“Were you just smiling to yourself?” I get asked this question at least 5 times a week and even I have caught myself mid Cheshire cat-like grin a few times and I love it! It feels great to have that massive curve running from one end of my cheek to the other covering half of my face because not so long ago that same curve had taken a leave of absence, for two months!
Myprevious article where I talked about my personal depression story touched people in a way none of my articles ever have. I got people writing to me to let me know that I was brave to share my story and some who had questions to ask while others shared their own personal depression stories with me. I must admit that I felt GREAT after putting my story out there and to realize that I was not alone. It turns out that there are people who’ve come face to face with depression and while some of them didn’t know what it is they were going through, some were afraid of judgment (who wants people to know that their mental health is suffering?), or were afraid that no one would understand them so they just decided to suffer in silence and some have experienced depression second hand as a member of their family or their partner has/have had occasional stints with depression.
One person in particular asked me to try and explain in my own words what that depression period felt like for me…
“Imagine living in a dimly lit room with pictures of sad faces on the walls and someone constantly playing really sad music somewhere in the background. The room has one window with a heavy dark curtain draped over it so you can never really see the outside unless you walk up to the window and draw the curtains yourself, and a door that is never locked meaning you can get out if you want but it just seems to be too far away and too heavy anyway. You are constantly exhausted because sleep has decided to evade you and as a result your nights are quite a workout… what with the tosses and turns? It is very lonely in that room, very lonely in fact the only interaction you have is with the sad, little people in your head but you like it that way or at least that’s what you tell yourself. There’s nothing much to do in that room, so you just eat and when you are not eating you are huddled up in a corner with those little, sad people still in your head. Whenever you get the chance to drag yourself to the window and draw the curtains, you find that the outside world is too bright for your eyes and whenever you are forced to go outside, you opt to wear really dull clothes..think “Yeezy” type of clothes to match your mood. And why is it so bright anyway? And what are people so happy about? Why is that one laughing out so loud? All you want is to run back to your room. Your peaceful, quiet room alone with the sad, little people in your head.
Until one day you realize that you are wasting life, air and space on earth and finally you get out that door and decide to go out there and be bright, and laugh out loud and throw out those “Yeezy” clothes, pay a visit to the hardware store, get lots of bright paint and paint your world!”
Now, I have explained to people that I was one of the lucky ones. I managed to snap out of my depression situation sooner because I happen to take a keen interest in health and nutrition and also in living that positive, happy life. I read a lot on the health subject so I really tried to get myself out of that dark room. I tried to get out by trying to work out and trying my best to think happy thoughts. I cut out beautiful life quotes from magazines and even printed some myself and stuck them all over my dresser and other mirrors and even though I felt so unattractive, I made an effort to look in the mirror and give myself pep talks. I also drunk a lot of herbal teas and gallons of water and took long thought-filled walks in the cold, evening breeze -that was before I hurt my ankle.
It is important to understand that it is perfectly normal to suffer from low mood from time to time. What is not normal is when your low mood lasts for weeks and in this case it becomes mandatory that you see your GP for a diagnosis. A GP should be able to ask questions regarding how you’ve been feeling for the last couple of weeks and only he/she can then give you a diagnosis based on his/her findings.
Basically depression has a lot to do with your mood or lack thereof. You could have little pleasure or interest in doing things. You could be constantly feeling down, hopeless and even unattractive which could be accompanied by low self-esteem. You could be feeling tired throughout the day when you have done nothing the whole day or have very little energy and wanting to sleep the whole day or feel really tired but have trouble staying asleep. Having a poor appetite that may make you lose weight or a big appetite leading you to put on weight because your eating habits are interfering with your metabolism. Poor concentration on doing things like reading, writing or even watching TV and probably the worst symptom which is overwhelming thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself in some way. The more symptoms someone has, the more likely they are to be depressed but don’t just self diagnose, it is best to consult your GP .
Beating depression is no easy task as the will to fight it has to come from you. Prescription drugs may help but sometimes that can only lead to dependence on the drugs or in some cases make things worse. As I came to learn, depression can be triggered by so many things and according to WHO an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression and over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.
Ever since I was able to get myself out of that dark, horrible room, life has been great. Besides smiling randomly to myself, I realized that nowadays I get out more often and I’m actually enjoying it. I’m back to doing the things I love and I do them with full enthusiasm. I make sure that I do all my 24 hours justice. I enrolled in a Financial Management course which makes me ask myself daily why I didn’t enroll for the course sooner. I’m also taking Bakery classes which I’m really enjoying and I also started my own Website which is keeping me very busy but I’m enjoying the whole process of taking my own pictures and letting my creative juices flow freely while I share my thoughts with the world. I’m also in the middle of refurbishing my home and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Whenever I feel like I need a break though, I take a step back and breathe.
The other day at the mall I saw this guy who was standing alone by a pole and looking like the world had just suddenly turned against him . I walked past him and said to him “It can’t be that serious, can it? C’mon smile a little.” He didn’t hear what I said because obviously I was disrupting his thoughts. He looked at me and asked “Sorry, What did you say?” I repeated what I’d said and then he smiled, a genuine smile and since my work there was done, I walked away swinging my shopping bags with that Cheshire cat grin that is nowadays prominent on my face.