My life was on pause with depression, so to start on medication which would create a numbness inside of me at least meant I could slowly start to get back into living.
I wasn’t eating or speaking, I was already so disconnected from the world and I wanted to come back. There was always the inner voice asking ’Where is Emma?’ I found it so difficult to bring words and sound together. Inside I felt an emptiness of a vast cave; there were no words, no feelings and it didn’t want to eat. And the reality was I had no idea this was happening to me until I was better.
I remember it now through someone else’s eyes because I’m not ill any more. I’m grateful for the ability to reflect and use the experiences to learn from and share.
“Depression is an illness, it wasn’t me.”
After several weeks had passed the medicine started to work and there began my journey of eighteen months of numbness – my life on pause. No tears, no feelings, just the ability to function each day.
Talking helped and I was advised to see a counsellor. To see someone on the NHS would have taken over eight weeks at the time and I needed help now. I was 24 years old, had a career and I knew something needed to change. My family were supportive and arranged for me to see a counsellor privately. I went every other week to see a woman who was based at home in a lovely secluded old barn conversion. She sat in her chair directly opposite me, but what seemed miles between us. She sat with her clipboard and wrote slowly, and looked up now and then and sometimes with a long pause, looking at me, waiting for me to speak.
There are different degrees of anxiety and depression and when they have been left untreated for a length of time, often medication can help in the interim to retain balance. The vulnerability I felt when I was inside my illness was immense and to wait any longer to have some ‘normality’ in my life would have been hard. Organisations like Mental Health First Aid and charities such as Mind and the Mental Health Foundation agree early intervention talking therapies can help someone with depression and anxiety move back to a healthy place.
Within a few weeks I was able to make a distinction between when I was ill to where I was right then. However, I felt I wanted to make more of a change and all I did was talk. I went to book my fourth session feeling I was ready for a break through and the counsellor was unable to see me. I attempted to make another appointment and she was unavailable. After that I didn’t go back or see anyone else.
In the months to follow life on pause was slowly releasing and things were changing. I had started to go out, had moved back in with my Dad and my dogs and work, well work was still stressful and that was pretty much the nature of what I did; the highs and lows of running marketing campaigns and exhibitions.
“I just didn’t know how to manage the stress, or understand what it was doing to my mind and body.”
Life continued to move on still with the numbness and emptiness inside me. I was coping, I was OK. I used to always say; “It’s OK I’ve dealt with that,” and move on. The thing is I hadn’t dealt with any of it really. I was just prepared to move on, piling ‘everything’ up under the carpet to a point I would soon not be able to get past it.
The next blog in the ‘Other side of depression’ series reflects on those people living around someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety and depression; partners, friends, family and most importantly colleagues.
If you have any concerns for yourself or someone you know please arrange an appointment with your GP, talk to a friend, family member or colleague.
Emma Lannigan is the founder and author of belifehappy: give. play. love. learn and works with individuals to reconnect, recharge and empower their inner happiness.