Eleanor shares her experiences of depression and her plan to bring joy back into her life.
I have been living with depression for a while now. I suspect it started as postnatal depression, soon after my second child was born over 3 years ago, but I can’t pin down exactly when or why it started, which is one of the hardest things.
I live in a beautiful part of the country, have a loving husband and two amazing children. I have a job I enjoy, my own house, and some wonderful friends and family. So why do I feel so bad? Not being able to blame anything tangible and specific is the most frustrating part of how I feel. It makes getting better so much harder – I just don’t know where to start.
I don’t see the good in my life any more. I have forgotten how to appreciate the little things. On bad days, I exist in a world that seems devoid of any colour and I just have to concentrate on getting through this dreary world to the next day. Maybe when the next day comes, there may just be a glimmer of colour and it will be a little easier.
I know I’m the only person that can make myself better. I can take antidepressants, go to counselling and look to friends for help and support, but getting better will ultimately come from me.
But where do I start? I have tried to blame so many things in the hope that if they change, life will get better. I thought it may be that I get no time to myself because of always having the children, so I have used more childcare. I thought it may be that I need to work, so I got a job. I have most recently decided it is all my husband’s fault and thought about ending the relationship – luckily I realised in time that I am not myself at the moment and this is not how I really feel. The truth is that some small changes have helped a little, but there is no one thing or set of things I can blame and so I have to acknowledge that getting better is going to be a long process.
But I do have a plan. I want to gradually put the joy back into my life. I want to feel ridiculously proud of the small achievements my children make and be able to laugh with them at the smallest things. I want to feel alive again and to be able to look forward to things. So I need to work out how I get the joy back.
I am going to try new things. I have recently joined a running group as exercise is good for the mind. It’s true, I do feel better afterwards. I have also joined a choir because I loved music at school and it means I have met a whole new group of people. For a couple of hours a week, I forget everything else and concentrate on something different.
I know I also need to make some changes that are a little less tangible. I think I need to be more mindful of what is going on around me. I spend quite a lot of time outdoors but don’t really ever take in what I see. The changing autumn leaves, a stunning sunrise or sunset; I am often so consumed by my own thoughts that these go unnoticed. Noticing these things again would help bring in a glimmer of colour and a touch of joy. Then maybe, just maybe, bit by bit life will become rich with colour and joy again.
So that is what I am going to do. I will do it and I believe life will get better. Getting started is always the hardest part.
Aged 33, I live in Shropshire with my husband and two children.