Here is the second of the posts talking about some of the issues that I am currently dealing with. Please remember these are simply my writings about my personal experience from my journals if anything in this raises concerns for you please see your dr or a medical professional for help.
I’ve chosen to start with the easiest two of my symptoms the ones that most of you have heard of and probably already know someone living and dealing with Anxiety or Depression. That person may be you and you are feeling alone, hopefully my sharing will let you know you are not alone and are in fact quite “normal”.
You probably know what feeling sad or down feels like, well depression for me feels nothing at all like that. Depression for me is like this heavy weight that is sitting on every single part of my body. Depression is the deepest, darkest hole you can imagine with every piece of dirt collapsing in on top of you suffocating you, there is no light, no joy, and at times a weight so heavy that I just want to die for it all to end and any happiness I might feel is fleeting and short lived.
It makes me feel tired, angry, irritable, lonely (and a loneliness that you can’t put into words!), sad, apathetic, overwhelmed, unhappy and guilty. There is such a sense of isolation and darkness that I am not even aware of any light around me. In addition to these feelings the common thoughts I have are I am useless, worthless, hopeless, that everyone would be better off without me and a failure. All of this comes on top of physically feeling unwell, exhausted and living with constant headaches. So all in all not a lot of fun at all and believe me if there was anyway to just wake up and be happy I would in a heartbeat this overwhelming sadness and heaviness is absolutely not a fun way to live.
Many days I just don’t care enough to care and that then makes me sad and then I worry about all the things I am not doing, can’t do, that I am failing at and then the anxiety sets in and then I get sadder and so the hole gets deeper. You get the picture the games that are being played out in my head. That said it isn’t all darkness there are fleeting moments of joy and happiness but they pass so quickly and then I am left alone and in the dark once again. It is like a roller coaster ride that I just can’t get off it takes forever to climb to the peak for a fleeting moment of happiness and all the while there is the anticipation of the plunge that you know will come into the darkness and you are so used to doing it alone that it is so hard to reach out and tell anyone. For so many reasons for me I keep writing that I just didn’t know I had this much support and why didn’t I reach out sooner, I think honestly the reality is that I just couldn’t see what I had around me that the darkness of the depression had taken over. Plus it is embarassing the truth of being diagnosed with a mental illness is that it is not something people talk about so it is hard to tell people even your loved ones and closest friends.
It seems that I got so practised at telling everyone that I’m fine that people actually believed me. The main problem was I was drowning not waving, but nobody knew. If only I had realised just how not fine I really was. My psychologist thinks that I stopped coping about 3-4yrs ago and that my brain moving from coping to functioning and even then only just, but enough to not listen to the warning signs and get help.
During this time of just functioning I have somehow managed to shut out whole parts of my life. I have made bad choices in all areas of my life that I have then also shut out which then added to the pressures and stress that I was already feeling and then I dug a deeper and deeper hole.
Depression has invaded every aspect of my life. It has robbed me of so much and got a hold of me in a way that has completely overwhelmed me. But there is a way out of the hole and it is at the moment grain by grain but in time we will get to shovels and truckloads until I am standing on solid ground again.
What I understand now is that Depression is not a choice, it is an illness in the same way that asthma is an illness. For me I am now taking medication to help with everything that is going on in my head. However, medication is only part of the solution, I am having regular therapy, facing up to my mistakes (which won’t be easy and for a time could actually make things worse for me) and also accepting that I am not super human. All of these things are hard but they are a necessary part of my journey to getting well. This is coupled with huge truckloads of love and support from my family and friends all of whom I couldn’t get through this without, especially in my darkest moments knowing that there are people who love me and are there for me when I feel like I just can’t go on anymore and who really want me to get well regardless of what has happened means the world. Of course, what well looks like is yet to be determined but it has to be better than the here and the now.
How can you help? Just be there, be you and understand that whilst I might have a smile on my face inside I could be dying. The smile is how I have been coping for a long time now and is really for everyone else, I am learning that this is not healthy for me and it is important to speak up though I really find this hard to do. But understand that if I say I’m fine I might be too, today could be an ok day, “I’m Fine” isn’t always code for I’m drowning not waving and I really don’t expect you to be a mind reader and work that out. I am getting better at saying I’m not fine and knowing that you are there and care helps with that.
In many ways the practical support for me with depression are similar to that of anxiety just be there for me (or my family because I am more than aware of how this is affecting them and more than anything I want to shelter them from everything), we have been blessed with an amazing community of friends and family who are providing lots of practical support which is awesome. I simply can’t say thank you enough for everything.
Again these are reflections from my personal journey and if anything here resonates with you please seek help. Here is a link to the Beyond Blue website and their factsheets on depression for more information https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression