Almost everyone knows someone that suffers from depression. Most people don't talk about it (especially men). Some people don't know how, but the majority of people are scared of how people will react. Like it is some sort of disease or that they might be judged for being weak.
I've suffered from what I like to call "walking through treacle" for the majority of my adult life (since approximately age 12) but, as I've got older I've also discovered an increasing amount of coping mechanisms. I've also discovered that not everyone is scared of talking about it - but the reason most people don't is that they have literally no idea what to say, or how to say it.
I have so much compassion for anyone that can't talk about depression in MMA, or in any other walk of life. It's understandable not to know how to talk about something you've never had to deal with!
Recently, I had a conversation with someone about the pro's and con's of depression medication. Now, I realise it's a heavy subject for a blog, but it's something that should be spoken about and discussed because everyone reacts differently to medication, and indeed, the lack of it.
From a personal standpoint, I have tried both ignoring my symptoms and trying to power through, as well as taking an absurd amount of medication to try to control my symptoms as much as possible. Neither of which had a particularly positive effect on me and I realised there must be a middle ground somewhere.
I settled on a lower dosage of my medication, along with talking therapies which together helped a great deal. (Obviously I also tried the obvious - therapy with no medication - that also fell flat on its head.)
From time to time I think about trying to wean myself off the medication, as in an ideal world I would love not to feel controlled by it. Every time I come close, however, the depression strikes me down, as if to remind me how much it will cost me, should I consider trying to run free.
Just to be clear, depression affects every single person in a different way, and I can only speak from a personal perspective. A little while ago, I tried to explain to a friend of mine how I felt. I struggled with this task, so eventually decided to write it down:
The problem with depression, is that you don't get to decide when it takes effect. You can be skipping along one sunny day, and everything is great - rainbows in the sky, birds in the trees. The next day you wake up and it's like there is an immovable cloud covering your face. How do I get rid of this cloud, you ask yourself? I know, I'll distract the cloud, that might help. Somehow the cloud becomes bigger and darker in the process. Now it's not just covering you but its everywhere you look too.
Sometimes, I don't understand how I can start the week so well only to get halfway there and the cloud has reared its ugly head. "I had such high hope's for this week!"
"Well fuck your hope. I am more important and my loud highness will reign on for all eternity, squashing everything good you could possibly think of".
When the cloud comes to visit it's as though someone has put me in a river, dropped me off with no food, water or clothes, and told me to swim up stream. Then tied me down to a rock at the bottom of the river and then watched as the current gets stronger and stronger. I would just let myself flow with the current but behind me there is one of those wood saws which is going to saw me in half, alive. So I'm fighting against the current, and the rocks, and I'm trying my hardest to get up the stream.
Coping strategies are very individual, but I find one of the things that helps me the most is having just one person in my life that understands how I feel. Not to give me sympathy - I certainly wouldn't want that - but simply to 'not expect too much' from me while the treacle is clogging my path.
Something else that's helped me, as obvious as it sounds, it needs to be said, is not expecting too much from myself. I have to remind myself that everyone is allowed to have a brain break, to not feel 100%, and to have an unproductive day every so often.
Still, twenty years after I first remember feeling this way, don't fully understand it. Nor do I know why it affects some people and not others. I don't think anyone really knows. All I can hope for is that those of you that are suffering from depression, can find some comfort in this post. Those of you that know someone that is suffering from depression, might have the potential to show some understanding of what they could be going through.
Especially over the holiday season, during COVID lockdown (but actually, all year round this is relevant), please, check on anyone you know who's gone a bit quiet. They could be suffering and have no idea how to open up about it. You could be their saving grace.
I do hope this article helps anyone out there to talk about depression on how you feel.
Rediscover your fitness by working with me here.
Find me on Instagram here 👇🏼