I’ve had this in my drafts folder of my blog for an awfully long time, but I’ve been touched by a recent friend of mine that is going through a lot that I feel this is the time to share this.I don’t share this to put the emphasise on me or to expect sympathy or pity in this regard, I share this because a friend in need thinks they are alone and thinks there is no hope, so I hope by me sharing my experiences and putting my struggles out there encourages people who feel the same way to seek help or find a way to talk to someone about it. Because believe me when I say that this is hard and difficult to say, but If it ultimately helps someone then It is worth doing and I hope that it does with someone. And trust me when I say I should of said this way earlier than now because sharing ultimately is for the better, no mater how hard the subject is.
Its worth pointing out that I am not a doctor, I am just speaking from my own experiences and trying my best to describe the feelings that I experienced at the time that I felt them. Because the most difficult line that everyone has difficulty saying or hearing is….I am depressed. I am a depressed person. Because the first reaction usually is that if your the depressed person, you think your life is over, or you don’t know what it really means or even worse you are not even aware you have it. Also, what do you do if your the one being told by the depressed person? you’ll most likely feel helpless to help, and sometimes don’t know how to help someone in that condition because you too don’t feel capable.
To me that is a crucial and important point. I am often hearing people say ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I do not feel capable’ and it makes me concerned that the solution to certain people with depression is ‘it will pass’ or ‘lets do nothing about it’ which is not a solution at all -to anything never mind depression. If you are a depressed person you can do something about it but it is having the knowledge to help yourself in the right way and the best way. For Example, if your want time to yourself when your sad, that is perfectly normal, but if all you are doing is spending time alone,feeling lost, insecure and unsociable for a longer period of time there is most likely something more going on than anyone is aware of. If you are aware of that, you need to know that you need to make the brave step of telling someone, and most likely getting help by visiting your doctor. Because you are worth something, you are interesting and worth getting to know, you are being told by your poorly brain lies and it needs help getting better. Unfortunately, as I will explain in my experience, a persons first instinct when depressed is to hide, because they are ashamed and embarrassed of what people will think of them. Hopefully anyone reading this that does think they know someone depressed recognises this and tries to help them, because you can help a depressed person, by simply letting them know that you are there as they will need you at some point. The key is it is not their fault and they will get better with help as you will now read through my experience.
All I can say with complete confidence is that I am a depressed person. It was only when I started getting therapy sessions that I realised how depressed I am, and will be for the rest of my life. My first recollection during these sessions was going back to seeing myself growing up feeling utter rage and energy that was very difficult to handle. It would start in my gut and build and build and build until I tried anything that I could to let it loose and try and get under control without anyone noticing. What I was also aware of is how fast my mind works or how slow the world around me felt and feels still to this day. Everything around me just seemed so unbelievably slow and whenever I would listen I’d be around 5 thoughts ahead of my own thoughts. To give an example, Id say ‘how are you?’ Then id be thinking ‘I’m good, well not really but best be polite, wow they look nice, better than me, oh god I hate this, I want this to end they hate me’ by the time they said ‘I’m good thanks’. And I was finding it completely unbearable to control. And I would say this was from around 8 years old, with the odd memory before that feeling the same way.
One of the worst times I ever felt this way was the time I finally got diagnosed with my condition. I was getting angrier and more irritable, and my brain kept telling me that life is just a total disappointment. I got some sort of release by writing songs, I have written something like 3000 songs since I was about 14 and I put about 200 of them on my wall as each individual incident and memory to look at. But that stopped working after a while, because as it gets worse and worse you cant find the words to say what your suffering any more. And to be totally honest, I stopped hanging out with my entire social circle because of that. It wasn’t because they didn’t care, I just took myself out of every possibility that someone would find out about my horrible secret. The hardest bit to talk about is that I spent every single day and every single second wanting to die. I cant say it any other way to make it any clearer or as poignant. I had a plan that I thought out every Inch and detail on how I would do it. Nothing was interesting, I stopped looking after myself more than usual and I stopped being productive. I just did not think that anyone would understand what I was going through and It was never I can honestly say a cry for help. Because I hadn’t told anyone. The first help I got was a total accident. I sat in a history lesson ( I remember every detail) and I resented everything that moved. And something that had never happened throughout my struggles was that I cried. Uncontrollably. I asked to be excused and never went back. Was is hard to admit but true is that I really did this next bit because I was so embarrassed that I went to my form tutor upstairs to tell her something, anything to get out of school. To her credit, She knew that I was trying desperately to not reveal anything and just exploded with fear and crying my eyes out that she took me straight to get an emergency appointment. Now what I am ashamed to say is that I even considered not going in to the appointment. But I still treated it half heartedly cos I kept thinking ‘doesn’t matter because I can go home and will myself to take my own life’. As difficult as it is to say it is the truth. The GP gave me some medication and I got some sort of release for a limited time. But I was getting very little support and very little help because I wasn’t telling people the truth or giving people the opportunity to help me. But as the title of this blog says, depression lies , tells you things that does not speak the truth but its all you ever hear and it wont let you have a seconds rest telling you your shit, worthless, and no one cares and you shouldnt try with anyone or anything anymore. But its not the truth, and you can beat it. The hard part is admitting that you need help. The rest will come I promise you.
My second confession is my worst episode in my life. I started getting worse, What people don’t know is that I got special consideration to go to university because my work was suffering. The last thing I wanted to was to pick up a pen other than writing that dreaded word ‘depressing’ songs over and over again. The same thing happened at university at first year, in that my work and life suffered and I started drinking and smoking. I was trying so hard to stop thinking the way I felt, lonely, tired, bored, uninterested and uninteresting to others. I was trying to find a way to not live. Luckily I had a bunch of friends who saw this when I got heavy handed with drink, rage and strange behavior and had a full blown manic episode. I was crying in my kitchen and scared to look at anything and to be brutal I was beginning to self harm. They called the police and the ambulance without my knowledge and I walked out, they wrestled me to the ground and took me straight to hospital. I honestly don’t remember what I thought other than I felt betrayed by my friends (horrible to think I know) but I definitely felt like I had an outer body experience which was later one of a series of manic episodes I had had throughout my life. Its worth noting that these friends don’t speak to me anymore, I wasn’t a nice person throughout this, and I can understand them for choosing that path of not forgiving me,but the fact remains, without their intervention I wouldn’t be here telling my story. What I will say Is its really hard to be grateful and put things in perspective because I was not all there. I refuse to use that as an excuse, its simply the truth that I do not remember a great deal of what I was doing and I felt totally out of control and I apologised after I recovered, thats the least I can do.
The strangest feeling about the whole thing was I remember not caring even when I was escorted into the hospital which I found to be a psychiatric ward and I sat in a room that resembled an interrogation room from a CSI type show. I waited what seemed like days and two guys with white coats came and I found myself saying everything, honestly and as accurately as I could. And the first thing they said was it was amazing how much I recognised what I was going through, which confused me and my response I think gave them all the data that they needed,-‘but I’ve been struggling with this for years’. As they left, the most important moment happened. I looked around my surroundings and I pretended to be in a cop show, which sounds dumb, but what was so crucial was I laughed, and I really meant it. I’d got my sense of humour back and honestly, something as simple as that lasted me the recovery period, I somehow knew the war was beginning to end. I was immediately put with the crisis team who basically look after you for the first amount of weeks essentially they are suicide watch and I began seeing a doctor everyday to be treated. He put me on such strong medication that It knocked me out at night and then they went about getting a therapist to see me who is my therapist to this day. During these sessions and through specialist doctors they diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder, and it was like the puzzle of my life had finally been solved. I wasnt weird, I have an overactive brain, im poorly and I need help. I will need help forever, but I learnt to accept it.
So what now? I currently don’t take any medication and Im pleased to say I have better days than I do bad days, my bad days usually come In clusters where for about a week I really struggle to be motivated to do anything. But I do have extremes of moods that really are difficult to manage, but It really is a case for me now to say I know what this is and try to manage each episode as it comes. Anyone thats seen stephen fry’s documentary will know that I do get the other side, massive europhia moments where I am literally on cloud nine. Unfortunately they come so sparingly that its hard to wait for. But just like in the documentary, I too wouldn’t press the button to stop being bipolar if I had the choice. Because the high moments are moments you wish you could give anyone, and are better than any drug.
I believe in telling the truth, cos lies just like what depression tells us does not help anyone, so truthfully I struggle and its a battle I may not win and that’s something I know since I first got told. A high percentage of bipolar sufferers unfortunately do commit suicide and I hope that I do not take that road. But truthfully, as of today like most days, I thought about how convenient it would be if a car accidentally hit me. Death would be fine. Luckily I feel better just in writing about this, writing for me is a therapy no question and in most cases can calm me down a notch. The reason I say that is I am here, I am beating the statistics, so if you have any form of mental health, you can beat it with the right help.
But there is help out there, practical help. I know if I need to go to my therapist I will go there and I will talk to her about things. Or if I need medication I will consider going back on them, I realise sometimes I need that help to get there and I have no issues going on them if it all gets too much. They saved my life more than once so I know it will help. The thing that I wish would help with depression, is that there is such a stigma and lack of understanding involved, and all the proof that I need to show is this lack of knowledge nearly killed me, cos I had no idea what I was going through. The problem is in a general sense that far too many people misunderstand what depression is. Maybe they should change the name of it because it is often associated with the natural process of feeling down. But if you have lost your job, accidentally set your house on fire, are annoyed at your partner for a legit reason, then you naturally will feel down and upset. Depression is when it is unnatural, when you have the perfect relationship and just got a pay rise and still feel like jumping off the nearest bridge. Obviously the spectrum is fairly wide, but unfortunately, it is far easier and cheaper to give people medication then do therapy and get to the root of the problem. Like I said at the beginning I am not a doctor, and its really difficult to diagnose, but if we all know more, by having being more informed we can make a better judgement surely?
Its a bit like seeing someone with a broken leg, if they are struggling, if your a good person you’d hold a door open for them. just because depression or mental health is internal, just because its our brain that’s broken, why should it be any different?
And as I said earlier, if you think someone is in danger, or feels anything like I have said, please do something about it, they will thank you for it if they are one of the lucky ones that get better. I hear far too many people say to others ‘you will never understand’ and that worries me, because I’m one that does know a bit about it, and I hope even in small way, I’ve helped by reaching out and telling my story, It has really been difficult for me to, but I hope it is worth it and helps someone realise they are not alone and you can cope with your condition. People have said to me this is brave, but this is not brave, being brave is being open and honest to say ‘I need help’. It gets easier from then on in , believe me. I hope you take the leap.
Because I noticed recently, its been 8 years since I got diagnosed this month, and I really am grateful to be here, cos I shouldn’t be.
Depression lies, so lets be honest and tell the truth…because it ultimately is for the better of everyone.