Recently on tumblr (Yes, I hate to admit it, but I am one of “them”) I was sent a few anonymous messages asking me about my depression after a post of mine mentioning that I felt like I was back at that point where I felt exactly how I did before I was prescribed my medication. As corny as it may sound, I learnt a lot about myself when I was depressed. I found tiny things that managed to give me a very small little lift in my mood, but as soon as that was gone, I was back to wanting to take a whole box of Tramadol.
I would like to forewarn you, reading this post, that it does get very in detail as to how I was feeling. There are references to suicide, overdoses, anger, etc. all of which may affect others. So I am sorry.
I’m not 100% sure when I started feeling how I did, but I can safely say it wasn’t overnight. You do not just wake up one day and think “Yup, I’m depressed. I’m going to kill myself.” if you did, I think the world’s population would be far less than it is. To be completely honest, I was in denial about my depression.
Growing up, I would always be in pain. I would ache all the time, and be able to flex my joints in ways the other kids couldn’t. Everyone put it down to my body still growing. I would always find myself getting random little bruises too. This was put down to some people bruise more easily than others. It was when I hit secondary school that the pain really started getting worse. Sometimes it would get to the stage where I would have to have a day off to just sit in bed dosed up on whatever painkillers we had. I went to see some specialists with referral from my doctor and was told they were “just growing pains. Nothing sinister” but then I noticed normal over the counter painkillers weren’t really helping any of my aches. I went back to my doctor who then put me through the referral system a few more times until I was told I had Hypermobility. I had met a girl at school who then became my best friend, who suffered with these pains like I did. It was her that told me about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. After researching EDS, I realised that all of the other little ailments to go with my Hypermobility were part of EDS Type 3. I went back to the same doctor, armed with my research (which I’m sure all GP’s absolutely hate!), and told her what I had discovered. My best friend from school went to the same doctor as me, and she knew we were close friends. So when my friend let me try one of her strong prescription painkillers for this constant pain in my bones and it helped, our doctor didn’t even flinch. It was like she was expecting it. I was prescribed the same painkillers and everything was made that slight bit easier. The bruising easily, well that is also part of EDS.
The thing that got me down the most, was when I tried to explain to people why I couldn’t do certain things because of my condition, I was always told “You look fine. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s all in your head.” and it would really frustrate me. Getting people to understand my condition was a constant battle and if I had to go to A&E because of something, I would tell them about my condition and they would stare at me blankly. I even had one A&E doctor turn his computer screen away from me and google my condition because he had never heard of it before. I saw physiotherapist after physiotherapist to try and get exercises to strengthen my muscles around my joints so it wasn’t so much of a struggle to get around without being in pain, but all of them were too scared to touch my joints because I had started suffering dislocations too. I can’t count on both hands how many times I was referred to physio by my doctor and how many times I was reduced to tears in pain whilst they tried to carry out their general summary of my body so they could come up with exercises. The last physio I saw was an absolute hero. The exercises he gave me helped strengthen my muscles and I stopped dislocating my joints, falling over, etc. But still everyone would say it was in my head or I was overreacting. My mother completely understood what I was going through yet my father would call me a hypochondriac.
It was due to this, that I found myself slowly but surely giving up. I found the thought of just taking a couple of extra tramadol rather comforting. I was sick of having to explain why I couldn’t do some things and could do others. I was only young at the time and I was already contemplating giving up, so I kept imagining what it would be like in many years time, which caused the suicidal thoughts more. When my Mum sat me down one day, after a screaming fit with my dad about how I wasn’t making my pains up, and said “Do not take this the wrong way, but I think you might be depressed. I’ve been thinking this for a while now, but we should go see the doctor.” On my 18th birthday, we went back to my doctors and got my first prescription for antidepressants. After a few weeks, I was feeling much better. Laughing, feeling happy and actually enjoying life again.
A year on, I found myself taking my antidepressants as and when I remembered that I had medication to take. I also found myself rarely taking any of my other medications too (Amitriptyline, Diazepam, Tramadol, etc) but I felt fine. I still had the aches but I was aching a lot from doing 16+ hour weeks at work anyway. I was also managing to shed the weight I had been trying to shift for many years which caused me to get bullied at school. I was feeling normal. I remember that on countless occasions whilst seeing specialists I would end up bursting into tears and weeping about how I just wanted to “be normal like everyone else. I look like a normal person, so why the hell do I not feel like one?!” and I finally had that wish.
I am now just over a year free from all medication and I still feel great. I’ve still got the normality I wanted for so long. I still suffer from dislocations and my joints (mostly knees and wrists) swell up for no reason at all but it’s fine. I have down days like everyone else where I do think “what’s the bloody point” and sometimes this can span over 2/3 days. But I haven’t felt like I want to end it all in some time now.
Sometimes people ask me how my friends and family supported me throughout such a hard time. I feel dreadful for not really remembering many other people around me during this time. My mum was an absolute star and would listen to me even though it was something minor that I was so hung up about. For that I owe her everything.
So I am sorry for the very long post today. In all honesty, it’s taken me about a week to write this. I’ve been running away from writing it because I was scared it would bring up old horrible memories. Admittedly I did cry a little while typing an awful lot of it. But here it is, my story of depression.