Would you find it easier to tell your friend that you are finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning because you have broken your arm, or because you have depression? I am guessing the former would be true for most of you. That’s because physical illnesses are still normalised more than mental illnesses.

Depression can happen to anyone. One quarter of the population will experience some kind of depression in one year, with anxiety and depression being the most common. 10% of children have depression at any one time and men are three times more likely to die by suicide in comparison to women.

My guest, motivational speaker Sidra Jafri, was best placed to talk about this topic because she had not only experienced depression but come out it and now helps others.

SIDRA’S STORY

I didn’t know I was experiencing depression at the time. By the age of 16, I was self-harming and the irony was that my parents didn’t know I was going through it. My grandmother was taking blood pressure tablets. I swallowed a lot of them. When my mother found out, she said ‘these are so expensive, where will I get more from now?’ My mum completely missed the fact I had tried to overdose. Another time, I took a load of sleeping pills. I could hear everyone saying ‘all she does is sleep, she keeps sleeping’. There was a complete lack of awareness and my family did not recognise it at all. I was lucky enough to move to England when I was 19, where I learnt where my depression and suicidal tendencies were coming from and help others do the same.

*This is not directly quoted by para-phrased for the sake of this blog.

Q. If you do not know that you have depression how do you help yourself out of it?

A. For Sidra, the wake-up call was realising that everything on the surface was perfect but she was still crying, could not stop crying, and did not know why she was crying.

Q. When did you get to the point that life is not worth living?

A. I questioned myself a lot in that moment. There was complete pitch black darkness in my head – nothing and nobody mattered. I felt unwanted and didn’t know why. Then I realised, by going back in time, all the way to my childhood, that the feeling of unwanted stemmed from my past and that far back in my life.

Q. Some family members may know that another family member is experiencing a mental illness such as depression but may not know how to help them. What did you want from the people around you when you were experiencing depression?

A. The worst thing someone can say is just be happy. You do not want to her that. You know you have everything so should be happy and grateful! What I really wanted was to know I was still loved regardless of how I was feeling. The core basic human need is to be accepted and feel a sense of belonging. I matter; I am cared for. Be that listening ear because sometimes an intelligent mind is outdone by a warm heart just willing to listen. The saying ‘money is the root cause of all evil’ has become a norm but I believe ‘loneliness is the root cause of all evil’ because we all want to be loved.

Q. You have always been a student and learning about yourself. Why is this so important?

A. I have always been a student and been curious. I wanted to find out why I am experiencing depression because it is the cause that needs attention. I believe that depression is a symptom that needs attention.  A lot of time we miss and forget the questioning of our problems. We learn to live with depression and anxiety. But you should ask questions. Why is this happening? What is the reason for it? There is a reason for everything in life. I helped myself by educating myself and learning where the depression is coming from. Sometimes problems happen in life because we don’t know what the problem is.

Q. How do we differentiate between sadness and depression?

A. Sadness and depression – life comes in waves, ups and downs, day and night, good and bad. Everything comes in a contrast. Sadness naturally passes and you go back up. Depression is when we get stuck in that low and unable to get back to the rhythm of life. The stagnated energy. Emotions are energy – ‘e’-‘motion’.

Q. Sometimes we just feel angry or have negative thoughts. How do we overcome them?

A. Life is about being real and experiencing all emotions. Don’t be afraid to be angry, afraid, or sad. That’s the palette of life and the canvas. You can’t create a picture with some colours missing.

Q. Is there anything you’d like to leave our viewers with?

A. Depression is a sign of awakening – a signal that something is not right somewhere. Ask yourself the right questions. And definitely seek help. Talk to others so that they can help you through it because, like me, you can overcome depression.