Depression from a personal perspective

Posted by Tanya Shukla on

It was a tough winter, worsened by the darkness, intolerable weather playing up with my mood. I have been through depressive phases before, December 2020 was brutal when the elderly care home that I run got disastrously hit by COVID. NO ONE was spared, staff who I met just a couple of days before the horrific news of positive test results, were fighting for lives on ventilators within a few days of testing positive. We had to close the home because of critical staff absence, a heart-breaking day. I dealt with deaths, grief, anger, bereavement, and financial instability all at the same time. But this didn’t break me. I carried on and within a year turned it all around with help from my wonderful team and of course the local community. I am extremely proud of this beautiful community of staff, residents and their families.

You would think that someone who went through this excruciating ordeal and found her balance back would have no reason to be depressed two years after when stability hits an all time high! To add to this, I successfully launched my dream “Dome Vitamins” only a couple of months ago, which was most certainly a pinch me moment! You would think why on earth would I be feeling the way I do?

Sadly depression does not have any specific timing to kick in. It is an illness and finds its way through whenever it wants to. I feel suffocated, almost like I have nowhere to escape- I want to turn on the switch of brightness, but the darkness just doesn’t want to let go. I have two lovely kids, both very happy and bright, a very loving husband, a beautiful family, a supportive community and just everything that one could ask for, but I just could not shake my feelings off. It was worsening progressively. Often whilst driving I would have thoughts of being hit by a heavy vehicle. Although I was far from my jolly self, I wasn’t teary, I felt apathetic towards everything including my children proudly sharing their achievements and longing for an elated response. Happiness was around but for me just seemed to have evaporated into a dark cloud constantly over my head.
Soon, my work started piling up, worsening my depression, it felt like procrastination became my coping mechanism. I didn’t seem to have any energy to even start.

Being a Pharmacist by training, I knew I had to seek help immediately. I turned to my GP, thankfully despite the winter pressure, I was able to get a swift phone appointment. I was prescribed some antidepressants at a low dose to start off with. Antidepressants are mostly trial and error, I went for something to calm me down and help me sleep better at night.

Now when I hand an antidepressant out to a patient in my pharmacy, if time permits, I ask them how they have been feeling. Often they don’t wish to talk about it, however, some who do open up feel good about being checked on.

I have been turning to friends and family for support, my dad has been particularly helpful as he has been through this himself. He lives far away, but always checks on me and makes time to hear how I am doing. Depression affects 1 in 6 people in the UK, but less than 25% reach out for help. Most people don’t have an insight into their illness and often the society expects that we put a brave face on and just “get on with life”. This is a dangerous expectation pushing people even further away from seeking help. I am one of the lucky people who had insight into my condition and reached out to health professionals for treatment. Although this hasn’t resolved the situation like magic, it has vastly improved my state of mind and I feel a lot more in control of my life again.

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