Conversations with… Sarah Storton

My friendship with Sarah was one of the only things to survive the end of my four year relationship with my ex other than my love for Dominos pizza. Whilst I still do really love Dominos, and believe me I do, I’ve got to admit that I love Sarah even more.

Sarah has always been one of those friends you can rely on to cheer you up. When we went travelling around America together, she was the one who ended up in the situations that made you belly laugh. She’s always got a story to tell, can make even the most straight faced person crack a smile with her cheeky ways and you can pretty much guarantee that she will be the most bubbly person in any room. When you think of someone who has depression, Sarah is probably the last person that would come to mind, but that just highlights the unrelenting, undiscriminating nature of depression – it can hit anyone at anytime.

It always makes me nervous to interview friends because I want to do them and their situation justice. When Sarah approached me about sharing her experience with depression with the hopes that it would help someone else, I was a little nervous. As usual, it was Sarah who lifted me up and told me not to worry about asking her personal questions. She wanted to tell her story and use her voice to help people who might be feeling like she did. Yet again she was the bubbly friend doing all she could to make sure that everyone else was okay.

Even though this is an interview about depression, it is not an interview that is about giving up or losing hope. True to her character, even when talking about one of the darkest experiences a person can face, Sarah finds a way to say it with a smile. If there is someone out there who embodies finding The Good In Every Day, then it’s Sarah, and I feel lucky every day to get to call her my friend.

 

When did you first get diagnosed with depression?

It was around 3/4 years ago now. I’d been in a rollercoaster relationship with the person I still believe was my first love. I completely worshipped the ground he walked on. One day his dad suddenly passed away and I was the only person in the house when it happened who wasn’t family. I had to try comfort 3 absolutely heartbroken people. It all started from there.

I had reoccurring nightmares and panic attacks. My boyfriend didn’t want me around and his way of dealing with it was to push me as far away from him as possible. My head wondered why, my heart crumbled and my self esteem disappeared. A year of attempting to fix our relationship broke me as a person and the way he treated me is why I’m the way I am today – anxious, paranoid and it’s difficult for me to trust people or make a relationship last now.

What’s it like living day to day with depression?

It’s different one day to the next. The hardest thing I find is that nobody can see inside your head or feel what you feel. A lot of people class me as a really smiley person so that makes it even more difficult to understand that I can be suffering mentally. How each day goes depends on what my mind is telling me that particular day. Some days things could seem rosy and I think life is grand, then others I struggle to get out of bed. I beat myself up a lot even when I try my hardest and I compare my life to others regularly. Inside your own head really can be the worst place to be.

For people that don’t suffer from depression it is hard to imagine what that could be like. Do you feel like you can talk to people easily about what you’re going through?

It’s tricky to get the words right sometimes but the cliché is true – talking really does help. I tried counselling a few years back but that wasn’t for me. I felt like the counsellor was trying to dig up too many things from my past when I needed answers on how to make things better now.
My mum is my rock. She doesn’t understand what I am going through much but she tries her best to help. I think the majority of mums out there will do the same for their children. I also talk to my friends but people don’t get it. They try their best but they can only reassure you that you’re alright or even sometimes get a bit annoyed because they think your life is fine. I have one particular friend who struggles with depression and anxiety too and we try our best to advise one another. It’s helpful when someone else is going through the same thing, even if you wish they weren’t going through it too.

Apart from talking to people and from taking medication, what things have you found help you deal with daily life with depression?

My medication was a nightmare for side effects to begin with. My brain felt like it was being taken over by aliens! So I’d strongly advise to try other things first. For me sleep is the key! I’m personally a lover of napping which means sleeping on a night is a struggle but when I get a good nights sleep I feel so much better in myself. Meditation helps before bed, even if you just do it for 5 minutes. It lets your thoughts escape just for a short while. Green tea and evening primrose oil help with the hormonal imbalance I have. I take Kalms for my anxiety and also give myself pep talks in a morning. I start every day with an ‘I got this!’

I can imagine that there are some days where you might need more self care time than others. What are your go to home remedies to help yourself on the worst days?

On the bad days it feels like the world could end so my way of coping is distraction. I don’t sit and mull things over and over. I turn my phone off for a few hours which helps me realise not everyone’s life is as perfect as it seems on social media. I listen to songs that make me happy. Music is my saviour. I also write down what I could do that would minimise these kind of days. This mostly involves me figuring out where in the world I want to go next or what car I’d like when I pass my test or how many dogs I can possibly get before it gets worrying.

One problem people with depression have talked about often is the lack of understanding from people who are lucky enough not to suffer from it. Do you find that people are mostly supportive of you and your depression or have you had any unexpected negativity because of it?

A lot of people can believe it’s an overreaction and that you need to get a grip. They don’t seem to realise how severe having depression is. I also think employers need to be more understanding of depression. I’m currently working in childcare and fear people could think I shouldn’t because I suffer from mental health issues. People can assume that you’re ‘mentally unstable’ or be quick to judge you as a person. I’m just you’re average girl, but I just see the world a little differently, that’s all.

What advice would you give to someone who feels like they are struggling with their mental health?

I’d say to try remind yourself that it’s a few bad days, not a bad life. You’re worth more than your head tells you and to focus on the little things like pay day and buying your favourite perfume, the sky when it’s pink and looks pretty, the times when you genuinely laugh and you’re around good people. Most importantly I’d say to remember you’re loved and you’re not alone. I think do what makes you feel like the best version of you. Whether that’s calling in sick to work because you can’t face the world that day and starting again the day after. Stay away from anyone who makes you feel like you’re not the wonderfully weird person that you are.

I think your life advice should be printed on T-shirt’s and we should all chant it to our reflection in the mirror at the start of every new day. If you had to streamline life into the things that really boost wellbeing, what would they be?

I think it’s important to have a job that you don’t absolutely detest. If you hate your job, find a new one. After all, you’re there most of your life. Realise there are people who will talk about you and be nasty but so what? Remember you’re better than that and always be kind. Ignore any toxic comments. Make a list each day of 3 things that make you happy. Appreciate what you have or what you could have if you keep taking those little steps. Life is for living and I’m trying my best to aim towards the stuff that makes me happy. Also, travel lots and take it all in. The world is amazing and it’s waiting for everyone to see it. Never drink a bad cup of tea – life is too short for that kind of thing!

Sarah sent me these photos she found online that she has found useful and felt could potentially help others. (Source of images is unknown)

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