One Year On
How I’ve dealt with my first year since being diagnosed with depression
A man walks into a doctor’s office and says “doctor, doctor, I think I have depression.”
That was me, a year ago today. I didn’t get a punchline, but I did get a prescription. It helped.
Amazing how easy it is to break the last year down into a few simple sentences, isn’t it? Thirty-six words there, and it tells my story. Misses out a lot of the nuance, of course, but gets to the heart of the story. I had a problem, I told the doctor what was wrong with me, he gave me some medicine and I’m better now.
Except it’s more than that. With any health issue, especially mental health, it’s always more than that. For a start, I didn’t just walk into a doctor’s office on a whim as I happened to be passing by. I didn’t casually decide that what was up with me could be summed up in that single word ‘depression’. I didn’t just take the medicine and suddenly everything got better. Mental health is never a matter of ‘I just did this and it was fine’, no matter how much we might hope and wish for it to be. If you’re here looking for that one weird trick that will make you happy, then sorry, I don’t even have any snake oil to sell you.
It’s a year since I walked into the doctor’s office, but there are forty-nine years of my life before that. I don’t know how many of those years I had depression. Was I born with a brain that doesn’t process serotonin correctly, or did it forget how to do it over the years? Did I always have the tendency to catastrophise and remember the negative, or was that something I cultured over the years? I can remember the periods of my life when I felt the most down and depressed, but how much is that memory a symptom in itself? My brain would insist that I couldn’t be happy because I didn’t deserve to be happy, so my memories would dwell on the times when I was down. Those times when I was happy were easy to dismiss as just fleeting moments of delusion that I was a decent person, no matter how long they might actually have lasted for.
One of depression’s most devious tricks is to make you think you don’t have it, and there were times between making that…