Sunday, February 26, 2012

Depression - From The Heart...

Part of the Cestrian Dreams Project

"Beautifully written & staggeringly honest" - Neil Gardner

"Depression can make you feel isolated
and lonely"

It seems like a never-ending story. When you are affected so badly, living with so much confusion and anger, it feels as if nothing will ever change. You see the bad patches, taste the negativity of those moments, blinded by clouded judgement. It may even be that you are facing this upset alone, unable to share your fears with a close friend or family member. And even then, do they really understand? Frustration, despair, these all leak in to your world, drowning you further. There is no way out, or perhaps there is - one way to escape the torment...

And yes, I have been there. Still am, battling day to day with depression. Some may say "You'll get over it" or "There's always tomorrow", but isn't that helpful, eh? Tomorrow could be the day you decide to end it all. And then what?

My personal struggle with this mental illness has been hell, I don't mind saying. Even now, it raises its ugly head often, tearing what should have been a perfect day in half. One minute you feel fine, coping brilliantly, then there is a shadow, a spark, and everything changes. It really does. You go from being content to feeling miserable, paranoid, and hurt, inside.

Sometimes it doesn't take much to cause this rapid change. People never seem to understand that. "What happened?" they'll ask. Yet, sadly, there is not always an answer to that question. Your head swims, your thoughts unable to focus, there is tension, a vice-like pain that wants nothing more than to cast you into oblivion.

You panic, want to escape.

That is the danger, wanting to embrace any means of salvation - even suicide! It would be quick, you tell yourself, and the agony will end. I will be free of this. And yes, you would. I am not going to pretend otherwise, it is a choice, of facing the depression head on, being braver than you have ever been, or taking the easy route. I am going to be honest, and admit that suicide has been an option for me - more than that, I have tried to take my life. Your mind looks over the best way, the less painful way: wrists cut, hanging, overdose...

It is scary. But you don't feel there is any other solution. And thoughts of the people you leave behind, you cannot afford to invite those in, it would fill you with doubt, perhaps stop you from taking that yearned-for leap into the void.

I am writing this from my own experiences, so please don't expect answers if you are lost, too. For those you need to ask for help.

Never feel alone - there's support for anyone 24/7. The Samaritans.
Antidepressant medication is not easy in itself. There is no formula as to which tablets work best for each person, everyone is different and their minds are treated as such. What works for one individual might not necessarily work for you. So a change in medication after a test period could be a possibility.

It is true that depressive people tend to blame themselves when faced by negative events, and are unlikely to accept credit for positive outcomes. There is a lack of belief that they can succeed, repeatedly overcome by self-pity.

Depression can make you feel isolated and lonely; your desire to be with someone "special" is overwhelmed by your fear of other people, social situations terrify and force you to stay away. You don't want to engage, or even when you do something sparks off in your head, and you feel the urge to flee. Panic attacks are regular, scary and keep you from finding that outlet.

The following part of this article will be difficult to share, but it needs to be said. This will also be the most personal of all...

Whether or not you invite thoughts of a suicidal nature, there is always another way of decreasing the inner pain: self-harming. This is quite common among people with depression; it is a form of release, allowing the tensions and anger to seep away, just like the blood from a cut.

There are various ways of self-harming. Personally I have cut my arm, banged my head against hard surfaces... anything to escape. To a rational person this is all utter madness, possibly a form of attention-seeking? But self-harm can be the result of two factors: a call for help, or self-control. When everything around you is so out of control, taking something like this, it helps you to focus and feel like you are in charge of your life.

So what triggers self-harming? Anything, quite frankly. Even when you are trying, desperately trying to achieve the next step in recovery, a bad moment, a fatal encounter, will have the affect of absolute chaos. There is the spark in your head, anger or a feeling of hopelessness...

...So you cut...

Writing this article, from the heart, is not easy. Wish I could say that the self-harming is over. Sadly, that is not the case. My issues are ongoing. And yes, I still seek that self-control, from time to time, when things get too bad and there is just no other way to cope.

So what to do, and where to go, when you are in need of help? There are two ways in which you can seek support: your local general practitioner (GP), or the Samaritans. Both will have a friendly ear. Have my personal experiences with outside help been encouraging? I cannot lie, there have been difficult encounters for me, including a short stay at a psychiatric hospital. You didn't know? Of course not, this is something deep and personal. It is only now that I am willing to open up about it. So, are you likely to be placed into one of these if you receive help?

Not necessarily. Everyone's problems are different; I was placed in one for a particular reason, though this is something that I would rather not go through right now, in this article.

I am not here to give support, nor am I here to be judged. I am writing this to raise awareness. If you are out some place, and see a stranger banging his/her head against a wall, or door, shouting, crying, please try not to be too judgemental - your instinct is that they might be dangerous, I know. Perhaps they are. But we never truly know someone's story, do we?

I am one of those crazy people. Yes, it had gotten that bad for me once upon a time. Still could. You never truly know when something breaks you...

...heart, mind and soul.

Article author: Alwyn Ash