How can we win the war? #DepressionAwarenessWeek

Since my suicide attempt less than a year ago and my continuing story on this blog, I've quoted statistics and recounted tales imagining the world to be shocked and suddenly wake up. Perhaps trigger a moment of sudden realisation that we are living in a true crisis. After a flurry of tweets, my blog and its archive see a spike before falling silent. I'm frustrated and the world just keeps on, keeping on.

This week is Depression Awareness Week yet male viewers of the popular ITV morning show Lorraine are being encouraged to check their testicles through a 'Check Your Chaps' initiative. A worth cause and something all men should do but given that suicide kills more men then any and all cancers, perhaps we should all start to fight that war.

People have been sharing their feelings and views on depression on social media, using the hashtags #WhatYouDontSee and #DAW2016.  Now seems like a good time to collate where I stand.

Depression is actually much more complex, nuanced and dark than unhappiness – more like an implosion of self. In a serious state of depression, you become a sort of half-living ghost. - Tim Lott, The Guardian
In 2015 I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder although this has changed to Borderline Personality Disorder over time.
With thanks to SANE and 23weeksocks

 In previous posts here I've tried to describe the rather up and down, almost cycle or sine wave type, ride my emotions go through. Most of last week, I was pretty hyper. I was a buzz! I started my new job as a Lollipop Man (click link here for more) which doesn't quite pay all my bills but with my media work should keep me safe. Despite a huge downpour on Friday, its been sunny and all the parents and youngsters are lovely. I even went to see two TV shows being filmed at Pinewood Studios - which was brilliant free fun! - and even sang a few songs with my best friends at a local 'Open Mic' night. Yet, I still had depression. Yes; just because I am happy doesn't mean it has gone. I take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication which, with talking therapy alongside, helps me function in a some-what normal way.

A diabetic person who takes their medication, still has diabetes; even if like me they function pretty normally at least some of the time.

If a diabetic person stopped their meds, their condition would get worse. The exact same applies to mental health and, in turn, depression.

Continues below:

Read more on my work with YHP
on last week's post - click here
I don't show the outward signs of depression all the time because of my condition but what is depression actually like?

I start to become grumpy. Snappy too. Before I had ideas and excitement, now pessimism is so powerful I cannot push myself to think anything is achievable. Living from one day to the next in almost a daze can lead to confusion and overwhelming feel that I'm too busy or under pressure even with a empty diary (not that happens anymore!). Occasionally we all like a lie in, but I feel drained every second resulting in my sleep pattern growing from 7 hours to 12 hours; waking up feeling just as tired as when I turned the light off. My enthusiasm for anything from friends and family, to this blog, radio show and even a love life is snuffed out. Everything will fail. I will fail. People are nice to me, remind me how talented I am whether in acting, singing or editing a YouTube video, yet I question their motives and flood with doubt and anger.

At worse, I cut myself off from the world. The pressure of even seeing the notifications on my phone are too much. Just back off! My curtains stay closed and isolate in bed where I cannot hurt you anymore. The only person I am violent to is myself as I mark, score and cut just to feel an emotion. Everyday life, like cooking, cleaning and even washing myself become almost too complicated and frightening.

Depression can be debilitating. It can kill. As we've discussed in past posts, more teenagers than ever self harm.

Research by the charity INQUEST showed that at least 9 'youngsters' had died in NHS mental health inpatient care in England since 2010 but the true figure is not known. Health Minister Alistair Blurt said he didn’t “know the number accurately”.- Last week's post on my blog - click here to read
So what is the big dragon we all have to target? How do we fight this battle?

Yep. Not that easy. Modern life is full of stress. With the recession business slowed and so people were made redundant but as we slowly emerge and business regrows or is replaced, we find managers chasing sales and profit margins, not worrying about how safe, happy or healthy their workplace is. It might be illegal to ignore the mental health and safety of your staff but we are just a Human Resource after all. 9.9 millions sick days in 2014 encouraged the HSE, Health and Safety Executive, to launch a #HelpGBWorkWell plan.

It isn't just down to employers. Some schools now teach yoga to help children learn to look after their mind, as well as their body. Techniques for helping the brain grow and relax as well as caring for our physical body can help them through exams and into a busy, stressful life.

There are plans across the UK, in pockets, to try and get people the mental health treatment they need. Although, a lack of funding and cohesion, means that there is a 2 year wait for talking therapy in some areas on the NHS.

What can you do? Right now? Share this post.

 Have a read back through the past few weeks, maybe my article for The Guardian and tweet your thoughts on them. Openly talk to people over lunch. Everyone has lost a close friend or family member so we can all relate and see how grief could merge into depression; they are almost the same thing at times. Even pop along to a local event; I'm at the Beaconsfield Beer Festival this weekend (details far below!)
You can also look after you, your friends and your family by giving yourself the time to relax, recharge and process the hetic life you lead which when I start to feel low is something I practise in selfcare.

I've written about boxes before which encourage selfcare (click here) and help distract you from those selfharm, suicidal or even just depressive throughts you can find yourself stuck spiralling in. Look how popular 'art therapy' books are! That is evidence that even if you are 'mentally well', selfcare can be key to helping you relax and process the stress of 21st Century life. Even just a bath bomb (see videos below!) can help.

Thank you for reading this week's post and please do have a browse though the last 12 months of posts using the tags to see how depression has completely changed my life.

PLEASE scroll to the very bottom, enjoy the tweets, and click an advert! xx

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