I was 15 years old when I was first diagnosed with depression which means I have lived, side by side with my dark passenger for more than half of my life. The symptoms come and go, over a matter of days, or weeks, or latterly, over a considerable number of months.
Managing the symptoms of depression can be an all encompassing experience. When you can barely bring yourself to get out of bed or switch the kettle on, living any kind of ‘normal’ life can seem to be completely unachievable. Sometimes the worst of it can be the frustration found in the knowledge that the things you have withdrawn from because of depression – even the simplest of things, like going for a run, cooking a meal, reading a book, or, for that matter, writing a blog – are the very things that will help get you started on a path towards a better place.
Over the years, I’ve gathered a great many motivational quotes (perhaps one day I’ll post a list!). It might sound a little daft but my treasured phrases and sayings have helped drag me through some pretty low times. My favourite of all is to be found in the title of this blog: ‘how do you eat an elephant?’ The answer of course, is ‘bite by bite!’ To my mind, trying to beat depression is a lot like the thought of trying to eat an elephant. It seems like a gigantic, overwhelming and impossible task in its entirety, but perfectly digestible when approached in bite sized chunks (no elephants were harmed in the writing of this post).
And so this is the story of my attempt to eat an elephant; my story about living with, and in the fullness of time, perhaps beating depression. It will certainly be a blog about my efforts to make some positive changes to ease the symptoms, and in honesty, might also be about some of the setbacks I experience along the way.
Most of all it will be about me: a person who is much bigger than the illness I suffer from. It often seems to me that at the heart of the stigma still associated with mental ill health is an assumption that a person in mental distress is nothing more than the manifestation of their symptoms. I think this is an unfounded and completely wrong-minded notion and hope that maybe my blog can play a small part in challenging it.
Wish me luck. I’ll see you on the other side.