I’m going to be as open as I can with all this, so if you find anything surrounding mental health, or the behaviour surrounding it, triggering; these might not be the posts for you.
I’ve started this post so many times now. One of the (many) annoying things about depression is that I don’t want to think, talk, or write about it when I’m in a good place, or just getting on with things. Then, when I am suffering with depression; I physically can’t think, talk much, or write at all, because it saps every bit of energy and motivation from me. But, here I am again; talking about mental health, because I am passionate about sharing my experiences in the hope that someone may find comfort in what I have to say. It still feels like it’s such an uncomfortable conversation, so I’m hoping my words will contribute to helping those who struggle to talk about it, open-up a little bit more. Talking does help; it can dramatically improve lives, and on occasion, save them. I received such positive feedback fo my anxiety post, so I’m less fearful about sharing this one (kinda). Thank you to everyone who messaged me and reached out by the way, I received nothing but kindness and positivity, and it still gives me all the warm fuzzies; a little love can go a long way in making someone feel good.
Depression is a bully, a thief of content and happiness, and every now and then; it’s battered me to the point I’ve pretty much given up on everything. It is exhausting, and I absolutely hate it. Sadly, I’m not at stage where I can say that overcoming depression has made me stronger; I still feel like it takes a hammer and chisel to all the bits I like about myself, every single time it turns up. Uninvited, unwelcome, unexpected, and really mean. But, I do overcome every bout, and I learn a little more about how is best to deal with those days, weeks, and sometimes, the months I can sit in that dark grey cloud.
The severity of my depression varies a great deal. Obviously, my favourite times are when it’s not there at all; these are the best of times, even when I’m sad (feeling sad is not the same as depression. One is an emotion. The other is a health condition). I’d say that sometimes, it’s there, poking me, with maybe the odd push or slap to the face; these are the times when I can manage to go about life pretty normally. I’m tearful and struggle to eat, but I can get on with stuff. Then, there are times when it’s pushed me to the ground and decided to start kicking; these are the days when it’s a real struggle to get out of bed, have a shower, and my work takes hours longer than it should. I get past the point of crying, everything aches and feels empty all at once. My husband steps up and helps me with the basics, like making me tea and toast, ensuring my blood sugar levels are okay, and hugging me to squeeze some feelings back. Finally, there have been times when depression has beaten the life out of me for what seems like forever, until there’s very little left. Even speaking becomes a challenge, let alone the thought of getting out from under my duvet, which becomes a very literal safety blanket. During these times, I don’t just lose my appetite; I become void of emotion. It’s not even despair, I’m just hollow.
Hey there! Just popping in to tell you that a jolly read this is not, but I’m guessing you’ve already got the gist, so I’m just going to carry on. Please feel free to leave at any point, especially if it’s upsetting you; this is not my intention x
So, my depression seems to come and go depending on a few factors. Poor diabetes control has been an issue in the past, but, fortunately; I’ve got that stuff down now (mostly), so I haven’t suffered at the hands of my blood sugars for years. Every now and then the enormity of having chronic illnesses for the rest of my life, with no break, hits me like a ton of bricks, and it becomes a heavy load to bear. This is when I suffer a burnout, and the thought of working out my carb ratios, testing my blood sugars, taking my meds at the right time, and getting my insulin right, all seems like too much work. I feel very low, hopeless, and there are scenarios going through my head that will probably never happen, but they are there; goading me all the same.
Sometimes, it’s just my chemical balance. It’s as simple and as devastating as that. My behaviour or actions have nothing to do with it, much like many illness’ or conditions; it’s indiscriminate of who, when, or how it arrives. It just does. That is, in my opinion, what a lot of people seem to struggle to understand. If you are one of them, please trust me when I say that absolutely nobody who suffers with depression, decides to be depressed. And, it’s not actually all in our heads; the physical symptoms are just as awful as the effect on the brain. Don’t think that telling people how lucky they are to have things, or be in certain situations, will help them get over their struggle. Again; depression is an indiscriminate arsehole. It can strike anyone at any time, just like the flu. You wouldn’t tell someone to cheer up, or snap out of the flu, would you?
There are actions, processes, and sometimes, medication that will help; however, every individual is different, and will be doing all they can to survive, and come out the other side again. You don’t have to understand something to empathise with people, and trust that what they’re experiencing is real. You probably don’t understand quantum physics (well, you might; soz if you totally do), but I hope you trust scientific fact. Anyway, I shall quietly step off my soap box now. After years of explaining myself, and feeling the added strain of guilt when I can’t function, due to depression; I get a little defensive. But, like everything, I’m working on it. It’s not you, it’s me. Unless you don’t think depression is a thing, then it’s definitely you.
One of my worst bouts in recent years was in January 2016. I had been suffering with an over-active thyroid for over a year, diagnosed with Graves disease, and had reached a point where I was in bed most of the time. Due to my body being so weak, constant nausea from the anti-thyroxine drugs, and the fact that any physical activity made me gasp for breath; functioning wasn’t an option for me. I had days where I was too weak to sit up and watch T.V, let alone make my way to the bathroom, or shower myself alone. I couldn’t contribute financially, I was drifting away from friends and family, and I felt like a burden. I realise that I was not a burden. If you have people who love you; they will never see you as a burden, but it’s hard to understand that when you’re in the thick of it all. I just felt sorry for everyone who “had to put up with me”. I even started to think about what a drain on the NHS I was, especially as I contributed so little to society. I had a lot of thinking time, with no distractions, day in and day out. So I’d think about things in the tiniest detail, all of which contributed to pure self-loathing. And, one day, I just thought; I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. What’s the point? I hadn’t laughed for weeks, I certainly hadn’t made anyone else laugh in weeks, and I couldn’t see any light; there wasn’t even a tunnel. I felt like it was just a pit, and that there was no way out. This is very difficult to both admit and explain, but I made a very calm, almost emotionless decision one night, that I would take my own life the following day.
In my mind at the time, I knew people would be devastated that I had died, but I rationalised it with thoughts of them moving on, and not having to worry about me and my health anymore. Looking back, I think that I had lost the strength to empathise with anyone; there was just nothing there. Paranoia and anxiety contributed to these feelings. I assumed that people were coupling my name with an eye roll and a sigh. I felt like I was ready to remove myself from everyone and everything in the hope that I would somehow improve their lives. Which is ridiculous and awful, but so is depression. Without going into too much detail, I knew I had enough insulin and medication to end it all. I planned to commit suicide. There, I wrote it. There’s no way to surround suicide with fluff or humour. My depression had taken me past the point of not wanting to live. I wanted to die, and knew how I was going to do it. Obviously, I am still here, and the irrationality of my thoughts back then astound me, even though I know what depression can do. It breaks my heart to think about how little of me was left at that point, and thankfully; I’ve never been close to those thoughts since.
The morning came, and it was a bad one. Marv kissed me goodbye to go to work, and I knew he wouldn’t be back until lunch time, so, my bedside was stocked up with food and drinks to keep me going until then. I was particularly low on energy that morning and my breathing was awful. So, I thought I’d rest and try and muster up the strength to write letters to explain my decision to those I loved. I’ve since read a term called “the comfort of suicide”, and this best describes what I was experiencing. It was like I had made a decision, so a weight had been lifted, and I could carry on with the admin. Please, do not think I am trivialising this; I am struggling to type through my tears at the moment. But, it just goes to show where you can find yourself with depression if you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone, and it’s honestly where my head was at. The fact that I hadn’t got the strength to do the admin side of things was actually what saved my life. I knew I didn’t want to do anything without leaving people an explanation, and I just didn’t have enough energy to write. So, I didn’t.
Marv came home that night and I told him I wasn’t doing well. I think some survival instinct pushed through, and I was able to say something. I didn’t tell him what I had planned to do, or the level of my feelings towards life, but he understood I needed help. Your nearest and dearest will notice a change, and all they want is to help. Small actions like a hug or a cuppa can actually do wonders; it’s about having the tiniest bit of relief, and feeling like you’re not alone. Someone saying that they know it’s shit, or it must be shit, is instant therapy. For me anyway. It was a timing thing. If he hadn’t’t been there to say those things, who knows. But, luckily he was, and the next day was still shit, but it was a teeny bit better. And, that was enough to keep going.
Social media sure has some creases to iron out; however, it’s been the place, outside of therapy, that I’ve found the most support, advice, and daily boosts. I’ve found individuals and groups of people who have experienced similar things to me in regards to my physical and mental health, and I utilise what’s out there all the time. I’ll leave some links below for those who are interested. I’ll follow up on my anxiety post, and this post with some more experiences, and will try to help further with some tips and ideas I have to offer (which will hopefully help someone). If you’re struggling to talk to loved ones and people you know; get yourself online! Facebook and Instagram messages are a great place to start, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the loveliness that can appear on your screen.
Peace, love, and saying something, Fay x
Fiona – Fiona Likes To Blog. Fiona’s blog and Instagram is something I go to each day; full of ideas to help on those bad days, and an open and frank discussion surrounding getting through life with mental health struggles. She also has a Facebook group, which is another great resource for those living with depression.
Amelia – xameliax. Amelia has dealt with depression and has shared her experiences on her YouTube channel here. There are tips for those worried to reach out, and if you’re feeling the weight of the stigma surrounding depression; there’s plenty of reassurance that what you’re going through can happen to anyone.
This Huffpost article by Johann Hari made for an interesting read. I’m intrigued by other people’s experience with depression, and I’m always keen to learn about the research that’s going into mental health, so, if you are too; take a look.
I Can Cards – “Motivating, comforting and reassuring affirmation cards on meaningful subjects. ❤︎ Wellbeing Warrior and Joker”. I mean, what more is there to say; head here for a daily pick-me-up. Wednesday nights 8:30pm – Instagram Live x
For those with Type 1, who are experiencing depression; take a look here.
Mind; an excellent place to start.