This is a really sensitive subject for a lot of people, especially for those who have been down this path, such as myself. I would understand if those of you who have experienced it might not want to talk about it, but I figured I would at least try to broach the subject on ASF, since there seem to be some good people on the forum.
I think the recent high profile and public admission from NZ cricketer Lou Vincent that he is battling depression, and Shaun Taits unusual withdrawal from the game made me realise that mental illness knows no bounds, and can affect anyone.
Well during May last year I was diagnosed with depression. At first I first I thought I was just having some "bad" days and was feeling a bit "stressed out", and that I would soon regain my old zing. I guess it was a combination of things that led up to it in hindsight. I had just moved to WA at the start of 2007, started a new job and realised I wasn't coping very well. I was having problems with people at my old work, and was frustrated at my lack of social networking success at the time. I picked up cigarettes thinking they would relax me but it didn't help, and I was having problems sleeping and became very moody. I became aware of a horrible crushing sensation developing around me, and that I was in the bottom of some dark hole with no way out. At this point I had no idea what was happening to me.
It all came to a head one night when I was out ordering a pizza, and basically just collapsed in the shop, my body completely gave out on me. I was taken my ambo to hospital, absolutely terrified. When I was discharged and went home the next day, I basically just stayed in bed for a week, not wanting to talk to anyone, and only leaving my room for occassional meals. After 1 week, I tried to go out and do normal things such as go to the supermarket and the movies, but suffered severe panic attacks when trying to interact with people in very basic ways, such as paying the bill at the checkout.
It was at this point I realised something was very wrong with me and decided I had to get help. I talked through with my doctor what was happening to me, and he recommended I get counselling, and start a course of medication. The next few weeks were terrible, the side-effects from the drugs unpredictable and work increasingly hard to deal with. I gave one days notice and resigned due to health reasons and took 3 weeks off. Little by little, I began to come out of my shell again, I didn't do much, just started getting a little exercise here and there, but began to be able to hold converstions with people again.
After about a month I felt sufficiently improved to be able to look for work again, and managed to do so rather easily, much more so than I would have thought. Now, 8 months or so later, I still love my job, and am geting regular exercise and I feel I am making huge progress. I used to be a fanatical mountain biker, rock climber and mountaineer, and I'm currently training towards completing a solo alpine route in the Alps in NZ this winter. I think once I accomplish this goal, I will be able to say I am back to my old self with a degree of confidence that was completely lacking last year.
Looking back, that dark period in my life was one of the hardest and scariest things I ever went through. I still find it hard to talk about it, but perhaps sharing it with others through writing about it will be easier. One of the things I thought when I was ill, was that there was no-one who could help me and who could understand what I was going through. But now I understand that there are a lot of people who struggle with this in silence, fighting their own battles, and if you are...well I understand, because I've been there too.
(PS On a lighter note, when I was diagnosed with depression I joined ASF, I hope there is no connection here! (joke LOL!))