Living with depression - Tanya’s story

26 April 2016

As far I was concerned, when I left the house that morning it was just another day. I really had no idea I’d try to deliberately drive my car into a tree. All I remember now is opening my eyes, realising I wasn’t hurt and bursting into tears.’

Depression affects around one in 10 people at some point during their lives. There is no typical profile – young or old, male or female, depression and anxiety do not discriminate.

Here, Tanya shares her story of living with depression, her diagnosis and recovery.

If you would like more information about what depression is – including the types, symptoms and causes – you can read more about it here.

Living with depression: feeling isolated

For years, my work was my priority. I loved looking after all those in my care, but I didn’t know I was working myself into the ground.

I was being bullied by senior staff too – I told my colleagues but they took no notice and I just felt ignored. When I had time off for an operation, all I worried about was getting back to work. On my first day back, I think I worked 22 hours.

Looking back, I can see I’d become irritable and snappy. I felt isolated and eventually I was overwhelmed. I was already taking anti-depressants, but it still took me weeks to realise something wasn’t right.

I decided to try yoga to see if it would help me relax. It made no difference and on the way back from the class an ambulance raced past, sirens blaring and that was the trigger. Something inside me just snapped.

It doesn’t make sense now, but I wanted to punish my colleagues for the way they treated me. I wasn’t thinking about the fact I might die, I just had nothing left.

Without even thinking I accelerated and aimed head-on for a tree. The car spun but somehow I wasn’t hurt. I just sat in my car sobbing. I was shaking all over. I never thought I’d do something like that. That’s when I really broke down.

Treatment for depression: being admitted as an in-patient

I think there’s a certain stigma around being an in-patient, because of how psychiatric hospitals are shown in old films and on TV.

But where I was treated, barely felt like a hospital at all. It wasn’t how I had imagined, I felt safe and I was cared for by therapists and psychiatric nurses who were extraordinarily talented, empathetic and caring.

Overcoming depression: the road to recovery

I felt lucky I was an AXA PPP healthcare member through work, but I wish mental health had been talked about more as I might have been able to get help sooner.

However, being treated privately did mean I was seen quickly and there was no extra stress around getting treatment, so I could focus on getting better and taking control of my life.

In the end, I had several different types of treatment. It made such a difference that I didn’t have to worry about when, or where I got it.

Ask for help with your mental health

I want everyone to realise they need to speak out about their mental health. We need to be able to ask for help without fear and we need to be more aware and support anyone who finds the courage to speak out about their illness.

We’re not invincible. Don’t keep on pedalling. Speak out before the ticking time bomb goes off. Every employer needs to recognise that poor mental health is as serious as poor physical health and that people need to be listened to.

To anyone going through a similar situation, I want to reassure you that there is life after depression or a mental breakdown. You can turn your mental health around and you can feel better again. Please, please just ask for help.