Sunday 8 July 2012

The Hurt Locker

I think people lock things up and suffer because they feel the alternative is worse.

I think sometimes sufferers are afraid of what people will say, that they'll talk behind their backs, that they are made to feel they need to keep some things in the family or not explain the way they are.

I'm ashamed to say it took a number of very brave people to talk about what I'm about to talk about, before I had the strength to do it now too.

For years I had suffered from mild depression as a result of a history of school bullying and bullying from my own step-mother. Whist on an Anti-Epileptic Drug (AED) for a period of months, I went through severe depression where I didn't even recognise the person I was looking back. I nearly failed my second year of university because of the side effects. Lethargic, uninspired, angry, with no real insight in to my behaviour, I demanded to be taken off the drug only after I also suffered nausea as a result of it. It's the only time I can honestly say I was glad to have the latter side effect as it was that, that made me want to change my medication, not realising my personality was self destructive on it.

The only silver lining is I became more self aware as a result. I began to analyse the way I behaved more, I realised that something wasn't right and knew I needed to get help to fix it.

The other thing that came out of the episode was I began to help myself too. I became an amateur behavioural psychologist in a way, understanding why I had grown up as a target for bullies and what legacy that left on me.

There was a change in my life. I sought treatment and examined more how I could help myself too.

But it was a lesson I learnt, that made me worry. It made me worry because I know severe depression is a serious danger for people with Epilepsy. It's something that does cause tragic deaths in people who experience it. It's the double whammy of the condition and the side effects on top of it.

I strongly believe people with Epilepsy need to be honest with those around them if they feel they may be experiencing depression because of their AED's... and to those around them - make sure you check they're okay too.

The old expression "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" is so true. You learn about yourself, you change to live a more fulfilling life and you hopefully go on to make sure those you recognise having the same feeling you had, know about the light at the end of the tunnel.

It's not an easy jump to make to seek treatment, but it's one so very worth taking and grabbing with both hands. It could be from a Doctor, it could even be something like CBT, self administered with some help from a friend or family member.

To those that 'came out' about their condition, thank-you for inspiring me to write this and talk about my own experience with depression.

To those that may think they could have depression - make the jump.

- There's a huge safety net for you to dive into. People rally, provide support, don't judge and when you do and when you get back on dry land from the net, you'll realise it's a much better place than it was before.

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