Noticing The Signs

Dsythymia

Now I'm fully aware of the symptoms of depression, I know what to look out for and can see when I'm slipping into unhealthy habits. This has helped me understand my feelings and inclinations to act in certain ways - such as avoiding social situations - and then recognise when I need to take action. Anxiety was an easy one to spot; I would experience 100mph thinking, jump to the worst conclusion about the smallest worries and feel scared. There were physical symptoms I could see too; I would panic, shake, and various OCD tendencies would kick in. Depression on the other hand? Not so much.

It creeps in slowly. It affects one small thing, and then another, and then another... You lose parts of yourself gradually. 

There's no real need to shower today. 

I don't feel up to going to the pub with friends this evening I'll just say something's come up. I can't concentrate on this film right now I'll just watch it another day

. Originally these decisions go unnoticed and seem dismissive as everyone feels this way from time to time. It wasn't until I considered the frequency of these behaviours over time, that patterns became apparent.

I realised that enthusing myself to get out of bed in the morning had become unnecessarily difficult, I would go days wearing the same clothes, my room had turned into a messy pit, and everything which once brought me joy had become a challenge to see how long I could concentrate on it. When you lose all drive, feel low and want to shut the world out, it's clear something's up.

Social Anxiety

It wasn't until I was encouraged to look at everything as a whole that I realised just how badly I had fallen into this dark state. Depression and anxiety had completely taken over. They made me oblivious to anything that was going on outside of the feelings and worries relaying in my mind, to the point where I couldn't maintain any kind of relationship with anyone nor look after myself properly.

My thoughts were turning nastier and nastier. I felt hopeless and as though I couldn't do anything right or well. My productivity was at an all time low and I felt like a let down. I became paranoid about death, but also interested in its release. Depression isn't just feeling sad for an extensive amount of time - there's a lot more to it than that. For me, I would describe depression as becoming a shell of myself. The lights may be on, but nobody's home. The words weren't there, my motivation dwindled, I stopped trying with my appearance as I didn't have the energy to even think about it, I would cry a lot, and distance myself from everyone as I didn't want them to have to deal with me - and the thought of facing anyone felt like too much.

Self diagnosis can be risky, but being able to see when something is wrong is

so

important. With depression there are a lot of different things that constitute as symptoms and this makes it tricky to pin down. For example, all of the symptoms from the

Mayo Clinic website for Dysthymia

mirror what I've been experiencing, whereas those listed on the

NHS

and

Mind

websites, despite cross overs and other relevant symptoms, don't feel as accurate for me as a whole

. So even though I'm not a trained expert, my advice is to be vigilant for negative

 shifts in your moods, behaviours and daily routines for long periods of time, and then to seek a second opinion from a doctor or therapist if you feel there is cause for concern.

PHQ-9

Searching mindlessly online for explanations to feelings can sometimes lead to convincing yourself you have an illness you may not; we've all been on

WebMD

at stupid o'clock convinced we're most definitely falling apart!

That being said, whilst I haven't experienced this myself, if you meet with a professional who disregards your concerns entirely, don't be afraid to approach somewhere else or someone new. It's important you are met with patience and understanding, and that you get the right help you need. It's hard to tell people what you're going through when it feels so raw and somewhat inexplicable, but don't let anyone persuade you that your feelings are invalid. If you had a nasty cough for over a month, and someone told you not to worry about it, you would... So why treat mental health any differently?

Not knowing I was experiencing depression gave it more time to manifest and meant I went far too long without seeking help for it. Receiving diagnosis and noticing the signs has allowed me to be so much more conscious of my habits and feelings. Being able to identify whether they are positive, constructive, negative or destructive, has been the best way to understand and stay on top of my mental health; ensuring that I'm always actively working towards a calmer mind and happier lifestyle.

Sian / sianblogsWellbeing