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Depression - this is how it feels

written by Sarah Owen 09/01/2014

Depression - this is how it feels
I felt constantly on the verge of a panic attack. My chest would be tight and breathing difficult. I was scared for the vast majority of the time, but I had no idea of what.

My name is Sarah Owen. I'm 25 years old and I am from Anglesey.  I suffer from depression and have been taking medication for almost three years now.

I can't possibly explain correctly how depression felt to me at it's worst, but I will give it a go.

I felt constantly on the verge of a panic attack. My chest would be tight and breathing difficult. I was scared for the vast majority of the time, but I had no idea of what. My head was a dead weight- never quite a headache but almost. I was tired. All. The. Time. I was tired when I went to bed, I was tired when I got up, I was tired in the morning, the middle of the day, the evening. I wanted to crawl into bed, under the covers and be forgotten about in the dark. People asked if I was OK and I would say 'yes, fine thanks.' But in my head I was screaming "NO... it's just you can't help because I don't know what's wrong with me." I would spend all my energy trying to be strong, so that there was nothing in reserve when the tiniest problem would occur- and I would just crumble into a pathetic heap. The things that held joy for me once, I would find impossible to motivate myself to take part in. I felt weak, and useless. I just wanted to snap out of it and get over myself. I read somewhere once that depression isn't just sadness. It is emptiness, it is misery. It is pain and nothingness all at once.

I had a very fortunate childhood. I grew up with two loving, hard working parents and a younger brother and sister. However, as I got older I realised that not everything was as perfect as it appeared. Mum had depression. Those words meant very little to me at the time. I found her so frustrating to be around. I had little patience with her mood swings. It would upset me to hear her talk about leaving and then I would be angry with her for upsetting me. I thought she was selfish and I wished she'd just cheer up and get on with life. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with the same illness that I began to realise all that she had been through. Then in 2009, when I was 21 years old, I had to deal with the shock of losing my Dad suddenly and in a horrendous way.

I finally realised that this was not normal and that I did not have to feel like this for the rest of my life

Mum would constantly tell me that I was suffering from depression. She knew the signs. She told me to see a doctor, to get counselling. It would usually end up in a row. In a way, I felt it would be betraying my Dad for me to get help. I wanted to hold on to the pain and the hurt, because in my mind- to get better was to forget him. Also, depression was all about self harm and suicide wasn't it? I had never considered either so how could I be depressed? Eventually, almost a year and a half later I realised that I was not coping and allowed Mum to book me an appointment with a doctor. I cannot possibly explain to you the relief that I felt when he told me that I had depression. There actually was something wrong and it could be treated. I finally realised that this was not normal and that I did not have to feel like this for the rest of my life. My Dad would not want that and I certainly did not want that.

The tablets have helped me. Mum said about a month after starting on them that she was starting to see the old me coming back. I eventually felt strong enough to apply to train as a secondary school teacher. I am now in my second year of teaching Welsh as a Second Language in a school. I joined a dating website and met my now fiance, Edd. We will be getting married in two years. I think he finds it hard at times to live with someone who has been through what I have been through and who suffers from depression.

I spotted the Time to Change Wales stand at the Eisteddfod in Denbigh where I had been competing with my brass band. I never normally go in to stands like that as I am usually too shy. I have no idea what made me go in but I'm so glad I did.  Even now, having suffered, been diagnosed and treated for depression, I still feel that I am somehow faking. I feel that I am weak and using my inability to be happy as an excuse. If I feel this- then what is to stop other people thinking the same? It is so important to educate all people about mental health and about the effects of mental health on not only the sufferer but the people who surround them. They need to know how it feels, else how can we possibly expect them to understand? By educating people we can maybe reach out to that one person who has suffered in silence because they are ignorant of the fact that they are not weak or pathetic- but ill. If, by talking about our own experiences, we can save one person then surely that has to be worth it?"

How much do you know about depression? Click here to find out more.

If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email info@timetochangewales.org.uk

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