How the Foo Fighters helped me overcome depression 

opinion piece

Yesterday I read an article on post graduate depression; which I have briefly mentioned in previous blog posts (how to deal with rejection), and it is definetly a thing. Infact, it’s a big thing that needs to be recognised. Once you graduate you are thrown into the big wide world, with the expectation that getting a job is not so difficult. And it isn’t really, if you want a job. If you want a career in something you studied – that may be slightly trickier. 

I went through this awful depression, and I know other people that have experienced the same. You feel down, powerless, useless. I got that dark feeling a few months ago. I had just got what sounded like my dream job after graduating – a marketing executive for an educational institution. It wasn’t journalism which I studied, but I vowed to keep my freelance work on the side and save up to enable me to complete internships for journalism. 

I won’t go into extreme detail as I would quite like to leave this subject to a forthcoming blog post; but this new ‘job’ turned out to be a complete and utter facade. The company was built upon lies – I had left my long term loyal job to work for a scandalous agency! I felt so betrayed that I had been manipulated and indoctrinated into thinking I was entering a completely different type of company, compared to the bleak reality. The only way I can describe this place (I refuse to refer to it as a workplace because it is NOT), it was like being in what I would imagine WW2 East Germany to be like. We were in a room with no natural light, in a cellar type environment. Our ‘manager’ watched us like a hawk throughout the day, talking was not allowed. We had cameras everywhere (the reason for this was never confirmed), and we were all pretty much convinced that these cameras had sound. It was terrifying to me that this type of work place exists – continues to exist and that individuals are subjected to these unhealthy working conditions. 

This ‘job’ came to an end after just two months and I was left with nothing. 

This is when it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. Waking up at 5am daily, shaking and sweating in pure angst. My anxiety had reached new levels. I knew what was causing it but I had zero control over the situation. It was the lack of structure to my day, the innate fear that I would never find a job. The utter self depreciation of consistently telling myself I was no good, useless. You will never get a decent job repeated in my mind like a choir hymn. 

There came a point one random monday I was getting ready to attend a job interview, I put my iTunes on shuffle. Foo Fighters came on, I remember the moment so vividly. Because it was the pivotal moment where my attitude took a turn for the better. It was their song ‘The Pretender’ which had been playing. So much feeling within the song, and the lyrics at that point in time meant the world to me. ‘What if I say that I’ll never surrender?’ 

I continued to listen to the band for the rest of the day, their uplifting, reflective lyrics helped me remember why I even started trying in the first place. And why I would never give up. 

The Foo Fighters are a great example of why you should never give up. Dave Grohl started out his music career in Nirvana, after Kurts death he was traumatised – but made the controversial decision to start another band. For which he received a lot of criticism for. Thr band went through numerous members, and numerous dramas. But they ploughed through, Dave never gave up. 

Eventually their efforts and talents were recognised. But if they would have gone and got a day job and given up on the music dream – they wouldn’t be where they are today. And that’s just it, despite my self depreciation and anxious thoughts ripping at my inner confidence – I won’t give up. I really no longer care how long it takes me to get where I want to be. I know that I will be there one day, and that is comforting enough. It’s enough, you are enough. 

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How you can help friends who suffer with depression, MHAW 17 

top tips

Depression is much like drowning. You are laying in a full bath of luke warm water, staring aimlessly at the ceiling. You don’t see the ceiling, you see nothing but blankness. You know you need to move, but all energy, all motivation has miraculously escaped your cold, fatigued body. You are cold. Depression is that point where you can’t move, you aren’t even mentally in the room. You are consumed by your own intruding dark thoughts. 

 I imagine depression as long black cloak, which is invisible for the most part. But when it wants to make itself known. It will make your entire world fall apart around you. 

Seeing as it’s mental health awareness week, and I have been viewing in the media that more and more young people are being diagnosed with depression / depressive disorders. I thought it was mandatory to try and help others understand what we go through, and how they can potentially help. Of course when it comes to mental health, there is no secret tablet that cures your condition. Because more often than not, there is external factors which alleviate the condition. 

For me, being a naturally bubbly person and suffering with depression on and off; It’s even more difficult because everyone always assumes you are fine. Oh you are strong and loud, you’ll get on with it. 

This isn’t always the case. 

Here are some tips to help if you have a friend who suffers; 

1. Check on them 

The one thing that really matters when someone is depressed is the feeling of isolation. Just messaging someone asking how they are can literally make their day. To you it’s a short message, to the disaffected person that can be seen as someone caring, reaching out. So do check up on your friends as regularly as you can. It helps. 

2. Patience is a virtue 

Be patient with depressed people. If they are having a bad day, they may not want to talk to you – don’t take anything personally. They may need time to get their thoughts together. 

3. Be there 

It sounds really patronising and obvious, but if any of your friends ever tell you they are depressed. Don’t assume it’s a one day thing and they will be fine next week. It could be potentially something they suffer with, on and off, for the rest of their lives. So try your hardest to be there for them as much as you can. Whether it be days out to distract them and get them out of the house – or phone calls where you just listen. It all helps in the grand scheme of things. 

Please like and share this to raise awareness. We don’t need to suffer in silence #Mentalhealthawarenessweek 

How to (try to) control your anxiety 

top tips

At first you don’t even realise what is wrong with you. Overcome with a cold shudder, accompanied by fluttering palpitations, palms sweaty and confusion. Utter confusion. You can’t move. But hold on, 5 minutes ago you were fine? But now, now you can’t move. You can’t get up. There is a heavy invisible burden upon you. If you do attempt to get up, what if you fall? What if everyone around you bursts out laughing at you falling? 

Silly silly silly intruding thoughts enter your mind at this point and you wonder if it will ever stop. Until you get up, walk for a bit and realise you will be ok. That was it. Your first panic attack. 

The problem is, sometimes we don’t realise we are having one – or worse still we don’t know why they happen. I am referring specifically to panic disorder, whereby sufferers will have intense panic attacks. 

Unfortunately there is no fast cure to ‘healing’ these episodes. But you can overcome it, I managed last year to completely get rid of them. Unfortunately recently I have been under a lot of stress and they have returned to rear their ugly head. Here are my top tips on controlling your anxiety / panic attacks; 

1. Cut off the source of the problem

If you can pinpoint the stress or issue which causes the panic attacks you have a very good chance of ending them. You need to cut it out, whatever it may be. If this is near impossible, for example if your job is stressing you out and you can’t afford to leave. Perhaps discuss with your manager working less hours or moving to another department. You need to home in and pinpoint what aspect of the job is stressing you and causing these episodes. 

2. Coping mechanisms  

Along the way in this intense journey, there are a few mechanisms you can use to aid your recovery and help yourself. 

If you have a panic attack at night and your brain is doing overtime, thus resulting in not being able to sleep. I would suggest investing in some ear plugs, putting relaxing music on YouTube and practising breathing exercises. These techniques, in particular the breathing exercises will really help slow down the palpitations and regulate breathing. (This can be applied any time of day). 

If you have one during the day and you are occupied, you can try the breathing exercises. Or splashing your face with cold water, maybe leaving the room and taking 5 minutes to calm down. It’s jusg about finding out what works for you as an individual, we all suffer for different reason in different ways. 

Last but not least, keep things in perspective. Remember you haven’t always had this disorder, more than likely an event has triggered it. Which means, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can overcome it. It’s just going to take a lot of mental strength and determination. You got this! 

Dysfunctional socially: living with functioning anxiety 

top tips

You can often be in a room full of people but feel completely and utterly alone. You can be in a social situation, with a huge grin on your face; eyes wide, speaking and laughing confidently. But inside, your heart is beating so fast you think it possibly may burst through your chest, your hands are clammy, and you can’t stop fidgeting. Your legs are shaking, tapping. Tapping to an unknown beat only you can hear in your mind. Tap. Tap. Tap. 

Living with anxiety is far from easy. And having panic attacks at any given time can be nerve wrecking to say the least. But I feel there’s a lot of people out there who live day to day with functioning anxiety. Meaning, you have anxiety to an extent – but you can still socially function. This is perhaps a blessing and a curse. In one sense, the fact you can socialise can be a positive distraction. But it’s always a curse in the sense that people who don’t understand how functioning anxiety works – can often assume your ‘anxiety’ doesn’t exist. Simply because you still have a life, and try to enjoy it where you can. 

I just wanted to clear up some common misconceptions for those who aren’t aware of functioning anxiety, and give some helpful tips for those struggling. 

  1. Deception – it’s hugely deceiving for people who aren’t aware of your mental state. Depression is often a side affect of anxiety (or a common mental state which goes hand in hand with anxiety). Meaning that you have ups and downs. Just because you still socialise alot of the time and appear ‘normal’. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are stable, if you know deep down you need help. 
  2. ‘She’s just saying that for attention’ – others who say this about you may do it for a number of reasons. But you know yourself whether you are ill or not. And the everyday struggles you face. Ignore this type of comment, and comtinue to try to combat your demons. 
  3. Talk the talk – sometimes sharing your problems or just admitting something is wrong can be the first step towards recovery. 
  4. Light at the end of the tunnel – although it may not seem like you will ever recover. You can do it. You have to be mentally strong and learn to control your condition. Until it no longer exists. It won’t be easy – you will no doubt, have several break downs along the way. But you can do it! 

So next time you assume someone is ok just because they function in a seemingly normal way. How about you don’t assume anything? 

Because you don’t know what that person is going through. Maybe their mum just died of cancer and they are battling depression, but their way of dealing with it is to go out and drink with friends? 

Everybody deals with their problems in their own ways. What we need less of is judgmental behaviour. We need to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, and start discussion. Because discussion can often lead to cures.