Keeping going

11 Jan

It’s January – dark mornings, cold days, dark a lot of the time, and most of us have the post-Christmas bank balance problem. I don’t know about you but I don’t like January. The Christmas break is over. Summer feels a long way away. And New Years resolutions tend to get broken, leaving us feeling weak and ill-disciplined on top of everything else!

Sometimes it’s hard to keep going, to keep on getting up in the mornings, to stay full of the joys of life. I have found January particularly difficult so far in 2012. I’ve longed to hibernate. Either that or relocate to a land of sunshine, beaches and cocktails! The January blues have hit me hard. And I know I am not the only one. But what is it like to struggle with depression and hopelessness in a more sustained and serious way? Mental health issues continue to be mostly taboo in our culture – a culture that doesn’t like to talk about the minefield of unseen health problems.

I think we need to talk about it. I have struggled with depression. I have been through burnout. I tend to feel particularly low at a certain point in the month (sorry boys!) and sometimes this hits me so hard that getting out of bed feels as hard as getting to the top of Everest. I feel listless, lethargic, bleak. I feel as though I am walking around under a cloud – a black cloud that will not leave me alone. I have mostly learnt to get through these times – to listen to my body. And so sometimes I give in and stay in bed; others I get up and fight it. Sometimes I just sit and cry; others I sit and write. Sometimes it defeats me; others I feel like I might be winning.

It is definitely not “in my control”, and probably never will be. But I am learning to navigate the uncertainties more confidently than I used to. I am learning to be able to talk about it too. At first I hid it from all (except my husband). Now I want to be able to talk about it more openly – although I still find that difficult. I am naturally quite a private person – but I feel strongly that keeping this in the dark only makes it feel more overwhelming.

This morning, the cricketer Freddie Flintoff was on Radio 4’s Today programme talking about a programme on BBC1 tonight about depression within sport. You can read about it here

I think this will definitely be worth watching – breaking taboos about depression within the sporting field is long overdue. Maybe it will help others, whether into sport or not, to talk about their struggles too. Depression is not glamorous. It is horrible. And I think it is still widely misunderstood too – sufferers cannot simply “snap out of it”. They have not “brought it on themselves”. As Freddie says – anyone can suffer from depression (and other mental health problems). Depression does not discriminate – you can be rich, famous, successful, happily married and with beautiful children, yet still get sideswiped by this condition. I know, I have been there.

Right now, I am just going to keep going. I am going to be kind to myself. I am going to try to do things that help – like exercise and eating well. I am also going to make sure I talk about it more too. I think depression is like a spectrum and I find myself at different points of the spectrum at different times. Don’t we all?

Maybe one of my resolutions for this year should be to  talk about this more. For the taboos will only be broken if we play our part in breaking them.

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