I lose track now as to how many years depression has been a feature of my life but certainly more than 5 years. As my sister has been a panic attack sufferer since her A levels in the 1980s, I knew about depression, medication and CBT but had no personal experience. The first year that I became depressed , I ignored it and hoped it would go away, which it did eventually. So with the second episode, I went to the GP who gave me anti- depressants. But they did not work and they made me feel nauseus and tired, and so I did not persevere with them, knowing it would pass with time.
The following year, I returned to GP and she put me on the waiting list for a counsellor and in the meantime, she gave me a link to an online self help tool I worked my way through that and found it interesting rather than helpful. I returned to GP when I was up again to seek advice on how I could keep the blues away in the future. She clearly had no understanding of how depression works as she suggested that I plan nice events/days out for when I knew I would be down – I pointed out that she had never experienced depression or else she would not have made that naïve suggestion. What seems fun and interesting outings ordinarily, are just a burden when you are depressed as outside of work, I don’t want to do anything.
So the last couple of years I have tried self-help, which seem to be more successful than counselling or drugs for me. As my depression has a fixed time span, there is a temptation to simply lay low and wait for it to pass! I have not found that NHS are falling over themselves to reach out to me as a sufferer. It seems to me that if one in four of us are going to have a mental health problem at some point in our lives, then the various Health services need to be gearing up to treating the problem and need to get the desperately needed resources in place.
My concern is that when I am down I cannot make that phone call to ask for help. It sounds ridiculous but that is a huge barrier as is making an appointment with the GP. When confronted with a queue or one of those ‘select 1, select 2’ phone systems, then there is a strong temptation to replace the receiver and try again another day. Prevarication is the depressive’s friend. I am unlikely to ask for help when I am high too as the down seems so far away and unreal, so it would seem odd to ask for help in that mode. I once went to the GP when I was hyper to ask her how we could ensure I could stay this way, but she had no useful suggestions.