If you’ve followed my blog or know me well, then you’ll understand that my life over the past ten years has been shaky. More often than not, I was duller than decent; I had a low mood. I was often anxious, tired and frustrated. I lacked motivation. I’d overthink about everything. At times, I’d get angry with myself and with other people as well.
It was all my most negative era, and knowing I had all of these feelings on autopilot throughout college and university can still make me feel low today. The fact of the matter is that I had epilepsy and depression, something I struggled to deal with for quite some time.
But, if you’ve followed my blog or know me well, then you’ll understand that today I know how to deal with depression. In my mid-20’s, I found the treatment most suitable for me and bounced back from my problems in about three months. Of course, my invigoration all happened when I was on a two and a half year journey of unemployment; it was hard to feel like I was on a high at the time. But still, I was happy that I’d made the change; it was an important change to make.
Facts About Depression
Depression is a common mental health problem for people in the UK. In this country, around 1 in 6 people will have depression at some point in their lives. When you have epilepsy, your chance of gathering depression is around 1 in 3.
Depression is also an issue that can lead on from certain anti-epileptic drugs. It’s often listed as a medication side-effect on packaged information leaflets. If your AEDs are started at too high a dose, or your dose is increased too quickly, then your chances of developing depression or thoughts of self-harm are more likely too. If that’s the case, then try and contact the specialist who prescribed your medication. Perhaps consider ringing the epilepsy nurse helpline as well.
There’s a long list to describe how depression could affect you. It can make you:
- Feel sad or low for long periods of time
- Feel hopeless or helpless
- Feel guilty
- Feel anxious
- Feel irritable
- Feel frequently tired, a lack of energy
- Sleep less or more than you should
- Show little or no motivation
- Show a lack of concentration
- Lose interest in things that you often enjoy
- Lose interest in sex
- Eat more or less than usual
- Think of self-harming or suicide
When people have depression, it tends to be categorised as either mild, moderate or severe. Some people will get past mild depression without any help at all, although it often depends on the person’s personality and the current situation in life. If you do need treatment, then there’s a few different types of treatment to consider.
If you’re mildly depressed, then to begin with, you’ve got to try and sort yourself out. Why not:
- Avoid isolation; try and stay connected with people you care about
- Talk to people you trust about your feelings
- Try and get yourself into a routine; a good night’s sleep
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol
- Exercise more frequently; exercise releases chemicals called endorphins in your body that work as natural anti-depressants
One other method of self-help I recommend for people who can manage it is meditation. There are many different types of meditation, although the most affective one for me has been mindfulness. After reading about it and following a set guide of mindfulness meditations for a few weeks, it was the treatment I used to overcome my 8-year depression.
Some people with epilepsy will find that meditating isn’t a possibility; it can sometimes provoke seizures. But I’d say it’s worth trying out carefully in its styles. Mindfulness is something that is now also being offered through the NHS, so don’t feel shy about discussing it with your doctor.
When dealing with depression, people shouldn’t be as low as they are. The fact is that there are many types of psychological therapy available to help people overcome their mental health issues, and there’s nothing wrong with getting this sort of help.
Some of these therapies may work better for you than others, and include things like:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Couples Therapy
Still depressed after university, I first tried using CBT to overcome it, but it proved very much ineffective. During my time in university, I had a spell when I was moderately depressed after losing friends that were once close to me. At that time, talking the situation through with a counsellor helped me recover from that loss.
There is a type of medication that doctors may decide to give you when you’re currently dealing with depression, and they’re simply called anti-depressants. The ones they choose to give you will depend on what other medication you’re currently using to avoid any unwanted drug interactions. These drugs can lift your mood, although I personally found that an anti-depressant called citalopram was ineffective. I was happy to get rid of it after taking it for a year or two not long ago.
Accepting Your Epilepsy and Depression
If you’re somebody to develop epilepsy and depression, then you’re one of many. You may currently feel embarrassed, but you shouldn’t. Being diagnosed and living with epilepsy can affect how we feel emotionally; that’s pretty much how it started to affect me around ten years ago.
At that time, understanding my epilepsy in more depth would have helped me; it could have helped avoid the persistent depressive disorder that I suffered from. Today, I recommend taking a look at Epilepsy and You – Epilepsy Action’s new online course that offers expert knowledge of your epilepsy and gives you the opportunity to talk to others too.
However, if epilepsy affects you so much that it leads you into a state of depression, always remember there’s a way out there as well. If you can find your way of there, then you’ll be doing your epilepsy a fair few favours too.
Useful Websites and Contacts
As already mentioned, it’s not uncommon to need help. If you’ve got any negative feelings, then it’s not daft to just have a chat with a family member, friend, doctor, epilepsy specialist or epilepsy nurse.
If you feel life is proving too much for you, then you will need immediate help. It’s best to seek medical advice, or ring NHS 111. You can also contact the Samaritans – they offer 24-hour emotional support to those with feelings of distress or despair, including suicidal thoughts:
Telephone: 116 123
If you’d like to know more about the condition, then these organisation websites are ones of many that will give you a helping hand, and often offer supportive helplines as well.
Telephone: 0300 123 3393
Rethink Mental Illness
Telephone: 0300 5000 927
If you’ve got it, then Good Luck
If you’re currently experiencing negative feelings of emotion, then I wish you the best of luck. Although it could take a while to find the right treatment for you, it’s best to always remember that there are many ways around your problem. By continuously working hard at finding your treatment, I believe you and every other person with depression will eventually find what you need to deal with it. Take care.