It is a question I get asked a lot and the answer is simple:

I now have control over my depression, rather than it having control over me.

18 years ago, depression affected almost every part of my life.  Emotionally, I was overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, isolation, self-loathing and doubt, fear, zero trust in myself, suicidal thoughts… the list goes on. Physically, I was self-harming in preparation for suicide. I was hiding behind a smile and a fun-loving exterior, working and playing hard until the facade shattered.

Fast forward 18 years and, I’m not going to bullshit you, I didn’t wake up one day and have all the answers and tools I now have and suddenly the world was filled with rainbows and unicorns, no.

It took many years of love and support from my family and friends. It took the National Health Service doctors and a lot of therapy in one-2-one and group settings. It took dedicating 6 hours out of my business each week, to travel to the other side of London to see a private therapist for many years.

It took me realising (and this was a big one!) through the help of meditation and Buddhist ethos, that I wasn’t the only person in the world suffering and with that came the massive sense of relief that I wasn’t alone.

It takes the peace and calm that I experience every time I put my head under water when freediving. It takes rebuilding trust and confidence in myself with every metre deeper I dive. It takes daily meditation (15 mins for starters) to help me to respond calmly, with clarity to stressful and / or emotional situations. It takes knowing how to look after myself with good nutrition, exercise and proper breathing. It takes having a support group of friends and family who I can reach out to whenever I feel the need for help or to ground myself (or just to talk rubbish to!).

Yes, it seems to have taken and takes a lot a lot of things, but this journey has taken me 18 years. With each skill and piece of self knowledge I have gained along the way, each day became a little better and a little brighter.

Now I’m not saying that what has worked for me will automatically work for everyone. I’m a great believer in “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” We all need to find out what works best for us which may involve having to find the strength to try quite a few different things, but it is so important to take the little steps to see what helps you feel and cope better each day. Sometimes when you’re feeling really crappy, it might just be something as simple as a hot chocolate, but that’s the point, it doesn’t have to be a massive big steps to help.

I chose the title of the film to be “Helena’s story of survival and triumph over mental illness”. I chose the word “triumph” because I have built up the skills and knowledge to give me control over depression, so won’t suffer again.

Photo and film by Simeon Quarrie, Vivida.co.uk

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