Depression - My Story
Many of you will not realise that I suffer from depression. I don't talk about it often. As you can imagine, it's not an easy subject to discuss and yet the more we talk about it, the more we can help ourselves and each other.
For those that haven't been exposed to a frank discussion about depression, it's a chemical imbalance within the body that can cause many psychological and physiological problems. It can be triggered by stressful circumstances or appear without an apparent trigger.
I was diagnosed with depression late in 2012 but, looking back, I can see that I had been suffering from it for many years. For many that know me, I may seem like the opposite of what you imagine a person dealing with depression is like. In late 2012 though, it affected me on all levels. I'm still not sure exactly why in that particular period it all came to a head, perhaps rather it was an accumulation of things over many years that finally boiled over.
I had been feeling quite down for a while and just assumed I would snap out of it eventually but the feeling kept getting worse. I became very, very emotional. I lost my appetite and therefore quite a lot of weight. I lost all motivation for anything. I just wanted to sleep all the time but then struggled to do that too. I just wanted to hide and not see anyone.
As I wasn't eating properly, my body started to break down. Things I loved like training and meeting friends were a challenge. Because I wasn't eating, I had no energy to train. Knowing that I would be deficient in nutrients because I wasn't looking after my body made me feel even more down.
Permanently feeling drained really affected my personality. I knew I needed to try and eat as it would help me feel better so I would try to force feed myself but that wasn't dealing with the issues.
The worst part of the experience was the panic attacks. 5-10 per day. It's debilitating.
By the end of November 2012 I was desperate. I knew it was serious and I needed to do something drastic but wasn't sure what. I went to my GP but was disappointed. They offered me antidepressants right away. No tests. No real discussion. When I asked if there were any alternatives, they offered to counsel but it wasn't available until January and I couldn't wait that long. Coming from the health and fitness world I knew there must be other options.
I looked for counseling options and remember being interested by Tom Hibbert at his Strength workshop when he has talked about his experience with mental health issues and how the Lotus Seed process had helped him.
LSP works on a concept of the sub conscious mind. We go through a certain topic and talk through the negatives and then add the positives back in. The first four months were tough. I felt like I was dredging up some very deeply stored emotions. By the beginning of 2013 I was a lot better. I had fewer panic attacks and was able to get out of my lows much faster.
I have been consistently doing the sessions since then and have improved dramatically. I still get low days but I feel better equipped to deal with them now and the knowledge that they are always only temporary is what gets me through.
Initially, I concentrated on the past, clearing out the crap that I had gathered through life and then I was able to build myself back up. This last year has been all about building for the future.
This type of counseling isn't for everyone. It is important to find the right option for you to let yourself heal. If you have a negative experience, please don't be discouraged and keep trying to find what works for you.
If you are training with a coach, they are a great person to talk to, not just to have a chat about it but also to help them take better care of your body while it is going through this.
Thankfully, there is much more discussion happening these days. Prince Harry has opened up about his struggles and Prince William and Lady Gaga had a very frank, very fantastic chat about it. See it here.
It's important to remember that, no matter how bad it gets, you are not alone, you don't have to go through it all alone and, with help, this too shall pass.
Talk to a friend, talk a colleague, talk to your doctor, talk to me. Even that small step of chatting to someone can start to help you feel better.
If you are feeling down or you would like to learn more about mental illness, below are a couple of resources for you:
Beyond Blue is a great resource, it is Australian based but has many great articles if you are looking to find out more about mental health.
If you or someone you know might be having suicidal thoughts, have a look at the NHS resources here. If you are in another country, google a helpline where you are. People are ready to help you, whoever you are, wherever you are.
Lotus Seed - I would be more than happy to talk to you about it further. Chat to me in person or send me an email.