Living with Depression….

I have spent the best part of a year wanting to write this blog, that’s how long it has taken me to work out what I would put in it…

My name is Kevin and I suffer from Depression…Nine words but similar to an Alcoholic making that first step it is often the hardest nine words for a person suffering from this horrible illness to say in public.

To some who know me they will be surprised, maybe shocked…for others they may think to themselves ‘well that explains a lot’…everyone reacts differently. There are those happy people whose lives are so perfect that they think ‘get a grip’ or ‘pull yourself together’ are the best responses when faced with someone suffering from a mental illness…for anyone thinking that now…it is your opinion but anything you say to me (or probably any other person suffering) after those words is meaningless as we will have switched off to you by that point, I try not to engage with people who have no idea what they are talking about.

As I stare at this page I still don’t know what is going to come next, this may be a long blog, a short one, maybe a blog in many parts…who knows.

Firstly the facts:

I was diagnosed by my doctor in January of 2011 as suffering from Clinical Depression. For those not sure of the meaning it is described thus by the UHS Tang Center in America (probably the best description I found)

‘Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Individuals with clinical depression are unable to function as they used to. Often they have lost interest in activities that were once enjoyable to them, and feel sad and hopeless for extended periods of time. Clinical depression is not the same as feeling sad or depressed for a few days and then feeling better. It can affect your body, mood, thoughts, and behavior. It can change your eating habits, how you feel and think, your ability to work and study, and how you interact with people. People who suffer from clinical depression often report that they “don’t feel like themselves anymore.’

That pretty much sums up how I feel and have felt for quite some time.

My depression may have been diagnosed in 2011 but in reality it is something I know myself I have lived with for much longer. Like a typical bloke it just took me far too long to seek help for what was going on. Back in 2008 in the final 5-6 months that I lived in Ireland I went through an episode which when relayed back to my Doctor seemed pretty convincing to him that I had suffered some form of breakdown. I practically tore myself apart during those months before I left Ireland to return to Scotland. Day after Day my behaviour and feelings in relation to my work were crying out for something but I didn’t seek the help I should have.

One aspect of my depression is anger, I get angry at the slightest things sometimes, often for no rational reason! Thankfully when I spend most of the day on my own no-one else see’s this aspect of me and I try hard not to let it get the better of me. In those final months in Ireland I was very angry and it consumed everything I did even if others didn’t see it. I made some silly decisions, my whole character changed and everyday at work was a challenge not to explode. I worked for idiots in my mind and everything they did brought me further and further down, I was convinced they were going to destroy my career and in the end I probably managed to do that myself without their help.

I try very hard to forget the things that happened to me in those months, it has never been easy, especially as many of my former colleagues are still in contact through Facebook but as time has passed I have managed to put the worst of what happened behind me and the daily struggles of life now mean that I rarely give it a second thought, maybe I will think about it more having written this but hopefully not for too long.

In those final months of 2008 everything I worked for pretty much crashed around me and now over 3 years later my life is still in limbo because of it, the only difference is that now I know what is going on, and what happened, and with the help of medication I can try and face each day without slipping back into that feeling. It is not easy, someday’s it is really hard and in those days I tend to just keep myself to myself and not let my thoughts darken anyone else’s world.

The medication does lift the mood a bit but it isn’t an absolute cure. The main aspect of my depression is the ‘lost time’ as I think of it…I can lose hours in a day when my mood is low, sometimes I find myself startled by something and realise that I have literally been staring at the wall for hours on end, it is a very dark place to be and very difficult to describe to anyone who isn’t suffering from depression just what it is like. I work hard to not show my worst times, most depression sufferers probably do this as well, it is nothing to be proud of but also nothing to be ashamed of either.

To feel that your life is worthless and more so to feel that you have let other’s down is a hell of a hole to be in, when I get into that space it can be a pretty scary time and it is always worse when alone. It is often easy to interact with others and stay focussed when around friends and family but when the door clicks and you are alone it is a different matter altogether. It is easy to feel that the burden you place on other’s could be easily fixed by your not being around them anymore…dark places don’t come much darker.

I have been on three types of medication in the past year. The Doctor started me on Prozac but over a couple of months I developed a nervous shake in my hands that was hard to cope with. After that came Mirtazapine….a drug that gave me some of the worst nightmares of my life and rendered me pretty much useless to man or beast! Finally we settled on Citalopram which if nothing else has no shakes or nightmares attached to it in my case. 20mg a day is the ‘ticking over’ doze and it soon lets you know if you have missed an intake by making you a tad dizzy!

On top of all this I have had a problem with my blood in the last year that is still ongoing and needs regular extractions of my fluid for checking…all that and High Blood Pressure too…no point in doing things by half!!

One good thing to come from this…and you take your victories where you can…is that I no longer drink Alcohol in any form. I am 387 days clean and counting and could probably now say I don’t miss it. I couldn’t afford it even if I wanted it but with the medication I know that I must steer clear and more than anything I know that to add alcohol to a bad day would be the absolute worst thing I could ever do!

Having been finally diagnosed in January of 2011 I then suffered the loss in February of our dog Bonnie, a time I obviously blogged about and got great comfort from the words of those who contacted me. In many ways she was my reason to keep going, not selfish in that humans depended on me but they could all take care of themselves whereas Bonnie needed me to be there each day to see to her and when she died it ripped a hole in my life that took a long long time to come to terms with. My depression during those months was horrific and whole days were spent in dark places with the clock ticking by. Now we have our pup Coco and I have a focus to snap me out of the dark times again. Morning’s are often tough but she needs walked and fed and taken out regularly and all of that helps to snap me out of a low mood at times.

Anyway, I will end this blog now as I think I have finally said what I wanted to and hopefully someone will read this and think it was worthwhile if somewhat a long time in coming. Now that I have made it public I know that I can always return to the subject if I need to and that is something that may help in the dark days. Its a battle many thousands face in silence every day, its not about feeling down, everyone can do that from time to time…if you have suffered from Depression then you will know it and possibly those around you will also know it and want to help but are waiting on the invite into your world to allow them to.

Life will always go on with or without us taking part, there should be no stigma in suffering what is after all an illness, a chemical illness of the mind.

The world has moved on but still people suffer in silence…

 

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3 thoughts on “Living with Depression….

  1. That’s interesting. I used the same graphic for the cover of my book, “Taming the Black Dog of Depression” which is at the publisher. I can relate to everything you said. I just signed up on wordpress this hour. Not sure how to direct you to my blog. My first posting ever is the INTRODUCTION to my book.

  2. Fionnuala Minto says:

    Hi Kevin, just a note to let you know that I appreciate what you shared with us in this blog entry. Depression is sadly still a taboo subject for many and it is very interesting to get an insiders view on how it really affects people. As one of those former work colleagues I wish there had been something I could’ve done to help back then, but depression is by nature a very isolating condition, and I had no idea what you were struggling with. I wish you all the very best on your road towards recovery, and will still continue to enjoy your very dry sense of humour in your various postings.
    Fionnuala

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