There is no Immunity against Mental Ill-health
How did I get here again? How on earth has this happened to me? No, this isn’t actually what I think it is. I’m just run down and in a bad mood. I’m on holidays sure. The sun is beaming. Tunes are playing. Prosecco in hand – what the F do I have to be sad about? Get your shit together Swan. C’mon, crack a smile. Find that energy. Push yourself to feel better. This was a conversation that played on repeat in my mind. I was on holidays in sunny Sicily with no energy, no desire to do anything, or to converse with my friends. I had longed for the holiday, but I simply didn’t want to be there.
Having come through the other side of depression and severe anxiety, I never in a million years, thought I would end up in that low place again. This time it was different. It was very evident physically, but because I have done so much work on building mental strength and implementing healthy habits to support my mental health, I was very much in denial. I never even considered that I could be experiencing depression again. I was so sure that I was just suffering from low energy due to exhaustion, but looking back, it’s a lot clearer now. It was hard for me to admit that it happened again. It was like admitting defeat against all of my hard work and good intentions. The lack of energy availability caused me to withdraw from doing my favourite things, like going to the gym, creating content for the blog and socialising. I lost my drive, which led me to question everything I was doing with the blog and any ambitious career plans. I started to feel like I was losing my identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
For me, there has never been one ’cause’ for a decline in mental health, rather an accumulation of multiple factors. ‘Sure what do you have to be depressed about?’ is a familiar phrase that comes to mind. This can make it really difficult to overcome depression, as there isn’t that one thing to change to feel ‘better’. This is also half the problem with stigma as people are seen as incapable or labelled ‘sensitive’. There can be so much going on inside someone’s mind, that may never be expressed in fear of this happening. What really helps me to overcome a dip in mental health is to analyse all angles that could’ve potentially brought me to that point. This is where professional help may be required for some individuals, as it can be difficult to do it alone, but I think it’s the scientist within me that enables me to do it objectively.
I genuinely believe that everything (yes, everything) happens for a reason. So even though depression well and truly bit me in the ass, it was the wake up call I needed. I was slipping back into old habits and I needed a reality check. The problem was that I thought once I have conquered the terrifying battle that is depression, I would never be faced with it again – been there, done that. I thought it was like an infection for which I have now built full immunity against. I felt unstoppable. It’s now evident that I will always be susceptible, but I know what I have to do to keep myself well. It’s the exact same as looking after your physical health to avoid developing any physical ailments. The truth is, nobody, no matter what their age, race, gender or financial status is, mental health can still decline. Nobody is immune. The good news is, just like the common cold or a broken limb, it can be overcome, provided recovery is prioritised. It is not an illness to label an individual with for life and it certainly doesn’t need to get in the way of living a life full of happiness and contentment.
Mondello beach, Sicily.