Coping With Depression

Anonymous || August 3rd

When people ask me what is the hardest thing about suffering with depression, I say that it's the fact that it's your own brain that is causing all of your problems. 

When faced with an attack from an outside source most people's natural instinct is to defend against it. If someone insults you, sling an insult right back. If someone tells you that you can't do something, you go out of your way to prove them wrong. Shields up then counter attack. It's probably not even a conscious decision for most people. It's just the thing that you do.

But what if an attack comes from within your own brain? What if you're the one slinging the insults, telling yourself you can't do something, that you're no good? 

People are inclined to value their own thoughts and judgements, especially when it comes to self evaluation. After all, who knows more about you thanyou?

For sufferers of depression it's so easy to become your own worst enemy. You get stuck in the routine of believing the worst about yourself. When things go wrong you tell yourself that it's your fault. When they don't get better; still your fault. When they get even worse...well, you get the idea.

This kind of thinking is extremely dangerous because it's incredibly isolating. If you're constantly telling yourself that you're no good and that you don't deserve good things to happen, you end up throwing the fight before you've even gotten into the ring. Worse still it becomes self fulfilling. You tell yourself that you're a failure so you don't even try to suceed. Then when good things don't happen you see it as the proof of what you told yourself. "See? If I was any good I wouldn't be in this situation", you say. This causes even lower mood which in turn makes you more self critical, which causes you to take less risks, which then exacerbates your situation and round and round it goes like the world's shittest ferris wheel. So how do you break the cycle?

Recently I've been looking for a change in career. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed what I currently do for almost ten years and it's left me with some great memories. But it's not something that I realistically see myself doing in the long term. So I've been on the job trail, applying in the majority of cases only for jobs that would represent a significant change in career and for roles that might enable me to experience that most illusive of sensations, job satisfaction.

When you're a sufferer of depression applying for jobs can be scary and extremely unpleasant. You're basically opening yourself up for judgement, or that is the way that I have experienced it at least. Yes, you're good enough for this position. No, sorry. You don't have what we're looking for. It is EXTREMELY difficult not to take any kind of rejection personally, especially when there's still the voice in the back of your head whispering, "See? Told you you wouldn't get it? What were you expecting?"

I've purposely written this piece after having my first job interview in about two years this morning. I wanted to capture how I felt in this moment, that horrible 'no mans land' between interview and the phone call letting you know how you did. 

I've made a conscious effort in the past few weeks to combat the symptoms of my depression. That's not to say that before this I'd done nothing about it. I've been on all sorts of medication, had counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, experemented with exercise, written a diary, recorded my thoughts on tape to listen back to them, the list goes on. It's just that over the past few months I haven't concentrated on my mental health as much as I should have done, and it's suffered as a result. 

What I've been reminded of late is just how important positive mental attitude and affirmative action are. Ignore the voices of self doubt. Crack on. Take risks. Tell yourself that you're good enough. It's honestly staggering just how quickly things can change. Within a week of my new mental health regime I'd found a job that I wanted. A few more days passed and I secured an interview. I went on that interview this morning. I've also found that my relationships with my friends and family have improved markedly and I'm generally feeling much better.

I don't know whether or not I've gotten the job. I don't really want to think about it for the next few days. They've said that they will let me know, so it's out of my hands. What I do know however, is that a few weeks ago, if you'd have said that I'd have had an interview for a job, any job for that matter, I wouldn't have believed you.

It's amazing how fast things can change when you start behaving positively. Whether I get the job or not, I can look at myself and say "whatever the result, it feels good to put yourself back out there and to take some risks." 

Still, wish me luck though, ey?

Here's to good mental health kids.