First Step of Cure for Depression is Recognising the Problem
The first step in dealing with any type of problem is recognising that there is a problem at all and then identifying the nature of that problem. I now realise I have been depressed to some extent for several years; possibly since my mother died and when, for some reason, I did not go through the usual grieving process. With hindsight I do recognise much earlier bouts of what I now understand as depression.
For the last few years it has made work difficult and stressful which has exacerbated the condition. My depression was finally brought to a head with my father's death. For a while my depression became much more severe and I came close to breaking down completely. Fortunately as I went through the normal grieving process associated with bereavement I started to come out of that acute phase.
Putting on a Brave Face
For a long time, like many, I refused to accept that I was depressed, that I had a mental illness. According to Mind, the mental health charity, one in four people in Britain will suffer mental distress at some time, depression being one of the most common. So we sufferers are not alone, we are a significant minority.
I have long fooled myself and I now realise that is in large part due to my upbringing. It was not considered acceptable to show weakness outside the immediate family so it was bottled up or we were expected to "snap out of it"; not at all helpful. Mental weakness had a particular stigma which I now realise I had taken into adult life.
On top of that, I guess I was worried that it would hurt me professionally. As a freelance projects director running huge IT and business change projects I was concerned I would not get work if it was known I was suffering depression. I rather ignored the fact that despite my illness I had been successful by most measures and continued to perform at a high level. In any case for the sake of myself and my family I had to deal with the depression. If doing so causes problems professionally then I will have to deal with them as and when they arise.
By showing the expected brave face means that I have fooled friends, colleagues and even my doctor. However I have never been able to fool my wife and children. Finally they were able to get through to me that I had a problem. That and some very unpleasant thoughts about death made me accept that I urgently needed to do something about my depression.
Therapy Starts with Acknowledging the Depression
Simply recognising what was happening was therapeutic in itself because I was able to understand rationally what was happening. With any new challenge I research it and I soon came to realise that depression can be effectively managed in most cases.
I did not visit my doctor again as I was disappointed that I did not get the help I needed more than a year ago. However using the NHS online diagnosis tool was frightening and encouraged me to take the problem very seriously. I acknowledged it to my wife and I have sought self-help techniques which have pulled me back to a much more manageable condition. I am now at the start of recovery process and I can now see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. There will be many battles to fight in my war with depression, there will be setbacks but I can now imagine a much more comfortable mental state. As a writer, mentor and teacher I want to use those skills to help others hence sharing my War Diaries and other things that I learn as I struggle with my own fight against depression.
Seek Advice and Help Sooner rather than Later
So if you only think you might be depressed visit your doctor. At least visit the National Health Service Depression site or your own local healthcare service provider's site – the start of relief is only a short time away.