Depression; and 5 things I could do without…

  1. The crippling self doubt. One of the more indirect symptoms of depression, but also the human condition..and also the reason why I am writing a post at 12.28am. Because self doubt is crack to the insomniac. When I was diagnosed with depression I felt this relief, because I could put a label on this fog I’d been under. And as a self confessed control freak, I do love a good label. But with the ups and downs and twists and turns and this-is-interesting-and-all-but-are-we-there-yet journey of depression recovery/relapse, a part that seems relatively skipped upon is HOW to distinguish the ‘normal’ doubt from the depression doubt. Growing up with mental illness means you never really learn what typical thoughts are, because you’re told that all this self hatred is normal. Then you hit 18 and people actually start listening to you, and tell you it’s not normal…and the whole thing is just a giant snowball of ‘truths’ and self help and mantras and quite honestly, confusion. So yeah, I’m here, when I should be sleeping, because the doubt has crept in and I can’t tell what’s real, what’s ‘normal’ and what’s a symptom. I mean, that and my boyfriend snores.
  2. The “are you better yet?”. A question brimming with best wishes and good intentions, often asked from the mouth of a loved one. And I know what you want to hear, that the sky is blue-er and the birds song is sweeter. But the truth is I just can’t answer because I don’t understand the question. Am I still on medication? Can I get out of bed? Am I completely symptom free or are there just more good days than bad? How bad are the bad days? Are they like, semi-bad? or are they the bad that had you screaming into your pillow bad? I can’t answer. I don’t know. And I don’t want to disappoint you with a sub-par answer but I also don’t want to lie. So I mean, things are what they are and that’s about all I can give right now.
  3. The unasked opinions on medication. And all the judgement it carries with it. It’s amazing how when you start taking medicine for a mental illness the world and their mother is on the frontier of psychological research. “It’s not good for your body”, “It messes with your hormones”, “you should try relaxation instead”, “have you tried cutting out dairy?” If one more sodding person tells me to cut out dairy I will scream. I can’t speak on behalf of all of those on medication and I won’t try to, but for myself, it is not a decision I took lightly. It was not “the easy way out”, I endured side effects and withdrawal and trust me, there was nothing easy about it. If medication is not the route for you then that is 100% your decision, but it works for me. Not completely, there’s things I have to work through, but medication allowed me to reach a place where I was able to function well enough to start dealing with it.
  4. ANYTHING where my illness is linked with weakness or fragility. It’s just boring. It’s just such a boring, ignorant, outdated view on mental health. And as someone who is surrounded by progressive forward thinking individuals, I’m still amazed at how often I see it. Again, it’s well meant and often the person is unaware they’re even doing it. But I quite often get this look of, “…can she handle this?”. Are you kidding me? I have wanted to die before, and you think I can’t handle a poxy non politically correct comment? I have a sense of humour and an understanding that we joke about things that trouble us to try and take away some of the darkness. So make a depression joke! I’ll make 10 if it makes you feel better! In the typical population it’s called ‘touching a nerve’ or ‘pressing a button’…and whilst ‘triggers’ can be more severe it’s not a brand new concept. Asking for support if something does knock me is way healthier than feeling like everyone is walking on eggshells.
  5. That I still feel so lost.

Thank you for taking the time to read my stories, I hope they bring some comfort. Writing is catharsis.