Dealing with depression and anxiety-A letter to someone who “worries about nothing”.

I was overwhelmed and blown away by your honesty and openness when talking about your struggle. I thought I knew you inside and out. Your accounts of your fight to survive triggered a feeling of guilt and shame. Shame that I couldn’t ‘pick up’ on the signs and support you like a best friend should. To me, that day was just like any other, a few laughs and the typical rants about our daily lives. Laughing was far from my mind once you spoke those three little words; “I CAN’T COPE”. Three little words with such significant meaning but that are used so often in everyday life it devalues its meaning.

Once you began to explain how you felt it suddenly all made sense. Your need to be out all the time, wasn’t to do with you ‘having a drinking problem’-it was so you didn’t have to be on your own with your own thoughts. You being late to work every single day wasn’t because you were ‘lazy’ but because you struggled to get any sleep the night before. Why didn’t you talk to me before? Was the only question I could ask out of fear of saying something wrong. Here is when I got a true understanding of why you didn’t want to talk about it before-people just don’t understand or don’t know what to say. They think you are just ‘worrying about nothing’ or ‘you are just stressed out’. Even people normalising depression and anxiety by saying things like, ‘I’m going to take a nervous breakdown’, when something so trivial happens in their lives. I too am guilty of this.

The mental health foundation states that depression is the main mental health problem worldwide, with anxiety disorder close behind. This asks an important question- why is depression and anxiety still so stigmatised? Why do people feel ashamed to talk about their mental health? The way we pre-judge others and your daily struggle with depression and anxiety inspired me to do this blog. In the hopes to inform others of the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety and not to judge people based on these symptoms.

AWARE states that the main symptoms of depression are;
• Loss of confidence and low self-esteem
• Tiredness and lethargic
• An unusually sad mood
• Difficulty sleeping
• Loss in appetite or eating more
• Feelings of guilt
• Wishing you were dead

AWARE is a fantastic charity that focuses on depression and is Northern Irelands only charity to do so. It offers support groups where you can talk to people who know exactly how you are feeling. It also allows for your family and friends to get a better understanding of depression, so we can support you like we should through your daily life.

To get more information on the signs and symptoms of depression and where to access AWARE’s services visit: https://www.aware-ni.org/

If you could do one thing in life, be kind, you just never know what other people are going through.

Lisa Corrigan is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Facebook @facebook.com/lisa.corrigan.372