TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE AND MENTAL HEALTH
INFORMATION AND A JOURNAL ENTRY
I have just watched a movie on Netflix called Hannah Gadsby: Nanette. It’s about a comedian from Tasmania called Hannah Gadsby and it is one of the best comedy shows I have ever seen. Hannah is gay and rather masculine looking but the thing that shines through is her humanity. She is quitting comedy but you need to watch the documentary. It hinges, not only on her jokes, but in the interludes in the dialogue are amazing. She relates so much about being gay and what it means to her and covers mental illness and also about the world we live in. I won’t say any more because it would ruin you watching it. Do what you need to get a copy and watch it, as it is empowering, sad, and angry.
I am not a medical person or a psychologist. I am simply going to tell you what happens to me
If you, or your family believes you may be suffering from any of these symptoms please seek help. You don’t have to be alone in your recovery.
I love the words in that song and not just because it is Nickelback. A few days ago I had a mini high mood swing but it didn’t have the chance to remain that way and I didn’t do any really stupid stuff. That isn’t always the way. Everyone thinks the highs in Bipolar are great fun for the sufferer. You can’t be more wrong. You become impulsive and do things you would never do normally. Your sense of what is wrong or what is right goes out of the window and you just live on how good it feels in the moment. You might have seen my posts were over the top silly and funny recently. That was as bad as it got. Thank god for my S. as his words pull me back from the brink when he needs to.
The other side of all this is the ‘black dog’, depression. It normally comes around after a high in my case and sure enough that dog has bitten me again. The name Black Dog comes from a Led Zeppelin song of the 70’s (I think). The meaning is lost in that song but I felt the words to the Nickelback song were a better fit.
I seem to find it much harder to claw my way back from depression. It is like a black pit and no matter how I try to claw my way back I keep sliding back down that hole. I ask S. not to come in and drag me back as I feel I need to help myself. He will stand by me as long as he feels I have made some progress. If I don’t then he comes in and helps me.
Some of my symptoms are about my body because not many people know how much your body is affected by depression. You can have aches and pains. If you have pain normally it will become overwhelming. Your appetite can be changed, eating too much for comfort or not enough because you can’t really taste what you are eating. Other symptoms can be, headaches, your immune system can be compromised and you will be more susceptible to colds and flu. Insomnia or over sleeping. Not being able to get out of bed. Isolating yourself can happen. You might not be able to go out. Anxiety is a big one. A lack of energy is another big one. Not letting your friends in is another thing. There is a lot more but you get the gist of it.
Every person has times when they are sad and it isn’t depression. Your environment can cause depression if they are painful and prolonged. Life changing times can also trip you over, like moving house and a divorce to name two. A prolonged sense of sadness needs to be watched. If you, or your family believes you may be suffering from these things please seek help. You don’t have to be alone in your recovery.
The mental part of depression for me is, sad thoughts, feelings of reduced self confidence and of not being good enough. Anxiety is something I suffer from too. Every time I think I have overcome panic attacks one starts again and they are loathsome. Everyone has negative thoughts in their mind but with depression that is all you hear. You feel sad and often teary. You can’t seem to concentrate or follow a conversation. Your mind just packs up and you suffer from thin skin. Depression can recur over the years and for me I just curse my lot and say this will never stop and that makes me feel my situation is hopeless. Bipolar will be with me until I pass. It feels like a massive wave has crashed over me. It is at this point the idea of suicide can rise in you. You have voices telling you your family would be better off without you. You just want the pain to stop.
DON’T LISTEN TO THEM THEY ARE FALSE VOICES MADE UP BY YOUR DEPRESSION.
Now I am going to tell you some of the things that help me fight depression because I have done loads of therapy and I can tell you things that really worked for me. It mostly deals with ways that make you just a little bit better. Please don’t rely completely on these things. Read number one carefully.
The best I can tell you is Fake It Until You Make It. This means doing it even if you believe it won’t work. Eventually it will help. Don’t give up if it doesn’t help the first time you do it. You have to search your own mind for things that normally make you feel better.
- If you are not on meds, visit your Doctor and he will decide if you need meds or not. If you are on meds still go to your doctor. They may just advise therapy. Please don’t turn away from that. With meds it will take at least 14 days to begin to work completely but you can feel a change, say in your inability to sleep quite early. They will also have to get the dose right for you. There will be further consultations to make sure you are on the correct type of antidepressant or if they have side-effects. Doctors also like to keep tabs on you for your recovery and to find out if the meds are helping. Some can help you sleep better if insomnia is what is happening to you. Mention that to your Doctor. You might get a dry mouth as I did. I don’t know other side effects so that is why I see them for help. If this is your first bout of depression you need their support.
- Alert your partner or a dear friend of your situation. You might need help. Having someone to support you as you recover is important. They can reach out at a time you need them.
Once you have done these things then we get to the other things I can suggest. It is something I call self help.
- Pamper yourself. My pamper is a nice warm bath with bath salts and nice smelling stuff. I find nice smells really can help me feel better I mean everyone has heard of aromatherapy these days. Light candles and even read a book. The candles are a nice soft light and a book will keep your mind off your negative voices. I also wear perfume every day. I have two I love. One is a Britney Spears one I think it is called ‘Beautiful’ and Este Lauder’s ‘Knowing’.
- Force yourself out of bed. Get up even if you don’t want to. Get dressed in nice clothes. Not the easy things like track pants (sweats) and sloppy tops. Avoid wearing black and yes I know that sounds trite but it makes a difference. My GP told me that one. There is a good reason. Through your day you will catch your reflection somewhere and to see a person dressed in dark, baggy clothing, reinforces the depressed look of you. I don’t mean put on your Sunday best, just clothes you like and are comfortable in. Mine are skinny jeans and a nice top, brightly coloured ones.
- Read books you have always wanted to read. I escape into the plot of a good book. It might be hard to do for the first time, but once you get into the book you will be transported. My go to book is Lord of the Rings and I read it every so many years. It never fails to transport me into Middle Earth.
- With anxiety I become OCD, usually with housework. OCD makes me miserable. It is something that will respond well with one of two things. Write a list of what you feel needs doing but don’t tackle the whole house. Make it about three chores. Do them once and then go do something else. Look at what you have done and give yourself recognition for your achievement. ‘That looks nice.’ is a good thing to say. Again fake those words until it rings true. It is about breaking the cycle. This is a very hard one to do I know and you may not be able to do that every time. But keep trying, don’t give up. If you have a bad day don’t write it off by saying this doesn’t work but rather ok today was not the best but I can do better tomorrow. Everyone has bad days; it doesn’t mean you are a failure. My best friend was around my place and we were chatting over cake and coffee and she dropped crumbs on the table and she kept on chattering. I was in an OCD mode and all I could see was that damned crumbs. In the end I had to get a dish cloth and wipe it up. She grabbed my hand and asked if I was ok. She knew me very well. She asked if I was seeing someone about it and I was. That was my supporter at the time.
- One of the BIG ones is exercise so when I can, I go out walking. Not hitting the gym, just gentle walking. It releases chemicals in the brain that make you feel better. It also helps you to lose weight and makes you fit. The chemicals released in the brain are beneficial to help ease depression. If you can’t leave the house, hire a treadmill.
- Meditation is an other good one. I can lay on my bed and meditate but if you fall asleep it doesn’t work. If this is the case then sit in a comfortable chair. If you have never meditated before, you can find classes. I used to teach meditation so I can do it easily. If you want to try it alone then try this. Find yourself some really soft soothing music that lasts about 30 minutes. When you are comfortable start at your feet and tense them up and hold for a short while then let them relax, then your calves, tense and then release. Thighs, belly, chest and shoulders. Then your hands, fore arm and shoulder again and then the other side. Lastly screw up your face then let it go. You do this because you carry tension in your body you are unaware of. This relaxes them all. Then take five deep breaths. I don’t mean into your chest. I mean make your belly rise not your chest. You use your diaphragm. You breathe in for the count of 3, hold for 3, then breathe out on 3. Now comes the important part. I see myself at the beach. I had a special sand dune I used to sit on and I walked along that beach many times. I can use that as a nice place to mentally visualized. You will have a special place in your mind. Think of going there, how you got there, and walking to it. once you reach it look around at everything. If it is outside, remember how everything smelled and felt. Make it as real as you can. Once your soothing music ends, come back slowly, move slowly and don’t just jump up. Let the relaxation stay with you. Do this daily. If you can’t do thirty minutes do as many as you can. You may need to grow familiar with the feel of your body in a relaxed state. This is what worked for me. One other thing you can do is make a tape of you describing how to do the meditation in a soft voice and you won’t forget what you are meant to do. Then play it each time you do this meditation.
- If your life is taken up with looking after everyone else, you might find it difficult to take time for yourself. Please I implore you take that time.
- Play music that you love. People under-estimate how much good that can do.
- If you feel afraid to leave your house, just open up the front door. Then sit next to it. Perhaps just sitting outside it is something you feel you can do. Walk to the mailbox. do it in baby steps. Ask you supporter to go with you if you need. Just tell them not to hold you out there. Sunshine will also brighten you up. Smell the flowers. Pull some weeds.
- Writing things down about the way you feel is another thing to try. I used to write a journal and say today was crap I was very depressed. Then it was suggested that I break it down to every hour and hey a miracle happened, yes I felt depressed some of the time but there were other moods in there, like I watched a show and laughed. I cooked a cake and it was delicious. I got a much better idea of what I was feeling. You don’t have to do that forever, just long enough for you to see it ain’t all bad!
- If offered CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness or DBT, Dialectic Behavioural Therapy, please try it. It helped me no end. I joined groups for them and it was amazing for me to find people that were going through the same as me. That offered me hope. Believe it or not it was actually fun once I got into it.
Once more I am no expert, this was just what I learned and it worked and still works for me. I feel like crap today but I still made myself do a few things on this list. I will bounce back. For those that have had depression I hope you can gain something from this. For the people around you, that have never had depression I hope it helps you understand what your loved one, or friend is going through.
Katknix put this song on her blog with a very interesting post so I copied the song here. She wrote two very relevant posts about this subject so please take the time to read them.
Once again I will be fine.
S. and K.