Living openly with anxiety and depression is hard. I know that sounds really strange but it is the truth. Part of me wishes it was all still hidden away and that I was living in quiet oblivion. I know that it needed to come out but it is hard to know what to say sometimes.

I have honestly lived with a heavy deep sadness for such a long time (not just weeks and not just since life unravelled spectacularly) I am talking probably even decades. I almost don’t know what it feels like to not be depressed or anxious on some level. I also think that there is a big difference between having depression (and still being able to enjoy the normal ups and downs in life) and being depressed or having an acute episode of depression whereby life feels pointless and the pain of depression (and its ever present side kick) anxiety just gets too much to cope with. Sometimes the acute episodes last days sometimes they linger for much longer. When I am lucky after an acute episode I can feel quite energetic about life and productive but lately it seems that the set point is 0 where for most people set point would be  or even more!

I have been trying to think why I might be feeling quite low but can’t put a finger on a trigger. It has been a pretty busy week for me, lots of interaction with people, physio appointment for me and my eldest. Mine was really just trying to release some of the tension that I hold in my neck, shoulders, back and hips which causes constant throbbing headaches and for my big boy because he had a suspected small break in his hand from the last game of football. Given that I am still not driving (though I hope to be able to rectify this soon!) my only option to get to these appointments was to walk. Not really a big deal so in two days I walked 8kms. I know that exercise is supposed to help with depression so I am really trying to get a little bit everyday. For two reasons one to hopefully help lift my mood and two to hopefully shift the weight that I collected in the three week trial of a new medication! It seems that it is significantly easier to collect 10kgs in three weeks than it is to loose it again even once you are off the medication!

Things didn’t really start well this morning. No idea why really, all I know is that when I woke this morning there was an incredible sadness settling in, something more than the usual. There are no particular anniversaries coming up that usually trigger these kinds of feelings so I am a little bit lost. After everyone left for school and work I thought I would head out for a walk to see if that would help lift the sadness I was feeling. On my walk I was trying to take a photo of the beautiful coastline where we live (1.5km from the beach!) All I managed to succeed at doing was taking the world’s most out of focus photo with an autofocus iPhone! There is a talent in achieving that.

As I turned for home it was quickly evident that the walk outside in the fresh air and sunshine wasn’t actually going to help. My eyes started leaking, you know like you have something in them it was like I was crying but not. It doesn’t really make sense, and the constant stream also hasn’t really stopped.

This has been sitting in my drafts since last week so it tells me, which is kind of great because I don’t remember writing it at all. I know I have a lot of silly worries going through my mind at the moment that rationally I know aren’t real and I have no control over so I shouldn’t worry about them. Equally history tells me that perhaps there is a reason to worry.  With that in mind it might explain my reaction to a picture I saw on Facebook this morning that hit a raw nerve. Though I can’t be sure sometimes my mind goes places without any help at all. It could of course also have been some of the comments that went with this picture and really I should know better than to read comments but it seems I will never learn that lesson!


I struggle with this photo because it implies to me that fresh air and exercise is far more beneficial for you than medication for depression. There is absolutely no doubt that fresh air and exercise should form a part of any management for any mental illness. The reality for everyone whether you have mental illness battles or not fresh air and exercise should form a part of your life.

Exercise and fresh air are beneficial for general mood, brain health, physical health. They aid recovery after surgery, can assist in prolonging good cognitive function, there are even suggestions that 30mins a day of exercise can assist in warding off Alzheimers.

I guess my real bug bear with this image is that to me it says don’t take medication and if you do you are taking the easy way out. Equally when I read many of the comments on the original image on the Organic Lifestyle Magazine facebook page. There is a real sense that if you take medication you are not trying hard enough. In fact if you can kick your medication habit it is seen as a real badge of honour.

In truth for so many battling with mental illness medication is an absolutely integral part of their management of their illness. For some reason there is an incredible stigma around taking medication for mental health issues but we would never dream of telling a diabetic to not take their insulin and just eat better, or tell an asthmatic to not take their preventers or ventolin if they are having an attack. So why do we tell people to look for alternatives when it comes to mental health medications.

Sure there are side effects of mental health medications and it may take a long period of medication trials to find the right one for you. As I said earlier I had to come off a new one that I was trialling for lots of reasons but the lingering effect from that was the 10kg weight gain (that I am now trying to do as much exercise to shift that 10kgs!) If you can get through the side effects and find one that works for you, medication can make a big difference in your life and that should not come with any stigma attached. Without a doubt there is a small % of people that medication simply doesn’t work for. What I am absolutely certain of is that there would be a far greater failure rate of fresh air and exercise as the first line treatment for mental illness.

There is absolutely no shame in taking medication and there should be no stigma attached to it. Equally you are not a better person if you can manage your illness with fresh air and exercise. Thanks for reading my ramble maybe it will give you cause to re-think your thoughts on medication for mental health and that for many they are life saving in the same way insulin is for a diabetic.

Cat xoxo


0 Replies to “Out in the open …”

  1. Hi Cat!

    I clicked on the links to take me to your latest post through my email but the link is not working. Just thought you should know – or maybe it’s just me.

    Hope you are well. Sandra Kelly X

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I’m sorry life is like this for you right now. My husband has suffered with depression and anxiety for years and takes medication to help him. I have to be honest, prior to meeting him and spending now many years with him, I to thought that medication was easy to come off, what a fool I was. Without it, his life is very different, and while some changes we have made like diet and exercise have helped him, there is no way in the near future he could be without it. Thank you for being so honest in what you have shared in this post. It is important for people like me to understand, it helps me understand my husband and many of my friends also in a similar situation. I hope this week has brought a little more brightness, big hugs to you my friend. xxx

  3. Thanks for sharing so openly and honestly. I think it’s not just the stigma of mental health medication but the stigma that is attached to mental health full stop. If we have a physical ailment, not only do we seek medical attention but we usually receive sympathy from our support networks too. It’s not always the case with our mental health, not only do we not all seek medical help when we need it, but neither do we always receive support and understanding from others. Mental illness like physical illness is different for each patient, what works for one might not work for another. Eating right and regular exercise is good for everyone regardless of their mental or physical health, but that’s not always enough. We wouldn’t dream of telling a cancer patient to stop their meds and get on their bike instead, so why would we say the same to a mentally ill patient? Grrr! Rant over. Big hugs for you, lovely. And side note, there is an art to an out of focus autofocus shot. It appears I have mastered it too!

  4. My heart goes out to you, Kit. You can’t understand what someone else is going through unless you’ve experienced something similar. That image is completely insensitive and I’m sad to hear that it upset you. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’re amazing xx

  5. Fresh air and exercise didn’t cut it for me and I had a hard time convincing locum GP’s at my clinic that it wasn’t enough. Not until I completely crashed and my own GP saw the state I was in did I get medication. It was hell. It’s difficult enough to be open and honest without feeling like you need to justify asking for the help you KNOW will help you – That being meds. Being vulnerable and brave to open up takes a certain amount of self acceptance and inner resolve – very proud of how beautifully you have written and shared theses words. Much strength and respect to you Cat. Xx

  6. Thank you so much for writing this Cathy. I’ve been on antidepressants for many years, at first I hated the idea of taking them (and I still don’t love it) but fact is I have an illness and it needs to be treated. Ive tried to come off them several times and manage my depression by eating better, exercising etc but it just doesn’t work for me. Nobody wants to be on medication but the fact is sometimes people need to be and we shouldn’t be judged or made to feel weak becaus of it.

    1. Thanks Sarah. It can feel incredibly lonely when you take medication for depression or any other mental illness. Hopefully by writing this it breaks down some of the stigma around medication. That isn’t to say I am absolutely cheering on anyone who can tackle mental illness without medication. xoxo

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