I interviewed Holly Robertson a Bosun and client of mine who courageously shares her experience of Depression.
So Holly and I are going to look at depression and unpack that from the perspective of someone who suffers from depression. I have no doubt that this interview will better equip you on how you can support someone with depression as well as understand the signs and symptoms.
Karine – So how, for you, how would you define or describe depression in your own words,
Holly – Okay, well that’s easy, loneliness, it feels lonely because incredibly lonely. Like there’s no one, or there’s nothing in the world that is going to fix what’s going on inside my head.
It feels like it’s never going to end it feels like this overwhelming darkness. It’s just incredibly difficult … it becomes incredibly difficult to do anything, just basic tasks, getting out of bed in the morning, getting in the shower. Eating is a really difficult one for me, I know people struggle with food in different ways in terms of some way overeat.
I tend to avoid eating altogether, and, and sometimes it goes on for maybe a week or so before I even realise what’s happening. And by that point, it’s like, it’s pretty set in and trying to crawl my way out is a really overwhelming task, and so even that thought itself is so exhausting.
Just trying to keep up with the thoughts in my head and there are really heavy feelings that sort of sit in your chest, it’s just exhausting. You know it just builds and builds and builds. Yeah, it’s, it’s difficult, and it’s hard to explain. When you haven’t really experienced it yourself. Even my friends who’ve seen me in those darkest places. I think it’s still difficult for them to try and understand exactly how I feel when you haven’t felt that yourself.
Karine – thanks for sharing Holly, that is very well described. So with regards to thoughts. Someone who is feeling depressed, what sort of thoughts, would they have, speaking from your experience?
Holly – There’s a common theme in, not feeling like I’m good enough for anything or anyone. Definitely, a common thought is that. Yeah, people maybe don’t like me, or you know I’ve done things to upset them, and they don’t care about me. They don’t want to be around me, and that it’s the feelings of unworthiness, are quite, quite persistent and feelings and thoughts that there’s no way out, and that it’ll never get better, and that nobody can help me. And these feelings will last forever and, and this is what my life is going to look like for the foreseeable future, you know, there’s no way out, and you know I may as well give up. Those are the common, and frequent persistent thoughts.
Karine – So, for you, when do you start noticing that maybe you are going down that slippery slope.
Holly – So number one, definitely sleep; sleep is a huge one for me. Everybody’s different in terms of how much sleep they need to function, I’m somebody who needs a lot more sleep and when that’s broken or interrupted and I’m feeling tired, that’s when I start to spiral.
I will begin isolating and again these are sometimes things that I don’t pick up right away. I’ll start withdrawing from my friends or, you know, when I was on the boats, I kind of spend a lot more time in my cabin on my own. I guess the thought process behind that is I don’t want to be a downer on the rest of the crew or those around me. I don’t want to have to waste what energy, I do have, trying to keep up such as putting a smile on my face or laughing with the crew. It takes up so so much energy, which, when I already have little.
So withdrawing and isolating is definitely one of my warning signs so I try and sleep as much as I can try and rest as much as I can. I’m still learning about my triggers and the things that sort of set it off. It doesn’t get as bad as it has been in the past.
Karine – So, let’s talk about our industry, working on board when you have to put a smile on your face because you’ve got guests on board. You have to show up for work and a lot of it is around community because we live and work together. How would someone pick up the signs of depression when they have to fit into the realm and expectations of yachting?
Holly – I think yachting, in particular, it’s an interesting one because we spend every waking moment together. I think it’s quite easy to tell how someone is by how they act and behave in a normal setting. Knowing how they interact with you on a normal day when they’re feeling good when things are fine. You know, you can kind of judge that energy you pick up on things such as a slight change in someone’s energy or behaviour or anything changes
I feel like any slight change in behaviour is a cause to ask yourself the question, Or better yet, ask that person. If everything’s okay… You know we do have to put on this front for guests and all that. But because we are with each other 24/7 you will notice those small changes, and they might be minor. I think you are far better off asking the question, they might brush it off and say everything’s fine or you know. Well, I promise you. It’s a far better option to just ask the question, there is no harm in asking the question, and it might mean the world to someone who’s really struggling to reach out for help or talk about how they’re feeling.
And if you open up a conversation you’re inviting them to trust you and not to have to carry everything themselves. Yeah, with us working on boats, it’s, it’s tough, and most people, myself included, I’ve kept it to myself until my cabin doors shut, and even sometimes then, even in the cabin you’ve got that tiny little space in the bathroom that’s yours, that became my safe space.I had some very good crew who made me feel safe and allowed me to sort of open up a bit more and feel like there were places other than that tiny little bathroom that I could be myself and I didn’t have to put on in the run. And, yeah, that means the world to me.
Karine – Another thing I want to mention, with regards to that is, I know, it takes courage for the person to reach out and say, “are you’re okay” They might be thinking, he or she is off because of me, have I done something wrong. So I think what you’re saying is, just ask anyway because you’re going to find out the answer rather than tormenting yourself on what is actually going on. And I just want to remind the readers that if you do get brushed off, don’t take it personally, but please show up again and check in with that person. And you’ve just got to be consistent, and keep checking in because as you’ve highlighted before, you feel alone, you feel that no one cares about you, but by showing up and showing that you really do care, you will get eventually more feedback from that person.
Holly – My housemate she’s not a yachtie. I didn’t know her before I moved in. I was very open about my mental health. And not too long ago I was in a pretty bad way, and I couldn’t get out of bed; I didn’t leave my apartment, for just over two weeks, every single day she’d asked me if I wanted to go for a walk, every day without fail. And then there was one day when she asked me, I don’t know what switch, but I said yes, let’s go for a walk, and it was amazing.
And also, as a side notes of that didn’t make a big deal about it either. It wasn’t a big deal, that I said no every day and it certainly wasn’t a big deal when I said yes. That meant so much to me that somebody just came back every single day to ask me if I wanted to be included with her plans, and I think that’s it. Too often, I think people get discouraged when they get brushed off or someone says no every single time. They stop asking, they stop inviting people out because they just think they’re going to get rejected again and again and I know that hurts, but the topic you can find what it feels like on the flip side, is that person, so badly wants to be able to say yes, so badly wants to join in and hope that it will make them feel better, but just does not have it in them, they don’t have enough energy to get up, there are so many things in between being asked to go out and actually going out. You have to get out of bed have a shower, put clean clothes on, eat something…
That process is so overwhelming. It’s far easier to say no and stay in bed. So to keep being included every single day when you’re consistent with it is so important.
If you are struggling with your Mental Health or know of someone who is, you can book a free 15 min call with Karine who is a qualified counsellor for superyacht Crew and she will be able to provide you with direction and support.
The Crew Coach