Unhappiness, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of appetite, insomnia, low spirit, and social withdrawal, are all connected, one way or another, to depression – yet, I have denied, for more than two years, the impact that these symptoms have had on my life.
Finding my condition
It started after a job loss and the loss of a close friendship. My brain couldn’t face reality. So, it locked this thing we call routine, then it proceeded by locking this thing we call hope. My behaviour changed, I became angry at the world around me, and my ego took over.
I wasn’t available emotionally, anymore. Supporting and sharing with others seemed impossible. Loneliness was what I wanted. The months passed, and I matured into a gooey elevator. I’d gain hope then I’d fall, once more. I became a cleaner, my mood kept on swinging, and I got stuck in a daydream.
After discovering that I live with a psychiatric condition which isn’t officially classified, the idea of therapy was seemingly unapproachable, until it wasn’t. The illness itself, Maladaptive Daydreaming, is a defence mechanism which covers an underlying issue, such as depression.
Dealing and accepting the depression was, the hardest task I had to face. The therapy, over the phone, started on the 22nd of September. Unexpectedly, past guilt I had already dealt with, were showing up again. They weren’t fully dealt with, yet.
Depression isn’t new to me. It’s something I’ve always known. My father was surviving it when I was a child, and in my case, it started when I entered my teenage years. It was controlled until one event triggered the first depressive episode. After an argument with the friends I had in high school, I froze and decided to not go back to high school. I was a few months away from getting my diploma. I could’ve held on, but I couldn’t face the loneliness that awaited me at my school.
I have classified, mentally, this event as traumatic. It never left me, and it still affects me today in some way. I found myself without a degree – if anyone asks, I lie, “I dropped out, it wasn’t for me,” I would say. When really, it’s much bigger than just dropping out. My fear of rejection lives on today because of this very event.
The decision to go back to therapy is also linked to this moment of my life. The weeks before the first appointment, I was seeing myself falling again. Lying down in bed hoping for the day to end faster. Having this pit in my abdomen imagining the worst could happen. I was my 18-year-old self again. Choosing to go back to therapy just appeared necessary.
After the first and the second session, I would feel energised, relieved. Treatments with my psychologist were discussed and, talking about my depression was delicate. As the third session approached, some new feelings evolved. The shame and embarrassment of this past and present depression were getting louder.
It’s wasn’t the actual incidents, it’s the exterior vision of them. I’ve felt ashamed. The emotion of failing, and the lack of control I have had over my own life are the main components of this humiliation.
I have always dreamt of living in Manchester but being depressed and anxious wasn’t part of my plan, I should have enjoyed this city, but I’ve stayed home half of the time.
When I tell my psychologists, my hands are shaky, and my throat is tight. He tells me about another treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which works by changing and understanding our thoughts to leave this vicious cycle.
We aim to start in two weeks, and the idea of changing my fearful thoughts is already exciting. I shouldn’t feel ashamed about things that have happened to me. It’s my life, and I’m in control. I am lucky to live a country where the conversation on mental health is open.
As an immigrant, I feel privileged to have access to therapy. I’ve enjoyed the city in my own way, its protective aura was always there. The stigma around depression is reducing in its size. At least now, I can share my experience.