Today I am going to talk about depression. The truth behind what goes on in my head, honest look into my triggers, and advice on how to tackle it head on.
I’ve been lying a lot.
I hate lying, I’m a terrible liar, I don’t have a poker face so people always can tell when I’m lying. But that’s with verbal lies. Face to face lies are tricky. But lying through your personality and your online profile is a piece of piss.
I have been battling with depression on and off since around my early 20’s; I guess having anxiety from an even younger age just made my brain sad. I have no control over it. I take 100mg of Sertraline every evening at around 7pm which is supposed to do something but it doesn’t. It stopped working ages ago I think… or maybe it is working and I would have been so much worse if I wasn’t on it? Who knows.
This pandemic has literally tore me apart. Not just for the obvious reasons of losing people, risks of spreading or catching etc etc. Being stuck in my house and not being able to go out and meet people or just go out and lead a normal life has really fucked me up.
I know I’m not the only one, everyone is feeling it. I’m nothing special. But writing is my outlet and I need to get the things damaging my mentality out and expressed if I am ever going to progress and somehow encounter and fulfil the impossible task of loving myself and believing I deserve happiness.
I have always been made to feel like my depression isn’t real or understood. There are multiple reasons in my overloaded ADHD-anxious-depressed brain that spiral round and round and make me sad but I need people to acknowledge that I’m sick. Not weak.
I remember the first time I acknowledged I had issues and I wasn’t sleeping properly etc. Think I was around 17, I went to GP’s and all I got was ‘yeah you’re quite young, try to not drink caffeine after 7pm and see how you get on’. Hey, don’t drink coke at night and it’ll all go away right?
Then, When things got really bad, in my early to mid 20’s, I went to the doctors again.. got asked to fill in the questionnaire form, you know the one where you fill in how you feel and they score you on how depressed you really are?. Well, my score was pretty high. The doctor prescribed me some anti-depressants and then said ‘what have you got to be depressed about, you’re only 24?’. A qualified medical professional who should fucking understand mental illnesses said that to me.
This comment encouraged me to keep the noise down about my feelings. Not the anxious over dramatic ones of course, I can’t help those outbursts, but the depressive thoughts. The thoughts where I would lay down on my bed staring at the ceiling letting tears roll down either side of my face and constantly telling myself:
“You’re never not going to be the ugly one”
“You’re so stupid.”
“Why can’t you just be someone else?”
“They wouldn’t miss you anyway.”
Pretty dark shit isn’t it? But again, it’s not something I can control. It’s the way my brain is programmed. I have the permanent reminder in my head that I do not deserve to be happy. This is my main depression trigger I believe. This constant ongoing message in my head that I am set for failure because I quite frankly do not deserve a happy ending.
That particular reminder is in my head for a number of reasons…
One of them is that I always had a bit of a bad string of luck in all areas. I have had second best syndrome since as far as I can remember, probably because I’ve never actually come first in anything really. I always seemed to fail at things and have the worst luck with men.
Men are another big trigger in this for me. I guess it’s because of having people around me constantly implying that you’re nothing until a man wants you. And I struggle to find a man I want to ever want me back. When it seems like I have found one, it’s great to start with, it’s always the overly nice ones or ones who seem great, caring and ‘so me’ but then they treat me like crap with some petty excuse. For example, I once had a guy text me nonstop for days and arrange a date with me, didn’t text me for 2 days and then a few hours before the ‘date’ told me his car had been broken into that evening and he didn’t know what to do, literally a week later he was in a relationship on Facebook. (Men: it’s important to take note here- stop being cowards, the truth will set you free, literally!) I get the guys who do the talks about not wanting a relationship or anything serious but then a few weeks after breaking things off with me oh look, they’ve found the love of their life. Funny that.
I’ve learned though, that the harsh reality is, I am just not likeable enough to men I’d like to be attracted to me. I’m always the hilarious friend or the fun little hook up but there’s always something about me that makes guys just get bored of me super, super fast. And I am so fed up of trying to pretend that it doesn’t kill me every day. I hide behind jokes about being single and having a ‘tragic love life’ because it is legitimately the only way I know how to react to stuff. I have grown up in an environment where you have to try and see the funny side to pain. It’s the only way to not show people that I cry every time I even remotely like a guy in some way; Because then I get attached, he seems great but then he slowly dispatched himself from me until he finally leaves then I have an ugly cry over WhatsApp to my girlfriends asking them what is wrong with me!
It’s obviously affected the way I am with anyone I get attracted to now. Every guy I’ve got with always seemed perfect for me. Says the right things, does the right things, makes the effort, friends like them, all the boxes are ticked. But they always find something better than me, and leave. The problem this then entails is that I just get overly paranoid whenever I meet a new guy I like. I stress about how they don’t openly like pictures of my face – because that has to mean they don’t find me attractive, right?. Constant overthinking, questioning everything and of course, waiting for the moment that they prove me right and turn out to not be that into me. it’s a vicious circle (the more you make a part of yourself with your paranoia, the further they shall run).
Obviously there’s other triggers that add in to my issues with depression, my body never looks how I want it to (who’s does right?), I set myself targets and goals and then beat myself up about how I will never meet them or be a writer.
I have had issues with friendships, I always feel like I don’t fit in; I’m terrified that I’ll never have a family of my own, I feel like everybody secretly slags me off and thinks I’m the most annoying person they ever met (I mean, I probably am to be fair). I have this image in my head of people seeing me and thinking why can’t she just not be here.
Lockdown has also contributed to making me feel worse, because I can’t do certain things that I wanna do day to day.
Like the fact that whenever I went to work, I’d always try and do silly little dances or whatever in the smoking shelter to make people laugh; Making other people laugh and also just being my hyper stupid self makes me feel super happy. It distracts me from that dark lurking in the corner of my head. Being funny and silly is something I’ve always been good at. The overthinking and grey clouds can distract me later, right now I’m making a tit of myself and having fun. This is of course before my overthinking hits later and says you probably made everyone hate you more.
I am doing my absolute best to not let things get to me too much when I’m alone. To work on not being a needy mess all the time – but I don’t blame me for that, I blame the guys who always made me feel like they were honest and would tell me if things were wrong but they never had the balls to be upfront and just slowly pied me off instead. Once you’ve been through over a dozen of those, you’re programmed to just feel like every single guy you meet and connect with is a liar or keeping something from you, or would just rather you fuck off. Or in some cases, all three.
I’m doing my best to let myself cry things out whenever I need to instead of bottling it all in. Even if it is over the dumbest things in my head. I’ve learned that crying is a really big part of self-care, you have to let those emotions out. I also sometimes just allow myself to indulge in chocolate, or sleep for a day because my mental health has worn me out.
The annoying thing is, throughout the pandemic it’s been so up and down. I will have a chunk of days or weeks where I’ll just be working away and things are neutral and I feel like I’ve forgotten that I have depression. Those are the better times. Then other times, it’s like I wake up one morning and it’s like ‘hey bitch, guess who’s back?’.
I can only describe it as having like a really bad migraine that you just cannot get rid of, no matter how many tablets you take or water you drink. It’s just always there. The doctors can’t get rid of it, you can’t get rid of it, so you just find different ways to handle it as best you can.
I’m now going through a point where I’m trying to expressively look for positives in each day to try and battle out the playing field a bit. Let depression just F off.
Writing is the best thing ever for me right now, and getting indulged in that is really helping me and my GOSH have I got loads and loads of ideas and plans in the pipeline. I think not only does writing fiction, poetry, nonfiction etc help me, but journaling has been so good for me too because I don’t have anyone to talk to honestly and openly about my feelings properly.
This isn’t meant to be a dig at any of my friends in the slightest, but I have to be real here: it’s a lot easier for us to post stories and tweets about how we’re always going to be there for someone, if they wanna message us about anything or feel depressed but it’s not really that easy to keep up with it is it?. Every one has their own lives. All of my friends are busy. Quite a lot. And it’s not their fault, they genuinely do not have the time that I need them to have. Because it’s not just a little text message here and there for me that’ll fix it. I want to have a proper intense and deep conversation about what goes on in my head sometimes and not feel like I’m pulling someone away from more important things.
It’s also one of those things as well where there’s certain things you can’t say to certain people. Like I’m not going to have a deep conversation with a guy that I fancy and tell him about how needy I am. That’s just basic common sense. I’d want the guy to want me not be like well good job we’re platonic, this bitch be crazy.
And I’m not going to talk about my body issues to people who might have body hang ups of their own and make them feel like it’s a competition. It’s hard. I need a therapist ideally don’t I?
But hey, I can’t do zoom appointments in my very small not-private home so for now it’s just writing shit down in blog posts, or poetry etc to let the darkness out a little bit. To anyone who buys my books in the future, (that I will have published one day, just you wait and see) I apologise in advance for how deep some of what you read might be.
So how do we overcome depression when things are seeming pretty negative? Here’s a few things that I have started doing that I hope may help anyone reading this:
1. Writing that shit out; I mean, I’m someone who’s aiming to be a full-blown writer so it’s easy for me to say. But even before my courses, I always used to write things out. I still keep a journal. It’s really good therapy and self-care for ourselves to express how we’re feeling in writing. If you don’t wanna keep a journal, maybe write letters to either yourself or someone who hurt you. Sometimes letting out your feelings in a letter that you throw away after can make a big difference.
2. Make practicing Gratitude an every day part of your life; No matter how up or down you are, take a deep breath at the end of each day before you sleep and express gratitude for the things you do have. Your home, friends, just making it through the day without a breakdown. Anything that you’re glad you have.
3. Get medical advice; Depression is an illness. It’s as simple as that. When we’re very ill, we speak to the doctors. I know in the pandemic it is really hard, but we can still get the right help where needed if things are getting a bit too much for us.
4. Find a new interesting hobby; You don’t have to be amazing at it. Just find something new to learn and focus a bit of time on and enjoy doing it. Who knows what you might learn?
5. Put your phone away for a few hours; This one is a tough one. We are now in a world where a social media platform breaks and we have a meltdown. The first thing we grab when we wake is our phones. It’s also really, really bad for our health – physically and mentally. Put your phone on airplane mode or switch it off for a while at some regular intervals and focus on other things. It’s amazing the things you notice and pick up on when you’ve not got your eyes glued to a screen.
6. Get into new exercises; I am struggling a bit with this one myself. Especially when my black cloud is really, really hovering over me, but exercise really does release some good energy. Whether it’s just a few stretches a day, a YouTube kettlebell video or a yoga app, try and keep your body moving.
7. Do good things for the environment; if anything can make us feel good, it’s having a mission to protect our environment. Climate change is real, it’s happening. The future children and children’s children can really suffer if we don’t do something about it. I’m not saying you have to automatically become a vegan tomorrow or you’re never allowed to throw rubbish in the wrong bin again; there are many things we can do to help prevent the environmental struggle: eat less meat, don’t wash clothes too frequently, get rid of plastic straws, don’t throw away clothes – donate to charities instead etc.
8. Turn your mind away from the pressures of social media; Again, I struggle with this too. I’m not perfect. But social media is always going to be telling us to look slim, that our eyebrows aren’t right, we need to shave constantly etc etc. But it’s all money for them. They don’t give a shit about what you really look like or do. Also, and I cannot stress this enough: your body and mind is YOURS. If you don’t want to have Botox, or you like your curves or body frame as it is, if you want to keep a bush between your legs and not shave your legs for a month then you do you.
(I mean, I personally don’t want a bush but I also don’t appreciate that a few decades ago we weren’t women unless we had bundles of pubes but now men want us to have a fanny like children. What the fuck? Again, it’s us being forced to do things we don’t want to necessarily do, but we feel we have to. Particularly for women. No wait, especially for women. I don’t see a lot of men being told their private area needs to be shaved or trimmed to a certain degree but we still have to put it in our mouths!)
9. Have a self–care day once a month, at least!; Whatever your idea of self-care is, whether it is sleeping for the whole day, doing endless workouts, a nice long hot bath, ALL the chocolate, or just reading books and wearing face masks, OR a mixture of all those things. Make sure you try and have days set aside for you to do those things. It’s amazing how different you can feel.
10. Self-Help/Anti-Guru/Guidance Books or Spiritual; I LOVE a good non-fiction help book or biography or memoir of how people have overcome things. Or spiritual guidance. There are so many out there. Giving yourself time to read books like this can really give you some good stern life-changing advice or help to go forward. If you haven’t read stuff like this before I would recommend the likes of Vex King, Jay Shetty & Matt Haig. Women: read Chidera Eggerue’s books – they are incredible.
I have now done a typical Zoë and waffled on for way too long. But, I do feel better now I’ve said all of this. I hope some of the above ideas also help anyone who might need it.
Catch up soon. Keep your head up everyone xxx