Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Down? No kidding!

In the early days of my depression, I had fallen a long way down to the very depths of darkness. I'd never know anything like it before, but it became a very close friend of mine, and still walks beside me now.  When my doctor told me that some people can take years to get over it, I thought 'no way, not me', but look at me now.

When I did finally admit it to myself, and came to understand the illness, I gave into the idea that this period of time, was meant as an opportunity for me to find the real me again.  I had become well and truly lost, I had strayed off my own path, and had completely lost direction.  I needed help, and I was not too proud to say so.  I was suffering with an illness, because that's what it is, a chemical imbalance within the brain.  Something, I would need medication to deal with, because it was too great to try and fight it alone.

Back then, only 11 short years ago, there was still so much stigma attached to the word 'depression', and to a degree there still is.  I think that just like a lot of illnesses, unless you've been there, yourself, you can't possibly fathom, how difficult it can be for a person, or assess how that person might feel.

I have spoken about my depression in one of my earlier posts, 'Time to take notice', and I am always open to discussing it with people, who suspect themselves or someone else as suffering.  To me there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, it is not a sign of 'not coping', it's a sign of 'not being able to cope, any longer'.  And there's a big difference there.  I would like to think I am a positive spokesperson for this illness, for want of a better phrase; because the one thing I never lost was the belief, that one day, I would released from my darkness.  I haven't quite got there yet, and maybe I will never reach it, but now at least I feel closer to the light, and feel a little more sunshine everyday.

Depression is such a lonely place to be.  I remember once, visiting friends of my then husband, who's wife was also suffering.  I was dumped in  room with her, so they could have a chat, and for what seemed likes hours, hardly a word was exchanged between us, we were both tormented and lost souls.

But anyway, I eventually ended up in counselling, and group therapies, but none of them unlocked anything in me.  I received a good education about other peoples' depression, learning that it can affect anyone, young or old and it was sad to witness such loss of life, especially in myself.  I needed more than that, I didn't share the same fears as some people. like going outside, or travelling.  I had already made sure that I broke that cycle, and made a point of leaving my house every day.  I knew that if I didn't, I would end up losing complete control of my life, and I couldn't afford for that to happen.

In the first couple of years I was seriously ill, I tried a plethora of modern day medications, most of which gave  me bad side effects.  But, eventually a balance was reached that seemed to agree with me, and now along with my care team, I am able to increase or decrease as I, feel necessary.  Sometimes, I am in a better place, but most times I'm not, I am still far from being 'out of the woods'.  I have come to terms with the fact, that I will be on a lot of medication for the rest of my life, but if those pills keeping me standing and functional, who I am I to argue?  My daily intake of drugs. ranges between 35 - 40 pills per day, treating me for a host of conditions that walk hand in hand with depression and fibromyalgia.

I was once told that there were three things, than can cure depression,

  1. Sunshine
  2. Laughter
  3. Exercise
Which might sound like a good idea, if you can motivate and drag yourself up in the first place, and then convince yourself that you're going to have a great time!  It's a lot harder to do than you may think.  I remember becoming so completely withdrawn from everything, I didn't want to speak to anyone, hated being in crowded (more than 3 people) situations, couldn't cope with noise around me,  I had literally shut down.  I started having frequent panic attacks, triggered off crazy things, like being a passenger in other peoples cars, and especially at the top of escalators.  I don't know if you've ever been to the Tate Modern, in London, but on my first visit there I was terror stricken, both going up and down on the very high escalators there.  But bit by bit, over the years I have faced and overcome many of my fears, once I realised how irrational I'd become.

I had lost all confidence in myself, and my abilities to do things, this was further compounded by constant questioning whether I was okay to do anything, or suggestions that someone else should do it instead.  None of this helped my self esteem, it only confirmed that they were overwhelmed by the broken woman in front of them.  So I let it go for a while, just kept biting my tongue, as my words of protest always fell on deaf ears.  I lost my smile for a very long time, even I was aware of that, and it felt awful.  I simply stopped enjoying...  All I wanted, was to be left alone with my silence.  I'd heard enough of other peoples recommendations, suggestions, remedies, solutions and comments, everyone seemed to know what was 'best' for me.  Except me.

It became clear to me that, I needed to 'talk' with someone, I needed to find release, I needed a way of venting my frustrations at the turmoil inside my head.  But most of all, I needed someone I could open up to and utterly trust, with such a fragile part of me.  And then she came, in the form of a psyhco-therapist named Margaret, sh was a lovely lady and my time with her was very precious, and she is the lady who truly saved my life.  Sx