Kathy's story: Living with depression
On the face of it, I have a wonderful life; I am a full-time mother with a fantastic husband and three beautiful children. We live in a lovely house and I teach flute lessons part-time to children in local schools. But mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of circumstances, as I was to find out.
To explain what depression
is like is so difficult unless you’ve experienced it yourself. For me, everything felt just too hard. I was unable to make even a simple decision like what to have for dinner or even whether to leave the house. Life became impossible, to extent that making a cup of tea and stringing a sentence together properly were achievements.
Depression is a funny thing. It is not something that happens to other people, to people who are not ‘all together’. It can happen to any of us and the feeling of isolation and mental paralysis is debilitating. There is no feeling on earth like it and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
At first I tried medication, talking therapy
and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). While they did help a little, I still found that I was struggling with bouts of deep depression.
Then I was referred to a Mindfulness
course at Oxford University. Life started to change after that. Mindfulness seemed to fill the holes that the drugs and therapy couldn’t. I first heard the phrase ‘falling awake’ in those weekly classes and, for me, that made perfect sense. I went to the class tired, stressed and discouraged and I came out alert, awake and hopeful.
As you’d expect, Mindfulness is not a magic wand that frees you from the dark depths of your mind. Neither is it simply a list of techniques that you learn which make everything better. It’s actually a way of training the mind to be aware of your thoughts and feelings; to focus on the here and now, instead of being stuck in the endless cycle of negative rumination. Mindfulness puts the whole situation in a different light, like stepping back and seeing everything from a different perspective. You find that problems and situations that previously seemed impossible suddenly become more manageable.
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