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I'm feeling stronger. Not in a Popeye kind of way, but in an emotional health sort of way. The very dark despair that was there a few weeks ago has lifted, and I'm now feeling more optimistic about life again, although that's a scary word to use - optimistic. I don't want to tempt fate or anything, but yes it does seem like the right word to use.
I'm still not out of the woods, but compared to a couple of months ago I'm much improved, and the way forward I noticed recently is making itself much clearer to me now.
I've been working hard to improve where my head is at without resorting to prescribed anti-depressants and for a while I thought I was going to have to relent and ask my GP for them again, but just recently that feeling has subsided and I'm happy to keep taking the St. Johns Wort and combine it with relaxation, trying to get some decent sleep - although my sleep patterns are still disrupted - and talking and being more open about how I'm feeling. That has helped, but I've been reading a little about mindfulness and will be giving that a go too.
I wouldn't wish depression on anyone because apart from the actual experience of dealing with it it's also a very misunderstood illness.
I'm sure that when some people hear the words 'mental illness' they immediately focus on the 'mental' part of it, with images of straight-jackets and asylums flashing through their minds. A combination of ignorance and embarrassment means that many people dismiss depression as self-indulgent self-pity. If someone breaks their leg, or has a heart attack, it would be obvious to everyone that it takes time to recover from it, but recovering from depression isn't afforded the same amount of patience. It's a shame, because more people than you'd think actually struggle with it and don't speak out because of the misconceptions.
If you know someone who seems 'down in the dumps' or is finding life difficult at the moment, please let them know that you care, and offer a bit of support - maybe listening to them while they talk, or helping in a more practical way, but mainly just being there for them. It could make all the difference.