Mental Health – Depression

“Sometimes, a friendly chat is all that one needs to feel connected to the world.”

As I typed this last sentence on my previous blog entry, I realised that really, it is all anyone can ever give to people. For we are all ultimately in control of our lives, and how we react to our experiences.

I have been thinking about mental health and how I can help that cause, since my experiences with it gives me a good understanding of the issue.

I have been observing, thanks to the internet, what is happening in the world with regards to Mental Health and can see that people are starting to get it – only by facing yourself fully can you get out of mental health issues.

I fell on a great video the other day on Ted of a woman talking about her experience with “hearing voices”, and she put into words exactly everything I have realised about mental health issues, it was great to see – the best bit was to see over 1 million people had seen her video.

And so I don’t need to try and shake the world out of their belief mental health is to be treated with medication and shame. Other people are doing that, and they are doing a much better job than I could ever do.

However, there is one bit of mental health I really want to do my bit about – and that is depression. And ultimately, I see that out of all the mental illnesses, there is no “cure” as yet. Although there are many many books written on the subject – I know because I read quite a few when I was going through depression myself – and all are talking about a black dog taking over your life and learning to live with it so it doesn’t overtake your life anymore.

There are also many forums where people share their experiences in the hope it will help them – and whilst I agree it is great to realise you are not alone, I found it didn’t help me, the same ideas that I had read in the books were going around those forums, there was nothing new there.

This is the only mental illness I still fear for myself.

I had never experienced depression before I moved back to the UK, I was always quite a cheerful person in fact, especially when the circumstances were right – and to suddenly find myself plunged in the depth of despair was very traumatic for me, I tried as hard as I could not to be dragged down, anyway I could, did everything I knew was supposed to help, exercised, walked in nature, look at positive stuff, try to understand my depression etc, yet I was constantly being pulled from underneath and started to sink. To the point that I just wanted to die.

I have mentioned before, the only reason why I didn’t actually kill myself was thanks to my dog. I couldn’t find a way to do it while ensuring his safety. I even thought of taking him with me, but was worried what would happen if I failed my suicide and found I had killed him, or if I succeeded my attempt but he’d still be alive – who would rescue him then?

And so I got myself to the doctors and demanded medication, which my doctor had resisted giving me until then. It took a lot for me to do this as I am scared of medication – and the few people I knew in my life who had taken medication for depression told me being on it and coming off it was worse than the depression itself – so I was pretty desperate when I got myself to the doctors and said I needed help through medication and I wouldn’t take no for an answer.

And it worked, the new doctor I saw gave me a low dosage of anti-depressants and within weeks, the black cloud lifted. I came off the medication soon after that too, as I was conscious staying on it too long could be addictive. And I knew I would be fine, I just needed that stupid black cloud to go away.

Recently, two people in my life came off anti-depressants soon after meeting me.

One who isn’t in my life much, a girl I met via the Social Group I had created on Facebook and whom, to be honest, I have kept my distance from as she seemed very unstable. That group though seemed to help her take positive decisions in her life, and she has thanked me on occasions for creating it. She recently announced, clumsily, on facebook that she had decided to quit the meds and start living again. I shall try and keep informed how she is doing as she hasn’t really been in touch much since I left Facebook, but I am pleased she has decided to take control over her life again and I hope she is successful.

The other person is my new guy friend – I only found out when we met the second time that he was medicating for depression and he has since gradually stopped his medication.

I am trying to understand how people shift their perceptions that it enables them to decide to free themselves from depression – I know I couldn’t, despite all I was trying – and had to resort to medication.

The only thing that I can see is that maybe, all it takes is a friendly ear. An independent, no agenda friendly ear.

And looking back, this is what I missed when I was going through my depression. The rare people who were trying to help me had an agenda, they wanted me better. Whether it was my family, or the medical profession – I attended CBT sessions too – all wanted me better. And so the pressure they put on me made it all the harder for me, I felt I was failing them, and myself, by not being able to get better – and so I started to shut them off too. I was tired of hearing their own despair, in the case of my family – in their voice. In fact, I now realise the only person who made a difference to me in that time was my brother – I remember chatting with him one day explaining how bad I was feeling and he said “You’ll get there, I have faith in you – you can do it”.

And then there was my mate who lodged with me recently. He would come every night to walk Frodo and Sam with me during the week. No pressure, no heavy talking, no trying to help me, just there, and go for a walk with me. I have mentioned before, this was my only lifeline during that time.

So I am getting the picture that people with depression just really need someone or someones just to be there.

I know there is the Samaritans, and I did call them during that period once, but even they have an agenda, to prevent you from wanting to kill yourself. And so I really didn’t find it useful, they were interested in getting me out of my rut. Well, no-one could get me out of my rut at the time. Not even me. And that’s what scares me about depression, it really is like something takes over you and will push you down no matter what. And it touches a wide variety of people in this world, with no discrimination. Kids even get depressed! And animals too as I believe my dog did too when his lovely, happy world got turned upside down and he lost my husband, who he loved too and got stuck with me who wasn’t a fun person anymore.

I am realising that maybe the only people who can actually help you during your depression are those who just don’t care about it. 

I know when my new friend told me he had depression and he had been medicated for a long while through it, I instantly felt detached from him. I knew I couldn’t help him, and nor I wanted to. By then I had started my disconnection from people and depression was definitely something I wanted to leave well alone. I liked him, a lot, but I wasn’t going to get involved in that side of him.

And since, he has taken his own decisions about coming off medication and done his own thing, occasionally updating me on his progress, although I never ask these days. Yesterday, he told me he hadn’t taken his medication in over two weeks and made some joke about something else to which I responded “lol” – the fact that he hadn’t taken his medication for two weeks really registered nothing with me. Not even a well done. I don’t know how he feels about it, whether he was expecting me to say anything or congratulate him, but I just didn’t care truth be told.

Maybe that’s the answer to helping people through depression – it’s to just not care. I am not saying I don’t care about him, of course I do, and I want him to be happy – but I just don’t care how he does it. 

Maybe if people stopped putting so much pressure on people to get out of depression, maybe they will.

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