Welcome to week 4 of #ThatsMentalHealth. This evening I’m joined by one of my blogger friends, Hannah Graham. In this post, Hannah talks about how depression affected her work life and how she pushed through the other side.
TRIGGER WARNING: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS DETAILS OF DEPRESSION. PLEASE BE MINDFUL BEFORE CONTINUING.
Hi everyone, I’m Hannah and I blog over at possiblyvintage.com. I have been clinically diagnosed with depression and panic disorder, although one not at the same time. I’ve been dealing with this for about 12 years now which have all been pretty standard for the most part. However, recently I have had a bit of a collywobble that ultimately resulted in me resigning from my position as an online marketeer, and it’s that which I’m going to talk to you about today.
I think it’s fair to say I brought this on myself. Not the illness but the slump that resulted in my mini breakdown. I took on too many responsibilities at work, started to bring my work home with me so I could work after hours and brushed off social outings so that I could catch up on the sleep/rest that I was sorely lacking. I saw all of the warning signs that come with my illness but dismissed them all telling myself that I would be fine – I just had to push through it. I got to the point where I would leave the house for work at 6.30am get home for around 7pm and just crawl into bed and sleep straight through, but still I refused anti-depressants. Looking back I just want to shake myself and scream ‘what are you doing, you idiot?’ but that’s the beauty of hindsight isn’t it?
I pushed myself so hard that I could no longer function as a human being. I would lie in bed and stare at the ceiling willing myself to get up and go downstairs because I really needed the loo, but the simple action of turning my head was too much for me to bear. I went to see my GP and was put back on medication (my GP is wonderful and very supportive, I’m lucky in that sense) but I was still a mess, not fit to work or really interact at all. Throughout all of this my husband has been my rock. Talking to me when I stared blankly through him, encouraging me to respond to the simplest thing, making sure I ate something even if it was just a bag of crisps and buying me a stuffed monkey toy to help ease my anxiety.(Yes I’m a grown woman in my late 20s with a teddy bear, but it’s much more helpful than you think.)
As the meds slowly started to kick in and I started to get back to normal there were a variety of things that helped me manage my emotions and cope with day to day life. I’ve already mentioned the toy Mr G bought me, it was lovely to have something to sit on the sofa and cuddle whenever I wanted that didn’t have to go to work or go about its day (like my cat Oscar). Films also played a huge part. They don’t take as much mental effort as reading and you can easily pop in and out of them. My favourites when I’m feeling low are the childhood Disney films that remind me of home.
I was also referred to a local women’s support group by CMHT named Kyra which held drop ins twice a week. I still try to visit whenever I can as I made a lot of friends there and it’s such a supportive, welcoming group, and although it was really difficult to get myself out of the house and most of the morning was spent gearing myself up to go out on my own I was always glad when I managed to go. In a bid to get me comfortable with going outside again Mr G came up with the alphabet game. Everyday I would have to leave the house at least once for as long as it took to take a photograph of a street name starting with that days letter. It could be as little as a few minutes or as long as half an hour, but because I had something to focus on I didn’t feel as conspicuous and it helped keep my panic at bay (although there were quite a few days I ended up having panic attacks).
I’m now leading a more ‘normal’ life for lack of a better word. I’m getting myself back on my feet, starting to work again part time and feeling more like myself than I have in a long time. I won’t lie, it’s not been an easy journey, but if you stick at it and keep on telling yourself it will get better eventually it does.