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write for the Counsellors Café Mag

I am stronger than my Black Dog

I don’t think depression can be summed up in one image, I think at times it is a lot of images, I took this photo with a few days after I had felt the lowest I have ever felt. For me my nieces and nephew mean the world to me, they remind me of the simple joys in life, I had just taken my niece to the park and she was the happiest just sitting in a swing and it made me think why can’t everyone just feel that happy all the time, they make me want to fight for my life so I can watch them grow up and be the best aunty I can be for them.

I find it hard to explain to someone who hasn’t suffered mental health what depression feels like, it’s so many different feelings all at once yet you feel nothing at the same time, which some people can probably relate to whereas others will think I am crazy! I suffered anxiety and PTSD in the past which I found I could hide from people and cover up easier but depression crept up slowly and completely wiped me out. It was my counsellor who first mentioned the dreaded D word to me, hearing it out loud hurt but I needed the wakeup call so looking back I am glad it was her that noticed first and she has supported me ever since.

Admitting you have depression is such a massive step, it took me far too long to admit to family and friends that I was struggling. I felt ashamed and weak that I was struggling, I thought I could fight it alone but the truth is you need their support more than ever when you aren’t coping.

My family were starting to notice I was getting quieter and had lost my spark yet I still pretended like everything was ok and tried my hardest to carry on as normal which eventually broke me. Don’t get me wrong I have supportive family and friends but Ijust really struggle to talk to people about feelings. It makes you feel so alone and such a burden on people even though people want to be there for you, it’s wanting to be around the people who love you but also wanting to lock yourself in the house and cry alone. It’s having no energy to even get out of bed but you have to get up and go to work faking a smile to get through the day.

I was blind to the effects it can also have on the people that love and care about you, when you are in a dark place you think people don’t care about you which is 100% not the case. My family told me that they feel helpless and don’t know what to do to make me feel better but small things like just spending time with me, going for a walk and chat or just giving me a hug is enough to make you feel more human. You need to let people take care of you when you are down, it will make them feel better and also you to just have someone there to make you a cup of tea or something to eat.

When I did tell my family I was depressed it was a small relief to not have to fake how I was feeling in front of them and slowly started to see that I needed to accept help.

There is such a negative stigma attached to mental health and that is what I was most afraid of, people judging me and not understanding what I am feeling. Some people see it as attention seeking or a sign of weakness which is why so many people choose to hide it and I feel frustrated that in this day in age it is not talked about and I hope by writing this and being open about my own struggles I can help at least one person find the strength to talk.

The way I see the journey of recovery is like a tree, leaves may fall and weather may rock a tree but the roots remain and new leaves will always bloom. So my leaves and branches may have fallen but I have amazing people in my life that will help me to grow and keep me rooted and I am thankful to them for being there when I needed them most. I have good days and bad days but I now know I am stronger than my black dog and I WILL keep fighting for me and for my amazing people!!

Author's Bio

In Sophie's words: "I don’t take life too seriously, always joking and making people laugh! Family and friends mean the world to me, and my little cat tiggs! Music is my life, I spend most of time with my headphones on listening to anything and everything, I believe ‘When words fail music speaks’! I am more creative than anything I love writing and knowing that hopefully writing my struggles can help other people is just the best feeling ever! I cannot wait for the future so I can train to be a counsellor and hopefully help someone the way my counsellor has helped me!"

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