Monthly Archives: December 2013

Depression and Fear

This entry returns to a somewhat less warm tone than the previous, in fact it goes considerably darker than either of the previously written blogs, and in all honesty writing this blog is a bit scary. This is because in order to truly convey the subject I have set out to, I need to put myself in a very vunurable position. The focus of this entry is on the fear that is associated with being diagnosed with depression. I briefly picked up on the this feeling of dread and fear in my previous blog, but the comment “it’s scary” doesn’t really do it justice, it deserves so much more than a meagre 2 words to describe. Before I go into this, I want to take a step back from depression. This feeling of fear isn’t something that just lives within people diagnosed depression, I will go into more detail later, but this fear is born within the shadows of the unknown. This is very much true with me, but it means the theme of this blog can be taken out of the context of depression and placed onto people who are diagnosed with any mental health problem, any disability, anyone who is facing loss or anyone who is questioning their sexuality. Any of these life events throw people out of their comfort zone, it forces them to enter a new world, a dark new world full of shadows you need to illuminate, and the fear stems from not knowing how your life is going to be changed by these changes, not knowing who you might become after it and because you had no choice in the fact these changes have occurred. I intend to try and describe this feeling within the context of being diagnosed with depression, but I ask you to take what you read not only as applying to depression, but applying to any life changing event.

Something you should know about me is that I am also dyslexic, dyspraxic and have M.E. so being diagnosed with health problems is somewhat of a hobby of mine (to trivialise it slightly), but when I was diagnosed with these I did what all sensible people do, I went to my mother (she will be so proud of me for saying that) and she explained what each one was like. These three things run in the family, there was never a fear of the unknown, no matter how bad it got I could take comfort in that I knew what was happening and what was likely to happen. This wasn’t the case with my depression, first of all I was diagnosed at university (several hours away from my home) and couldn’t just turn to my mother for advice, but then when I actually got back home and could turn to her for advice, she didn’t have any. She admitted to me that this wasn’t something she knew and asked me I what I thought she needed to do to help, and I couldn’t answer. For one of the first times, I had to work this out on my own. I have previously spoken about the brilliant support network I have, but I’m now in a situation where none of them could help me make the right decision, none of them knew what the best thing to do is, they can only be there to catch me if I made the wrong call.

The idea that I need to take charge and need to make decisions about something I know so little about is terrifying, especially when the cost of making a wrong decision is huge. With M.E. a wrong decision would lead to several days bed rest, but depression is much more severe, without going into much detail, depression has a very large scope to go very, very wrong, I often feel like an internal war is occurring within me. On one side there is the person I want myself to be, someone who is happy, optimistic and hopefully a kind person, someone described as “a healer”, but on the other side is this dark, powerful force labeled as depression. I feel this most days and the person I actually am is whichever opposing force is winning at that time, and my whole character seems to be solely determined by the tide of this internal struggle. Each days a different battle and some nights the good side wins, I go to bed feeling exhausted, but feeling. Then other nights it loses.

The easiest way to explain why each decision can invoke so much fear is this, imagine being presented with several doors and a mans behind you with a gun, he tells you that you need to pick a door, he gives you no indication of whats behind any of them apart from the knowledge that what lies behind the doors vary from bad to awful to possibly fatal. You know doing nothing isn’t possible and that a decision must be made, but you have no were near the information needed to make the decision that avoids the wrong doors.

At the end of the day living with depression feels like living in a different world. Your taken from a world where everything was illuminated and understood, and thrown into one of darkness that you have to light up yourself. Every decision, even small ones such as whether or not to attend a party or to go out to a restraunt seems to hold this same weight. Every choice you are forced into making feels like entering a new room and turning the lights on. You get a better understanding of the situation but the twist is that you can never back track to the room you once came from and must make do with what you have been presented with. At times it feels like gambling, but you have no choice but to be all in and your not betting materials or money, your betting yourself.

I hope this made some strange form of sense, I feel it probably didn’t and may have just been nonsensical ramblings, but whether or not my fear is founded I’m glad I wrote it, and super appreciative to anyone who read this far.
Steven ūüôā

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7 little things that made a big difference to living with depression

Hey Guys! This is the 2nd entry in the “talk about it” series, if you haven’t read the previous entry it is all about what being diagnosed with depression was like for me, this entry’s going to have a slightly more warm tone to it, its going to focus on 7 small things people have done that made a big difference. There are 2 reasons I have chosen to focus on this, one is because knowing what depression is like is useful, but the last blog never really went into how you should treat people with depression, and I fully admit I still don’t know how to treat people with depression, as I said in the last blog it is very confusing, but what I know for sure is that these 7 things helped me. The second reason I wanted to focus on this isn’t really linked to depression at all, its because I believe that people are very capable of having very powerful influences on peoples life’s without ever realising that they have effected them in the slightest, and I strongly believe that if these people exist in your life and they have had a positive effect, then you should thank them for it, and that’s what this blog is partially hoping to do (though I have chosen not to refer to them by name in the blog, but I’m seriously hoping that they recognise it as them). So without any further distractions, let the list begin.

7. The time I was introduced to as a “really good friend”

One of the unfortunate things about depression, is your idea of how other people view you becomes somewhat pessimistic, you have to constantly remind yourself that people don’t hate you and you need to understand that you’r ability to read social situations and signals will be effected by this pessimism. I spend a large amount of time confident people are angry at me for being depressed. Thats why it was emotionally lifting and pleasing when one of my friends introduced me to some other students I had never met before as “my really good friend Steven”. It may sound simple, but it served as a reminder that my adopted view that everyone loathes me for having depression isn’t factual, and at least in this case was forged solely within my own mind.

6.The time I was bought an advent calendar 2 days after Christmas

I am usually completely obsessed with Christmas, and especially with advent calendars. Last year I had 5 of them. Unfortunately being told you have depression slightly sucks out the whimsy and magic of the advent series, and I didn’t buy any advent calendars. This brings me to December 27th when my Sister and her friend turned up with a bag which had an advent calendar hidden within it. This just acts as a small sign of good will that makes me remember I’m not alone. The gesture isn’t big enough to make me feel guilty about inconveniencing them, and it may seem small, but its definitely grand enough to be greatly appreciated. (I ate the entirety of the advent calendar within an hour)

5. When people say they understand, and when people mean it

It’s probably massively evident from the previous blog, that I don’t fully understand how depression works yet, and as a result I never fully expected other people to understand, which means when they look at me dead in the eyes and say they do and seem sincere it means the world to me.

4. Regular contact

When I got home there was a moment everything got really bad, while I was at university I had idealised home, I thought everything would become better when I got home and I would feel again, and it would be like when I was a child and you would just smile, because you had no reason not to. However I came home and things where much better, but its not the paradise I had allowed myself to dream it would be, there still low moments. When I was in one of these low moments I texted a good friend of mine and basically sent them several very long texts of confused hysterical ramblings, not only did they get back to me, but they’ve stayed in almost daily contact, I will get a text from them about 2AM and usually won’t see it until the morning, but it means you wake up every morning to something good, in a similar way to previous mentions, it serves as a reminder that my fear of being shunned and shoved into a taboo section of society as a result of depression is founded in my own falsity, not fact.

3.comforting physical contact

I am a sucker for physical contact, especially hugs. I bloody love hugs. But this point isn’t about hugs, and even though hugs are wonderful, and even though both hugs and a comforting hand on the shoulder manoeuvre can at times do wonders, this post is about a much more specific moment. I was in a club with two other friends, and I remember getting massively overwhelmed (I haven’t been able to deal with crowded areas since being diagnosed, I find them terrifying and horribly overwhelming), it was before I was diagnosed so this overwhelming sense of doom and terror was unfamiliar, and I remember looking at one of my friends in an absolute panic and I’m not sure how they knew, but they seemed to realise what was happening and grabbed my hand. It probably looked bizarre to my third friend who was there as I just stood there holding the second friends hand until I could calm down. This worked for me, because I enjoy physical contact, its hard to explain, but when I was full of such turbulent and destructive thoughts and emotions, my friend grabbing my hand introduced a third party, and a very calming one. It doesn’t always work, and it certainly won’t work for everyone as some people dislike physical contact, but for me it seems to.

2. Not judging me when I’m being slightly unconventional

Depression has brought out some unusual habits of mine, one of them in particular is fear. I’ve always been a bit of a coward, but being constantly in such a fragile state has made me worse. One particular example is I am very scared of the dark, I have nightmares almost every night, and I much prefer to wake up in a lit room where I know exactly where I am and what else is in the room. I remember a few weeks back watching a film with a friend, and I had confessed to him that I was really scared of the dark, and I didn’t notice initially but he hadn’t turned of the lights to watch the film. It wasn’t until about half way through the film until I asked him about it and he said he hadn’t, because he didn’t want me to be scared. One of the many negative feelings I have towards my depression, is a sense of shame, and insecurity about what it does to me, and usually I hide stuff like my fear of the dark and having someone know about it and just accept it and not push for information regarding the topic was wonderful, it showed a reassurance that they understood what was happening, and not pushing for information showed how they didn’t want me to be uncomfortable.

1. Making it clear your always there if needed

As I said previously I don’t understand depression fully yet. I don;t know when its going to spiral into something awful or when it’s going to be unbearable. Unfortunately mental health doesn’t follow a¬† convenient 9-5 time slot, it can spiral at any time, and something my friends have done wonderfully is make it clear they are always available to talk if I need to, and they manage to do this while retaining a respectful balance of not pushing for information I don’t want to give, after all it is not uncommon for people with mental health problems to be insecure about it (though they shouldn’t be)

I’m sorry this was so long, I hope at least one person is still reading this far down. These are all examples of things people have done that have made a big difference to me in regards to making me feel better, as I said in the last blog it doesn’t mean it will work for everyone as everyone is different, but what I hope people take from this is the importance of small acts of kindness. Acts small enough that they don’t make the recipient feel guilty about inconveniencing you but at the same time make them feel better and make them feel supported. Yet again sorry this blog was so long. Steven ūüėÄ

p.s big thanks to nowisdomlikefrankness for placing a link to my blog in hers, I am not worthy of her far more articulate, witty writings        http://thereisnowisdomlikefrankness.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/six-social-conventions-its-ok-to-ignore-at-christmas/

What its like living with depression

Hey guys! I intend to star a blog series called “Keep talking about it”, with the intention of talking about the¬†certain aspects of¬†society¬†that really¬†should be spoken about, but for some reason aren’t. The first few are going to be about depression as its a big issue, but for some reason it has fallen into some strange taboo section of society where people don’t wish to talk about it and instead suffer in silence, so the first one is about me being diagnosed with depression and what it is like.

All the information from this blog is in video format as well if you would prefer, comes with¬†visual aids that vary from¬†Leonardo Di Caprio to Pikachu ūüôā¬†¬†(link below, tried to be all clever and imbed it into the blog, but I’m not clever)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxdOlq-BtGE

A¬†few weeks ago I got diagnosed with possible depression, then it turned into probable depression and Now it’s just plain old middle of the road depression, But the problem was I don’t know how depression effects people. it’s one of those words that is thrown around and used to label people- you know someone is depressed and you know there not well but you don’t know how there not well. So I’m making this to tell how I’m not well, I can’t talk for everyone withe depression as it is a spectrum but I’m hoping telling how it effects me may help some people understand.

When I tell people I have depression, most people¬†expect me to be sad, but that’s not what it is…its emptiness, it feels like someones just walked of with¬†all your¬†feelings and¬†your there like “hey, I was using those”. I know this almost sounds cool, like a robot, like Arnold Schwatsnegger from the terminater movies, but its not. You go through the day and you’r like ice cream- “ok” or it’s Christmas- “ok”, then¬†the bad stuff happens like your dog having to be¬†put down and your emotional response is still just “ok”. There’s no¬†longer a relation between the world and your emotional response.¬†An analogy to describe it is like saying you ran out of oranges and want oranges, but your local orange store is now a pet store. You can go into the store, but no amount of gold fish or kittens is going to fix the problem you don’t have orange, nothing you do in that store has any effect on the fact you no longer have oranges, the same way nothing you do has any effect on the fact¬†all you feel is emptiness, and whats the point of getting up in the morning when your’ll get just as much joy out of lieing in bed that you would by doing anything else

While all this is happening, your constantly confused, you don’t know why this happening to you and you don’t know whats happening, and your minds racing, trying to work it out, trying to understand, and you just can’t. Why can you go through your dog being put down, but when a cold breeze catches you off guard you can’t help but descend into a tearful madness.

Then it gets more confusing, there’ll be people in your life who make it hell for you, people who wont understand, but I’m lucky I have a lot of wonderful friends who have been so helpful (thankyou to them), but the deeper you fall the more you hold on to them and the harder they hold you back. Its wonderful they do it, but you live in fear that from your perspective they are holding you¬†up, but from theirs, your¬† just dragging them down with you. You hate yourself for burdening then but your¬†to scared to let go, they are one of the only things in the world that invoke an emotion in you, and you don’t want to let it go but you want them to.¬†The guilt becomes crushing, and you loathe yourself for being to weak to do what you think is the right thing, and let go. You want it to be like titanic, your stranded in the ocean of mental health problems, there safe on there floating door thing and they promise to never let go, but you hope they do because it will be easier for them.¬†This guilt is the type of thing that plagues you all the time and you can’t shake.

That’s what depressions like, at least that’s what its like for me so far. Its scary, its confusing and you wake up everyday wondering what the purpose of getting out of bed is and in my opinion it is frequently overlooked and underestimated as an ailment. I don’t know how, but I hope sharing my story may help someone either struggling with it, or someone understand what it’s like.