Saturday, July 7, 2012

Living With Depression - Not Just The Sufferer

Part of the Cestrian Dreams Project

"My own experience of this has affected someone I care about deeply"
You must want to recover, or at least learn to live with depression, for yourself most of all. But you owe it to those who love you to at least try, never give up.

I guess it is so easy to fall, to embrace the darkness when we are depressed; there is no way out, no solution. No answer. And so we either withdraw further still or hit out. We think only of ourselves. After all, what does anyone else know? They don't have to live with depression. Albeit family, partners or close friends, they simply don't understand, so why should we think about their feelings? And so we spend what feels like an eternity alone, inside our own little space, ignoring the world around us, or trying to ignore. Perhaps we will see a glimmer of light, a moment to be thankful. However, even then, there is that darkness, swallowing us into oblivion once more. The cycle continues...

In February 2012 I wrote Depression - from the heart, an honest and painful article reflecting on my personal experiences with a mental illness that is far more common than you might realise. However, this time I will solely focus on the other side of depression - those who love you, and care for you. If you are lucky enough to have someone in your life who is there to embrace and comfort your heart, there is no doubt that you are one of the lucky few.

So does that solve everything? No, absolutely not. And there are times when you will take this person, or persons, for granted. You will not hold on to them as tight as you should, instead seeking refuge in tears and self-pity. Self-harm perhaps too, anything to cope with mental illness in your own way, and on your own terms?

And though it can be seen as a selfish act, we never truly mean to hurt those who love us. Because we love them, and will often tell them so. On reflection, during the clearest of moments, you will realise just how much pain and worry you have put them through, whether it be intentional or not! But the dark clouds overhead blot out the Sun and, once more, we engage with the inevitable.

My own experience of this has affected someone I care about deeply; she has given such warmth and love, never asking for anything in return. She is my guiding light in a world of mist, confusion and pain. I am thankful. And though I tell her often how special she is to me, it doesn't stop a sense of guilt, the feeling that she would be better off without this burden. But she loves me, and the burden is not as deep as I fear. My heart is safe...

Even still, my decisions sometimes causes further worry and pain. Ignoring my medication, for a start, was not one of my triumphs, choosing to live without Citalopram for a period believing I would finally be better off without it. Instead, I grew worse, clinging on desperately to life as insanity lured me into its shadowy lair.

Struggling and scared, I confided in the one person my heart has embraced, finally persuaded to accept that I need medication - it is not a matter of choice!

There is also a question of the correct medication and dosage. I am yet to find the perfect balance but, with support, I am determined to make it work. Again, no other choice - it is either that or a painful and desperate battle that will rapidly overcome my soul and further decay the hope that is still within reach...

I will say this: you must want to recover, or at least learn to live with depression, for yourself most of all. But you owe it to those who love you to at least try, never give up. As much as they support you, there is only a limit to what they can cope with - a generous heart will hold you so close, keep you safe. But if you refuse to embrace them back and seek refuge in their warmth when needed... Summon the courage to fight.

I know it is not easy. But that is precisely why you should desire the will to overcome depression - you are not alone!

Though I am no counsellor, I can understand some of what you are going through. We are all different, and learn to cope with mental illness in similar and various ways. There is so much that clouds our judgement, exiling us to a place that is neither safe or pain-free. No answers can be sought here.

Look to those who love you for guidance.

Article author: Alwyn Ash