I’m a 32-year-old teacher and I live with my partner and two young children. I discovered I had depression when I moved jobs and realized doing so had been a big mistake. I had been teaching at a school for 8 years and then decided to move to another school last September. I went from being confident and happy to anxious and incredibly low.
I suffered panic attacks before going to bed and in the mornings. The world felt dark. I no longer smiled, or laughed and I couldn’t look forward to anything. I didn’t want to speak to anyone, including my partner. I wasn’t sleeping properly and stopped eating regular meals. I lost over 15 pounds and, finally, after a lot of persuasion from a very good friend and my partner, I went to see my doctor. I was diagnosed with reactive depression nearly 6 months ago, although looking back I think I have had depression for a few years. I take anti-depressants and am slowly but surely getting better.
One of my coping methods is writing poetry. I have also found that exercise is helpful and gives me something to focus on. Writing poetry is like writing a diary; everything in my poems is from my heart. I hope to reach out to other people living with depression through my writing. The best thing anyone with depression can do is to say out loud, ‘‘I have depression.” I ignored my symptoms for months and I know if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have got to the stage where I was having panic attacks each morning and night. Talk to someone you trust and in time you WILL get better.
Following is Jenny’s poem about depression, I Smile on the Outside.
I smile on the outside
but I actually feel defeated
I’ve lost my laugh
I’ve lost my cheer
I feel like I’ve been cheated
I don’t believe you they all say
You look absolutely fine to me
You don’t look sick
You don’t look ill
If only they could see
If they could see inside my mind
See the thoughts I have each day
The thoughts that take over my life
They would realise I’m not ok
I can’t laugh when something’s funny
I don’t always brush my hair
I don’t care if I eat or not
I need to make people more aware
Aware that this illness can be hidden
Hidden from all to see
But just because you cannot see it
Does not mean it isn’t happening to me
So before you judge me
And think I’m crazy
Just take some time to think
How can I help?
How can I support?
And remember I am still me