It is my #timetotalk.

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Time To Talk is an excellent campaign from Time To Change who are aiming to bring an end to the discrimination of mental health. According to their website their campaign started in 2007, and I really wish I had heard about it sooner as it truly is an excellent idea. When faced with the astonishing fact that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from mental illness each year, it  really should not be the case that mental illness is talked about so little or people are too afraid to talk about it.  When searching on their website this image was one of the ones available to download and use when making your #timetotalk pledge, and it really did related to me.

Therefore, I too am going to make my #timetotalk pledge by talking about my illness.  It feels very weird saying it, but I suffer from depression. It's not difficult to say through shame though. I don't want to be defined by it, and I feel much of the stigma or misconceptions many people have about depression suffers is the biggest reason I like to keep it to myself. That and admitting I have depression highlights how I really should have realised a lot sooner and got help a lot earlier.

There were a lot of signs months before I saw my doctor who diagnosed me that everything wasn't okay. To everyone else I was most likely a normal 20 year old student enjoying university life. There is no big cast on your arm/leg like when you suffer a broken limb, and if you don't talk about the way you feel, it's sometimes difficult to know.  When my low moods started mainfesting in days spent crying, hating things I used to love and barely going to uni, the way I was feeling became obvious to those close to me.

 I'm very lucky to have supportive friends at uni who really have been amazing to me, but I was really scared of describing how I felt, and concerned someone would tell me to 'Just pull yourself together', as it's something I'd heard many experiencing. I think I was being extra harsh on myself as I study psychology at university so every symptom I felt I was showing of depression made me more angry at myself. Finally I overcame my nerves and went to see a doctor, and every fear I had of them telling me to 'be okay' disappeared. I felt a wave of relief once I had finally discussed the way I felt. The doctor I saw was lovely, despite my tears and anxiety making it very difficult for me to be understood.

 I'd googled a lot of 'what happens when you go see a doctor with depression', and very little of the horror stories I read were actually true. Not once was 'pull yourself together' uttered, nor was I sent for blood tests to check it was some form of other medical issue. I can't say this would be true for everyone though. I was asked a series of questions, some seemed odd, such as asking if I had an alcohol problem and if I was on drugs, then came the questions about my mood and current thoughts. 

I think the most liberating part was being given a choice in what happened next, I was asked my opinion on medication, counselling and CBT. I wasn't too keen on taking tablets at the time, I was scared after reading some stories that if I took Fluoxetine i'd not be 'me' anymore. I did feel a bit weird for a while, but thanks to the encouragement of those around me I stuck with them. I can't even begin to describe how I now feel. It sounds dramatic but I had forgot how it felt to actually want to get out of bed in a morning and be excited for the day!

Ultimately my aim for this year was to have counselling and CBT so I felt a lot more positive and able to  cope, enabling me off of my tablets. However, despite waiting since November, i'm yet to have a counselling session, the waiting list is pretty long it seems. I'm not too sure how i'd have felt by now if i'd turned down the tablets in favour of just sitting tight and waiting to have counselling. When I last saw my doctor she suggested I be at a 'happy level', for at least six months before it'll be considered to take me off the tablets. Hopefully that day will come soon enough though!

The most important thing to remember if you feel you might have depression is you're not alone and getting help won't be scary like you might think. Suffering from depression really doesn't have to mean your life is over. Getting help to deal with the way I felt has made me feel so much better. I feel more like the 'old' me, more than I have done in such a long time. 

There's no shame in admitting you need help for any mental illness. To use the much used analogy, if your arm was broken you'd not suffer alone, would you? 
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