The following is an essay written by my 15 year old son on the subject of depression, it is easy to forget the rippling impact this illness has upon our family. His perspective on the situation is remarkably mature and makes me proud to share this.
‘Depression’ – Feelings of severe despondency and dejection, or a mental condition characterized by feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of sleep.
This definition describes a condition which my Dad has suffered for the past three years. It is something that my family and my Dad have been and are working through which has been difficult at times, but we have found ways which help to improve my Dads overall mental health. In years gone by mental health problems was something that was kept quiet and not openly discussed. Thankfully now this is not the case it is no longer something that is to be kept quiet in fact it is better to talk about it instead of keeping it locked away inside yourself.
Talking was something my Dad found hard at first but overtime found it easier.
There were multiple things that helped my Dad to improve his condition, one was medication. The medication he was put on was called Effexor which is an antidepressant that focuses on balancing chemicals in the brain that effect mood and emotions, increasing appetite, concentration and sleep patterns.
For the first couple of weeks there was very little visual improvement but over the course of the next few months things started to get better, he was happier, could concentrate on tasks better and was sleeping longer.
Another thing that helped my Dad was diet. My Mum was brilliant in researching what foods he should and shouldn’t be consuming, he had to reduce his intake of gluten and dairy products and increase his intake of foods such as spinach, chicken and chickpeas all of which help to increase the production of Serotonin and Thyroxin which helps improve mood and emotions.
Furthermore exercise helped to raise his mood, keep him fit and distract him from his daily life. When it comes to depression exercise can greatly help some people but for others, like my Dad, It was just another chore onto the weekly struggle. For my Dad sleep acted as a reset button to clear his mind and his thinking and helped him to rationalise situations and emotions. Whenever something was getting too much he would go away for a sleep or a walk to clear his head.
By far the thing which made the most visual improvement was spending time at the seaside or going for a brisk walk. When my Dad was younger he used to live in a small seaside town called Nairn just outside Inverness. Out of all the places that he lived he says that Nairn is by far his favourite and even though his parents don’t live there it feels the most like home to him. Whenever we go up to Nairn he always leaves feeling great, it almost acts like a reset button for his mind and helps him to fit into family life and work life better. I think the key is how relaxing it is when we are up there. There are no expectations; we stay in a brilliant hotel so there is no need to worry about cooking or cleaning and it is all very easy and calm. We go long family walks along the beach and it’s almost like having a different person with you than from what he was like at home, he was happier, more involved and concentrated. He was more responsive and willing to do more family orientated tasks. When we went home I could see a visible difference in him than from when we had left, he would take part in more day to day family tasks and helped more around the house.
Depression affects people differently some more severely than others, at times I felt like I had lost my Dad. He was happy, fun and a joy to be around but the depression changed that but thankfully he is slowly coming round to his old self. People would say that he will go back to normal but I would think to myself, what is normal, for me this is normal and I thinking that makes me sad but I have learned a great amount from my Dad and about my Dad since he was diagnosed with depression and I will always look at difficult situations as a learning curve, my Dad heled me to understand that we go through these situations for a reason.
Whether it is to help others or ourselves with life everything happens for a reason and personally I look forward to finding out how what I know about depression will help others.