Originally published 15th July 2012 on http://belindawrites.tumblr.com/
Republished here with minor corrections.
Today was one of those days. When most people have one of those days it implies that they felt a little off, maybe it seemed like the world was working against them or they just wanted to start the day again. For myself and many other individuals who endure depression one of those days is experienced differently.
Note I used the term endure as opposed to suffer. There is reason behind this. According to the dictionary app on my trusty smart phone, the definition of suffer is “to feel pain or distress”. At times this is an accurate description of what you experience during a depressive period. Often though I feel nothing, and it is the numbness that really sucks.
At this point I must say that depression and mental illness is not a cookie cutter, one side fits all condition and I am not a medical or trained professional on this topic. I have been treated for depression/mental health problems on and off since I was seventeen years old so I am simply speaking from what I’ve learnt or experienced in my own life as result of this. If you have any specific concerns or questions I recommend you contact Beyond Blue, Lifeline or talk to your GP.
I choose to say endure depression as (lets consult that phone app again) endure is defined as “to carry on through, despite hardships, to bear with tolerance”. Because I am not new to these feelings I now endure depression. I have undergone various incarnations of therapy from talking to my GP’s, councillors, psychologists and also psychiatrists as well as being on anti-depressant medication three separate times. Depression for me at least is not something that will ever ‘go away’ or that I’ll be cured off. As my most recent therapist said, and I paraphrase “you will always be more emotionally sensitive than most people”.
So today was one of those days, it wasn’t a bad day, but it wasn’t a healthy day. Let me explain. A bad day on depression is one where I don’t feel at all in control of myself, my emotions or my actions. You can speculate how this may play out. Generally I become crippled with sadness and undertake very harmful behaviour towards myself, or am completely neglectful of my basic needs. One of those days or a non-healthy day for me is a day where I’m numb or slightly down and I have no motivation. Days like this entail sleeping a lot – either getting up in the afternoon or having a long nap at some point, eating junk food – often gorging and eating too much or barely eating at all, doing nothing – sitting on the couch watching anything but not really engaging with it, lying in bed thinking negative thoughts, difficulty doing basic tasks like getting dressed or brushing your teeth – this stuff seems arduous and pointless… OK I think you get the drift.
Days like this can easily spiral into a bad day (or of course with depression we’re not talking a day here or there, moods like this can last for several days. Two weeks is the golden number for seeking professional help if you haven’t already. I’m speaking in broad terms so please talk to the professionals for more detailed information). I’ve had three points of rock bottom – the first around seventeen years old, the second in my mid – late twenties and the third this year. Each rock bottom is different and unfortunately I’ll probably have future points of rock bottom. When I say rock bottom it’s the point where I realize I’m not coping and I need professional intervention, in particular medication.
There are two particularly frustrating points that come with my version of one of those days. One I know what I should do to avoid depressive moods: eat right, maintain a regular sleeping pattern, exercise, go about my daily routine, maintain social contact, blah, blah, blah… but of course actually doing this appears the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest in six inch stilettos while dragging a truck tire behind me. The second incredibly frustrating aspect is the guilt. Because I know what I should be doing to maintain my mental health, but because I can’t bring myself too I feel incredibly guilty that I’m not taking responsibility for myself and that guilt will then lead to self loathing which of course can complete the nasty depressive cycle of dragging me into a bad day.
For me at least I’ve found that much like keeping a record of your diet when you’re trying to lose weight or recording details of your workouts when trying to get fit recording your moods, symptoms, triggers and the counter measures you take is very helpful in enduring depression. There are now fantastic phone apps that allow you to do this. I use an app called Optimism (www.findingoptimism.com or see the iPhone app store) and would recommend it. This app sends push notifications reminding me to fill it out and also allows me to email the charts and records so I can then print them out or if needed show them to my health care professional.
I try not to dwell on the guilt of having one of those days. I’d rather have a few those days than even half a bad day and getting sucked into the guilt of my those days behaviour will only make a bad day more likely. This also leads me to explain my motivation for this blog post (a rare occurrence that I would like to be a much more common habit). Awareness and acceptance of depression and mental illness has grown greatly since I first experienced problems at the age of seventeen. I believe that it is important to dispel the taboos around this subject and to be more open about it, to write or express my experiences is my way of doing that. Secrets and silence are killers when it comes to mental illness!!!
Please, if you are concerned about yourself or someone else – help is available
Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au
Lifeline: 13 11 14
First step tell someone, at least admit to yourself if you’re not doing ok: its ok, to not be ok.
So until next time… let’s hope that tomorrow is a good day.