September 08, 2021 5 min read
Are you ok? One question can save a life. At Abundant Natural Health we recognise how crucial it is to check in on the people around us – family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers.
This R U OK? Day we share Annie’s journey with depression & what she has learned along the way.
Hi! My name is Annie, and I am 26 years old. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 21 after years of battling negative thinking and suicidal ideation. This R U OK? Day I thought it would be a good opportunity to share what I go through & how I keep my mental health in check.
In today’s world, the word ‘depressed’ gets thrown around quite a bit. In a way, the word has lost its meaning… at least for me anyway. Without sounding cliché, depression is like a cloud, so thick, dark, and all-encompassing. At my worst, I honestly thought I would never feel joy again. I felt lethargic, unmotivated, and empty, and confined myself to my room for the good part of 2 years.
I was medicated for over 4 years and saw a psychiatrist and a psychologist regularly. It was tough- the treatment was expensive, and I just felt like I was going nowhere. The drugs increased my appetite, and I put on a lot of weight. I felt worse about myself than I had ever felt. As a former national level sprinter, the difference was quite shocking, and I struggled with my weight for years.
I weaned off the medication when I was 25 years old after a discussion with my doctor as it was no longer doing anything for my mood. As a health professional, I know full well the dangers of abruptly stopping psychotropic medications. If you’re thinking of getting off your medication PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE have a conversation with your doctor about your options and the safest way to go about it. Anyway, I was determined to manage it with the help of my psychologist and some lifestyle changes.
I’ll be 27 this year. Off the antidepressants and feeling a lot more like myself. I am lucky enough to have an amazing and supportive partner, who cares about and checks in on me regularly. While he doesn’t always understand, he gets that it is part of who I am, and that it’ll pass. It’s taken time, but he’s learned to validate my feelings and not take my depression personally.
I’d say, although at times I still experience bouts of depression, I am far better at coping with it than I was in my early 20s. I feel like my mood is less volatile, more predictable and I am better at preventing the downward spiral.
Here are some things I learned on my journey with depression:
If you know someone struggling with their mental health, reach out and ask them “R U OK?”. Listen to their experience, be present and validate their feelings. Visit https://www.ruok.org.au/ for some tips on how to start a conversation!
Struggling with your mental health? There are many places you can for help. Visit the Beyond Blue website or reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support.
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