“This, too, shall pass” is something that has stuck with me from the time I was diagnosed with depression until this very day, and will stick with me until my time is up.
After a relatively intensive year 12 period, it was only toward the end of January of 2015 that I decided to take the plunge to see a Doctor about how I had been feeling. It was after discussion with both my parents and Nan (both had experience with mental health) that I finally decided to brave the fact that something was not ok, and that just dealing with it internally was not cutting it. I decided to see a psychologist.
The main reason why I decided this was due to my constant overthinking and overanalysing of situations. I’d just received my Year 12 marks and was completely emotionally exhausted from the experience. I analysed my relationship at the time, my friendships with friends and family. Every little area of my life was under intense scrutiny from my mind. I recall quite clearly how intense the first session with the psychologist was. I left crying, and potentially more confused than I had been before even set foot in the door. I then went back and back, and things started to appear to be looking up. I was given coping techniques in order to deal with my overthinking. Everything seemed to be looking up. I was still unhappy, but was finding ways to cope.
However, not all was as great as I was making it seem. Things began to become more turbulent and troublesome. I started to become more discontent with what was going on within my life.
A celebratory dinner with my girlfriend at the time ended in a rather convoluted night of unknown emotions around the 30th of January 2015. Feelings of anger and self-hatred crept into my mind to an alarming extent and I felt trapped. After dinner, we went to the Schützenfest and I was feeling alarmingly claustrophobic, which was extremely unlike me. Then I was dropped back to my grandma’s apartment with the night ending sitting on a balcony in tears. I contemplated why I was feeling such disgust with myself, and why it was that I was this way. I just could not put my finger on it.
I sat there, bawling my eyes out, and fighting with my ex-girlfriend via text (Who was telling me to get help). I was shattered. I called my Mum and explained to her where I was and how I was feeling, and I felt so horrible for putting her through not being able to be there for me. It was then that I decided that I needed help. I walked into my grandma’s apartment crying uncontrollably, sobbing… an unusual thing for a then 18-year-old male. I was consoled by her and her partner Philip. I was a mess. I could overhear the conversations my grandma was having with my parents, and at that moment, I had never felt so alone. I felt as if everything was collapsing around me.
The next morning was something I won’t forget. I have never felt such a struggle getting out of bed. My sleeping patterns were relatively irregular; however, this was something else. I felt as if I were trapped in my bed with a highly adhesive glue. My grandma had called the Doctor that morning and managed to get me into see one at her local clinic. I managed to climb out of the bed, and I finally mustered the courage to shower. I remember crying in the shower (something that became a regular occurrence over the coming weeks) and being scared out of my mind, being scared to confront what lie ahead of me. In particular, I was scared for those around me, to see the person I’d become. Depression, might I add, should never define a person, but for someone suffering, this can be far from what they believe.
A trip to the Doctor later… the conclusion 30 mg of the anti depressant Duloxetine (An SNRI) … blood tests confirmed nothing was wrong elsewhere… just what was wrong in my mind. The unknown awaited.
I was diagnosed with depression on the 31st of January 2015. The saddening thing is that 45% of the population will be confronted with some form of mental illness at some point in their lives. This has to change.
I was sceptical. I looked at lots of YouTube videos attempting to find out more about Duloxetine. The future was frightening, hearing people say that it did not work for them, and that they were worse as a result. I did not want to take the plunge. I did not want to do this. I did not think I was at this stage, but I finally accepted that this COULD help me. I did it. I remember that moment… the moment of choosing to plunge into the unknown. And so I did it, I swallowed the pill.
Days went by and I was still feeling miserable. I was feeling the side effects of the drug: the nausea, the sweating. This was not the kind of miserable you usually feel when something goes wrong. A misery that you can’t budge. You can’t see past the day. You can’t even really see the day. It becomes a battle within your mind to stop yourself crying. It’s really unbelievable to be in a bed from when you wake up until you fall asleep, crying uncontrollably, being comforted by your grandma at the age of 18. The steps you take to the bathroom are uncontrollably unconscious. You are just not there.
Eventually I mustered up the courage to leave my room. I read books about depression, and had countless discussions with those around me about the issue, and I began to finally feel more like myself. Usually Duloxetine takes 1-2 weeks to begin to work, however, I began to feel “better” after around 6 days. This was incredible. It felt as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I felt as if I could finally breathe, and this was when I decided that it was a good time to return to my casual work.
Weeks went by and I began to become more aware of how I was changing. Everything eventually started to feel better, but not 100% right. I started at a Residential College, and everything was hectic. My life was thrown into chaos. I started university, on what I felt like, the back foot. I was scared for the future, and it began to show. I was not myself again, and this scared me. So, I decided that it was time to go back to the Doctor and he recommended furthering my dosage to 60 mg of Duloxetine. This was not as scary as the initial dosage, and so I took that plunge again, and I am so thankful that I did. Eventually, I reached the stage where I was weened off of the anti-depressant. This was something that, to this day, brings a really unexplainable feeling to me.
You know, if there’s one thing I can say about depression, it’s that YOU can beat it. It is something that does not define you. Almost 2 years after being diagnosed with depression, and I’m so happy and content with who I am. I know exactly what it feels like to be at the bottom of yourself, to realise the extent to which one’s mind can wreak havoc. Just please remember that you are not alone and that things WILL get better. I’m so proud of you for fighting if you are suffering with depression or any mental illness for that fact. Don’t let this be the end. Talk to people around you. You can do this. It does get better! This, too, shall pass. Believe me.