Today’s post is a little more sensitive than most of my post to do with mental health. I’ve shared a little on battle with server anxiety with my two post called: ‘Stop writing anxiety off as something minor‘ and ‘Coping with anxiety outside’ – a post where others who are fighting their own anxiety battle shared their tips and tricks on coping with their anxiety outside. And I even shared a post talking a little about my struggles with my eating disorder.
But today we won’t be talking about anxiety or about eating disorders. Today I wanted to approach the topic of Depression and Suicidal thoughts. This is something that I’ve kept to myself a lot, a subject even I’m unwilling to open up about around my family (who have been my biggest supporters) and at times a subject I won’t even acknowledge to myself.
What is Depression?
Depression is a on overly strong feeling of hopelessness, incredibly low moods and self-worth,disturbed sleep/ appetite, and a loss of interest for all things you once loved. It is one of the most common mental health problem that us as humans face on a regular basis and yet it is still one of the most undermined mental health problem out there.
Depression is a mental health illness that affects a lot of children, young adults and people in their early 30s – early 50s.
- 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health (more commonly depression or anxiety) problem in any given year.
- 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24. (That’s a lot of young people!)
Depression has many different symptoms that vary among different people, but generally encompass a feeling of unbearable sadness and hopelessness. The symptoms that can be brought on by depression can go from mild to moderate to severe and in which case if you are experiencing such overwhelming feelings and thoughts everyday (or almost every day) for more than two weeks, you should seek help from your GP.
Here are some (but not nearly all) symptoms of Depression:
- Tiredness and loss of energy
- Overwhelming sadness that doesn’t go away
- Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
- Incredible difficulty in concentrating
- Not being able to enjoy the things you once found interesting or pleasurable
- Feeling anxious all the time
- Avoiding other people, even your close friends
- A suffocating feeling of helplessness and hopelessness
- Sleeping problems – You sleep to much, can’t sleep at all, or waking up much earlier than is usual for you.
- Strong feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
- Finding it hard to function at work/collage/school
- Change in your behaviour
- A loss of appetite
- A loss in sex drive and/or sexual problems
- Physical aches and pains (the mind can truly be a powerful thing)
- Thinking about suicide and death
What are suicidal thoughts?
Suicidal thoughts is an abstract way of thinking about ending your life or believing that you and everyone around you would be better off without in the world with them.
In 2013 (6 years ago) there were 6,233 suicide recorded in the Uk for people 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.
Suicide and Self-harm are not mental health problems themselves, but they are linked with mental health distress.
There are certain factors that can make individuals more vulnerable to risk of suicide, such as:
- Drug and Alcohol misuse
- History of trauma and/or abuse
- Social isolation
- Poor social conditions
- Family break down
Suicide is widely often avoided by many people around the world. With such a terrible stigma surrounding it and not enough people understanding it, a lot of people keep these thoughts to themselves out of shame or fear of getting an angry response.
In England, more than 4,00 suicides (among people aged 15 and over) were registered in 2013. Of this figure, two thirds were male and one third were female.
Suicide is the largest cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales. In 2012, more than three quarters of deaths by suicide were by men.
As the previous figures indicate, the rates of suicide have been lower for women than for men, and this has remained consistent over time. Between 2981 and 2007, suicide rates in the UK fell significantly for both sexes. However, since 2007, the suicide rate for women stayed constant while the rate for men has increased significantly.
(Keep in mind these are statistics from over 6 years ago and since 2014-2015 the rise in suicide has jumped just as significantly as it has lowered. Suicide can be just as unpredictable as the people suffering.
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/ < (Click to found out more on suicide and mental health)
One of the most discriminatory stereotypes that persists is the incorrect association between mental health problems and violent behaviour. I fear the media may play a big role in portraying that people with mental health problems are violent.
A 2011 study on discrimination in England reported that 14% of national newspaper articles addressing mental health issues referred to those with mental health problems as being a danger to others. (utterly ridiculous if you ask me).
- Studies have shown that the estimated risk of violence by people with mental health problems ranges from 3% to 5%
- People with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of violence compared to those without mental health problems.
In a 2013 British survey among persons with severe mental health problems, it was found that;
– 45% had been victims of crime in the previous year
– 1 in 5 had experienced a violent assault
– people with mental health problems were 3 times more likely to be a victim of assault and any crime than those without
– women with severe mental health problems were 10 times more likely to experience assault than those without
– people with mental health problems were more likely to report that the police had been unfair to them compared to the general population.
My (shortened) story with Depression and Suicidal thoughts
My story with depression starts at a really young age (though not as young as kids today experience depression). I was a really naive child, I believed in all the good things in the world, I never really paid any attention to the bad. Everything was just a new and exciting adventure for me.
I lost that feeling of life being once big fun adventure when I was 6 maybe 7 years old. It was a tough time for me and my family, things had started to become unhinged and more uncertain for me. My little sister was going through the same thing and so I had to throw on my big sister shoes and comfort her. The stress and the new feeling of responsibility I had then I had for my sister started to weigh in on me. But I didn’t realise it for what it was at the time.
And when you are so young and when you were as naive as I was it was just so easy to push away the bad things and pretended they never existed. We moved house a lot more around that time, which meant that me and my sister moved schools a lot. Being so close in age and looking like twins at the time me and my sister was as close as actual identical twins, we were always treated us such until we both hit certain ages. For a long time it was me and my little sister against the big bad, scary world.
Moving house became a new adventure to us, learning a new area and being in a new school, it was just all part of the fun. Part of our adventure.
But then it wasn’t long before they stopped becoming adventures and started becoming more like…Missions. Missions I didn’t want to be a apart of anymore. The moving around, making new friends, fighting off new bullies, defending my sister from new people, learning a new area and leaving all behind all over again. It started to drag on my soul a little.
Then I became a teenager and a whole set of new problems and hormones and other person problems started flying my way. And there were so many times I just want all the noise, all the images of different faces and places to stop. So many times I’ve sat there and I’ve thought of all the ways I could make it stop. But couldn’t because I has to look after my mum and my little sister, and then my other little sisters and little brother.
Taking on that role gave me a new meaning to life, I had a mission, a mission I’d never stop at doing. Protecting and looking out for the ones I love. It’s helped pull me out of some really dark times, they have helped pull me out of some really dark times and I love them all the more for it.
But sometimes even the love off of those you love can’t keep the demons at bay. Sometimes the demons are just too strong and take on different forms. There have been a few small and very minor incidents where my depression has taken a hold over my heart, body and soul so much that I’ve self-harmed and I’ve had those thoughts about picking up those pills and making sure I took enough to never come back. I’ve thought about ways that be fast and sufficient knowing how much of a coward I am I wouldn’t be able to take the pain and disappointment of finding out I failed at taking my own life. At the disappointment and even more of a burden I’m then going to be on the people I love.
There are a lot of people out there who don’t understand how a person can get to the point of taking ones life and may think they are even selfish or cowards, but until you are in their shoes, have felt the emotions coursing through their body, the thoughts firing through their heads or have nothing of your own to live for… You don’t get the right to label them that.
Depression is a common mental health problem that affects everyone differently at different levels. You are never going to fully understand what a person is going through, but there are a lot of people who can understand some of what you are going through and sometimes that’ll all we need, is confirmation that we aren’t alone in this, that these thoughts are normal and they can eventually be fought off.
I truly I hope that this post can inspire you to reach out for help or talk a little more openly about your depression or suicidal thoughts. From someone who has had more than her fair share of them you aren’t alone in this. And I implore anyone who needs a listening ear to reach out to me (My email: email@example.com) and I will help in any way I can. If you need someone to understand, some advice or just a non judgemental open ear (I know trust doesn’t come easy) but you can trust that that is what you’ll receive from our conversations. I am not a qualified therapist (though I hope once I beat my anxiety & other issues I can get back to my psychology studies and go back to working towards becoming a therapist) I’m happy and always willing to offer what help/advice I can.
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