For those of my readers out there, if you are sufferer of depression…or have suffered it at any stage of your life, you will know that with this illness you go through what I suppose I can only describe as periods of uncertainty and self doubts. Not just about your own existence, but about other things that happen or don’t happen in your life. You end up questioning yourself about why it is. To some extent everyone on this planet will probably at some point in their life go through this stage, that is a normal response to having a bit of a ‘bad spell’.
The biggest problem however is when you suffer depression, it goes much deeper than that. Self doubts creep in, you end up losing your confidence in a massive way over doing even the simplest of things, you end up questioning your own abilities, you become uncertain about things that you do, and you question yourself on the whys and wherefores of everything, you lose your self-esteem, and in general a huge amount of negative thoughts creep their way in, all or any enthusiasm about anything you once had leaves you and so you get left feeling stranded……. and at the end of it all you question yourself why was I ever born, why am I such a failure, and then finally why do I even exist. You are then left feeling alone in the world…….you against the whole world.
Over the past few days I have learnt more about myself as an individual person that probably at any other point or time in my life than ever before. A recent unfortunate ‘episode’ in my life has made me take a view of me and why a certain personal situation came about. I don’t want to go into any details about the episode, suffice to say though that it has made me realise something that has been most probably staring me in the face for the last 3 or 4 years but I never actually noticed it before now.
During this past year or so of my life for the first time in over ten years I have actually been able to speak openly about my illness to five people…… my GP, my cousin J and a mutual friend of ours, also another friend of mine of some thirty years, and now my counsellor. Not really a huge score in view of the number of people I have known over my forty odd years on this planet. Even though over the years a couple of people at work have known about my illness, I still found it very difficult to talk to or with them at length about my real feelings.
But on Friday evening I finally received some answers I had been waiting for and turning them over in my mind I lay awake most of Friday night and well into the early hours of Saturday morning, trying to understand why a ‘certain situation happened’. I used CBT, I even thought ‘outside the box’ I actually tried picking myself apart……..but each time I came to more or less the same conclusion and reasoning.
So lets put this into some perspective, and I really don’t mind sharing this with my readers…..because at the end of the day it is who I am. But several facts occurred and I tried to make sense of them, firstly, as I said earlier I have been very much a person who has never been able to talk openly about my illness during these last ten years. I have kept things close to my chest. I saw this as my own personal weakness, and consequently I felt ashamed of myself.
Ok….so for my readers to understand this a little more better, and rather than me talk in riddles I have spent the last 3 days with a completely open mind about myself and my life. The last thing I want is sympathy and please believe me when I say that. But going back to when I was a youngster growing up, I had a big family of Aunts, Uncles and Cousins and we were a very close-knit family. Over the years however, I have gradually seen most of my family ‘disappear’ for want of a better phrase through illness or old age so obviously family contact became less and less. The people I once could talk with, laugh and share jokes with……..left my life. But hey……that is life after all. This meant less contact, less conversations and overall less involvement in my life. Ok so next point…..Ive worked with the same colleagues for a number of years, had the same routine day in day out, year in year out. Eventually your life becomes ‘stagnant’, no new horizons, you end up stuck in a rut, you get fed up of listening to the same things day in and day out by the same people. In a way work life got so predictable, seeing the same people day after day, hearing the same conversations or stories day after day……..you eventually become less involved and shut yourself off from their conversations and you start to get a little fed up with hearing the exact same stuff day after day after day. You even reach the stage that you can predict so and so is going to wear her pink socks and a black bra on Wednesday, or so and so is going to wear his shorts on Friday because the weather is hot. I’m sure you get the drift. All completely boring stuff really…..of no interest what so ever. Unless its work related, you then become less involved with them. My depression had already set in, please don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming them for being the cause of my depression, no not at all. But because by now you have started to ‘shut yourself away from people’, because the depression has started to take a hold, your confidence is shattered, your self-esteem has gone, not only has your ability to communicate on any ordinary level has disappeared you end up becoming more and more withdrawn from ‘normal life’. You become very lost in your own negative world of thinking and reasoning, even the simplest of tasks become virtually impossible to do. Any enthusiasm for anything that you once had, has now left you. You get to the stage that not only you can’t interact with anyone else but you also feel you don’t want to interact with any one else. You shut yourself away and crawl under your own little shell away from the life you once knew or had, afraid of everything and anything. The slightest thing upsets you, and has you bursting into floods of tears. You end up feeling like damaged goods. That is my own personal insight in to how I felt, and what I went through. I can’t speak for other sufferers of this illness, but I guess it would have been something fairly similar for them. For a long time, almost ten years in fact I kept myself to myself. Social interaction has never played a big part of my life……that way I just about coped with my life. I shut myself off from the outside world when I could, just to feel a certain amount of safe and secureness.
Eventually I reached a certain stage of my illness, where I thought it was impossible to turn back, I reached the stage where I suppose I thought to myself you have hit rock bottom, it can’t get any worse……it can only get better. That was the point I actually chose to do something about it, having faced that, it was then a turning point, and now started the long slow climb back up again.
So since October 2010 I have been on this climb in my life to reach to top again. It’s not been easy I have had so many setbacks along the way. So my progress was very slow to begin with. As my regular readers know at the start of this year I pushed myself to the extreme and allowed myself to almost have yet another breakdown. This was my fault entirely, I suppose in all honesty trying too hard to prove I was still worthy of at least something in my life. I have had some huge obstacles in my way, the loss of my job coming this year, ongoing health problems etc etc. But one of the biggest and I would say positive changes in my life last year was that I started to crawl from under my shell, I became more open about my illness, I opened up to people about it……this is something I thought I would never be able to do. I started to regain some of my confidence, self-esteem and enthusiasm back. It was as though the depression had suppressed all these feelings for so long, and then when someone did finally help me turn a corner in my life….. suddenly the floodgates opened and for the first time in years, I was able to interact again, converse again just to be able to talk about completely ordinary things, get involved in a ‘ordinary conversation’ be it by email, face to face or on fb, all this as well as being able to talk about my depression and the effect it has had on my life, something I had been lacking for so long in my life, something until these last few days I never realised I had been missing. I also started to regain a little bit of my confidence. It was as though a sudden huge surge happened over the latter part of last year and all the negative things in my life and frustrations that had been holding me back suddenly exploded, but instead of it happening at a gradual and calm pace and in stages, it all happened far to quickly, everything spilled over in a very short space of time. The unfortunate thing I have found out these last couple of days though, was although this presented a sort of opening for me, it didn’t help someone else, in fact I’ve come to understand it may of actually upset them to a certain degree. But as that person no longer reads my blog, they will most probably never know or understand what happened or why it happened the way that it did. And I’m only just starting to understand it myself. The flood has slowed down somewhat these past few weeks, I have been able to channel some of it into my art and craft work. But I have no doubt in my mind what so ever, that this part of my life will go through a stage yet again…….as it always does, and this will mean that in due course I will end up keeping myself to myself again, and losing touch and not becoming involved. That way I can’t make any more stupid mistakes in my life, and that way no one will get hurt….. except for me of course, but I should be used to that by now, because that’s the game depression plays with your mind. So may be it is time for me to start thinking now about finding that little cottage by the river spending my day’s fishing on the riverbank and looking after my lagomorphs and cutting myself off from the rest of the world….first though I need to win the lottery to make that one wish in my life come true!!