Am I still depressed? It’s a hell of a question. This time eight years ago I was at my experience of rock bottom. A very dark start to my 20s, but something I will never underestimate the importance of.
Fortunately for me, I was in a place where the next few steps – and most since – were in an upward direction.
A lot has happened in the eight years since my mental breakdown. I moved to London for a year, bought a flat in Chelmsford, Top Gun: Maverick finally came out (which is outstanding) and, of course, we all effectively lost two years to the Coronavirus pandemic.
My mental breakdown is one of those things I can still remember as if it was last week. Yet, on the other hand, eight years does sound about right. Heck, today marks half a decade since I flew to South America which I find very hard to believe.
Eight years of diagnosed depression (and the rest). More than a year’s worth of therapy. Depression is an illness, and no one is immune. But am I still depressed?
This time eight years ago, back in 2014, I was mere days away from my first therapy session. After the first few months of weekly sessions, I knew I had to do one small thing to play my part in fighting the illness. Change everything.
I battled severe depression for a number of years. Growing up I was that child who wasn’t very good at anything, with appraisals being few and far between. This mainly goes for hobbies and school.
As a result, my confidence was non-existent which, in turn, stripped me of serotonin and I just tried to live with it, taking it with me through everything. At the time, for me, it was normal. There were many Saturday afternoons where I saw a late winner at a West Ham game which sent the crowd crazy, but I felt nothing. The energy was there for all to see but it was as if I was one of 35,000 spectators facing the other way.
Partway through the initial nine-month therapy process, I knew I wanted an injection of fun to kick-start my new outlook on my life – which is where my 2015 round the world trip came into play.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing in the years since. Sometimes I’ve had to go back to therapy (I’ve had four or five rounds in total I think) and I’m fine with that. If I didn’t go back to therapy for the rest of my life I would be incredibly surprised simply because the world changes. How many of you had even heard of Wuhan before 2020?
Therapy always does what it needs to do to get me back on track. For that reason, I can’t see a time when I will need to take anti-depressants. Never say never, but from my experience over the last eight years, my depression is not that level of severe.
Accept the apology I’m never going to get and move on.
There are a number of people I’ve come across in life who owe me an apology. Former colleagues, former employers, teachers and women who have been potential love interests in my life, to name a few. I know I’m never going to get one, which is fine. There’s probably a number of people out there who I owe an apology too.
It’s all well and good controlling my miniscule part of this world. But I can’t control everything. I can’t control the other people I work with, who sit next to me at a West Ham game and so on.
A lot of the time it’s fine, but not always. That’s just the way life is. I don’t know what is going on in these people’s lives. They could be going through a mentally challenging time themselves, or maybe they’re just an angry, bitter, nasty person.
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t gone to therapy as a result of the treatment I’ve received from people. It’s by far the one thing I struggle with the most – how do I walk into a room and command respect?
Over time – and with the aid of therapy – I’ve learned that the best thing to do is accept the apology I’m never going to get.
Whenever it happens at a manageable level I just remind myself that the treatment won’t last and I’ve just go to be kind to myself, the rest takes care of itself.
Sometimes I get depressed, but anxiety is a constant hum in my life.
Anxiety can be about everything happening at once or about being overwhelmed. I’ve put myself through some big tasks in the past, the London Marathon, the Ironman I’m currently training for etc. But there’s no task greater than the task of living.
If I’m honest, I think the world is a breeding ground for anxiety at the moment. Especially with social media, thankfully I’m not phased by what I see on people’s Instagram pages. Any form of envy generated there is purely a motivational perspective, which isn’t a bad thing. Ie, why did I want to run the London Marathon for a number of years? Because I saw people doing it on social media and thought it looked like a good thing to do. There wasn’t a day when I just woke up and just decided I want to run a marathon.
In the past, I’ve been so overwhelmed with all the tasks I have to do that I just do nothing. My brain is too drained from trying to process it all that I can’t focus my attention on the most important thing that needs doing at that moment in time. As a result I’ve missed meals, had a lack of sleep and some truly horrific days at the office.
I’ve spoken about anxiety in therapy numerous times, but I am beginning to think that perhaps I need that daily aid of medication to support it. It’s something I’ll look into over the next few months for sure.
My biggest life lesson from the last eight years is that you can run away from your emotions, but they’ll always catch up with you. It’s important to acknowledge how you experience the world. The good, the bad and the ugly. Feelings matter. And the negative ones are just as important as the good, if not more so.