So pretty much a year on from my last World Mental Health Day post I figured it was a good time to provide an update on where I’m at with my mental health issues.
I had to back through some of my old posts to figure out what had changed, if anything. I would say on the whole, there have been some changes, more for the good I guess.
The main change is that I am receiving treatment for my depression, in the form of antidepressants, which I’m on the highest dose of this particular drug. I’m also going to counselling every couple of weeks. I think for me the two side by side have worked well for me, so it will be good to see where I go from here.
In terms of my overall outlook, it’s getting better, I still have bad days to struggle through every so often, but they’re more manageable now, so that’s progress I guess. I’ve done things that I’m proud of since this time last year that have helped, I ran three half marathons in three and a bit months (my body still hasn’t forgiven for that), I’ve started learning the guitar, unfortunately I’m still a way off being a mega rock star.
So things are going OK I guess and we shall see what happens.
As I’m sure many people are aware this week is mental health awareness week, also if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I’ve struggled with depression over the last couple of years. It has been quite severe at times, to the point where I admitted on this blog that I was suicidal. I thought this would be a good reason to try and get up a few posts this week, to share some experiences and as an update on my journey through recovery.
A large part of the reason why I have posted about my own mental health on previous occasions is I hope I can provide a starting point for a conversation about mental illness in order to help break the stigma that is attached to the subject. I feel once we as a society overcome this hurdle, we will be a big step towards making it an easier burden to bear for those who are suffering.
Depression an all-consuming, oppressive illness that poisons everything in a persons’ life, it can be all they ever think about, it swallows them whole. I have found that there is little warning for when a depressive episode might occur, even if I might be in a “good period” I know it will never last. Medication really only works in conjunction with other things, in order to get the most out of it, in my personal experience, it needs to be paired with other treatments like CBT or other forms of counselling and therapy. I have found having a neutral person to talk to be very helpful.
Every person will experience mental illness differently, some people will regress and others won’t. Either way please be pantient with those that are experiencing any sort of mental illness, recovery is not a straight line from A to B. As with most things in life, things don’t go to plan due to any number of factors, mental illness is expecially complicated, because it is your brain that is sick.
Depression will always be with me I reckon, I see myself as permanently damaged goods and I’ve kind of come to accept that I will probably feel this to a certain extent for the rest of my life. Does it suck? absolutely, will it get easier to bear? I hope so.
It can often be hard to describe to depression to those that have never suffered it, I hear people often describe it as a black dog and after thinking on that bit in the last week or so, I find myself think that a dog isn’t the best way to describe it. To me describing depression as a dog suggests that on some level it has a friendly or loving side and it’s something that a person can learn to live despite its quirks and unusual behaviours. Depression is more of cunning, evil and predatory “animal” if that’s the theme that we’re going with.
Depression uses your own mind, thoughts and voice against you as it twists and bends them to its own will, it prey’s on any weakness it can sense and uses your own inner monologue to convince you that you don’t deserve to live or be loved or to have friends. It uses your own voice to convince you that the world would be better off without you and that you should do yourself harm. It can clutch in fear of doing the simplest things, it sucks you dry of motivation and impedes your concentration.
Depression can make things you used to love doing into hateful chores and make essential tasks painfully unimportant. Jobs and chores become smothering and oppressive you avoid them because you know there’s no point to tackling them in the long run. You begin to lose sight in doing any different from what you currently do, so depression brings you with it down the dark downward spiralling path into its shadowy den and it keeps you on a short leash to break your will and to keep you as a slave to keep it fed.
The black dog image, to me, gives the sense of something you can grapple or wrestle with, something that can be taken on and can be taken on alone, depression isn’t that though, hence why I’m wary to depict it as an animal, an animal gives it a physical form that can be fought or taken on. Depression is like more like a cloud or a mist something that’s clearly there but hard to get to grips with. Depression is vague and ever-changing dense and smothering but something you carry everywhere you go.
Depression is like fighting through deep water whilst walking on shifting ground, trying to reach a target that is constantly on the move. When it’s bad it’s almost sickening, it all you can think about, the only choices are either to try to keep going or to give up.
That’s not to say it’s all bad, some days are good and there are more of them coming.
As it was world mental day yesterday I feel an update from my last post would be appropriate. In the weeks since that post I have resumed treatment for my Depression I have restarted taking medication and I have also started having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
As I understand it CBT is a “reprogramming” of your thought process in order to try and get a more positive and constructive thought process. It’s still early days in terms of the CBT so what effect it will have in conjunction with medication will become clearer later on.
In terms of how I’m feeling, it still feels like I have a long way to go to get better. At best I feel kind of flat and everything is a sort of dull and fuzzy, with the occasional spike of something other than depression. These spike are sporadic and not very often.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is things are different but not necessarily better. I still have more than a few bad days and they seem more intense on than before. The voice that says I should kill myself seems more convincing, more regular, more insistent. Some days I think today is the day that I’ll do it.
Paradoxically I believe I can get better but at the moment I’m not doing it for me or because I want to get better. I think I want to get better for the sake of other people. This is what I must hold on to, it is my only driving force at the moment even if it is struggling.
The Ainsworth motto apparently is “spero meliora” or “I hope for better things (for the better)” so hope I must, hope that CBT works and that those who are willing and patient enough to put up with me continue to do so.