Carolyn, one of Bipolar UK's Media Ambassadors, talks about the difficulties of dealing with depression and some of the ways she found support.

Two hands clasped resting on a knee

Why is it that I've started this blog twice and am struggling to write it? Why do I think, by reliving my experience of depression, I'll bring on another episode?

You don't tell people you're depressed

Writing about depression is like poking a monster with a sharp stick. You don't want it turning on you and devouring you. Depression is all encompassing and when you're suffering, life is almost endurable.

Whenever someone I know announces "I'm so depressed!", I think "you really have no idea - lucky you". That's not to say I don't feel sorry for them but, in my experience, you don't tell people you're depressed. You could be the life and soul of the party or be spending more time on your own. In either case, you keep schtum on how you're feeling and your low mood.

I was, until very recently, severely and suicidally depressed.

Depression is like being sucked into slow-acting quicksand. You have a wafer thin comfort zone that bruises every time you venture out of your home.

I stayed in bed for a solid six weeks. I was getting up to change the TV channel or go to the loo, barely eating and not washing until I stank. Having a shower was an insurmountable task. Just the thought of water running over me made me feel a bit sick. Putting on a wash made me think I needed a medal but I didn't have the energy or wherewithal to empty the machine and hang the washing up to dry. One load I put through the wash four times before I was able to get up and deal with it properly.

On the phone to friends and family, I was bright and breezy but apart from interactions with supermarket checkout staff, I didn't spend time with anyone. I withdrew from all human contact and deprived myself of things I enjoyed like going to art galleries, socialising with friends and watching films.

I sometimes think that by telling people you're depressed they act as though it's contagious. Or they think it's a competition and say how depressed they were feeling. I don't want to compete with anyone.

The most awful thing about depression is the overwhelming lack of hope and inability to see any sort of future ahead. You forget when you weren't depressed and can't believe you'll ever get through it. Depression is like existing in frozen animation, an insect suspended in amber.

Although I felt suicidal, I didn't act on it. It was more that I wanted to go to bed and never wake up.

Although you'll be having the dark times, one thing to hold on to is the belief you will get through it. You weren't always depressed, however it may feel.

Family and friends can help be keeping in regular contact, whether by text, email, letter or phone calls. Please don't ask why someone is depressed. Although there can sometimes be triggers, often depression just happens for no reason. Having to justify why you're depressed is self-defeating.

I found my GP to be fantastic

I found my GP to be fantastic and antidepressants helped shift my mood to give me a more positive state of mind. Medication isn't for everybody but don't rule it out. IAPT [Improving Access to Psychological Therapies] is also another avenue to explore. However, depending on where you live, waiting lists can be astronomical. If you can afford it, you could arrange private counselling for yourself.

After a bout of depression, your social skills can often feel rusty so gradually reintroduce yourself to spending time with other people. You may - as I did - develop anxiety around social situations or day-to-day situations like taking public transport. Take it slowly and don't feel pressure to speed up the process. The priority is to take care of yourself and that looks different for different people.

I'm not confident that I'll never get depressed again. The onset of an episode often doesn't give me much notice so I don't always pick up on the warning signs to head it off at the pass. However, you can and will get through depression and life will start again like the beginning of spring after winter.

For information and support about bipolar, get in touch via our Support Line.