Who I am
Hi, I'm Folkrav, 24, from Montreal, ADHD-I, panic disorder and a couple months ago, finally got out of depression. I don't want to put out a sob story, I just want to let people know that even that kind of thing isn't the end of life.
How I knew
As a teenager, I always was a pretty sad and reserved guy. I got close to suicide a couple of times, but because of some family/health issues since I was 12 years old, I never was really happy and had to grow up a lot faster than I should have. Nobody really knew what was happening at home. On the outside, I looked pretty healthy and happy, but as soon as I came back home, I just put on my headphones, blasted musics for hours and played video games until my body couldn't handle anymore, then went to sleep, trying not to cry. Rinse and repeat until exhaustion. A couple years went by, the family issues got better, I just went on with my life and got into college without really dealing with any of my issues. Gained weight (got from 5'9", 175lb to 5'11", 245lb), stopped caring about pretty much anything. Failed grades, got kicked out of college.
I finally got into some program I liked - audio engineering - and got good grades. Met my SO of now 6 years and a half, things got better. Lost some weight, stopped some of my bad habits.
I was a full-time student in preschool and primary education in Montreal (Quebec, Canada), and I loved what I did in the two first semesters of the total of 8 to get the degree. I liked most of the courses (let's say 75% of them), and I had a blast doing my first internship in the second semester - working with 25 kids around 10-11 y/o to teach them maths while trying to have fun was a challenge I loved and did. I got "great skill" mentions by my evaluator. I was finally certain, after going nowhere for 5 years (switching programs and going in/out of schools, mostly), that I was doing what I wanted to do. The only thing is every end of semester brought me to my knees, sleepless, without energy, irritable and close to depression. I would always come back right after the last exams as I was before though.
In fall of 2014, I had my second internship in preschool, where I hated what I saw. I had some fun, but really didn't like it that much. I started hating all my courses. It had been two semesters now that I hated everything. I lost all motivation, started being selfish and detestable. People in the program started hating me and don't want to work with me nor help me in any way anymore. As an example, I had a minor surgery in the middle of the semester, that made me miss a week and a half in the end of the semester. I was struggling for people to help me gain over what I missed. To be honest, I can't help but understand them. I would have hated me. My grades started going down, and I was facing an expulsion of my program because I was on the road to failing the same course twice.
In January of 2015, I lost my part-time job in electronic sales by an illegal maneuver from their part. I asked for unemployment insurance but got refused. I took procedures to get back at my ex-employer to get an indemnity for their illegal dismissal. I got broke as fuck, living on my parents money (I still live in their house, but I always paid for my stuff, and getting into that position really hit hard). I started shortly after to have panic attacks. I hyperventilated frequently as soon as a stopped doing anything, my head was thinking too much, and most of the time, it stopped by me breathing heavily and crying my ass out.
When she saw me like that, my SO (thank you, Rosie) kicked my ass and brought me to a medical clinic. I met a GP, who referred me to a psychologist and psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with depression. I got medication, and sleeping pills (because I couldn't sleep anymore). I stopped doing everything I was doing. The doctor made my drop University, as I wasn't functional anymore.
What helped me
You know, getting out of it was hard. It really was. I had to kick myself in the ass for a while. But some things help me.
Surround yourself by people who cares
I first got to say thanks to my now fiancée. Yes, I asked her to marry me this February (and yes, it was a Valentine's day proposal, like it or not!). We are finally moving in together in the summer of 2016. She stayed through it all. She supported me, helped me think when my brain wouldn't let me. Scolded me when I brought myself down. I needed somebody to kick my ass and she did it.
I don't say that's exactly what you need. Everyone will get out of there by their own way, and not everyone needs the same kind of support. But you need support. As much as you think you can do it by yourself, you cannot. Your brain, physiologically and mentally, is having trouble processing anything that goes through it.
You need to get out. You need to stay active. You don't want to, but you need to. Do something physical, it's the best. You can't overthink when you move around. I did some sidejobs for my then-stepfather, putting down Tempos. That wasn't a hard job, I could do it, and it didn't require me to think of what I was doing. There was a guy I worked with who just told me what to do, and once I knew how to do it, I could just go on and do it again and again.
The idea is to stop your brain from going crazy. Plus, moving has a lot of good sides. I had some food crazes that got refrained while I did that. I ate less, lost some weight and gained some muscles!
... but slow down!
Slow down, you got to disconnect from your regular routine. You got to let your brain breathe a bit, and staying in that same brainsoup it had to endure, the one that probably, directly or indirectly, caused it to go crazy, won't help a bit.
Medication? Why not!
Some people won't be on my side for this one, but coming from a family deeply ingrained in the medical system, I am far from being anti-drugs and think they definitely can bring some good.
Wait, wait! Before jumping to conclusions, let me say that I don't think they will solve anything! They are merely a tool. One of the causes for anxiety and depression is a lack of chemical balance in the brain. I'm no brain scientist and don't know the technical terms, but I can tell you that : if you're depressive, your brain is fucked up. Yeah, it is. Depression is a mental illness, not an emotion.
I did take medication (Cipralex for anxiety/depression and Imovane (Zopiclon) for sleeping troubles). Did it help? Yeah, most definitely. But...
... you still have to work on yourself
Prescription drugs doesn't cure your depression. It hides most of the symptoms, but you still are a subject to depression. You got to work on yourself, change your perceptions, get to know yourself. What do you have to work on? What "triggers" you? Find ways to cut short those panic attacks. The way I found was to stop trying to avoid them, and think about the panic attack itself : I thought "hey, that's stupid, what the hell", instead of "oh god, please, make it stop". Eventually, it worked. When the medication kicked in, it let me start to think that way.
I now have completely stopped all medication and function pretty well that way. I still have some panic attacks (more rarely than ever!), but I can control them for the most part. I rarely go into full-panic mode, and when I do, it stops pretty fast, because I know how to get out of it.
Talk about it
You know, people who cares about you won't kick you down for having a mental health problem. They will try to help. Oh, sometimes, it's gonna be done in a clumsy way. Most people don't have any first-hand experience with depression, and they don't like seeing you like this. Let them know. Let them help. They want to!
You can do it
You know, all those tips really just comes down to one thing and one only. You got to stay strong, stay positive. I know, it's hard. I had trouble doing it. I couldn't do it at all, at first, but I learned how. People helped me. I had to help myself, too. Medication helped. Speaking about it helped. But the thing that will help you the most is the one you will think about the less : yourself. When you will overcome the feeling of helplessness, you will find out you are a lot stronger than you thought you were. I now know my strenghts and weaknesses. I think I definitely am more mature than I was before.
You can control your life and make it better. Don't let roadbumps take you off track. Don't do anything stupid. I'm here today, as are a lot of people who went through similar paths.
We can help
The simple fact that you read this is the first step. You're acknowledging that you have a problem. I'm sure other people around here has lived it too. We can help. I encourage people to comment here and let people know they are present to help.
I can help you, as well as they can. Feel free to send me a PM, or ask your questions here.
Just don't stay alone.
You're going to be okay.