Dealing with depression

May 11th, 2016 by Home Group colleague, Robin Frame in Features

A young man smiles to camera - Robin

Home Group colleague Robin Frame tells us his experiences of clinical depression and how life has changed post-diagnosis.

In March 2012 I was diagnosed with clinical depression, but that isn’t where this story starts or ends.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can recognise that I have suffered from depression since I was a teenager. At the time it was brushed off, by myself and others, as hormones. There was always a reason – you’re just under a lot of pressure, you listen to depressing music, it probably has something to do with you reading Kurt Cobain’s diary again.

I didn’t understand what I was feeling or why I couldn’t just function like my friends, and turned to self-harm. I knew what I was doing wasn’t healthy, and went to great lengths to hide it from my friends and family. All around me people were telling me I would grow out of it, that it was a teenage phase. By the time I was twenty four I was struggling to get out of bed, and getting through my working day was like wading through quicksand. That’s when I knew I had to do something about it. If I was physically ill I would go to the doctor, so why wouldn’t I go if I was mentally ill?

Going to my GP and being diagnosed with clinical depression was a huge relief, which may seem strange. As soon as I got my prescription for Prozac I felt like I could start dealing with it. I felt like I was winning.

My depression is much easier to deal with now. I understand myself a lot more than I did when I was fifteen, and I no longer have to listen to people telling me it’ll blow over. In some respects it will – I see my depression as a tide which ebbs and flows. When the tide is out I sometimes find myself thinking, ‘I can probably just throw my anti-depressants in the bin, I’m totally fine!’

When the tide is in I struggle to function like a human being. I’ll turn on the shower and stand in the bathroom, staring at it for twenty minutes before I can bring myself to get in; my alarm will go off and I’ll lie in bed, wide awake but unable to get up; I’ll suddenly be overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts and have an existential crisis; I’ll cry uncontrollably, for no reason.

For most people, getting out of bed and going to work is just something they can do. For me, it had become a cause for celebration. Now, I congratulate myself whenever I make it to an appointment on time, even if I stayed in bed until five minutes before I had to leave and then ran around like a mad-man.

A few things I have learned from my mental illness are:

  • You need to be honest with yourself. Depression is unlikely to go away on its own, and it’s okay to ask for help. If you’ve felt down for a while, go and talk to your GP.
  • The meds you get may not be for you. I was prescribed Prozac at first and they didn’t agree with me. I lost my appetite, and my depression turned into disassociation (where I would space out, and constantly feel like I wasn’t present). Since then I have changed medication and had my dosage doubled. It’s okay to have to try a few things.
  • Talk to people. Talk to your friends and your family. Mental illness is not taboo anymore, and being silent isn’t being strong.

I am not my mental illness, and I am not going to let it beat me.