The path to diagnosis

Posted: September 7, 2013 in Depression Blog
Tags: , , , ,

So I’ve set the scene, at a high level at least, on how I got to where I am now, and the various life factors that would explain why I could understandably feel fairly down on life. To me that’s just being upset, stressed & bitter about where one’s ended up, it’s not a reason to believe that I have Depression. However I guess it was about 2 months ago when I was sat at home, as usual, and realising that if I didn’t do something I’d still be the person sat at home alone in 10 years time.  I was out of shape, I had no financial prospects, I was drinking more and more, I had no chance of finding anyone new romantically that could live up to Simone, my sleep was shot, my motivation level was zero and most importantly I knew all of this was impacting my abilities as a father. In hindsight I realise now that that was the moment I admitted I had Depression to myself. I didn’t use that word, but I had admitted it. My light bulb moment.

It’s worth noting that I have an illogical problem with Depression. I was brought up in a family that’s never been very open about feelings, so the idea of Depression has always felt like a nonsense label for those that can’t suck it up and get on with things. I feel the same way about disorders like Dyslexia, it’s a label to appease parents who don’t want to just admit their kid is simply stupid (and interestingly there’s a lot of evidence to support that point of view). But I digress. I know logically Depression is a real illness, and I’ve read enough about it to know that, however in my gut I can’t help but feel it’s simply a label for failures.

Which is why when I had my light bulb moment I didn’t use the ‘D’ word, as I wasn’t ready for that.  Despite that I did read up a lot on how to handle anxiety & stress, a lot of which included suggestions on to handle mild cases of Depression.  And it was these suggestions that I started following. So I started to regularly exercise, halved the amount I smoked, drastically cut down my drinking (I was previously having at least one drink a night) and started eating significantly healthier. Maybe they help some folks, certainly I feel better about myself physically, but for me even after a couple of months, none of these things changed my frame of mind at all, I still felt trapped, alone and…depressed.

I should also mention sleeping here. My sleep quality & quantity has been crap for years, but it’s been getting worse in the last year. To the point that I don’t think I’ve fallen asleep before midnight in the last six months, with that regularly being two or three in the morning. And in the morning I either can’t motivate myself to get out of bed at all or I’ll wake up at five or six (or occasionally earlier) and not be able to get back to sleep. I’ve tried every off the shelf product going, none of which seems to help.

So here I was, a complete emotional wreck with no one to turn to. Cue my ex wife who knows me better then almost anyone, but isn’t someone to tread lightly about things, calls me up, and out of almost nowhere chews my ear off and strong arms me into booking a doctors appointment as I’ve clearly got Depression. Now remember at this point that’s not a word I’d ever associated with myself, not in a clinical sense. Plus one thing I’m exceptionally good at is masking my emotions, so the idea that someone has not only seen through that, but seen through it enough to call me out on Depression was a serious shock.

I don’t remember much about the conversation after that, but the realisation that she was almost certainly right, and that someone else cared enough about me to basically force me to the doctors was powerful stuff. I remember stuttering a quiet thank you on the phone before going to sit down to reorder my thinking around this revelation. Of course in typical style I had the children at the time so I only had a few moments peace, but I did book a doctor’s appointment for the very next day.

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