Tuesday, 7 July 2015

#NoShameDay

Yesterday was ‪#‎NoShameDay‬, an opportunity for people around the world to unabashedly rally around mental health care. It started in America to promote mental health awareness and education in the global black community, but has been taken up by all communities around the world on Twitter.
I was tweeting about it yesterday, and people seemed to respond to what I was saying, so I thought it might help others to post those thoughts on here too.
To live with depression, we must turn a #NoShameDay to a No Shame Life. There is no stigma, no blame or fault. Be open and be yourself.I've been fighting depression since my late-20s (at least, that's when it was first diagnosed). On and off antidepressants, through different courses of CBT. I've been seeing my GP pretty much each month for my depression for years now. I've been blessed with a caring doctor thankfully.
In the past, at my worse, I shut myself off for months when I was at my worse and didn't talk to anyone. Nothing improved. Don't be afraid to speak up. If you feel you can't speak to family or friends, call Samaritans, Lifeline or equivalent. They understand and do not judge. No one has the right to judge you and how depression impacts on you. Do not judge yourself too harshly. You are human.
With depression, sometimes it makes it hard to keep in regular contact with friends, but true friends understand why. The response I hated most from people when I told them about my illness was "why don't you just take some pills and get better?" It can be hard for friends sometimes to reach a place of full understanding about depression. We must try to withhold judgement and support where possible.
Depression makes you doubt yourself on all fronts. Don't be afraid to express those doubts, it may help make sense of things. Someone said I was brave to speak up on Twitter. I don't think it's brave, just vital, and if we all speak up, then it moves from 'being brave' to being commonplace, without stigma.
If you feel you might have depression, please seek help. There is no shame or weakness in doing so. Here in Northern Ireland, I found Action Mental Health, Mindwise and Lifeline incredibly helpfully. See your GP. Ask about signing up to a Condition Management Programme (CMP), a 12 week voluntary programme delivered by health care professionals, which aims at helping people better understand and manage their health symptoms and return to a healthy lifestyle. It looks at lots of other areas beyond just stress and anxiety management, but overall is a good checkpoint for how you are coping.
Some leisure centres in Belfast also offer a Healthwise scheme, a free 12-week keep-fit programme. Programmes currently take place in Olympia, Avoniel, Grove and Andersonstown Leisure Centres as far as I'm aware. Don't worry, you don't have to sign up to any classes and wear a leotard, I just used the free access to the gym. You can be referred to it by your GP or CMP counsellor.
Hope this helps. Remember, you (we) are not alone in your depression. Good luck.

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