Journey To Recovery – The hardest part is getting started
Guest Writer – Ruth
In this guest written article, Ruth shares her story, explaining her struggles with depression and anxiety. She goes over her journey, from reaching out for help, to struggling with her own emotions regarding her diagnosis. Ruth also shares how she chose to use her story to help others. In doing so, she gives anyone struggling with mental illness something we all need most – HOPE.
Learn more about Ruth, as well as find contact information, in her ‘About the Author’ biography below.
The hardest part is getting started
In April of this year, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I knew going into the doctor that this would probably be the outcome. I did what a lot of people do and googled my symptoms. Additionally, I did a few tests online, which all came back saying my depression risk was moderate to high and my anxiety levels were high to very high.
So, while my diagnosis wasn’t surprising, what I struggled to wrap my mind around was: why did I feel this way? I felt guilty for it. I was trying to find answers and logical explanations. The truth is, there isn’t always logic with these illnesses. They can, of course, be triggered by events but sometimes, it really is as simple as your chemicals being a little off.
There were some areas of my life which weren’t quite right, which I know didn’t help my situation. Having moved the year before to be with my boyfriend and still feeling like I had no friends, I was lonely and homesick. There are 300 miles separating me from my family and sometimes it feels like we are on opposite sides of the planet. Even with all the ways we can communicate, it’s no match for physically being together and enjoying each other’s company.
Facing difficult realities –
Not having my support system around me was hard. Growing up, my family were also my closest friends. To be out on my own without them nearby took a lot more adjusting than I anticipated. I think, for me, moving was exciting at first. It was a new chapter in my life. Then, the reality hit of not being able to go shopping with my sister, and realising I couldn’t spend the day with my brother and my nieces, and things didn’t seem so good after that.
I was also unhappy in my job, which was a large factor in the situation. Having left that job now, I can see this. During my darker days, I just felt pathetic. It was a retail job, it wasn’t overly difficult or demanding and I couldn’t cope. I think, somewhere inside me, I was longing for more and staying in retail made me feel like a failure. There’s nothing wrong with working such a job if you enjoy it, but I’d been doing it for nearly 8 years and found very little enjoyment from it.
The struggle with anxiety –
Following my diagnosis, I was prescribed 50mg of sertraline which I must take every day. It took a few weeks, but once they kicked in, I started to feel much better. I was fortunate that I didn’t experience many side effects. The worst I got was a heightened feeling of anxiety for a couple of days, and then things began to level out.
It is my anxiety which I struggle with the most and has the biggest impact on my life. As my depression is milder, it seems to come in waves, whereas the anxiety is constantly there, niggling away. Butterflies in your stomach are welcomed guests when they arrive in response to something exciting; they are just tiring when they are there all the time.
There are people who don’t understand it, and don’t care to. They think it’s just a case of being worried and struggling to move past it. It’s much more than that. My life has ground to a halt because I don’t feel able to do so many things. I’m scared to drive in case there’s an accident, I’m reluctant to get married because I don’t want everyone looking at me and there are days when I can’t even go to the shop.
Turning points –
However, there is something growing inside me which wasn’t there before: hope. Having confronted my issues and sought help for them, I can see a chance to grow and evolve from this situation. I no longer believe that my life is destined to be this way forever. While it’s probably going to take work to come through the other side, I can see that the other side exists now, and that’s a big jump forward.
The thing about being diagnosed with a mental health illness is that it makes you feel bad for a while, but it can be a turning point. Since then, I’ve started a blog and been able to interact with hundreds of people online. I’ve shared my story with the world and had an incredible response. I’ve discovered people enjoy my writing which has given me a huge boost, and I’ve found my project has ignited a passion inside me I may never have discovered.
I wouldn’t have gotten to this place if I hadn’t asked for help. It’s likely I’d still be suffering through a job I didn’t like and crying every other night. Before all of this happened, I wouldn’t really reach out to people online. Some days, I barely made the effort to speak to people I know. I was living in my own little bubble and now it’s burst, but it’s not a bad thing.
Continuing my journey –
My journey is by no means over. In fact, this is the beginning for me. Soon, I will be starting counselling to discuss a lot of the things which I hold in my head. I know counselling can be difficult and I realise it won’t magically fix everything, but I am excited to get started. It may not be for everyone, but I love the idea of having a stranger to talk to about everything.
As much as I love the people around me, there are things I don’t want to discuss with them, either because I think it will hurt their feelings, or because I’m not ready to share it with them yet. I take great comfort in knowing my family will be there and will not judge me, but it can be hard to tell the people closest to you some of the things which are affecting you.
You are not alone –
I hope you have enjoyed reading my story, and if you can relate to it, I hope you know you’re not alone. There were days when I would look around and it seemed like everyone had everything together, all the while I was falling apart. Now I’ve confessed my feelings to the world. I have been inundated with responses, so the reality is there’s quite a lot of us, and we are all in this together.
It’s true when they say asking for help is the hardest part but if you take something away from this, I hope it will be that asking for help can be a starting point, rather than a full stop. Your life doesn’t end when you are diagnosed with a mental health illness. If you can access the right help for you, it can be just the beginning.
After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, Ruth wanted to turn her situation into something positive. So, she created her blog, Ruth In Revolt.
She is sharing her story, in hopes of helping others to do the same.