Tag Archives: depression

Universities approach to mental health and my issue with it

My last blog a larger amount of attention than any of the previous ones. Which I am stoked about, out of all my blog entries, that one had the most potential in my mind, but this entry changes format from the last. My focus is not on myself, or on other people but this is instead an opinion article about how universities treat students with mental health problems and the issues I have with it.

The reason I have decided to write this is I was recently in a conversation with several other people about how good our university was at treating people with mental health problems. At the time I was in a bad way and was struggling with personal things, so was unable to weigh in to the conversation as I would like to have, so this is my belated opinion on the matter. The university I attend is very good with regards to mental health, they let me switch to a part time course, they give me any extensions I want and are in general very accepting and understanding. As far as universities go, it is a good university for students with mental health problems. However the problem I find with it, and the problem that makes me think universities approach to mental health is wrong is that there is a minimal focus on recovery. I have to meet with academic advisors, lecturers, senior staff, tutors and counsellors on a semi regular bases and (as previously stated) they are all understanding, but their focus is solely on how to cope with your current problem. This is fine, but a university is in a position of care and I believe should have some focus not only on dealing with the present, but also on the recovery of students and dealing with the future, no amount of extensions are ever going to make me not depressed and even the counselling service only helps people deal with the current, day to day problems and fails to address any long term turmoil or negative internal processes, both of which is required before any substantial recovery can occur. I have said, and I reiterate that my university is very good with regards to mental health for a university, but in general I think the approach adopted by universities to mental health is inappropriate.

                An appropriate analogy is to compare what institutes of academia currently do to the act of a doctor giving a patient morphine. It removes the pain, and cures the problem in the short term but at no point does it address the central cause of the problem, and as a result the doctor would need to pursue further treatment before recovery can be made, in most cases a doctor cannot simply cross his fingers and hope the problem goes away. I do appreciate that an argument exists that the current effort put in by a university to manage mental health problems is enough and the role of recovery should be entirely separate from them, I respect this train of thought and intend to address it later. I don’t like to criticise without offering a solution. This, like all this entry, is just my opinion, but my experience with my university is that they are effective at signposting students to services that may help them in the present situation, but research should be put into broadening their sign posts to include services that offer treatments that encourage long term recovery, such as cognitive behaviour therapy or courses in anxiety. I have been told about both of these, but not by my university, by my friends (and have yet to try either of them unfortunately as I have no idea how to apply). I am not in a position to comment on how hard it would be to achieve this, but my opinion, forged from my own experience is that it would be beneficial.

                A secondary problem I have with academia’s approach to mental health is how accepting they are of it. It is known that a lot of mental health problems stem from the stress that comes alongside a degree, and universities do put some effort in to reduce the chances of students developing mental health problems, but the feeling I get is that there is a high level of acceptance that students are likely to develop mental health problems, and in my mind that acceptance shouldn’t exist. Developing a mental health problem is horrible, I won’t go into detail but my most recent term (trying to study while managing a newly diagnosed mental health problem) at university was the hardest few months of my life. I’m not blaming the university for this, I am simply stating that no one should be put through what I went through if it can be avoided.

                I accept there is a possibility that I am wrong when I say there is a high level of acceptance, but that is the impression I get, and getting this impression is just as damaging as if it were true. I ask you to put yourself into my shoes, or the shoes of someone like me- when your mind tells you that you don’t matter and that you deserve to be suffering, it doesn’t matter if the idea that you don’t matter is accurate or not, the fact you are allowed to think it and that enough evidence exists to hold onto this impression is what matters and what allows your mood to plummet and your depression to grow. Yet again I am not certain how this can be fixed, I think it would need a big change in focus. Students are allowed to think that their degree means everything, and while it is important, the world of a university student is a world which is heavily warped. I’ve been told by friends “We need you to finish your degree” and they speak as if that is the highest concern. I think work needs to be put in to keep students priorities in check and worldly. Health should come before your degree, if you mess up an assignment it is not the end of the world and nothing within university is worth losing yourself. In my mind the best way to do this would to be to constantly remind people of the outside world and to stop students forming “university bubbles” which I believe play a large part in warping their priorities and allowing them to think their degree is worth destroying themselves over. Though as I have stated (many times) this is my opinion, and very possibly wrong.

Thankyou for reading. As I have stated many times, these are just my opinions and I don’t wish to force them onto anyone, I just offer it as a form of feedback to universities.

Stay Brilliant,

Love Steven  🙂

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A message to anyone who needs help

I haven’t done anything for ages, so I’ve made up for it with a video.

I spend alot of time talking about myself, because I am frankly quite self centred at times, but this blog changes that. Instead of talking about how depression makes me feel and what life is like for me, I’m aiming this entry at other people. This is what I wished someone would say to me when I am upset, down or struggling and I know everyone is different, but if this helps me I’m crossing my fingers it will help someone else.

Please watch.

Im sorry I don’t know to embed it into the blog all fancy like 😦

Keep smiling,

Steven

Emotional Dishonesty

I’ve had a couple of rough days (two of which I only left my bed because I was bribed out by one of my friends and his millionaire shortbread/cookies), but todays been a bit like that and it’s raining- and I can’t help but think that it is some type of pathetic fallacy- but it reminded me of a quote from Rowan Atkinson, “I love walking in the rain because no one can see me cry”. I have never thought about this quote much, I originally interpreted it as comparable to the tears of a clown motif, where a man can hide his sadness behind comedy, but only now have I thought about it more. I think it’s more about being enabled to feel genuinely and unsuppressed emotion. So much of culture encourages us to be controlled, social etiquette encourages a “stiff upper lip”, your pride tells you crying is weakness, from a young age boys are told not to cry, this idea of emotional suppression is woven throughout many aspects of our lives.

I can’t talk for everyone, nor would I want to, but I can talk about me and why emotional suppression can be damaging. To people who have read my blog, the fact I have depression is no surprise, it’s largely why I started blogging and it’s largely what I talk about, but having depression forced me to be emotionally dishonest a lot of the time. When I say emotionally dishonest, it doesn’t mean I lie to myself, it means I lie to others. A lot of time people will look at me and ask if I’m ok and I will say I’m fine or I’ll play down how bad I really am. This is common of almost everyone, people often ask other people “How was your day” or “How have you been”, and they doing it expecting the other person to simply say “fine” instead of answering honestly. This is what people do, we wear masks and we pretend to be what is expected of us. I (and I imagine a large amount of other people) do all this while wanting simultaneously wanting people to see who we really are and see that we’re struggling. There are a lot of days where I feel like I’m falling apart, and frankly I just want to be held. But for various reasons feel unable to express this and instead fall into the typical “I’m fine” lie, but all I want is for the other person to look at me and say “are you sure?” Just to clarify, this isn’t to say that every time I say I’m fine I’m lying. I am generally quite emotionally open and wear my heart on my sleeve, but ever since getting back to university the pressure to fall back into emotional dishonesty has grown.

All of this reminded me of the film “Girl Interrupted”. I love that film, and think it’s portrayal of mental health is very good. A lot of Winona Ryder’s quotes in the film are ones I strongly relate to, notably “how the hell am I supposed to recover when I don’t even understand my disease?”, and the general sense of confusion and vulnerability created by her character. However the most relevant quote for the point I am trying to make is made by Angelina Jolie’s character; “There’s too many buttons and they’re just – there’s way too many just begging to be pressed, they’re just begging to be pressed, you know? They’re just – they’re just begging to be pressed! And it makes me wonder, it really makes me f*****g wonder, why doesn’t anyone ever press mine? Why am I so neglected? Why doesn’t anyone reach in and rip out the truth and tell me that I’m a fucking whore, or that my parents wish I were dead?” It’s the moment in which it becomes clear that her whole character was built upon emotional dishonesty, all of her actions are done because she wants someone to look at her and say you’re not ok and help her. In real life a lot of the time people run is to see if someone will chase them, people push people away to see if they will come back and they shut down because they want someone to open them up.

This idea of conflict (the want to be safe through shutting yourself away, but be loved for who you really are) is built strongly into my character and personality and I think many other peoples. The purpose of this blog was to try and encourage people to think about the effect their emotional dishonesty may have. I admit a lot of the time saying “I’m fine” or forcing a smile has none, but on rare occasion it does. I feel I can’t truly capture the point I want to make, and this is a bit more like the rambled musings of someone trying to sound smarter than they are, but I hope some of my (few) readers may take something from this.

Stay Brilliant

Steven 🙂

Depression and how it’s changed me

Hey guys! The last blog took a detour away from talking about depression and as a result was much less personally driven, but whether it is for good or bad, this blog has very much returned to it’s roots. I’m not sure how good this blog will be, it stands very much on the border of what I’m comfortable writing about and what I’m not and I’m not sure how that will effect the blog. I’m returning to university tomorrow (after spending the majority of the holidays deciding if I was going to or not) . This fact has set a scary thought in motio that this term at university is not going to be the same as the last one. Not only because of me being unwell still, but also because everyones going to come back to university refreshed and happy, and I’m not, instead I’m returning as a very different person. Basically I’m writing about this because I’m scared and have no control, and when I feel like this I take control by writing.

This is hard to convey and probably the simplest way to do so is to explain that I don’t think of depression as being a part of me, I think of it being an alternative force within me, the Jeckle to my Hyde (or the other way around, I don’t know which one is bad). I believe who I was is still somewhere in me, but having this other force capable of yelling louder or punching harder has dampened it’s existence and very successfully hidden it. Essentially I live in fear that I’ve completely lost myself due to everything thats happened. The main reason I think this is when I think back on the past, I remember stuff that’s happened and really important life events I’ve gone through but when I think of them I don’t feel anything anymore. It feels as if they happened to someone else who recorded those events in writing, and I’m just reading it, the sense of warmth that radiated within me when I was sentimental just isn’t there anymore. I simply don’t identify as the person who lived those events. I feel much more like an actor who’s just finished a long stint with one character and is looking for another.

I remember so clearly getting so excited over little things a few months ago. When I say little things, I mean like curly fries or a surprise hug or someone complimenting my obnoxiously colourful trousers. I rarely speak about myself in a positive way because I’m scared of sounding obnoxious, but looking back at past Steven, he was very good at grabbing the positive things the world presented- though this worked both ways of him also being very good at grabbing the bad. I think the most poignant way to describe this change is that whether good or bad, I have always been very emotionally driven but now access to my emotions has been significantly stifled and limited and as a result changed quite a fundamental part of myself. I’m not saying I no longer enjoy the small things (still love hugs), but my reactions are now much quieter, and much stiller. Less like river and more like an ocean. Everything’s still somewhere, its just much less obvious, and there are always the considerably large periods of time where I don’t feel at all.

The reason I am writing about this now is because I going back to university means seeing my friends again, and I’m super excited to see them, I’m just scared there not going to like the new me, some of my relationships have already been tested by all of this. I have spoken in the past about the self isolating nature of depression and my fear of hurting the people I care about, but this change introduces a new aspect of how my relationships altered. They are altered by the fact I’m different and is perfectly possible people simply won’t like what I’ve become. As I said previously, I have always been emotionally able and expressive, I always thought that was a large part of who I was and it’s just gone now. Also the fact I am going to people to lean on or catch me when it goes wrong will create a strain on friendships. I am still perfectly capable of being there for them when they need help (and I will always be there is needed) but I am going to need them a lot more than I did before, and some people aren’t stable enough to bear the burden of a friend like me. I understand all of this and it is fair, I don’t like what I am, so theres no reason for them to like it.

Thankyou for reading, sorry if it was no good (as I said previously this is somewhat more spuradic as an entry than previous ones)
Big hugs to anyone who read this far down
Steven 🙂

Hey guys!
I don’t know how well this blog is going to go, I always drink a cup of tea while I write and unfortunately throw the majority of said cup of tea over myself before writing began. So I am writing with a now soggy lap, and very little tea. In addition to this, this blog isn’t about my depression, it is in fact about something I believe in quite strongly which is how society should be much more open with people about certain aspects of society. The video that inspired me to write this is the video “Children react to gay marriage”, but I want to take it further than gay marriage.

I have included the link to the video at the bottom of the blog and you may want to watch it first, but it is not essential

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TJxnYgP6D8

The general idea of the video is that children are shown 2 clips, one of a man proposing to a man and one of a women proposing to a women and then questioned about it. The children are generally positive and pro gay marriage. There are two that are especially interesting, one is a young boy who is strongly against gay marriage and one is a young girl who has never heard of the concept of homosexuality before. The young boy is very against the concept and says “Gay is wrong” but when asked why he thinks this, he can’t answer. The young girl is interesting because of how quickly she changes from being surprised by the idea, to completely accepting of it. This captures the main point I want to convey in this blog, that stigma is not a naturally occurring phenomena, it is instead something man made. The reason I say all of this is that I believe children shouldn’t be kept in the dark about homosexuality or other issues. If a child is old enough to be taught about the concept of love (just to clarify I mean pure, child friendly love, not sex) they should not only be taught about love between opposite genders but also love between the same gender. At the end of the day, the emotion felt between a same sex couple, is the same emotion that is felt between a couple of the opposite sex and by making children aware of the love between heterosexuals at a different time than making them aware of the love between homosexuals, we encourage the belief that they are different from each other, which just isn’t true, love is love.

In addition to this I believe making children aware of homosexuality from a younger age may have a knock on effect that makes the process of “coming out” easier for them. The reason I say this is because I believe that if homosexuality is shown to be a viable and accepted concept, then when the time comes for a person to come to terms with their sexuality, it may be easier for them to accept if they have always been told that there is nothing wrong with it. I’m not suggesting that coming out will be made easy by this, it is still a confusing and scary time, but if we try to remove any slight suggestion from the persons mind that homosexuality is wrong, then it should make it slightly less scary, and in my mind the easiest way to do this is to make children aware of the concept. Just think of it this way, if a gay couple attended a party with young children, they and the other guests will usually refer to them as just “friends”, but if an opposite sex couple was at the same party they would be described as “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”. The problem with this is that when those children grow up and realise that the people described as “friends” where in fact a couple, they will naturally wonder why they felt it had be hidden and it is possible that they will reach the conclusion it was hidden because it must be wrong. I believe in this situation it should never have been hidden, if they were open and the young children where told that they were a couple, it would give them the idea that it’s not something that needs be hidden and is something that is/should be accepted.

Finally I just wanted to go on a slight tangent. I wanted to talk about P!nk’s music video for the song “Perfect”. This isn’t about homosexuality, but this video received a lot of controversy because it depicted a girl self harming. I want to clarify now that I am not suggesting children be shown images of self harm at all. What I am suggesting is that it should not be tabboo. Unfortunately self-harm happens, and it is something which very few people actually seek help for. It is hard to say why people don’t, as there can be a multitude of reasons, however one of them is sometimes that people think it is wrong and are ashamed. This thought process is a very damaging way for sufferers to think as it hinders them getting help, and I’m not saying showing images of self harm helps because I am aware it may act as a trigger, what I am saying is that hiding it and saying it is inappropriate definitely suggests that it is wrong and give support to the incorrect view that people should be ashamed of it. At the end of the day, self harm is a coping mechanism. It is a damaging coping mechanism, and something people can rarely get over on their own, which is why it is so important to create the image that it is something that can be discussed without shame. However this must be done without trivialising the issue. In contrast to this Urban Outfitters have released a shirt that says “eat less” on it and one that says “depression”. I need to clarify that this is not a case of bringing issues such as depression and eating disorders into main stream culture and showing it as acceptable, its a case of trivialising the matter and is insensitive to sufferers of either condition as it implies it is not a big issue. I want to draw attention to the hypocrisy, P!nks video showed self harm as an issue, it told the story of a girl struggling and shows her overcoming it, and this was deemed inappropriate by some. However urban outfitters shirts that trivialise mental health issues are deemed acceptable. In my mind the only difference between these two is that one offers a understanding view and hope and the other offers neither, but it’s the latter that is accepted.

Thank you for reading 🙂 I hope this made sense. Steven

Depression and the storm

I’ve frequently mentioned in this blog series the feeling of emptiness that comes with depression, or a better phrase is the absence of feeling. However the absence isn’t fully permanent. Think of it like this, imagine a tunnel that runs between the part of you that receives information and the part of your brain that controls your emotional response. Depression collapses the tunnel and blocks the path. This means most of the time your emotions aren’t active, they’re blocked by the tunnel collapse, but every now and again the build up of emotion is enough to knock down the blockage and get through all at once.
When talking to my friends I make reference to a “break down”, “A moment”, “crumbling” or many words to that effect, but rarely elaborate on what it means, when I use one of those words I am referring to the times where this blockade is broken. I know this is probably strange, I spent the first entry in this blog talking about how painful the feeling of emptiness can be, and it is painful, so why would I then complain for the small amounts of time when I get to feel again. The reason is that I don’t return to a state of emotional wellbeing, I am thrown into a storm. It’s not just feeling again, it’s feeling everything all at once. It’s massively overwhelming and this may be hard to understand if you’ve never experienced it, but when they happen, it is one of the most scared I’ve ever been. In addition to this fear, it’s also one of the most destructive sides of depression, when you mix together all of these feelings, they become something very similar to anger.
It’s so hard to describe these moments, I don’t know if I’m good enough with words to capture something that just feels like pure, organic terror. I’ve done research into this, and it is often described as like drowning. It’s just completely overwhelming, its like being surrounded and screamed at and having every thought or feeling or doubt magnified so each one has grown into something huge, large enough to crush you, individually. When this happens to me, theres no other real way to describe how I feel than just completely raw vulnerability.
I spend almost all of the day standing in the eye of the storm, constantly scared that I’m going to fall into it. The main reason I’m so scared of falling into it is not because of how painful the moments inside it can be, but because who else may be struck by it. When forced into such vulnerability, I react with aggression, and I’m not going to blame that solely on depression- it has always been character flaw on my part, but depression seems to have exaggerated it. I live in fear that I’m going to be knocked into the storm while with friends and then lash out against them. A large part of this fear is because of how easy it is to be knocked into the storm. It’s happened every day since I’ve been diagnosed. The force that pushes me does not need to be large. It can be as simple as someone bumping into me and catching me off guard, it can be me seeing my reflection and not liking it, it can be me getting paranoid someone doesn’t like me, frankly it can be anything. This has created a world in which I am scared of hanging out with people as I don’t want them to see this and I definitely don’t want to lash out at them when they don’t deserve it (and they will never deserve it). The combination of all of this is why I haven’t been able to attend any social event I have been invited to since been diagnosed (really big apologies to Izzy whose party is right now, but I couldn’t make it due to my depression being really bad today, Izzy will be getting a nice present when I next see her).
I hope this entry makes sense, it took much longer to write than usual. 3 cups of tea instead of the normal 1. If there is anything anyone wants me to write about, or any questions people have, please comment boor message me. Finally a massive thank you to everyone for reading and being wonderful 😀

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 🙂

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 😀

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 🙂  (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.