I’m aware that a lot of people are unsure how to deal with it when I have a ‘turn’ or let’s be honest, when I get depressed, again.
Although it will never be as bad as it was that first time – once you actually KNOW that you’re depressed, the signs, what to look out for and how to cope with it a little better, I think falling quite so deep into that spiral happens less often – it does happen, and it doesn’t take someone dying, or having a fatal disease, or being penniless. That’s what I always thought. I can’t be depressed, can I? I have no reason to be. Well, brains and brain chemistry, genetics, thought and behavioural patterns don’t work like that. Most of the time it just sneaks up on me, often when I have a lot going on in my life at the same time. It all adds up.
Imagine if you will, one of those joke tins where you open the lid and the fake springy snake pops out? It’s like that….. all the thoughts and stresses and worries of life are being stuffed into the tin and at some point or another, one of them is just too many and the lid just pops right off and that’s me done, I can’t manage to stuff it all back in, I have to sit and deal with it all.
It’s not all about being sad and crying and moping around (although I do tend to cry an awful lot, at the drop of a hat at these times, mostly through the pure frustration and helplessness that I feel in that situation) and it most certainly isn’t about ‘cheering up’, ‘thinking positive’ or ‘pulling myself together’ or any other of the nonsense that someone who has never experienced depression will no doubt say.
It’s about nothing. You feel empty right where there should be joy or rage or in fact any emotion. You feel bereft of anything, rather pointless really. You’re not all that sure why you are put on God’s green Earth because you’re not worth the shit on someone’s shoe.
Getting up is a struggle, being awake seems like the most difficult thing in the world. Being around other people is exhausting because it’s taking everything you have to pretend that you’re there, to nod and smile and make the right noises in the places where you think you should. It’s pretty much taking all that you have not to get up and walk away as quick as you can, back home to where it’s just you, where you feel safe.
The most I will feel during this time is a knot, right at the centre of my chest, a physical sensation that everything is completely tangled up and I have no idea where the start or the end is.
So I back off from everything and everyone for a while. I go to work because I have to but apart from that, I do little else. I say no when I’m invited out, I stay home and mostly in bed. I don’t even go to the shops because I can’t stand people looking at me. Sometimes, I’ll get ready to go out just to get a little way down the road and not want to do it any more. I will get so upset that I will turn around and go home. At my worst, I would force myself out, only to get there, think that everyone was looking at me and thinking how absolutely disgusting I was, have a panic attack and have to leave and go home, feeling even worse about myself. Thankfully, after medication, a fair bit of therapy and successful hypnosis for some awful confidence issues, it’s not this bad.
But this is where the problems lie with relationships, you have to work at them. When I’m having a bad time, I back off, and go quiet and non communicative. People then quite rightly back off in return, they don’t hear from me, or I always say no to invitations, so there’s no contact…and the less contact there is, the less I want and the harder I find it to make contact again.
I know that when you haven’t had any experience of something, it’s very hard to understand. When you’re a positive, outgoing, confident, optimistic person, you don’t see how the smallest thing (a bus driver shouting at you that no, he doesn’t go to Goodge Street) can play on your mind and send you spiraling into an internal monologue of self-doubt but please, try to be emphatic. Try and see. Because honestly, the very worst thing that you can do is turn the other way and ignore it. To tell someone that nothing is wrong, that they shouldn’t feel the way they do. Believe me, they wish with everything that they didn’t feel like this, that they could stop the whirling negativity that constantly spins around their head telling them that they aren’t good enough or how stupid they were to just say that or do whatever it is they just did.
If you really can’t get your head around it, just have a little compassion, drop them a text, tell them you’re there and be there for them when they occasionally pop out of the black cloud. Depression can be terrifying, don’t let someone be terrified and alone.