Thursday, 25 February 2016

Depression - A true account

Trigger Warnings: Depression, Anxiety, Suicide, Domestic Violence.

I am posting this today, but I give notice that I wrote this about 12 months ago. I was too vulnerable then to put it out to the world. I'm doing well today, so here goes. Hope it can be of assistance to someone.

I know from time to time, the internet explodes with stories of people living with depression. Usually, this is brought about by a very public disclosure of a celebrity living with depression or having suicided.

My awareness of depression or suicide is simply by being me. I have written this post from my perspective and am not speaking for any other person as everyone's experience is different.

I live with anxiety and depression. It seems, I have lived with them (and suspected PTSD) most of my life due to being a child victim of Domestic Violence, and am now looking at a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD, which explains a lot). I was not diagnosed with Depression formally until I was in my late 40s, despite bouts of Post Natal Depression with both children, and the Anxiety has just been something I have come to understand as being my default because of the Trauma, through much counselling.

Now that I understand and recognise my behaviour when I am anxious or depressed, it makes it easier to see how my life has played out as it has. The contribution that BPD has also made is that I have made bad decisions, life changing ones, in the blink of an eye, because I did not know how to manage my anxiety, mainly because I did not know I had it. I just thought that was me.

I have encountered conflict because I was too anxious to say what I really felt, and being frustrated by this, have displayed anger, I have been walked all over and missed opportunities due to my inability to express my needs or trust in people who might have been able to help me.

Depression and anxiety change who I am, they change the way I live, the way I relate to other people, the way I parent, interact with colleagues, plan my day/week/month, they effect my ability to be punctual and reliable, to make choices about relationships, finances, job opportunities, education. They steal away my chances at a better life if I simply cannot perform at the level I need to in any given situation.

For anyone reading this right now who is thinking I am over dramatising this, or why don't you just take Anti Depressants, practice Mindfulness, learn Yoga and Meditation, get a hobby, cheer up … Firstly, here is a link to Beyond Blue so you can educate yourself as to what Depression actually is, secondly, how Depression is managed is different for every single person and usually involves a combination of many things, including support and understanding from others. Not forgetting my other diagnosis'.

There are thousands of Anti Depressants on the market. Currently, I am trying my 4th type in 12 months because the particular medication I had been on for a number of years, when increased to combat Anxiety brought on by a major life trauma, only made the anxiety worse, so I had to find another medication that would work for me. I am still looking, trying one after the other, experiencing side effects that cannot be lived with such as nose bleeds, blurred vision, insomnia, constipation, dry mouth, increased anxiety/depression, vertigo, exhaustion, high blood pressure etc, and therefore moving on to the next medication to see if it suits me.

The reason I have decided to write about this today is that I know others who also have bouts of or live daily with depression, anxiety and PTSD, and I know of people who, when a disclosure is made, want to help. But don't know how.

The last time I had a really bad day and decided to disclose to a friend who had encouraged me to call her "anytime, day or night" she was so overwhelmed by my emotions, she admitted later to me that she nearly had me scheduled. For those of you who are not aware of what that means, it is being taken to hospital for a period of 72 hours against your will, usually by Police, with no option to leave. What I had needed was for her to listen to me talk and cry (sob really) and possibly share a cup of tea, but I could not express that.

When I am at my darkest with depression, it is due to the negative self talk that I fight every day, having won dominance. I start to doubt my ability to do anything. I question my worth and my value, I believe that the people who have offered to take my calls day or night, are not genuine because they never phone me … I understand why people never phone me, who would want to talk to or spend time with a person who is depressed? And so, I will not phone them.

Catch 22 … Connectedness is a major factor in combating depression, but when people do not phone me or invite me or call in to see me, that is exactly what I lack, connectedness. I have many people say, "Let's have coffee" or lunch or go out or …. But they never follow up, they wait for me to call, but I won't, because I don't want to burden them with me, to interrupt their lives, to use up time they would prefer to be spending with their families.

While R U OK? Day is a great program, very few people truly understand what it is about. It is about starting conversations. It is NOT about phoning a friend once a year to see if they are ok.

If you truly want to help a friend who is living with any Mental Health issue, ask them what they need, have that conversation, keep having that conversation, regularly, then you will know how to help them.

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