I couple of months back I received a random email from Jenni Young about my blog. I'm always flattered when people tell me they have read, and enjoyed, my writing - but this email went a step further. Jenni talked about wanting to make an experimental short about depression and anxiety for her final piece, and would I be interested in talking to her about my experiences.
Of course I wanted to help - I always want to help provide insight into, and fight stigma around, mental health issues. It also seemed the perfect form of expression - to be image rather than dialogue led, as are my memories of struggling with depression.
Jenni sent me the final film this morning - and it was evident just how much hard work went into this. She talked to me and two others about their experiences to gain as much understanding as she could. Then she ran with it. The way the film is pieced together and stylised is just beautiful.
It was clever and I loved the use of the mask - simply and beautifully conveying how you really lose yourself when in that state, and how others can barely recognise this unfeeling person you become.
It also moved me to see images from my own life on the screen - that she had picked up on from my blogpost about depression and anxiety, and we'd talked about further on the phone.
Most of all I loved how the film ended on a positive note. The girl gets help, her relationship moves on as does she. To live with depression, for whatever length of time, is terrifying as it just seems so hopeless. One day is difficult, and a presumed lifetime feeling that way seems unbearable. I couldn't see how I could ever move on.
But I did. I was put on medication and had counselling and then CBT. Once I started to feel better I made a conscious effort to keep working at my problems. I read those self-help books that people may mock, but they helped turn my life around. I let the people that wanted to help me do so by letting them in and talking to them.
Several years on, that experience, and who I was, seem worlds away. Through all that work, and through different experiences I went through after that, I've changed. I feel settled, and happy.
People comment on how calm I am in general - that I'm not phased by difficult situations or people. I'm determined and confident where I used to feel inadequate and anxious, and I never would have anticipated that.
I moved on and I kept moving on. I think and feel differently to how I used to, and I am so much happier for it. That's not to say I won't suffer again, nor that it's easy to get better. It's really, really hard, and horrible - and anyway who says sufferers should "get over it" is lucky enough to not know how ridiculous a statement that is.
So watch the film, pass it on, and have hope. It does get better.