My Experience of Depression

Marking Mental Health Week (8-14 May)

I recently noticed, browsing my photo albums, that there is a distinct lack of photographs beyond my trip to Australia in January 1999 until the summer of 2001. It was a dark time for me and to mark Mental Health Awareness Week I thought that I would, very briefly, share my exceptionally personal experience of that time.

My life altered suddenly. I split with my boyfriend of 7 years, losing friends, an extended family and my home in the process. I became quickly close to another person who 'fled' with no explanation, and I chose to resign from my job of 12 years.

I went to work as normal, never a day absent. But I woke up crying, fell asleep crying. I pretty much stopped eating. I also ceased seeing friends and family and no longer answered my phone, becoming increasingly isolated. And at the end of my walk home every day I felt indescribable relief when I could close the door behind me and release all the pain and anger that had built up throughout the day as I wore my mask.

The terrifying series of events that shortly unfolded are little understood by me (let alone those who have not experienced depression). I made that hysterical call to the doctor's surgery when my thoughts had suddenly turned to 'ending it', seemingly out of the blue. (The receptionist asked me to 'call back tomorrow'). And I had an ambulance despatched to my flat, despite my protests. The crew refusing to leave until I called The Samaritans. They had entered my home, found me distressed and with a kitchen knife.

But once word was 'out' that I was ill, the support I got was astonishing; even my new employer didn't bat an eyelid when I requested time out to attend weekly counselling sessions. I was fortunate and I hope that greater awareness of mental health issues will make us all more equipped to spot the early signs of depression in others and offer our love and support at a time in their lives when they need it most.

Clare Wight