‘At Eternity’s Gate’ by Vincent Van Gogh (Wikipedia)
Last night was bad again. The black dog well and truly had me in his jaws and was giving me a good shake. The noises in my mind are getting bad again and the anxiety levels are rising.
The worst thing with the anxiety is that it becomes a vicious circle, one cause of anxiety is the rising anxiety level. It’s true that my anxiety levels rose steeply before my last mental breakdown and my anxiety levels are rising steeply at the moment. Mostly I’m anxious about increasing symptoms of another breakdown and anxious about it becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.
The Princess Who Never Smiled by Viktor Vasnetsov (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Drag, drag, drag.
I don’t know why I bother to get out of bed. I don’t want to do this anymore. Can I please get off?
I have three days of long weekend and nothing happening. Nothing will happen tomorrow, nothing will happen the day after that. On the holiday Monday nothing will happen.
There are two possibilities for tomorrow. It will either be pain or boredom. The day after that there are two possibilities, pain or boredom. As far back as I can remember every day has been either pain or boredom. As far into the future that I look I see only pain or boredom.
I’ve decided to stop taking the anti-depressants. They don’t fix anything and I hate the side effects and dietary restrictions.
(I find it amusing that they call them side effects – with modern anti-depressants the side effects are actually more reliable than any effect they have on depression. Ninety-six percent of all people who start taking antidepressants experience a change in their sexual function and the best they hope for is around 20% of people taking an SSRI will gain a benefit.)
Can I die?
Will somebody please kill me?
If I curl up in this corner and sob quietly will I still get paid? Can I pay my rent if all I ever do is cry?
I like the idea of getting on a plane to the US, going to a gun show in one of those gun-toting redneck states to get a nice large pistol and taking a hike out into the woods.
Would riding my scooter under a truck hurt? It looks easy. Seventy kilometres an hour down the Gore Hill Freeway – just one little twitch and I’m under a truck.
Do I have to play this game? Can’t I lose gracefully?
I could disagree
I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting here on this blog. Truth to be told my depression is currently so bad that I can barely write and when I do it’s so black and dark I can barely get myself to read it over, let alone edit it for public consumption.
I’ve just got over a two week stretch with a chest infection and bad asthma. It wasn’t helped when the first Doctor I saw gave me the wrong antibiotic for a chest infection and it got worse for a week before the right one started fixing it. I’ve been taking so much medication that my body is a mass of bad side-effects. I just tried to have some crackers, cheese and dip for a snack but the skin on the roof of my mouth is sore and it felt like eating daggers. I’m shaking constantly from the steroids and other drugs. I’m also having really bad postural hypotension so standing up is a slow and dizzying process.
At the moment my depression truly has me in it’s grip. I don’t see any reason to keep on living.
I think I make my biggest mistake of the day first thing every morning. I don’t think I can be blamed that my autonomic nervous system kept my heart and lungs working during the night. No, that’s not my fault, but every morning I wake up and open my eyes. Big mistake. On most days that also means I’m starting the process that gets me off to work.
I should be dead now. I’ve been close. My life could have ended several times over the past forty years or so, a victim of depression, the mental illness problem that society constantly denies. I’ve been picked up out of the gutter by Ambulance officers having a massive asthma attack while stoned off my face on a combination of booze, pills and grass. I’ve imagined jumping off a balcony, I’ve thought of driving into a sandstone cliff, I’ve looked at a pile of pills.
Most people realise that suicide is the largest killer of young men under 25. Not many people know that suicide becomes a larger and larger killer the older you are – when measured as deaths per thousand of the population suicide is a bigger problem in older men, it’s just that other causes of death outrank it so we only hear about the young, where it stands out.
I had my first bout of depression when I was in high school though at the time I didn’t realise it was depression and nobody else did either. My mum realised I was not in a good place one day when she was driving me to school. I said:
I don't believe this is Wednesday morning, it feels like Monday morning.
It must have been the way I said it or something because she asked:
Why? What does Monday morning feel like?
Monday mornings I want to be dead.
Oh, that doesn't sound good.
I guess not.
Mum thought that this feeling was due to me “not fitting in” at school. Not fitting in was actually the three years of constant, savage bullying I underwent at Killara High. Killara High is a general public high school in a fairly affluent upper middle class section of Sydney. At the time it had a fairly good academic reputation and was certainly considered one of the best general public high schools in NSW (as distinct from selective public high schools like North Sydney Boys where my friend Robin was bullied).
Sanity is In (Photo credit: Cocoabiscuit)
Today’s Daily Prompt: “Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home.”
Well, the Daily Prompt is repeating itself again. Back in July they asked the same question. Then in my response I skimmed across a number of places that felt distant from home – some physically, some spiritually, some mentally.
This time I’d like to give you a piece of semi-biographical prose. Semi-biographical as I can’t really remember a lot about the time. It was April last year and I suffered a serious mental collapse. I ended up a long way from anywhere I could call “home” .
Facebook log (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I posted the text below to my Facebook account yesterday. I don’t think it requires any more comment from me but I thought you might like to read it.
This long status update is by way of goodbye.
I have decided to (at least temporarily) close my Facebook account. I’m also not going to be tweeting or using LinkedIn.
I will be posting to my blog.
Purdue Cheerleaders at Dallas Pep Rally (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today’s Daily Prompt: “We all know someone who could use a pep talk… so write them one!”
A pep talk. “Pep” – the word is a shortened form of “pepper”. The spice has been known and used for thousands of years and is today the most widely traded spice. The phrase “pep talk” was first used around 1910 but had a surge in the thirties.
I think I’m the one that needs the pep talk. Here I am, recovering from major depression, suffering from constant anxiety, starting a new job, feeling alone and friendless.
So here goes.
My dear friend, you are incredible. Let’s list some talents and virtues.
- You are a warm friend. You are caring and can be relied upon.
- A wonderful father (just look at the result).
- A romantic and generous partner.
- You are extremely well read.
- You’re highly intelligent.
- An experienced and knowledgeable computer tech.
- A decent programmer.
- You quickly learn new tech.
- When it comes to finding a solution you are dogged and determined.
- A fun dancer.
When you are well you are capable of so much. You have an interest in so many things that give you joy. Theatre, literature, art, papercraft, Lego.
Finally, remember that major depression has hit before and you came out the other side. You are capable of rebuilding the shattered mind and once again becoming that amazing man.
So do it!
week-end-pleasure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you enjoy life? Is there a part of your day or your week that you enjoy, something that you do, or something that happens, on a regular basis that gives you pleasure?
It might be something small. It could be as simple as your husband smiling at you, your girlfriend snuggling up to you in bed, cooking for your kids. It could be something big and obvious. When I was Associate Editor at Australian Macworld the monthly arrival of the box of magazines was always a huge buzz.
These are the things that make life worthwhile. Sure, there are the things that occasionally give us pleasure such as a good movie or a nice meal at a restaurant, but these are high spots. The things that count towards making life worth the living are the regular pleasures, the parts of life you enjoy.
Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today’s Daily Prompt: “Tell us about a time you couldn’t quite get your words or images to express what you wanted to express. What do you think the barrier was?”
This happens to me almost every time I sit down and try and write about depression, particularly my own depression. Just a few days ago I tried to write a blog post about the feeling of loneliness and isolation that sometimes overcomes me.
The words came out but they came out haltingly and didn’t ever feel right.
What are the barriers?
Depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the things people find hard to understand with major depression is how debilitating anhedonia can become.
I’ve previously mentioned anhedonia here on this blog but just to remind you anhedonia is defined as the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable, e.g. exercise, hobbies, music, sexual activities or social interactions. It is a symptom of major depression, indeed one of the defining symptoms.
Think about the things you do to relieve stress. Do you have some sort of hobby or pastime? For me, my hobbies were papercraft and Lego. I also enjoyed spending time watching good movies and high quality TV such as David Attenborough documentaries or “The West Wing”. I enjoyed riding my motor scooter and bicycle.
Most people when they are “depressed”, sad or stressed have something they can turn to. When those things, our hobbies, no longer give pleasure then it becomes harder to cope with the stresses of life. I’m still capable of those things, and sometimes still do them, but they no longer bring me joy or pleasure. They are at best time fillers and at worst another failure, a task I can’t complete.
Boredom also becomes a problem. If you no longer gain any pleasure from your pastimes then it is difficult to get through a long night. You can’t settle down and do anything and I often find myself starting to watch a half dozen movies without being able to settle down and watch one.
All of this adds up to a life that is at best grey. I end up defining a good day as “not unhappy” and a good experience as “not boring” rather than “happy” and “exciting” as those possibilities have left me.