Taking the Stigma Out of Depression

By: Emily Algar, Regular Contributor

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects 350 million people worldwide. I was one of those people. I’d always been kind of melancholy but it wasn’t until I went away to University that I really felt there was nothing to look forward to and there was not point in anything.

I went to my doctor who put me on antidepressants, and I went once a week to a Psychotherapist. I thought of it as trying to lose weight: having a low calorie diet will get you nowhere if you don’t exercise! I’d seen counsellors in the past, but for some reason this was different. She let me talk about the things I loved, what I was feeling, and really allowed me to explore my dark and twisty’ness in a way that wasn’t scary. Instead, it actually allowed me to talk and become aware of things I didn’t even know I did or had happened to me. It was a really positive experience and it enabled me talk about stuff that I felt I couldn’t talk about with anyone.

Thinking back on my experiences, they helped me blossom into the person I am now. It put me on the road to liking me and accepting me, which at the beginning I swore would never ever happen. I got “me” back, but a better version, one that didn’t feel so hopeless and sad.

I can remember once when I was depressed, sitting alone in my room convinced no one liked me, my friends were sick of me complaining, of me being depressed and that’s why I was alone in my room. I somehow forced myself to go out and ended up having coffee with my friends. And you know what? I did complain, but so did they; they offered advice but I did too; we laughed, we moaned, but more importantly I was no longer alone.

This, hands down, is the worse thing about the black dog, the dark cloud or whatever you choose to call it. It isolates you. It creates a specter of what it thinks your life is like and forces you to swallow this idea. It sucks all the goodness and hope out of your life. It made me scared to talk to about how I felt to anyone or be with anyone because it convinced me they wouldn’t want me.

So my advice? Talk. Talk to your friends, your parents, teachers or a counsellor. Just talk! Don’t ever feel that you’re alone in this! Depression doesn’t have to consume you. When you’re sick you don’t say, “I am cold” do you? So why give depression that power. We’re much more than one color, we’re many and they change all the time. I found that the more I talked to people and opened up, the more I found that to be the case. I had to remember that I'm not just one thing, I'm many. So when I was feeling sad, people didn't just see the grey sad me, they saw the whole spectrum of me, the bits that were bright and shiny and the silly bits too. It was important not to let one thing define me, because I am more than that.

This is not to say that I went off into the sunset all shiny and happy. That would be irresponsible and a complete lie. I still have bad days and feel sad and hopeless. The difference is, it doesn’t stay that way for long. I can recognize and appreciate when things do go well, and I can give myself a pat on the back and say “You did good today Ems.”

About Emily: Emily is currently studying for an MA in International Security and is interning at a PR company that works for non-profits. In addition, she is a regular contributor to I AM THAT GIRL. She lives for her music and dogs and has a weird obsession with lobsters and candles.

 

 

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