'It's okay not to be okay': Radio presenter Hayley Kay on living with depression

Hayley Kay
Hayley Kay
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Columnist Hayely Kay writes about her struggle with depression

I’ve thought long and hard about this column and decided to tell you about my struggle with depression; you see I’m a radio presenter, a professional chatterbox, that happy-go-lucky voice on the radio but, in reality, there have been times when I wasn’t.
In my early twenties, I had my first encounter with depression, although I didn’t know what it was then.

I just remember feeling down and not able to ‘snap out of it’.
I tried all the things that usually cheered (23-year-old) me up: buying new stuff, going out with my friends and drinking too much, but all of it left me feeling kind of empty.
The most frustrating thing was, not understanding what was wrong with me.
I kept thinking, why do I feel like this?
Why do I feel like I’m living under a dark cloud?

I can’t remember how long I carried on and what finally made me see the doctor; but I went to see our family GP, who was great.
He explained that I had depression and offered me a low dose anti-depressant.
I was reeling from the diagnosis and then dug my heels in and said no to the prescription.

The alternative was counselling.
He explained that there’d be quite a wait to see someone or, if I wanted to pay, he could offer me a list of approved professionals.
I was living at home and paying for counselling was an easy choice.
I don’t recall how much I paid or how many sessions I attended, but what I do remember is feeling much, much better.
I hardly thought of it again, until almost eight years later.

I describe depression, for anyone who hasn’t struggled with it, like walking blindly into a long, dark tunnel, you have no concept that you’re lost, until you’re in the
middle of it and it’s so dark that you can’t see a glimmer of light.
I found myself feeling like this again after the death of my gran almost 10 years ago.
She’d been ill for a long time, so I hadn’t felt it coming.
When she passed away after a two-year battle, my family was devastated.
I thought I’d never get over it, but I did.

This time I took the prescription offered but combined it with some grief counselling and managed to stop the anti-depressants in under six months.
Last summer, I went to see my GP to ask for anti-depressants. I knew the signs and felt the familiar darkness descend, this time, my mindset was different.

I knew that depression, for me at least, is temporary.
I took the medication and, when it started working, I sought counselling again.
I’m proud to say that, I stopped the tablets a few months ago and feel back to my old self.

The reason I wanted to share this is maybe I’m the last person you’d expect to have depression and I wanted you to know, it really is ok not to be ok.