Hello darkness, my old friend ….. I’ve come to talk with you again

I have been listening to the Sound of Silence on repeat for about two hours now.  Probably not ideal.

I am a chronic depressive.  With a side order of general anxiety disorder, and social phobia.  I have a touch of something that cannot be defined but Ritalin takes care of it.

I have not slept “naturally” since 2008.

I take medication to go to sleep and another set to keep me asleep.

I realise you don’t need to know this, but here is the thing.  There are so many people around you that suffer with one or all of these maladies, that it is about as common as a fungal infection.

The difference is that someone will tell you they have a fungal infection.

There is so much embarrassment in telling someone that you are not coping and you need help — the result is a lot of people don’t seek help.  They quietly try, and try to get on by themselves.

They wake up each morning, take a deep breath and try to get through the day.

Some get through the day.  Others are not that lucky.

They are embarrassed they are not coping — so they hide it as long as they can —- until they can’t.

Some choose to end their lives.

This is what this post is about.

Suicide is not the easy way about.  Suicide is not because you are selfish or cannot do something.

Suicide is what happens when you get to the end of your rope.  When you need the pain to stop.  To just stop.

And it is the best option available to you at that moment in time.

The darkness that normally creeps around the edges of your existence, starts to bleed into the all of you.

Depression is an illness whose main function, each day, is to try to kill you.

I know it sounds ludicrous — unless you have been there.  Unless you have felt those cold unforgiving fingers wrapping themselves around your everything, you cannot imagine what it feels like – how your internal dialogue is so painful, so unforgiving, so intent on trying to make you hurt yourself.

Finding the right psychiatrist is part of the trick.  Being on medication that can stabilise you, goes a long way to keeping the demons at bay.  Or at least in check.

Having someone to talk to  – ideally a psychologist is also very helpful.

You need to speak to someone who understands your condition — who knows what your triggers are.  What sends you further into a spiral, what pulls you back from the edge.

I cannot explain my depression.  I cannot always identify what is going to set it off.  I will often be high functioning, catching balls, doing great and something will creep up on me. Kick my feet out from under me.

It isn’t always something big that floors me, sometimes it is something that is irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things.  A hurtful word.  A sense that something is happening to me.

Then the slow, or rapid, decline will occur.  The demons get louder and more insistent.  Egging you on.

Your ability to hold them back gets more and more exhausting.  Until one day, you just can’t. Anymore.

You function, because you must.  The depression brings the suicidal thoughts.  You start to map out a plan.  It’s usually not a big jump, as most depressives always have a suicide plan.  Always.

Mine is a pick ‘n pay bag of medication I have horded for years.

I believe that suicide via this route has a 2% success rate.  Not ideal.  Depressives have an unusual amount of knowledge on this subject.  Not because they have a pinterest board.

For a few moments each day their brain is telling them something about suicide.

If you suffer with depression — please believe that you are not alone.  There is nothing broken about you — you are just wired differently.

One of the worst feelings is when the demons isolate you.  They make you feel alone as you cry in the shower, or stand in the bathroom at 2am and sob, and you don’t even know why.

You. Are. Not. Alone — though your demons will constantly try to convince you that indeed you are.

They will work really hard to make you feel alone.  Isolated.  That no one cares about you.  That you are not worth anything. That you are not worthy.  That all those things that peoples say about you are true.  That all the horrid things you think about yourself are true.

You will only hear the negative things — and believe them.

You will not be able to hear the parts that you need to hear : You are worth it.  You are incredible.  You are loved.  You are needed. You are brilliant.  You are beautiful.  You are wanted. Every day you add value to someone’s life.  You are …. worth every moment.  Every breath.

The demons do not want to you to believe that.

Somehow you need to dig yourself out of this dark, damp and fetid pit — somehow.

Just get to the top.  Get to the part where you can see a bit of light —- where you can take a breath.  Regroup.  Find your strength to fight your demons.

I am not here to tell you it is easy.
I am not here to tell you that you will win.

I am here to tell you that if you can find oxygen, and look around, and see your children’s faces and the laughter of your friends, you will know that you can do this for another day.

Maybe it isn’t your children you see.  It might be the smell of lavender, or the feeling of someone who truly loves you wrapping their arms around you.  Holding the part of you that just needs to be held that day.

All you have to do today is get through today.

I don’t mean to make it sound like it is easy — it is a fight for survival.

There will be bullies who will hurt you.  Sometimes these bullies will be in the cloak of friends and family.

There will be people who will know where your soft spots are.  They will stab you for no other reason than to prove they can.  To show you that they are stronger than you.

Life will not be fair to you —- your demons will be stronger than you can believe.  Than even you could prepare for.

No one will be there for you when you need them — when your demons are winning.

Try to hold on — try to find the strength to take a breath.  Just one.  Then take another, and repeat.

My lowest has been the thought that my children will grow up without a mother.

Even though often I think it will be easier for them.  That I am the fek up.  I keep being told I am, that I am the failure.  That my life is a series of failures.  That I am the thousand other things that I have heard from sometimes my nearest and dearest ….. and sometimes just from my inside voice.

My best so far is being told that I am giving my ex a reason to take my children away from me, because I have tattoos.

Paranoid thinking is one of the horses of the apocalypse.

I think if it wasn’t for my children I would have exited this game a long time ago.

If I go ….

My concern is that they will grow up without me.  They will not know how much I love them.  They will not know how often I look at them when they are sleeping and my heart swells so much that bits of it leak out of my eyes.

They will not know how much I adore them — every little part of them.

I sit next to them and all I think is that “I did good here, these are great kids” — I broke the cycle.

My “hold me back” is that I do not want my children in therapy because they think they were not enough.

That somehow they were to blame.

That somehow they could have done something.  Else.  More.  Different.

I do not want THAT on them.

I don’t know the answers to this freaking curse that is depression.

I know what the blackest black looks like.

I survived today —- this year has been epic.  I have had so many situations where I have been whacked on my arse — stood up and been whacked again.  To the point where lying down and just taking shallow breaths seemed like the most apt way to get through the day.

I have been at my final hour this year — several times.

I have someone to talk to — someone who understands. Someone who understands how hard this year has been, someone who understands how hard I have fought for this breath, with every fiber of my being.

Thank goodness for her — and her wisdom.  Her continued support.  Her knowing I need help and reaching out to me actively.

If you are struggling with depression, do not use your embarrassment to keep you locked into this.

I can’t guarantee that the person you talk to is going to be the right person — sometimes people give you shitty advise and they have no idea of the damage it is doing to you.

But there are people you can talk to.  There is a person for you.  Someone who will hear your pain and listen to what you need.

There is a way to get out of the hole — or at the very least for someone to throw you a life line. A moment where you can catch your breath.

Depression is  a disease — it is trying to kill you.  Every day.

Get help —- in what ever form you need.  Today.

If you can’t —– for what ever reason, then, take a moment today to be kind.  To yourself.

Allow yourself to just be.  To think a good thought about yourself.  For a moment to really believe there is something good about you.  That you are enough.

Just one good thought can plant a seed that can start to help you heal.

Every day you heal is one more day you get to breath.  One more day you get stronger than your demons.

{Because I am a depressive, doesn’t mean I need to be treated with kid gloves.  I am a roaring strong individual that has overcome and continues to do so.  I would get annoyed if someone treated me like delicate china  — the catch with a depressive is that it is often is not the big stuff that breaks us, it is the small irrelevant stuff that shatters us…. be kind to someone today, you don’t know their journey or their battles}

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What if we treated every illness the way that we treat mental illness?

I saw this graphic yesterday, and it struck a chord with me.

mental illness

I have regularly been battling my own demons, and some days I manage it better than others.

Depression and it’s related posse – which are usually socially phobia, general anxiety disorder, alcoholism, or some sort of substance abuse – is not an illness that ever really goes away.

You get given a respite, a few days grace, but then the bitch is back and you get to start the cycle from the beginning.

I do understand how exhausting this process must be for family members, loved ones, partners, parents, children and the sundry of others who love, like and have a relationship with someone “struggling with depression.”

I would imagine it is a bit like helping someone who has a broken leg.

It is all “fuck I am sorry, how can I help?” then you help them carry their books, shuffle to the toilet and back, make them some tea, and pretty much help out where every you can – at about the point when you think “yikes I am tired of this shit” .. then the person’s leg heals.

The cast gets removed and they are “on their feet and back in the swing of things.”

Then you go to the shop to buy milk and a loaf of bread, get back and the person has broken their leg again.  And you are like fuck that shit.

Repeat the loop 3 – 6 times a year, and in the end, everyone is about as sick as crap with you and your stupid broken leg, and really just wishes you would stop breaking that shit.  What is wrong with you for goodness sake.

It is starting to look a bit reckless, and that you might actually enjoy wearing a plaster of paris cast, and not being able to function.

Swap broken leg out with depression and you can sort of see how everyone gets exhausted with you being exhausted.

mental lllness

Depression is a cruel illness. It strips you of your ability to care or relate to anything around you.

It fills your mind with emptiness – and it’s all you can do to blink without giving up.

I have noticed that with each cycle there is an element of “darkness”that gets blacker and more dense in my mind.  An unwillingness, or an inability to face it again – the constant gnawing cycle of self loathing, self doubt, pain and well …. bleakness.

I think I have got better, as I have got older, at being able to soldier on through the “bad patches” to where few people do not even notice that I am in a bit of a low space .

The reality is the cycles are cycles – they keep on coming and as soon as this one is done you start sensing the new wave building, and you are never sure if this will be the wave that crashes on the beach, or tears through the country like a tsunami.

The ebbs gets lower and lower, and then “the big one” arrives that makes me doubt who I am, my worth, my sense of self, and more importantly by ability to put one foot in front of the other.

black_dog_days_2

living-with-a-black-dog1

pointing-out-lovely-weather-is-annoying-and-pointless

I posted this originally on the 10 January 2012

That creeping sensation that things are not quite as they should be.

The whispers of self-doubt.

The gnawing sensation that everyone is plotting against me.

The hiss that people are talking about me.  Incessantly.  Always in the negative.

The worry that I am doing something wrong.  Everything wrong.  About to be “caught out” for doing something wrong I have not even done.  At all.  Ever.

The sounds of whispers and innuendos and recrimination.

Small sounds reverberate in my eardrums as echos.  My children’s chewing that sounds like the brass frkn band going off tune next to me.

The mental arguing and cross-questioning and “should I” or “what if…” and “maybe you need to go and fix that….”

Unfortunately it has all started again.  It was so lovely when it was gone.  It was so lovely.

And it is back – the swishing tail of my black dog against my legs.

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Voting close at midnight on the 15 December 2013, and then the fat lady has sung.

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And then everyone goes home.

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Bad Blogger … go sit in the naughty corner ….

I have been a very bad blogger.  I have not been very good at posting for the last few weeks.

It really is not for a lack of writing.  I realised I have 105 “draft posts” that I have not posted for varying reasons, so clearly I have stuff to say.

I feel a bit like I am losing my voice – my ability to express myself – right now I am feeling very much like this image – but with better cuticle and nail care!

hand-over-mouth-iStock-300x275

It is very frustrating as part of how I process “stuff”is by getting it out, and ideally getting it out on this blog.

Right now I am feeling  very “idea and thought” constipated – all these thoughts, ideas, frustrations, moments of joy, moments of anger, and well … frustrations are bottled up and not getting out.

Clearly I need a purge.  Usually I will look for the most inappropriate time or occasion to do this …..

I was busy writing a post about how I have been fortunate enough not to have MY BLACK DOG OF DEPRESSION back in some time.  I was all “hey check me out, no worries…. har har har….”  Yes, well, who is laughing now?  Not me in the event I was being a bit vague.

I have honestly not missed the whooshing sound of his tail, and the pitter patter of his feet at night.  As much as I try to picture him as this loping large black Labrador, I really think he is a m-fuker and can do without him.

I am starting to think that I might have “announced” it a bit prematurely, and maybe the inability to speak, to say what I feel, what I am thinking is probably a sign of a dip in the not too distant future.

It might just be an overdose on all the chaos and madness that is associated with this time of year.

Anyway, look out for some vague really makes-no-sense posts coming up … apologise if it all appears a bit nonsensical.

It starts again ….

That creeping sensation that things are not quite as they should be.

The whispers of self-doubt.

The gnawing sensation that everyone is plotting against me.

The hiss that people are talking about me.  Incessantly.  Always in the negative.

The worry that I am doing something wrong.  Everything wrong.  About to be “caught out” for doing something wrong I have not even done.  At all.  Ever.

The sounds of whispers and innuendos and recrimination.

Small sounds reverberate in my eardrums as echos.  My children’s chewing that sounds like the brass frkn band going off tune next to me.

The mental arguing and cross-questioning and “should I” or “what if…” and “maybe you need to go and fix that….”

Unfortunately it has all started again.  It was so lovely when it was gone.  It was so lovely.

It started as a quiet whisper in the darkness, but now it is turning into screaming in the day.    It might just be because I am feeling exhausted.  Tired to the bone.

Not ideal considering “yearly holidays” has just finished and I am in negative leave.  I could climb in to bed, pull the covers over my head and sleep for a week.

On the upside it is not depression.  Yip, fkn hooray for that.  Talk about seeing the silver lining.

But it is the mania – the creeping sensation of the full-blown anxiety as it’s bleeding fingers start to linger around the edges – the exaggerated sense of anxiety – every nerve ending hot like a poker – at the same time my brain starts to shut down because it can’t deal with multiple stimuli.

Yesterday.  True Story.  I forgot how to fill the kettle with water.  I was trying to make tea and coffee, and I knew I should fill the kettle, but I looked at the kettle and thought “fk how do I get water in there….” and the I opted to boil the kettle and hope there was enough to fill two cups.

By the time the water was boiled and I poured the water in to two cups, my brain went: “Hey the kettle comes of the thingy-me-bob, you just pick the kettle up and direct it at the tap thing …. and tah-dah….water in the kettle”  But I could not work that out earlier.

When you cannot mentally work out how to fill the kettle with water, it is time to call in medical supervision or at the very least a priest and an intervention or exorcism going.

Fk!

Mommy you are really looking happy ….

Yesterday when I fetched Connor from school, he said: “Mommy you are really looking happy.”

Me: “Thanks for noticing my boy, I am feeling happy … but why do you say it?”

Connor: “You just look happy.  I don’t know why.  Are you happy about something?”

Me: “No my boy, I am feeling happy that is all, nothing really, just feeling happy.”

And that really is it. <<I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that he noticed…>>

I am not better, but I am on the mend.

My head is less filled with the negative/kill myself/kill all of you/oh my gawd I am being targeted thinking.

My head is actually quiet.  I do realise it sounds a bit “insane” to say “the voices in my head are quiet.” But they are. This constant internalised conversations that go on and on … all day … all night are quiet.

I can just sit.  And sit.  In silence.  Because there is no noise in my head.

I feel remarkably happy. Not “skip and sing the sound of music” happy, but definitely lighter, more free, and my head is just not as busy as it was before.

I sit and I smile. Just because I do.

I feel a definite sense of creativity.

There are little projects that I have started, and feel motivated to do. I sit in my garden on the old wooden chair, I dusted off and positioned amongst the lavender.  I listen to the bees buzzing, I sip my wine, I feel the coolness of the glass in my hand, and I just feel a sense of calm. Of peace.  Of silence.  Of not internally screaming.

I am not sure whether it is working with Dr CBT, the medication, Dr Pill-Pusher, the fact that I am sleeping, or the time that I hid away from life in the clinic.

I have no idea what to attribute it to.

I feel a sense of happiness.  A genuine happiness that I have not felt in what feels like forever.  I smile when I see my children and I see Kennith, just because they make my glad inside.

It’s a nice feeling.

It is also a  strange feeling I don’t know what to do with it.  I just sit with it right now.  And smile a bit.

<stay away black dog, for fuck sake say away, you are not wanted here!!!>