was so nice to hear someone so talented and inspirational express words I could resonate with. I also felt deep sorrow for him.

Depression is a dark and lonely place, and to be reminded you're not alone in feeling like this, somewhat helps. You have a common link with a person. You are not the only one who feels this hopeless. There are actually people who recover, maybe for a moment, maybe forever. So let's talk about it.

What is depression? Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities [1]. You can be trapped in this mood if you don't get treatment. Depression is more than feeling sad. It can affect the way you behave and comes with a long list of potential symptoms, including irritability, insomnia, anger, hatred, frustration, anxious, mood swings, restless, feeling hopeless, lack of motivation, social anxiety, thoughts of suicide, constant thinking, fatigue, changes in appetite, pains, headaches and may contribute to a list of health conditions. Every one is different and may experience some or all of these symptoms. It is important if you identify any of these symptoms, to seek professional help. Some services offered in Australia include Beyond Blue and Lifeline. Click here to view a list of other services available in Australia. Or visit a physician, they will guide you. If you are presently experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the ambulance on your local emergency hotline (Triple 0 - that's 000 - if you are in Australia). I started my process when I hit breaking point by calling Open Arms and visiting a physician first thing the following morning.

What causes depression? The cause of depression is yet unknown but a list of factors can contribute to it's development and happens from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal elements rather than one immediate issue or event [2]. Factors may include: life stressors such as employment situations, abusive relationships, separation, death of loved-one, long-term isolation, prolonged stress, family history, personality, serious medical illness, drug and alcohol use.

Some treatments include taking antidepressants which helps balance the neurotransmitters in your brain (serotonin and noradrenaline) that affect mood and emotions [3]. An example and most commonly form of an antidepressant used are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRI's increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that stabilises your mood and happiness [4]. Psychological treatment also helps regulate your moods.

When I had a relapse last year, I went crying to my doctor. He referred me to a psychologist and I trialed an SSRI for the first time. I remember it took a week or two to get over the vertigo and nausea of the tablet and what I found it really helped with was my OCD tendencies (I never thought that could be possible). It definitely pulled me out of my deep depressive state, but I was still miserable because of so many contributing internal/external problems. The psychologist helped, but because I was new to it all, I don't think I used the sessions to my advantage. My obsessive need to please inhibited me to really open up. I started yin yoga and meditation, that really helped, especially with my chronic pain. I don't think I really mastered it though, because my brain just didn't want to shut up. In the end, I found a motivation (distraction) to get me out of my funk; have a baby! I weened off my antidepressant (after consulting with my physician of course). I was back to feeling vertigo and nausea. Went back to work and stopped seeing my psychologist.

Big mistake.

Work made lots of promises to move me to a behind-the-scenes role. It wasn't happening. There was a job restructure happening and I was guaranteed an office position. The restructure was put on hold, the hold date kept getting extended. As I was trying to fall pregnant through a fertility clinic, I reminded myself, "You'll be pregnant soon enough, you won't be front-line when you are, and then you'll have a year of maternity leave, PUSH THROUGH!". Constant negative results, including a miscarriage. Work was filling my bucket. My anxiety was through the roof. I was developing new phobias and new OCD tendencies. I'd exhausted all my leave (including long service leave). I wasn't getting relieving to get me "off-the-road". I was finding it hard to run and hide from the pressure of my work, hard to unwind, relax, recharge... I broke. My jug was boiling - bubbling, steaming, screeching - all year. Then it flushed over and actually broke.

That night when I finished work, I called Open Arms. I apologised saying I had a bit of a phone phobia and it wasn't easy to call and speak to them. I didn't sleep that night and knew I wasn't going back to work. I went to a walk-in doctor as soon as my nearest bulk-billing clinic opened and cried to a doctor I'd never seen before. She gave me a work certificate and referred me to a psychiatrist. She suspected I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On my behalf, Whitney called a close friend of mine who helps people in my position. She told me to write a list of traumatic events in my career, so I did. Ouch.

Another symptom of depression is lack of self-worth. I am a hard working, people pleasing, worried about what people think, perfectionist, always using my brain and problem-solving, always busy and helping people. I am now none of that, embarrassed and ashamed. I am working through it.

I have had one appointment with my new psychologist so far and this time I did it right. I was raw, and didn't hold back. The appointment was in the afternoon and when she asked how I felt about going in, I was honest and said "I only woke up to get here" (meaning I was dreading it and couldn't get out of bed to do anything else). I haven't met my psychiatrist yet, it was a two-month waiting list when they booked me in.

It's only been one month since that day I couldn't return to work, so it's early days yet. I started this blog because I'd heard it can be therapeutic. Growing up I always had an interest in web design and went on to study information technology and then multimedia design. Why didn't I pursue a career in those fields? I'm sure one day I won't have those regrets, but right now, I do. I have a little motivation to get some of my thoughts and interests on here. A day at a time, I shouldn't overwhelm myself otherwise it defeats the purpose of having a break to recover.

In time, I hope to have the courage to open up some more. I hope me giving a bit of insight in to my depression helps someone out there take their first steps to recovery. Maybe we can do it together? Every one deserves to feel happy, have freedom, and enjoy life, right? It's worth a shot.

[1] Higuera V (February 2020). "Everything you want to know about depression". Healthline. []

[2] BeyondBlue (2021). "What causes depression". BeyondBlue Australia. [].

[3] Greenlaw E (July 2010). "How your depression medicine can affect your life". WebMD. []

[4] Bancos I (December 2018). "What is serotonin?". Hormone Health Network. []

Thanks for trying to look depressed for me Braxton :\

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