Sunday, 31 August 2008

I'm aware

that my last posts might make worrying reading.

The point of my writing is not to worry anyone. Its meant as a way to let off steam from my busy mind and have a giggle at times and to write about things that touch me or annoy me.

I debated deleting a few of my posts, but then I thought again.

Another reason that I write is that I wonder if sometimes others have thoughts like I do (mostly I think that its quite unlikely lol) and maybe are a little relieved.

I'm not going to delete anything I write, in fact I want to write something now which some might consider brave and might make some worry more or pity me. I don't do it to be pitied, nor to make people worry. And I'm not being brave. Maybe I'm being selfish in that it helps my head and maybe I'm doing something good because I want people to understand.

I suffer from depression. And I want those close to me to understand this and maybe it might help if you can gain a clearer impression of what it is from someone who deals with it. I know that some of the people close to me feel at times bewildered and scared and a little helpless when confronted with this. Unsure of what they can do or how to react.

Maybe you yourself have had moments in life or maybe someone close to you have episodes. Either way, maybe me writing about it can help. I hope so. This is only my experience and I'm sure each person's is different, but there are common themes and having someone talk openly about something which is still seen as taboo might help you with some insights.

All my life I've been "over-sensitive" and I like that side of me. But my adult life has been plagued with depressive episodes.

Its hard to describe it do you describe the pain of a migraine to someone who has only ever had a few headaches here and there? A lot of people don't want to understand depression and consider it whinging or as someone being "weak". Unable or unwilling to cope. They see it as an equivalent maybe of a soul headache...take a few tablets and it will go away. Get on with things and it will disappear. Just a hiccup and stop moaning. Look around you and see what others have to deal have a decent life in comparison and don't be so pathetic or ungrateful.

Well, I've heard all this before and more. Sometimes, although rarely from others, but mainly from myself. And now is the time to sit down and deal with things.

So what is depression and what does it feel like?

Very hard to explain and I'm not a doctor. From what I've read (a lot) and what I've experienced its one or all or a mix of several things: chemical, hormonal (are they the same? Don't know) and experience. Its one of the really hard things - if I had a broken arm, its visible and the medical community can heal it quickly and its done with.

A broken soul isn't so easy.

With me...I have lots and lots of time when I feel absolutely fine. I feel "normal" and content, happy and hopeful and with energy. Daily life is easy and takes no thought. Life has its normal ups and downs and I cope with it all like you do. You just get on with it.

But sometimes something happens and that all changes. With me, it creeps up. Imagine a volcano....this feeling of darkness, its always there, but mostly its just bubbling away under the surface. Sometimes even so far down that even I don't notice it. Then a little eruption will occur. And I can dampen that down myself normally and life gets back to normal. I've gotten exceptionally good at recognising the warning rumbles within myself and at fire fighting little break outs. No-one else would ever notice. But then these episodes gain in frequency and in strength. And then there's the big one. With me, it seems to be every two or so years.

Of course...I'm strong and capable and I look at others around me with so much more stress and difficulty in their private lives and I laugh at myself and tell myself not to be such an idiot. And so the cycle continues. And doesn't get solved. And so it comes again. And each time it feels worse.

I tried to describe it to a friend of mine and I shall try and tell you. Again, it is most likely different for everyone, but this might give you an inkling.

Sometimes there is a trigger which I am aware of (at the time or after) or sometimes I can't put my finger on what it was. My adult head tells me to react and behave one way. My emotional side says other things. These two parts of me seem to speak a different language and both struggle to understand the other. I get confused and stuck and scared and panicky. I see no answer and I imagine all the worst-case scenarios. My thoughts whirl around in circles and go down and down. Still I can hear my and your thoughts saying "well, just get a grip".

That's the thing, you can't. You tell yourself that, but you don't always have the tools, the coping strategies to do this. Medical thought will tell you that sometimes people like me have something missing which helps our thought processes.

I feel my energy draining out of me. Mental energy, not physical. But it affects you physically too - I can barely walk, my limbs feel leaden. The pure mental effort to keep going in all aspects is exhausting. You go into some kind of survival mode. The worst aspect is that you end up in your head with the view that there is no point. Hopelessness is a classic sign. The level of this feeling generally will indicate how serious things are. Luckily I have never been to the point where I want to do anything violent against myself. If you yourself ever reach this point or if you know someone who has voiced this to you - gentle and hold on. Tight. And get help immediately. Someone who is at this point is totally and utterly unable to help themselves. The only control that they feel that they can gain is the control over stopping the hell that is going on inside of them. They may be ashamed of not being able to cope with something they consider stupid and as such are unable to ask for help. They despair of ever being able to function normally. That light at the end of the tunnel which we normally know to be there we are unable to recognise it or see it ourselves. Its most unlikely that someone wishes to hurt themselves seriously, its normally a despairing cry for help.

And that's the main message to those of you who have the frustrating and at times worrying job of caring for and loving someone who has these moments - you can tell us 1000 times. And please don't ever stop. But the problem is...we have something inside of us which won't allow us to believe you. I see a difference between knowing something and truly believing it. I know that life is good and that things will always keep going and that everything will be good and normal again. At moments when I'm in this pit...I just can't see or believe it. And the strength to clamber out of that dark hole is flowing out of me. The mental effort is huge and overwhelming. Its not that we don't want to...its crappy in that hole...we. just. can't.

I often have thoughts of disappearing, as I posted before. But I wanted to explain that better. When I'm feeling down....I feel so desperately sad. No hope that it will ever change. I know that it will get better again, but I know that this will happen again. I despair. I try so hard to keep a grip and I wonder why. What's the point? I work so hard at trying to keep this thing under control. Its the mental equivalent of keeping your hand in a tight fist constantly. And yet it keeps coming. I try so unbelievably hard to look at the triggers and try to learn to cope with them in another way. I work hard on dealing with certain aspects of my past and to try and improve myself as a human being. And yet it still keeps coming back and rearing its head. And the hopelessness overwhelms me. And with this, the energy, the pure effort of will to keep going and smiling and getting on with life starts to drain. And I feel that happening. So I fight harder. The thoughts start up and I get stuck. I panic. Most people have had some kind of panic attack or at least one depressive moment, so I'm hoping that you have a grasp of this feeling.

Last week, I had a panic attack which lasted 3 days. I had the feeling in me that I wanted to just disappear. To let go of fighting. That thought frightened the hell out of me. Again...nothing violent. I just get this overwhelming desire to crawl into bed and never get up again. I feel totally burnt out and I imagine that's what a break down really is. Life always carries on, sure. But it can carry on without me.

Fortunately, I managed to hold on as I normally manage to do. But the feeling was so strong that it scared me. And so I'm finally going to get help. I am not worthless and as such I deserve to get better and draw a line under some things and be supported whilst I heal. Because that's it with me - I'm a little ill in some corners of my heart. I'm not mad, I'm not just whinging. I'm normally very strong and capable and I love life. And I'm not going to risk that this damned illness gets me to a place where I do contemplate something bad against myself. And the work to come back from the brink is sad and long. I would rather start dealing with it now.

So I shall talk to someone who is equipped to help me. I shall say all the things that I've held tight inside of me for 16 yrs and I shall let them out in a controlled and safe environment. I shall learn step by step that the coping strategies that I learnt then have no place in my life now. And I shall try damned hard to learn new ones. Ones which are right and fitting for a 30 yr old woman who has a happy and good life, who will have to deal with sadness and shite, but who will do that in an adult way. And not a scared 14 yr old's way.

And for those of you who are on the sidelines and have the horrible job of looking on whilst someone you care about slides from being the normal person who you know and like into some stranger with behaviour that you can't get your head around...?

I ask that you try to talk to the person. Non-judgementally. You don't have to understand, you have to empathise. Its possible that they are ashamed and don't like being seen as being weak. They're not. They're ill. They sometimes will not even recognise that they are in need of help. Its a hard balance to suggest to them that they might need some proper support and them just having a bad moment which we all do. Research it a little yourself and maybe get them to too. Wiki has a great couple of articles. Most of all, keep reassuring them. Please. Its damned lonely in your head and heart when you're feeling this way. Accept that they will also have good moments too! And maybe lots of them!

I have great friends who I have spoken to about things. And they empathise and some even really understand as they've been there at least once. I'm learning to be gentler and less harsh with myself. And in the right moments, I can even have a joke and a giggle about it. It takes away from the scariness and makes it more dealable. But do so in a way which still takes the affected person seriously.

Obviously I haven't spoken to everyone about it as its none of their business. And funnily enough, half of my social circle wouldn't even believe me as I'm the typical life and soul of the party. Funny huh? You never know what goes on in people's hearts.

Depression is an illness and there are many ways to deal with it. In regards to me, if you know me....I'm not breakable. Don't tiptoe around me. I'm not dying and it will get better. Laughs and love are soooo important. And any "bad news"....well...I am still an adult and running away from things won't help. Don't try to shield me. The majority of the time, life is fine and I'm good. Mini outbreaks are always dealt with me normally and I accept them. And remember that I'm going for help. No need to wrap me up in cotton wool. I try to indicate what I need and am even trying very hard to be able to actually articulate it clearly. We're still allowed to have fun and get pissed off like "normal" people do without depression being thrown in our face. I won't use it as an excuse to behave badly and expect the same from others. And sometimes a sulky strop moment is just that. ;D

I don't expect anyone to solve my problems. Only I can do that. I hope though that you can find it in yourself to just hold my hand and prop me up now and again when the path gets a little rough.

And I'm working with the local life street department to make sure that I find the right shoes to deal with the rocky paths. They don't seem to have enough budget to repair life's roads and make them smoother, so we're just going to make sure that I have the right equipment to deal with it.

1 comment:

Banjac Serevi said...

Oh hell that is so humbling. Relieved that you are able to write like that. This is going to be a non-comment really but just wanted you to know I had read it and am now trying to absorb it.
Consider your hand held and props ready in the cupboard for whenever they are needed.
Big hugs and kisses from a silly old Banjac