Help! I think I have Depression…

Of all the messages I have received from people since starting this blog the thing that is asked most to me is the question of whether that person has depression. This stems from recognising a lot of themselves in my posts and it is great that people feel confident enough in me to reach out and ask for my advice. It is not as easy as you think contacting a complete stranger and asking for help, you just don’t know how that person will respond. Will they ignore your message, or dismiss you out of hand? so kudos to everyone who has ever sent me a message, I hope in my own way I have helped…

So what do you do if you think you have depression?

Believe it or not the fact that you have asked yourself that question is the first and hardest part of your journey. It is all to easy to simply dismiss the issue and put it down to sadness, but when you are feeling low for days/weeks/months on end with no change then that should be the warning sign you need to consider depression as the cause.

Depression is one of those things that will not go away if you ignore it! (a bit like me!)

What next?

This is where I come in handy! if you click PHQ9_depression you will find a questionnaire that is used by your GP to assess whether you are depressed and if so to what extent. Answer the questions with complete honesty and work out your score. Depending on that score you speak to your GP as soon as possible.

When I first saw my GP about depression I was in the early 20s!

Talk to my GP? <Shudders>

Whilst I appreciate how difficult this can be for people what you need to remember is that they have heard it all before from other patients. They will not judge you any differently for opening up about this nor will they call the men in white coats to take you away!

Most GP’s will be kind and understanding about it, i say most because the wife was once told she wasn’t depressed but “suffering from the stress of life”!! but the majority will help you and determine whether you need to be prescribed anything. Some surgeries even have GP’s who specalise in Mental Health so you could ask to see them if you do not want to see your normal doctor ask at the reception where they can advise you.

Whilst you are meeting your GP remember to tell them everything, holding things back from them because you feel embarrassed or ashamed will not help you get better. Tell yourself that they have heard or seen worse and let it out! I cried like a baby when I finally spoke to my GP, it was a feeling of relief to not have to hold it in anymore and knowing that there was actually something wrong with me! I no longer had to hide my condition, I was just pleased I wasn’t going mad like I thought at one point!

Antidepressants? good or bad?

I can only speak as I find and for me antidepressants have been good! I did suffer from a side effect from the first ones I was put on but after speaking to my doctor I simply changed them onto ones that work just fine.  I notice if I do not take my tablets like I am supposed to, which indicates they do the job as far as helping me goes.

Take them if prescribed and talk to your GP about any concerns you have!

Talking about depression?

Telling your friends/ partner / family is a difficult decision with all the stigma attached BUT in my experience it is better to be open about your condition especially to those affected by you on a daily basis. Not only does it help you by not having to hide it, they will be able to offer you support. Well some people will and others not so much but then the ignorance of others is not your fault (my great-uncle for example is in his 80′s and does not believe in depression!), those who matter will be there for you in the long run.

As far as I am concerned the more people we have talking about depression, especially men, the better. I would love it to become an everyday topic of conversation instead of the taboo subject it currently is.

Talking about it will actually benefit you! Believe me when I tell you that sharing your thoughts and issues will make it easier for your recovery. This blog is an example of how much talking about depression will help! It was the best decision I ever made to start sharing my battle with other because things do not sit on my mind and weight my down, I blog about it and it is off my chest and that improves my state of mind!

If you are not sure about the benefits of writing how about doing a guest post for me to see how cathartic it can be!

If all else fails you can always contact me but remember that I am a sufferer of depression and not a medical professional and I will always direct you to see a doctor! but I will always answer any questions as best I can!

So there you have it! looks nice and easy doesn’t it?

I know it isn’t easy but think how much better you could feel if you take that all important first step. After the first step the rest gets easier because you will be getting stronger for acknowledging the issue!

ASKING FOR HELP IS A SIGN OF STRENGTH NOT WEAKNESS!

and may I be the first to wish you the best of luck on your journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Losing Weight and Feeling Great

Okay I admit it I was wrong about this whole exercise thing!

I am starting to notice the rewards for my effort in the gym and I’m enjoying my time there. I am getting known by the staff there and starting to interact with more people.

My IBS had been playing up last week so much so that I only went on Monday so when I walked through the doors again yesterday it was nice to be asked by the staff where I had been and how was my training going.

I pushed really hard during my workout yesterday and it was a nice feeling to have the sweat pouring off me knowing I was working the hardest I could physically without causing any damage! I am painfully aware of my limitations but have felt the need to up my game slightly so that I can get maximum reward for effort and I have felt the difference in my mental health as a result of exercising regularly.

It’s more about the fact that I am out of the flat more often than any endorphin’s released through exercise. The level of support I receive from people online also contributes massively to my mental health as it is great to know people are willing you to succeed.

I finally managed to wake up early enough to attend a yoga class at gym today.

Early enough, in fact, to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill BEFORE the class!

I am hoping having a good ole stretch of muscles will ease the pain in my knees and am proud to report that I did not fart and did not follow through despite being in some father “interesting” positions.

The downwards facing dog has been rechristened “the dead moose” but I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the class and will be attending on a regular basis all being well! I am so proud of myself for trying something like this which is completely out of my comfort zone – but one complaint I have is about the amount of mirrors! I look like a beached whale, so much so in the suggestions box I posted the following

“can we get the mirrors from the funfair that change your body shape!”

not sure its gonna happen LOL but one can try.

I am also pleased to report that I was actually told today “your losing weight!”

The fact is I have now lost 1 stone (14 lbs) but to have someone else acknowledge it felt great! It certainly inspires me and gives me added encouragement to know that people are noticing the changes in my body.

 

Besides this I am feeling confident enough to pose for some photos and we all know I love a semi naked moose photo or 4!

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I get bored easily and that is never good when there is a camera around :D

The Case For Social Media

Social Media Depression – yep you read that right ever heard of it?

It is not something I made up honestly. Apparently it is now something that is being caused by spending too much time on sites like Facebook and Twitter and there are studies being done into it.

According to some of the sites I have seen we get depressed when our friends post “sunny status updates and photos of perfect children”

Bullshit!

What a lot of people do not understand is that social media is, for many people, the only form of contact we have with people because of our illnesses.

Here is one post about social media where it outlines what we should do to prevent us adding social media depression to our growing list of problems – what is social media depression

The following is taken from that article

Like most things in life, it’s a good idea to approach social media in moderation. The effects of obsessively checking social media accounts aren’t well studied, but research shows that the more time a person spends doing this, the more likely he will experience anxiety and emotional loneliness . So far, it’s believed that people’s addiction to social media sites is influenced by their personality traits — a fact suggesting that psychology may play a larger role than social media Web sites on their own.

To avoid what some refer to as social media depression, experts suggest resisting the urge to compare your life with those of other people in your social networks. Also, remember that online communication is very different from face-to-face interactions; online, body language and face-time can’t be used to prevent miscommunication. There’s nothing wrong with using social media to stay in touch, but consider talking over the phone or meeting in person if you’re not satisfied with your online relationships with others.

If social media is taking a toll on your mental health, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it or contact a trained professional for advice.

All well and good but what if you cannot manage face-to-face interaction because you have problems leaving your home, what if there is no one in your life that you can have face-to-face interactions with?

From my point of view it is well documented by me that I have no friends in real life so am I supposed to just ignore social media and the opportunity to speak to people. What twitter and Facebook has done is introduce me to people I would never have met in the real world. I have friends from all over the world which means that anytime of day there is usually someone around for me to interact with.

I can’t rely on my family for any contact – by family I mean my parents and siblings, I speak to my nans and great aunt 2-3 times a week. I have not spoke to my father in 18 months and my mother a couple of times since May. My brothers and sister could not care less about me or my kids. So I HAVE to use social media to talk to people.

Not only is it a case of needing social media to have any contact with people it also helps me meet those with the same mental health illnesses as me which is vital because it is a great comfort to know your not alone in suffering.

Mark Brown, who writes for One in four a mental health magazine has written a great blog post about the virtues of social media which can be found here

I agree with his sentiments especially the last paragraph

If we want to stop the internet doom mongers judging us, we need to stand up and say: “Yes, I have a mental health difficulty.  Yes, I use social media.  And, you know what? It’s something that adds something great to my life not takes away from it.  And it’s not something that’s going to go away.” 

 

Sure I spend at least 12 hours a day on twitter and facebook but that time is spent learning more about depression from others point of view, socialising and helping others.

Would I be able to walk into a pub for example and announce “I have depression” and receive the same reception that I get from people on twitter. Of course that would not happen so before judging someone for the amount of time they spend using social media think about the reasons behind it.

For many people it is quite simply a lifeline and I know of people, myself included, who would not be here were it not for the kindness of stranger on these sites that send a positive message or words of advice or just a simple virtual hug.

So say it loud, say it proud I LOVE SOCIAL MEDIA and the friends I make on there keep me going through the bad days, unlike the real world people who wouldn’t know I was having bad times because they simply don’t care.

Social media depression? Don’t make me laugh! soon I suspect I will be suffering from depressed depression

Social media does not make me depressed it gives me a way of meeting new people from different walks of life and connect with fellow sufferers. Things like silly studies into mental health give me more cause for concern!

For those who don’t follow me on twitter find me here you can find me on Facebook here

 

 

How Has Depression Changed You?

I would be interested to hear if people think having depression has changed their life for the better?

We all know about the negatives that come from depression but there are circumstances that can occur as a result of this illness that may have had an unexpected impact in a positive light. Something that may have happened due to your depression that would not have happened otherwise.

Let me explain

Before being diagnosed with depression I was moody, short tempered, closed off from people – especially my wife, unhappy, unwilling to try anything new that was not mafia wars. My days were basically consisting of sitting at the PC playing mafia wars with the occasional human interaction added in (grudgingly) and lets not forget the suicidal feelings as well

I could barely face up to my own problems let alone think about other peoples. The idea of making myself available to others as a person people could look up to and ask advice from was a million miles from being possible.

I did not really have an idea that I was even depressed, I was aware of some of the symptoms from dealing my Uncle but never took a real hard look at myself and saw the signs until it was almost too late.

I guess the biggest relief for me when the Dr told me I had depression because then I had a reason for my strange behaviour and change in personality. I remember leaving the Drs with a huge weight having been lifted after the appointment and this is why, for me, I find it so important to encourage people to see their Dr and get diagnosed. There is nothing worse than thinking there is something wrong with you but not knowing what it is!

To carry on with my explanation.

Without having depression I would never even considered writing a blog let alone books. The only thing in my BD (before depression) days I would have known to write about would have how to play mafia wars, or how to make money from mafia wars (I once had an online store where I sold weapons, accounts and other items to the tune of $1000 a month!) but now I spend my time researching depression, writing and even trying to be a fund raiser for charity with the poetry book.

This all from a purely about me standpoint if I look at my relationship with Sheryl I would say having depression has helped that blossom as well because she now knows why I was so moody, always so tired etc.

I am blessed to be married to such a wonderful woman, who shows understanding above and beyond expectations. Our marriage has never been better because I took the steps to get help rather than just continuing to deny I needed help. There are days when there is a strain because of my need to sleep when exhausted but she never complains and accepts me as I am these days. She is my best friend and I can talk to her about anything these days knowing she will give me unconditional love and support. The power of talking to your loved one cannot be underestimated especially with something like depression.

I am very fortunate to have her in my life especially as my immediate family are so selfish they don’t ever contact me, in fact in a recent discussion with Sheryl I told her that if anything happened to me that she was not to let them know because they play no part in my life. They would not know if I was dead or alive because unless I initiate contact with them I never hear from them. I do not have people like that in my life.

I feel sorry for Brandon and Elizabeth because they have no relationship with their grandparents, uncles and aunty from side of the family but it is not them missing out. Hell my family did not even congratulate me on writing a book when I told them about it.

Hmmm I seem to have gone off point again…

So as I was (attempting) to say I can look back at the last 6 months since officially being diagnosed as the most productive in my life. Without suffering from depression I would not be a blogger, an author, a confidante to others and for that I can say I am grateful that depression, and my fight against it, has helped to mold me  into the depressed moose I am today.

What good has happened to you?

 

Invisible Me…

Lately on Facebook I have started to feel like I am invisible to all but a select few people. I guess it comes from no longer playing mafia wars and therefor not having anything in common with most of the people who are still on my friends list (130 people).

One thing I have noticed about myself, especially on the days when I feel most depressed is how needy I am.  I like to feel like people are interested in me as a person and crave attention and affection. Let me give you an example of this, I posted the following as a status update on Facebook yesterday

“How would you know how I am, you never ask!”

This was posted over 24 hours ago and ONE person responded to it! one out of  130 “friends”!

I am the sort of person who doesn’t like always having to make the first contact because I feel like people should want to know how I am, as opposed to me forcing onto them. Does this make me a bad person? I have had this chat with many of my female friends on facebook and they all say it should be down to me to initiate contact but why should that be the case? Shouldn’t people who know I have depression be trying to see how I am?

My Facebook page dedicated to this blog has 85 “likes” and to me it pisses me off that some of my “friends” haven’t liked it. Why haven’t they? Would it really hurt them to take 1 minute out of their game playing time to click like? Because it hurts me that they haven’t!

This shows me how depression is really a lonely illness. We all need someone who is going to take 5 minutes and ask “how are you?” and really mean it, really want to know the truth as opposed to the automatic “I’m ok thank you” response. The more people who ask the better it makes us feel because we don’t want to feel like we are invisible. I am not going to rip your head off for asking neither am I going to open the flood gates and drown you with tears!

Later on I posted the following status message

Had a great day today for those who asked! 2 in a row here’s hoping it continues tomorrow!

In less than 10 hours 7 people have liked this and one person has commented.

What does this tell me? Quite simply that people are only interested in the “positive” comments and not the ones where they can sit there and roll their eyes thinking “here we go again Garry is in a mood”.

Now don’t get me wrong although this appears to be a rant its really an observation into how people deal with others with depression. I am sure some of you will comment about the same sort of issues, HINT HINT please comment :-). So I assume from now on the need to only post positive things will draw people back to me ?

I wonder how many of these people would notice if my account was suddenly deleted, would they care? would I be missed?

What I do know is that the wordpress community feels more like home to me these days than Facebook! So maybe you lot should be adding me on Facebook and keeping me busy :-)

I am not invisible but on the depressed days I sure as hell feel like it!

Garry

“You’re Not Depressed, You’re Just Down”

Medically, mild to moderate depression is suspected if you’ve been suffering from low mood, lack of motivation, tearfulness and sadness for two weeks or more and there’s been no clear improvement.*

Taken from Netdoctor.co.uk

Ever been told that you are not depressed but simply feeling down?

Usually it comes from a loved one who doesn’t understand the effects your feeling from depression. How emotionally drained it makes you, how you feel unable to do even the most simple things.

Some times the biggest pressure comes from your spouse/partner or closest relative because they think your making it up, just being lazy or simply due to ignorance on their part for not being supportive enough to find ways to help you!

It seems to be a common theme with people with depression that those nearest to them are more of a hindrance than a help, that they have to battle with their loved ones and mental health, and that no amount of talking them seems to make them more understanding. Those who sleep a lot due to depression have this issue more significantly because people just assume they are being lazy!

I am incredibly lucky to have a wife who is so understanding and supportive of me and my illness. I know she hates how much I sleep during the day BUT she tolerates it because she knows it is down to my depression. I can talk to her about how I feel and why and know that she is genuinely interested and that all she cares about is my wellbeing and, eventually, my recovery.

Not just Sheryl though I am lucky to have some incredible friends on Facebook who I know I can talk to and get straight, sensitive and helpful answers and advice from. So here’s to you Teresa, Kay, Margie, Amy, Cindy, Kim, Heather, Jodi and Nikki. You may feel like I don’t appreciate your friendship but it means more to me than you could realise! Anyone notice a theme with the names though?  It’s interesting to me that all the people I just named are female.

Is that because they are more understanding or more sympathetic? Are men more programmed to not deal with these issues? I know it does not apply to all men but I see more women complaining about their husbands, boyfriends etc than I do the other way around.

How can your friends and loved ones help? Well I have taken the liberty of browsing the internet for you to answer that question and always the wonderful people at Mind have come up with this information

What can friends or relatives do to help?

The very nature of depression, which brings a sense of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness, can prevent someone who’s depressed from seeking help. They often withdraw from friends and relatives around them, rather than asking for help or support. However, this is a time when they need your help and support most. Perhaps the most important thing that you can do is to encourage your friend or relative to seek appropriate treatment.

Try not to blame them for being depressed, or tell them to ‘pull themselves together’. They are probably already blaming themselves, and criticism is likely to make them feel even more depressed. Praise is much more effective than criticism. You can reassure them that it is possible to do something to improve their situation, but you need to do so in a caring and sympathetic way.

People who are depressed need someone who cares for them. You can show that you care by listening, sympathetically, by being affectionate, by appreciating the person, or simply by spending time with them. You can help by encouraging them to talk about how they are feeling and getting them to work out what they can do, or what they need to change, in order to deal with their depression.

If the person you are supporting is severely depressed, you may be faced with some hard decisions about how much to do on their behalf. If, for example, they are not looking after their physical needs, should you take over and do the shopping, cooking and cleaning for them, if you are able to? Or should you try and encourage them to do it? There are no easy answers to this situation. It will help if you can find someone with whom you can discuss these and other issues.

Supporting a friend or relative who is depressed can be an opportunity to build a closer and more satisfying relationship. However, it can also be hard work and frustrating, at times. Unless you pay attention to your own needs, it can make you feel depressed, too. Try and share the responsibility with as many people as possible, and find people to whom you can express your frustrations. There may be a local support group of others in your situation. You could also talk to your GP or another healthcare professional about getting help for yourself and your family.

 

Direct them to my blog and the moose will show them the light!

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Back to “down days” vs Depressed

Here are some things that make me feel down

  • checking my bank account
  • arsenal losing a match
  • looking in my empty fridge/freezer
  • Mila Kunis not returning my phone calls – please note that I have resisted the urge to post a gratuitous photo here (that also makes me feel down!)
  • not being able to treat Sheryl and the kids to nice things

Silly things really especially compared to what makes me depressed

Here are a few examples of what makes me depressed

  • being unemployed
  • constant money worries
  • stress
  • physical pain
  • the death of my uncle

Can you spot the differences between the two lists? If you’re reading this and your partner has depression I hope this gives you a better understanding of what makes someone down and what makes them depressed!

Here are some other things NOT to say to someone with depression

  1. Snap out of it! – only thing likely to snap will be your neck
  2. There is nothing wrong with you! – wanna bet? (punch!)
  3. yeah I have been depressed too – especially if A) you have not been depressed and B) in a condescending tone!
  4. stop feeling sorry for yourself!
  5. what do you have to be depressed about?

And here is the biggie, the one most guaranteed to piss me off

  • There’s always someone worse off than you are.

 

 

Instead why not talk to them about depression and what you can do to help them? Sometimes we are just waiting for someone to ask us how we are doing! we want to talk about it but we don’t want to bring it up if we think you’re really not that interested!

Do not moan at someone with depression it will not help them feel better about themselves. So what if I sleep a lot, if my body didn’t cry out for the sleep and shut itself down then I wouldn’t be doing it!

Try the “I am here for you” approach you may be surprised at the results!

Hope this help you be a better supportive person for your friend, partner whoever need you!

Garry

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Related Posts

Depression And Me

Depression 2

Good Support Networks

For the complete list of posts please visit Moose Tracks

Life is Great…A Damn Good Day!

I feel good today really really good!

Sheryl is smiling and happy which makes me really happy, the kids are happy and most of all I have a good day! We spent it shopping in Oxford Street and there is a lot to be said for retail therapy!

I am starting to sense my online nearest and dearest are rallying around me and to be honest I freaking love it and them for it! I can feel their love coming across the Atlantic and wrapping its arms around me telling me its going to be ok!

The need for approval for my blogs will never go it is spurring me on in a positive way and this week, besides the few evenings of feeling down, has been my best for around 2 years at least.

The writing I have done has greatly improved my sense of worth, we all love hearing praise after all! But when you have built yourself up as a failure then its all the more appreciated. Sheryl loves reading my blogs which helps!

 

Tomorrow (30th June) is the first anniversary of my uncle Rons death and as if by magic today I no longer feel anger and guilt about his passing. I miss him terribly and every day in the year gone I have reflected on his death but today I woke up reflecting on his life and what a wonderful person he was. The most generous man I knew he always had a packet of sweets, a few quid or some cakes to share with us and as a result of uncle Ron nearly all the Williams kids have a sweet tooth LOL

 

I know he is up there watching me and inspiring me and his memory lives on in me everyday I battle depression but every time I feel good I take it as a sign from him that I am on the way to recovery sooner rather than later!

God Bless you Uncle Ron

 

Tomorrow is a new day but I have a new strength today brought about by seeing my family happy and my friends being there for me! As always you know who you are and I am always a message away from helping you all!

Today is a short and sweet blog because | wanted you to know how good I feel! And when you have the good days you sure as hell dont spend them online! you spend them annoying the wife and kids :-) 

 

Weekend time folks if you are out on the town raise a glass to my uncle Ron I intend to eat lots of mints in his memory tomorrow!