On depression: Feb 2016

I don’t usually do very personal posts, so if you’re not up to reading about depression, there’s some of my latest reviews, a short story, or I highly recommend Reddit’s r/aww!

So, me; I’ve been struggling pretty badly with depression for the last few weeks. I had it pretty severely for two years back in 2013/2014, but I’ve been off medication for over a year now and so far, I’ve coped fine. For whatever reason – irritatingly, I don’t have triggers for my depression – it’s come back with a vengance these last few weeks. I couldn’t make SFW last Saturday thanks to being a complete mess (and I mean complete, I wasn’t even in a functioning state for most of the morning). I do ok with people at work because I go into auto-mode, but left to myself, or with people that know about it…I’m not good.

Everyone’s depression is different. Mine is, currently, anxiety-based; I don’t have the standard ups and downs of life, the gentle curves of “life’s ok” to “life’s not ok”. I have “I’m dancing round the kitchen baking” and then five minutes and one thought later, I’ll be curled in a ball on the floor sobbing. It’s not fun and while it’s mostly under my control, it’s a real, horrible struggle.

At the moment, I’m fighting what I call the anxiety-thoughts. For most things, I already have the defences in place; I was lucky enough as a child to have a postive family who taught me to recognise when I was thinking badly of myself, and to put things in perspective. “I’ve done one thing badly” does not equal “I’m shit” – a lesson that a lot of people need to learn! (Insert annoyed rant about people saying this). It’s not that you “can’t” do it – work out where the problem is and break it down into smaller chunks. It’s all manageable.

But my brain, at the moment, has times of pure panic. I let my imagination go because I need it for writing, but then it comes back with ridiculous scenarios and because they’re slightly plausible, they’ve gone through my head before I can stop them. Partly, I know it’s because I’m worried about other things and therefore I’m in worry-mode anyway. But seriously, brain, why are you telling me that I’m going to be an awful mother because my non-existant 15-year old has strayed down the wrong path and is now doing drugs and you’ll have to kick them out of the house and IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT. I mean, seriously? But that had me actively having to fight the paranoia and fear for a good few minutes, when usually I’d see how ridiculous the scenario is.

I’m also fighting the “I’m useless” thoughts, which is when I know I’m having a bad time. It’s the general “why do people like me?” feelings, and even when I get compliments and reassurance, I think they’re lying. I feel useless, and I feel that I can’t do anything. I wonder why I’m still around, what use I am, if there’s anything else in life worth living for; is it just an endless path where nothing happens, where I’ll treat every bump of happiness or tears with the same indifference? What’s the point of continuing if I’m not going to make any sort of difference?

The worst thing, right now, is that those thoughts are reasonable. Depression isn’t some outside alien; it’s me talking to me. It’s the brain and the thoughts that I usually listen to. So when I’m thinking “I’d be better off just removing myself from this world”, that’s my own head telling me that! It’s really frustrating and it’s really difficult; I actively have to try to work out what’s ‘normal’ and what isn’t, and what I should be listening to. It’s making life decisions particularly hard and it definitely doesn’t help with day-to-day living, although that it more copeable.

And nothing helps. Depression is not a cureable illness. I already have a brilliant life; I have a wonderful husband, home, job. I can write, I’m getting published, I’m happy with my writing. I’m crafty and active and I have wonderful friends. Sure, it’d be nice if I had more money, or an amazing job that let me travel constantly…but there is nothing wrong. There is no “this would make it better” factor. That seems to be something that people don’t get about depression; there is no cause. It is not like your “oh I had a bad year once with money worries”. It is not grief, or unhappiness at a situation. They’re as bad, but they are – potentially – fixable, and something that time can change. Depression has no such boundaries and no such reassurance.

So. I partly wanted to write this as a reminder to myself; I am currently struggling, yes, but I haven’t always been struggling, and I won’t be struggling in the future. This is life with depression. I’ve been ok for a year, now I’m not ok. But I’m a writer. I have a family. I have friends, a job, people who love me, responsibilities, a good life. I struggle, but I am ok, and I will be ok.

It does get better.

And partly as something for others. You are not the only one out there; and you can do it. I might not be able to believe in myself when my brain’s gone screwy, but I believe in you. Depression isn’t everything – you will get through this. I know I can, and I know you can.