Written by Tricia Ramkhalawan, Miss Couva, Miss World Trinidad and Tobago 2020.
Recognise the symptoms
People who suffer with depression do not always like reaching out and asking for help for a fear of burdening other people with their troubles. This is why it is important for people to be able to identify the many symptoms of depression that exist.
So many people suffer amongst us and we don’t even know. Depression affects everybody in different ways. Some people may overeat or have appetite loss, be irritable and restless, or have digestive issues.
For me, I would just want to be left alone in a dark room and I’d sleep as much as possible. I also realized that one of the ways that I coped with depression was by procrastinating. It took me more over a month to complete this blog for the #NotOkay website because I just postponed and delayed everything. I would wait until the last minute to do all of my work.
I have noticed the same with many of my friends, when it comes to their job or school work. I have also had friends who lost weight as a result of depression. Days and weeks would sometimes go by without hearing from them.
What I wish Trinbagonians would understand about depression
I wish Trinbagonians would understand that just because a person is battling depression, it does not mean that they have an underlying spiritual problem or that they are “crazy” or should necessarily be in a psychiatric hospital. Sometimes, people who battle depression just want someone to listen and understand.
I wish Trinbagonians would change the way that they think about mental health and be more open to having conversations about it since it affects everyone.
I wish that parents, relatives and family members would be more open to having mental health conversations and be of support to their family members. Most of all, I wish that Trinbagonians would be more sensitive when it comes to talking about mental health issues in Trinidad and Tobago.
It is a problem that needs addressing, and must be given more attention as it does not only affect young people but people from all age groups.
What not to say to someone with depression
It is always important to be careful of the things you say to someone whether they are dealing with depression or not. Everyone is dealing with something that we know absolutely nothing about, so it is important to always be kind.
Instead of telling someone who is battling with depression to ‘just get over it’, I have found it much more helpful when someone says, ‘You have gotten through so much already, you are going to get through this too’. Instead of comparing them to others, saying, ‘other people have it worse’, I find it so much more helpful if you say, ‘You have dealt with much harder things and I’m sure you can deal with this too’.
There was a time where someone compared his life to mine by saying that mine was like a flimsy Styrofoam plate while his was a sturdy ceramic plate. He didn’t know that most of my days were filled with anxiety and depression and that sometimes it felt like having to deal with that as well as an overactive mind was an entire job. It is no easy task dealing with depression.
My advice if you’re living with depression
It is important to have a reason why! Once you have a reason why, it will help you fight your way out of depression. I have seen people who came out of years of depression. Keep believing that one day everything will change and it will get better.
After dealing with more than six years of depression, eventually there was a year where things got so much better for me. It made me so grateful for all of the struggles and challenges that came my way. Continue to push through and one day, you’ll look back and be thankful that you didn’t give up.
The more compassionate, kind and understanding we can be of people with depression, the more likely we are to help. If you or someone you know needs help, please visit our directory of free and reduced cost resources: here. Please ask for help if you need it. You matter.