I was diagnosed with depression 9 years ago and have had about 5 episodes of depression since then. Luckily I have had a very supportive GP throughout this time. Over the past 9 years I have been on anti-depressants when I have been unwell and then when I have felt better, have gradually come off them (with my GP’s help). The depression has always returned and I have ended up going on anti-depressants again. I have also had counselling (but not CBT) and it really helped to talk about things.
"I felt so low in confidence that I wasn't even sure I would be able to go back to work"
Last year I felt was the worst time. I had been on anti-depressants for 2 years constantly and again was starting to feel well. I was feeling I could cope, I had changed roles at work and was really enjoying my job, home-life was fine. I came off my tablets last summer and I really thought that was the end of having to take them.
Then a few months later, I started to feel irritable and anxious. I wasn’t sure if I was doing my job properly and felt everything I was doing was wrong. I then started coming down with lots of viruses, wasn’t eating or sleeping properly. I didn’t want to admit to myself that my depression had started again and I tried to ignore it and find excuses of what else it might be. My husband was really worried and asked me to go back to the doctor. The depression had definitely come back and this time I just couldn’t work out how or why it had started.
My GP thought it would be best to be on anti-depressants long term. I also had to get signed off from work which really scared me as I had always been able to keep on working. I felt so low in confidence that I wasn’t even sure I would be able to go back to work! I knew that I couldn’t go on like this.
"My fear was that I would start it and give up and feel a failure yet again"
In the past I’d always had “something to blame” for my depression and never really tackled how the way I was thinking and dealing with things was really unhelpful. I knew I had to change things. I came across a flyer in the DAS newsletter about using Living Life to the Full online and with support. I had used the Living Life to the Full programme before and although thought it was great, I found it very hard to motivate myself to work through the exercises on my own.
There were also so many things about me that I felt I needed to deal with that I didn’t know where to start! I thought about it and kept going back to the flyer, not knowing whether to contact DAS or not. I think my fear was that I would start it and give up and feel a failure yet again.
"I finally decided I had nothing to lose"
I finally decided that I had nothing to lose. I contacted Susanne who was offering the support and the first thing I had to do was fill out a mood questionnaire to gauge how bad I felt. I scored really highly on questions such as “do you feel you’ve let yourself and family down”! When I spoke to Susanne on the phone we went through my questionnaire (with a lot of tears from me) and she explained how the course worked. There are basically 6 modules and you work through them in turn. The good thing is that you can’t go on to the next one until you finish the one you are on, so for me it meant I wasn’t giving up on one module and moving on to another. You can also print off the workbooks to go with each module.
It was a relief to hear other people describing how I was feeling ... and it was good to hear how they dealt with their feelings
There are also short videos with people talking about their experiences which I could really identify with and it was a relief to hear other people describing how I was feeling (such as calling myself stupid) and it was good to hear how they deal with their feelings.
You then work through situations that have upset you in the last couple of weeks and what your thoughts and behaviour were. Susanne would phone me at an agreed time and we would discuss what I had worked on. What I liked as well, was that at the start of each module, you would fill out a mood questionnaire and this could let you see how intensely you were feeling things – I found it really heartening to actually see myself getting better just by the answers I was giving as I moved through the course and started to feel better. I found this course really works for me.
"I don't just accept things now - I really challenge things"
Although I have finished the actual modules, I go back to my workbooks if I feel upset about something or if I’ve not handled something very well and really go through what has happened and how I feel. I don’t just accept things now, I really challenge things. I also don’t constantly put myself down as I used to or immediately look at the negative side of things. I am not going to pretend that this is easy and I do find myself slipping into my old ways of thinking and behaving, but I am now more aware that I am doing this and stopping myself rather than going down that spiral!
I must also thank my husband for all the support and understanding he gives me. One of the things the course recommends to continue feeling well is to be aware of your own triggers and also to involve family and friends – you may not notice when you are starting to go downhill, but they will and I’ve asked my husband to tell me when I am becoming a “nippy sweetie” and getting irritable (that is one of my triggers). Sometimes you forget how hard it is on those close to you!
"If there is someone out there thinking about doing it and...trying to pluck up the courage.. I would say GO FOR IT"
I have to give lots of praise to Susanne – the help and support she gave me was invaluable. It was good to feel you weren’t doing this on your own and if I found something difficult I could talk it over with Susanne rather than feeling a complete failure for not managing to do an exercise! I would really recommend this course. I can only talk about my own experience and the course might not be for everyone, but if there is someone out there thinking about doing at and like me trying to pluck up the courage to contact Action on Depression about it, I would say – GO FOR IT. I really felt at the time that I had nothing to lose, but found that really I had everything to gain. Good luck!
Do you want to register for our Life Skills Course Online?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As long as you have a PC or Tablet connected to the interent and live in Scotland you can take part.
Have you decided cognitive behavioural therapy based skills are not for you? There are still a number of alternative options for treating depression available, or find out more about the support services from Action on Depression.