Depression & Overcoming It

Depression is probably one of the most complex of issues that the humn body can be struck with. There are many forms, it manifests differently in different people and there are variations of mild to severe, but no matter what kind you have, it does not lessen its terrifying symptoms or make you any less worthy of getting help for it. It is NOT taboo and never ever be ashamed to admit you feel bad. Ever. I have always believed, in a sense, that if we do not feel down, even depressed from time to time, then how are we human? We feel. We are human and this is sadly one aspect of our humanity that likes to attack, but it should not make you feel like you are a lesser being. Definitely not.

I have suffered with small bouts of depression from a young age. I believe my depression was born out of anxiety, health anxiety specifically which started in my mid-teens. Having feared every single symptom would kill me (maybe one day it might!), I had set off on a crazy journey with anxiety, becoming cocooned in my own world, missing out on social events, because I liked the quiet simple, safe night at home, and I had also realised that depression was sneeking in to this terrible world too. With the complex nature of depression, it's hard for me to talk so in depth about my own issues, but I can safely say hand on heart, that the way of the world today, can easily contribute to those triggers for depression. My spells of depression can last a few days, wear off and then repeat in weeks, or even months. They often encapsulate my feelings of total utter worthlessness and entrapment. The feeling that nobody cares, everyone hates me and that feeling of, I'm trapped, I'm tied to this life and for whatever reason I'm unable to change it because it's too hard, it's not practical. It goes on and on in this cycle and living in a very small family, I do often feel quite alone, fearing that if the people I am close to were no longer here, I would have absolutely nobody. Although, as we have all come to realise, we are never alone. Someone would be there for you, near or far, someone would be there. So it all comes down to the main question, how do we really battle depression? When we will so low, so defeated by life, so panicked about the future and even the now, so completely worthless and pointless, how do we overcome it in the moment? Truthfully, it is a work in progress, no quick fix and sadly your vulnerability and your weakness to depression, may mean it will keep recurring and rearing its ugly head. In essence, it's like a demon in your head trying desperately to consume you and your thoughts. Panic often sets in for me too and uncontrollable tears; the feel of absolute doom. So here are some of my symptoms that I have from time to time when my mind isn't quite in the best place:
  • Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and emptiness, as if there is no point to anything I'm doing.
  • Feelings of panic - there isn't a way out, I'm doomed, life will fall apart and when it does I won't be able to cope 
  • Feelings of total sadness - crying uncontrollably, feeling lost, without direction, overwhelmed with life and people 
  • Everything loses it's appeal and taste, I just have no desire or motivation to do anything, but cry and feel sorry for myself and wallow in self pity 
The ways in which I deal with these vary. I have a mother who is completely understanding of these feelings having dealt with it herself; but like for any mother or relative, they don't always know how to react because they don't want to see you this way; but it's a part of life, and you should never bottle it up, if you need to cry, then cry, even if it is front of your family or friends, if you're feeling it, you need to feel it. The next question that I always ask myself is, what triggers this feeling? Is it sudden, is it an experience or an event that's made your mind slip back into that way of thinking. For me, it's a mix. Sometimes, it's almost the final straw that can set off an episode, if someone has said something to me that's hurt me, or I've not had job satisfaction that particular week, or if things consistently go wrong in the day/week, it can trigger off an episode. I shut myself off from the outside world, wondering if anyone will care that I'm not online or that I have gone quiet, but this is no way to measure your life and measure the way people see you. Social media has so much to answer for, we judge our lives on glossy photos and whilst the grass can be greener on the other side, sometimes it isn't and there is always someone less fortunate than you in the world. How do I deal with my depression, what helps me through?
  • Getting to bed as early as I can, even if I cannot sleep, but it's futile staying up when your mind is in such a bad place.
  • Take deep breaths - this is something that I've been working on and it really does seem to reset your body. When you're crying hysterically or feeling overwhelmed or angry with life so intensely, ten slow deep breaths really does help put things into perspective a little.
  • Simplifying life -I've been trying to step away from my phone as often, putting it in another room or turning it off, it stops you from frantically searching other people's seemingly amazing lives online and gives you a reality check.
  • Realising that not everybody can or will like you and that's OK, leave them be; focus on yourself or find people who appreciate you for who you are.
  • Allowing it to pass - know that depression is a cycle, from trigger, to the intense feelings, then to the final bit of the cycle, where the wave dies down. You can't quick fix it, it will take its course.
  • Hormonal treatments - I am starting to incorporate evening primrose oil into my life in supplement form. Sometimes for women, their bouts of depression can be triggered by hormones, either around the time of their period or any time but it can be linked to hormones, so keep track if you can of when you're feeling down. Taking supplements for me is one big key thing that I definitely don't do enough of.
I have come to realise that depression can be tamed, it can be controlled, even without anti-depressants. I have never wanted to take these, just because I'm fearful of other things it may trigger but everyone is different; speak to your GP about it if you want medication. I think finding a good GP to talk to is important also, I know that I have a new GP, a female who is very understanding of all my medical issues each time I go (which is frequently with my health anxiety!!) and sometimes knowing someone professional is there is good. There are plenty of groups out there for people who suffer depression. If it's something in the moment, that you're struggling with or have any kind of suicidal thoughts then you can call The Samaritans on 116 123. It's free to call them.

There is always someone on the otehr end of a phone but most importantly, the thing with depression is, that tomorrow is a new day and the chemicals in your brain do shift with sleep and time, so this is why it's so important to remember that the universe as a whole is constantly changing balance and you as a living being is changing too. The days do get easier. I never tell anyone I suffer with depression from time to time, until now. I have told people about my anxiety, because in some ways this is easier for most people to deal with. I hold myself together in public places with people I'm around, because sometimes that's just human nature, but I have broken down in tears on a night out before; it happens. It's OK.

Just know that if you ever need anyone to chat to, I am here. Tweet me or DM me privately on Twitter or even on my contact form (right). It's time we stand upto depression because life is for living. Life is a gift.

Another thing that does uplift my spirit is creative writing, not just my Blog but my latest book "The Last Verse", a short story available on Amazon (all proceeds donated to the victims of Attica fires) - click HERE to buy/read.


  1. Hi, Jennifer! What an incredible personal and authentic post. Kudos for your courage to share someone so intimate, yet startling globally common.

    I'm happy you acknowledged the importance of hormones, because for many women, it is a major contributor. Nutritional deficiencies--especially Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B Complex, Folate, Iron, Zinc, and Iodine--are major contributors as well.

    I stumbled across your blog post in a Facebook group while adding my own about the "other healthcare crisis" in the United States: physician burnout and suicide. So I felt an immediate connection and was compelled to read yours since I, too, have suffered from anxiety and "Cyclothymia", a rare mood disorder which has similar characteristics of bipolar disorder, just in a milder and more chronic form. If you are suffering from cyclothymia, you experience cyclic highs and lows that are persistent for at least two years or more. Now that I'm post-menopausal, my symptoms are much milder. Diet, exercise, yoga, and supplements no doubt have also contributed, since I barely had any of the usual menopausal melodrama many most women report.

    I also suffered from burnout. But in the wake of "Obamacare" and the economic downturn that forced many of my colleagues to bankrupt and/or to close their private practice to become employees of hospitals, I opted for early retirement and became a "doctorpreneur."

    Unfortunately, for many physicians, this isn't a viable option, nor should it have to be. Physician burnout in the U.S. has a pervasive negative effect on all aspects of medical care. According to one researcher, “Numerous global studies involving nearly every medical and surgical specialty indicate that one in every three physicians is experiencing burnout at any given time.” Burnout has also been linked to hopelessness and a higher risk of suicide. The statistics for physician suicide are alarming: Approximately 300-400 physicians commit suicide each year, or about 1 each day. The suicide rate among physicians is more than two times higher than in the general population.

    I was determined not to be one of those statistics.

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