It’s ok to not be ok (Part 1 of 4)
I’m Simon, I’m a user researcher and I have depression and anxiety… I’d like to tell you about it
This is the first of 4 posts about my depression and anxiety. This first one is about why I’ve decided to speak out about my experiences. The second is about how depression and anxiety affects me. The third will cover what triggered my latest bout of illness, and how it affected me. The fourth and final one, will cover how I coped and what I’m doing to try to reduce the chance and impact of it happening again.
So before Christmas I had a bit of a breakdown in my mental health. It’s been a fair old while since I had one, and probably a decade since it caused me to have some time off work.
Whilst I was going through it I tweeted about it, how I was feeling, what I was trying to do to tackle it — things like that. It felt good to get it out in the open and off my chest — good to share so others could see what it felt like (I admit that perhaps there was a little bit of fishing for sympathy too).
Communicating about mental health in the open seemed to help people. It seemed to give reassurance to people to see someone who is reasonably decent at what they do (I’m no superstar but I’m alright), experience depression and anxiety but still function normally and relatively happily. One of my favourite messages I received during this period was this:
It’s nice to know that good can come of this, and it certainly didn’t feel like this would have happened when I was at school.
I wrote a blog some years ago about what it felt like to have depression and how it had affected my life. It’s out there on the internet somewhere. I’m not sure where and I’ve not read it since I wrote it. In fact, I didn’t really read it even whilst I wrote it. I thought, and still think, it would feel too raw, like picking away at a scab. But I wrote it because there weren’t a lot of normal, everyday people talking about it widely. Though celebrities, such as Stephen Fry were beginning to.
I’m 38 now and I’ve had anxiety and depression all my life. The first record of it seems to be in my medical records when I was 9…
So I’ve decided to talk about what caused the latest problem, how I feel and the ‘symptoms’ I demonstrate and the steps I’ve taken to tackle it.
In my next post I be talk about how depression and anxiety affects me. You can read that here.