I've found one of the most daunting aspects of suffering with depression to be telling others about it. There is no way around this and situations where I had no choice but to explain increased in frequency; from struggling to keep emotions in check at Derby practice to needing time off work for CBT appointments.
I personally find it very difficult to verbalise how I'm feeling, even with those I'm closest to, and have been this way since I was a kid. Even if I do manage to figure out what I want to say, it's often hours afterwards or if it is in the moment it's as though the words get stuck in my throat. And once tears get involved, no one has a hope in understanding what I'm saying!
I often get annoyed at myself when I can't fathom my jumbled thoughts into sentences, and find myself unable to speak my mind, especially when others can do it so easily. Whilst I'm working on being more vocal about my feelings and the problems I'm facing, I have found and developed other more comfortable methods of communication, that have been working in the meantime.
Write It Down
When I went through a series of CBT sessions for intrusive thoughts as a teen, I did this constantly. I had whole conversations through writing as it was a heck of a lot easier. I knew what I wanted to say, but the shame I felt meant I just couldn't bring myself to say actually it. Trying to articulate how I was feeling would just lead to me becoming so overwhelmed and distraught. Of course this wasn't a forever-fix, but it helped to get the ball rolling. I still use the technique of writing things down, but now in the form of notes. In my most recent series of CBT sessions for depression and social anxiety, I wrote and brought along notes to avoid forgetting things or drying up. These prompts meant that, instead of kicking myself for forgetting something, I got the most out of my sessions.
Blogging has also been a massive help in working through my depression. Scribbling down snippets here and there, and then shaping them into posts about feelings, behaviours and constructive techniques has meant I've learnt more about myself, connected with others and had the opportunity to reinforce what I've learnt. Whilst keeping a private diary can be great for unleashing feelings from your mind, as I'm naturally introverted, blogging has allowed me to share a side of my personality I'm striving to improve on, in order to become the person I want to be. I would love to be more confident, and it feels liberating to share my thoughts. It's even more incredible when I can see parts of it slowly seep into everyday life as my confidence grows.
Use Other Writings
The thought of sitting my parents down and giving them the whole story seemed like the scariest idea, but I knew how important it was to make them aware of what I was going through. I went onto the Mind website and printed off documentation about what depression and anxiety are, their symptoms and ways to offer support. It felt a little weird giving them a pamphlet of information, but it started the conversation without having to physically say anything and it actually helped me find my voice.
Reading reliable books, articles and pages on charity websites has given me the means to understand what I'm going through on different levels. They have also made me see that what I'm going through isn't unusual or anything to be afraid of. Similarly, reading posts from other bloggers has provided me with the opportunity to connect directly with others who are suffering too. By reading content from multiple sources, I've found pieces that reflect my experience entirely as well as various segments that have really resonated with me. I found it useful to collect an array of writings, highlight sections and then bring these print outs along to CBT sessions. This majorly assisted me in explaining to my therapists how I had been feeling. You've got to make those forty five minutes count and this in turn helped them, help me.
Join in with Twitter Chats
One of the main aspects of therapy is that you are talking to someone who you don't know personally. There is no preconceived judgement and they are listening to you from a place of understanding. This is the main reason why I have found mental health focused Twitter chats to be incredibly helpful. You're engaging with a bunch of considerate and passionate people who are on the same page of you. Again, there is no negative preconceptions, and everyone is striving to understand or to be understood, as well as raise awareness and break the stigma.
Whilst this is on a far larger platform to one-on-one therapy sessions, because the conversation takes place through a screen instead of face-to-face this acts as a nice buffer, and lessens the feeling of complete vulnerability that comes with opening up. The chats I've got involved with a couple of times are
but there are plenty more to explore. The
hashtag is most definitely worth a look too. Even if you don't want to get involved, I would have loved to have simply seen and watched conversations like these when I was younger. The sense of community is indescribable, and connecting with others by getting involved in chats and using hashtags, has meant I no longer feel alone in my illness.
I know it feels terrifying to open up about suffering with a mental illness, but it doesn't have to be that way. The way you are feeling is valid and please don't struggle in silence.