Year of Wellbeing Blog: Natasha's story

Everyone has their own story to share about ways they have found to care for their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of other people.

A team of bloggers have agreed to describe their personal journey. We hope their stories help and inspire others during our Year of Wellbeing.

 

Natasha's story...

Year of wellbeing blogger NatashaDepression and I are old friends. So close, that I can hear it before it knocks on my door. That sounds odd, even welcoming no? But here’s the thing, I will never be ‘cured’ of my depression BUT each time it occurs, I become better at recognizing it, managing it and moving through it.

Depression is one of those states that settles on you like a scarf, wrapping itself around you and when you feel chilly you don’t really know what it’s like to be without it. It’s really scary to wake up every day and only see a few options for yourself – if any. Depression manifests in so many different ways but for me it always means that I have tunnel vision and I can only ever see the negative parts of my life. As well as this it means that I have extremes of emotions – I’m either really happy or heart-breakingly sad. But also very brittle and fragile, at my worst an unkind word can send me to tears.

I have been severely depressed three times in my life. Once when I was 17, when I was 21 and again when I was 24. You’ll notice that each time coincides with very stressful periods of anyone’s life (A-Levels, finishing University, trying to figure out my place in society etc.). And most recently this year when I returned from work in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Each time, (and this is with the benefit of hindsight) lots of events pile up on each other, without me processing them, and then somehow, I can’t cope and my brain, my emotions whatever you want to call just shut down. If I were a computer’s operating system I would be overloaded and you would be looking at the blue screen. Everything is still ticking away but for all intents and purposes there’s no one home.

I find myself feeling utterly lost and powerless. As if there are no options for me. I will admit that I become very self-centred, as if the stuff happening to me has never happening to anyone else (ever). The irony being, that the more you talk to people, they share their own stories, and EVERYone has a period of their life which was actually pretty vague, where they were just going through the motions.

I was crying almost every night for a few months. I end up in a really dark part of my brain where I think I’m worthless and a burden to everyone around me. And then I look at myself in the mirror and focus on all the parts of my body that make me ugly eventually coming to conclusion that why could anyone as ugly as me be worth anything. Because you’ve stopped exercising you see – you are so conscious of how you look, and how awful you are at exercise you stop doing the one thing that could help you feel better. You see the vicious cycle? It is so vicious and so so hard to break. I found myself withdrawing from people – if you’re surrounded by people that don’t really pay attention to you, it can be easy for no one (including yourself) to even recognise anything. It’s only when I went to the doctor’s and they asked ‘How are you?’ I found myself sobbing. You kinda know you aren’t ok.

But that’s ok too. There are very few people in the world who are ‘ok’ all of the time. The trick is to acknowledge the not ok times as period of time, but not as the sum of everything that you. That is something that I’m still learning. I have learnt the hard way that you have to be pretty selfish with your time if you’re prone to being affected by the world around you. When I came back from Bangladesh I had some sort of delayed reaction to seeing humans surviving atrocities and hearing their stories. I couldn’t sleep, I stopped going to the gym, and the world was suddenly a very dark place. I recognised the signs this time. I tried to break the cycle by going on holiday – sunshine really does help (I know it’s trite, but being outside does wonders!), I didn’t exercise but I tried going for walks on my own, also helpful. And for the first time, I actually spoke to people about it. I said the words out loud ‘I don’t think I’m ok’. And the world didn’t end. People didn’t abandon me, they didn’t laugh at me. They were there for me. I mean don’t go around telling random strangers (unless if that’s your bag) but talking does help – especially if (like me) you can’t afford regular rounds of therapy.

Everyone is different and depression – your depression – will manifest itself in a completely different way to someone else. The thing to notice is if you stop enjoying the things you have consistently loved (not talking about the archery course you tried for a few weeks ;)) and you have trouble dealing with the normal everyday stuff. That’s you knowing yourself, and then monitoring yourself.

I’m the first person to laugh at #selfcare but staying home, watering plants, watching telly, reading a romance novel. Whatever gives your brain time and space to process what put you in that dark place is time well spent. These days I spend a lot of time trying to make time and space for the things I love to do. I’ve also had to reframe the way I think my life and things that I want. There is lot that society tells me I should have, that I should want, but when I take a step back I realise that it’s not for me.

So please, take a step back, take time for you and remember that checking in with yourself is one of the best things that you can do.

I found the Samaritans to be incredible listeners. Contact them here: 116 123 (UK)

 

About the author

Natasha Chowdory has worked in the information profession one way or another for the last six years. She started as an assistant at Microsoft UK, and completed her MSc, in Information and Library Studies while working full-time. She went onto an Information Officer role at Oxfam. In this role, she was doing communications, event management and information flow management, which took her to Geneva, Kenya and the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh.

Natasha is now settling in as an Information Specialist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. You’re most likely to find her in the gym attempting to lift heavier weights, planning her next adventure, curled up with a book or watching Netflix.

She blogs at: infoprotasha.wordpress.com and tweets at: @InfoPro_Tasha.

 

Click here to find out more about Coventry and Warwickshire's Year of Wellbeing 2019.

 

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