Disclaimer: This article talks about my depression, and what it does to me. Depression can manifest differently in different people. If you think you might be depressed, please see a medical professional for help.
Who is Winston?
Winston is the name I give to my depression. I decided to name him very early on, to humanise him. For me, it takes the power away from the unknown entity that is depression. If he’s just a human, he has no more power than I do.
Winston can be an enemy and a friend to me. When he’s around, I am unable to function fully, but sometimes I’m grateful for this. I have been known to hole up and spend the day in bed with Winston. He’s a comfort sometimes, but the guilt of not functioning is the price I pay.
What does he do?
When Winston comes to visit me, he takes his time. He will often creep up on me without me realising, until I’m suddenly feeling exhausted and am finding it very hard to do every day tasks, or don’t take any care in doing them. My husband is very good at recognising early on when Winston is around, and will often ask me, “Is it Winston?” and that makes me think that – yes, it probably is! Thank God for husbands!
I don’t have very severe depression, so I don’t tend to have very dark thoughts or thoughts about harming myself, but my mood takes a particularly low dip when Winston is around. I generally start feeling very apathetic and numb, not taking any care in my appearance or nourishing myself. I also find that I don’t take any joy in things that would usually make me happy. I generally just feel like sleeping for years on end, and letting the world go on without me for a bit.
Living with Winston
As I’ve said in my blog post, I am on an antidepressant to manage my depression; it’s called Citalopram and was the first antidepressant I tried. People with depression can go through many antidepressants until they find the right one for them. It just so happened for me, that Citalopram was the right one from the off.
I’ve also had a 6-week course of counselling, to try to determine what caused my depression and to come to terms with it. The fact is, there’s not one thing that has caused my depression. I have had a difficult adolescent time (who hasn’t?), and two babies in quick succession (18 months between my older two), but I can’t pinpoint what exactly has caused me to become depressed. It’s a chemical change in the brain, and I guess I had too much on my plate one day in March 2016, and Winston decided to stand right in front of me and drag me down.
Living with Winston now is a breeze compared to the early days, but I still often feel lethargic and apathetic when he’s around. I practice mindfulness and meditation, and make sure I don’t take too much on. I have had a lot of time off work due to the stresses there, and stresses at home being too much for me. Winston turns up on those occasions, and I know I have to stop and look after myself.
I also find getting out for fresh air every day really helps, even if it’s the last thing I want to do. I’ve recently started doing some exercise too, and so far, that’s really helping keep Winston at bay.
Often, along with depression comes anxiety, and I have suffered some minor panic/anxiety attacks previously. Sometimes, if Winston has taken over he disables me from thinking rationally, and I will feel anxious about silly little things. Anxiety has stopped me in my tracks and has also affected me at work. When Winston puts a thought in my head, or a stop-block, I can’t shake it. There’s no ‘snap out of it’ or ‘just get on with it’; I’m done.
So these are just some of my experiences with depression. If some of the things I’ve written about resonate with you, know you are not alone. If you haven’t been to a doctor, see one and tell them everything you’re feeling; there’s no shame in it. Depression is more common than you think, especially in new mothers. Don’t suffer in silence.
Thank you for reading.