The below is a first-person account
It all started with feeling irritated over small issues. I didn’t look forward to spending time with my wife and friends. I was getting angry at home to no avail, I also started to have issues with customers at the shop where I used to work. I didn’t feel like working anymore, customers were making me feel nervous. I lost my enthusiasm for life and struggled to enjoy the things that would usually make me happy.
Gradually I lost interest in sports, something which I loved or any other activities even in food and was losing confidence to talk to anyone. Everyone, including myself, thought I was just becoming lazy. Disturbed sleep at night started causing dark circles around my eyes. My body felt lethargic and my head felt dizzy all the time.
I couldn’t explain what was happening to me to anyone, so I remained silent. Even small tasks seemed too much for me, and at work, I started making mistakes because of my lack of concentration. My wife was trying so hard to make me happy but to no avail. Instead of cheering me up, her attention and care were having the reverse effect on me. I just wanted to be left alone.
Going to work was too tiring, so I made the decision to leave. I’d started becoming anxious and afraid at the point that I stopped going out completely. It was then that I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, after almost four years of my struggle. Now I realise why I was feeling the way I felt. Now I can tell myself that I will be fine someday. Slowly I may be able to manage it, with the support and medication.
“Relax and enjoy life while you are still young,” people often tell me but that is what I am unable to do right now. I just want to be in my safe place.
At times, people judge me for being slow or working with less enthusiasm, but depression makes it difficult to bring that level of energy sometimes. Depression is not just sadness, it is an illness which needs time to be healed or sometimes needs to be managed throughout life. I wish there is more awareness so that people were able to suffer less, get an early diagnosis and access to treatment.
I call frequently on the YMCA’s Loneliness response line, especially when I am in a very bad place and I really suggest others that are in the same situation to do the same. I share my thoughts and that helps, YMCA Volunteers also call to check on me when I don’t call for a few days and this helps me to feel good because I know I’m not just a number for them.
Yes I do have a wonderful wife and family and I am fully supported by them but sometimes strange enough a stranger on the other side of the line can be incredibly supportive. Probably this happens because I am afraid of what my loved one will think. I don’t want them to know my flaws, my therapist said that this is clearly related to a negative image I have of myself. So yes this friendly chat is extremely beneficial for me together with the rest of the professionals who are following me.
At least I know that I can call without any judgments. Now I know that I don’t and I cannot do this on my own. I read a quote which I would like to share with you since it is being really helpful. “Depression is not my master. I master my depression. I am not my thoughts- I control my life and my thoughts.”
YMCA’s Loneliness Response Line was launched on the 23rd March 2020 as a COVID-19 response. Do not hesitate to call one of our volunteers on 99928625. You may visit the YMCA Malta website for more information about their services, and if you wish to help you may send a blank message on 50619212 for a donation of €11.65.