I’ve lived with treatment-resistant depression for over a decade. I’m in my early thirties and work as both a psychiatrist and an entrepreneur. The business I have co-founded, Minderful, is a mental fitness platform that aims to change how people look after their minds.
WHAT WAS THE MAJOR TURNING POINT IN YOUR RECOVERY FROM DEPRESSION?
There have been many, but I feel the most significant one for me was accepting that being on medication was for the long term and probably for life.
A typical sequence of events in my twenties would be:
- I’d struggle alone (both proudly and desperately) for about three months.
- Cracks would then begin to appear. My family would notice I was struggling and actively support me in getting professional help.
- I’d then begin taking prescribed medication (and sometimes take part in talking therapy). It would then take me anywhere between three and nine months to recover.
- After a good spell of feeling well (which was normally during the summer), I’d stop taking medication, insisting that I could continue to thrive through sheer willpower alone.
- I’d then find myself struggling again, and so the cycle would continue…
It took me over eight years and six severe episodes of depression (and the completion of a medical degree!) to learn that I needed medication for the rest of my life.
Accepting medication as a core element of my mental fitness programme was huge for me, but having said that, it’s one of a whole range of diverse elements that have kept me mentally well for the last two years. This has been the longest period of good health I’ve had since I turned 21 years old.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?
I have my own mental fitness programme made up of over 40 elements. Here are my top five:
- Be open and frank with the person you most love.
- Use the time when you’re well to create some rules and identify early signs of ill health with people close to you – write them down.
- Accept your need for long-term medication if necessary.
- If you have experienced severe and persistent episodes of depression, it’s really worth considering medication. It’s important to try and accept that medication can be a necessary and positive part of your journey.
- Consider your body temperature.
- I find both cold water swimming and hot baths have a big impact on my mood, so I’ll have a hot bath or a cold shower every day.
- Track your mood.
- I keep a record of my mood on a daily to weekly basis using a platform called Moodscope. This helps me identify how my mood might be trending before anything severe happens.
- For me stretching is a broad term that includes back rubs, stretching my hamstrings, or even yoga – it’s all about finding what works and embracing how good it can feel to soothe your muscles. For me, a couple of minutes three to four times a day is perfect.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?
You’re not alone and asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do.
– Nick, Co-Founder, Minderful. London, UK.