Tuesday 9 July 2013

A Million Shades

The day begins one eye at a time.  

First I check the time.  Have I slept too much?  Too little?  Too late?  Do I care?

Then I check the weather.  Do I need to turn on my lumi light?  Will it make a damn bit of differene?  Will this rain ever stop?  Do I really need to turn on the heating in June?  The sun is shining so I am going to need to come up with a bloody good excuse to not go for a walk.

Finally, I ask myself the dreaded question:  HOW DO I FEEL TODAY?

Am I "fine"?  Unlikely.  In fact, I'm not entirely certain I remember what fine feels like.

Am I "shitty"?  Quite possibly but perhaps a wholly inappropriate response to a socially conventional question unless my desired outcome is to alienate those who care for and love me.

The trouble begins in the million shades of grey between "fine" and "shitty".

I close my eyes again wishing that everything was different.  Wishing that my battle with the darkness had never begun.  Wishing the war was won and that I had conquered that foreign land forever more.  A conventional happy ending.

Alas, I return to the fight everyday, sometimes donning my mask of armour to face the ignorance and cruelty of others and sometimes just my own anxieties.

Other times I can't bear putting on the armour and I remain metaphorically naked for the day unable to leave the security of my home or my head spending my times wandering around the rooms and wondering where the time  when I'm absent.

My armour is honestly a lousy garment for protection.  It doesn't stop my own thoughts from hurting me.  I recall the days when I felt invincible, strong, and happy; when I felt the future held such promise.  I didn't dread the sun rising.

Now I refuse to think about the future because it frightens the shit out of me.  I can't plan a party.  Or a holiday.  I can't plan what's for dinner.

For me, the future is dark.  The future is frightening and I start cowering in the corners of the day when I first open my eyes.  Every day.

Monday 8 July 2013

Does writing about my depression help me?

No.  Or at least, it doesn't feel like it does.

So, why do I do it?

Partly because I always write, if not on paper, then in my head.

Mostly, I do it for my friends and my family.  I do it to help them understand the torment inside my head.  Somehow it comes out better in words I write than when I speak.  Speaking is difficult.  I get lost in my thoughts and my words become all jumbled.  And sometimes when I get frustrated trying to express myself I start to stutter.  Then I get anxious and here we go on a downward spiral.

When I write it is all just a bit easier to make sense of it.  No one is looking at me.  No one is nodding their head.  No one is finishing my sentences for me.  No one is interrupting.

I also do it for others who know someone afflicted with this horrible illness.  Maybe if they read what I've written, it will give a tiny little insight into our spectrum of darkness.

Finally, I suppose I write it in the hope that it reaches out and touches someone who is struggling today and helps them take one step towards the light. 

Saturday 6 July 2013

Not Good Enough

The greatest gift my depressive illness has given me is that I don't really care what other people think of me so much any more.

I used to want to fit in so much.  I wanted to be liked by everybody, to be friends with everyone, be invited to all the dinner parties, coffee mornings, and after-work drinks.  The fact is I wasn't.  And I didn't fit in.

Maybe it was because I didn't have enough money to go on the spur of the moment girlie weekend trips to the spas or far flung trendy beaches.  Maybe it was because my body was too big and just doesn't look great in the trendy designer fashion (as if I could even afford that).  Maybe my sense of humour is a bit quirky.  Probably it's because when I get a few too many drinks in me I can be a bit loud. Even sober I can be a bit loud.

Don't get me wrong:  I have many, many friends who love me more than their luggage just the way I am.  But my mind always focuses on those few unfortunates that just didn't quite get me.  Then the paranoia sets in. The ones who don't quite get me are trying to convince those that did to not get me anymore when I reality if they ever did discuss me, my friends would have told them to fuck off.

In my mind I feel I am just simply not good enough.  I grew up thinking I wasn't good enough.  I've had a series of setbacks that told me I wasn't good enough.  It doesn't matter how many times I've been told that I am amazing, outstanding, interesting, extraordinary individual with a limitless capacity for compassion and generosity.  All of those fade into the background over the shouting of "not good enough".

In my depression, I cling to that like a self fulfilling prophecy.  I have every reasonable excuse to never ever be good enough again.

But if I focus on just this very moment, right now, and not a moment longer, I am good enough to write this and hope someone finds that they were good enough to read it and it helped.

Friday 5 July 2013

Better than the Day Before

Yesterday I was better than the day before or the day before that but today I feel worse than I was yesterday.  And that's the only way to really measure any progress.  Or lack thereof.  One day at a time.

Yesterday morning I actually cared about whether the sun was shining.  I noticed the pretty flowers around the clinic grounds.  I moved to a new room which is very quiet with a wonderful view and lots of space.  I started to make eye contact with the other patients and learn their names.  Haven't really had the courage to say anything to them but I am starting to feeling a little less invisible.

I have slept well the last couple nights, in comparison to the first couple nights.  I can tell that I toss and turn because the sheet will be all bunched up and nearly off the bed.  The duvet was on the floor when I woke up this morning.  

But the last couple nights I didn't wake up even when the nurse delivered my early morning coffee.  I can't recall any of my dreams and I certainly don't remember screaming out at the various baddies that used to try to choke and smother me at night.

Last night I took a new drug to help with my fear and anxiety which lies at the root of my depression.  Ever since July 2011, I have been afraid of everything:  driving the car, leaving the house, attending social gatherings, cooking a meal, finding a new job, speaking to strangers, answering the phone, going to the supermarket, opening the post.  Everything.  Some rational.  Some completely irrational.  The point is one cannot avoid falling into depression when one is constantly in a heightened sense of fright of life itself.

Even here in the clinic I am afraid.  I am afraid I am more crazy than everyone else.  I am afraid that I will never recover.  I am afraid everyone is staring at me.  I am afraid I do the meditation wrong.  I am afraid that I don't say enough or that I say too much.  I am afraid that I think all wrong and that I will never have the right thoughts.  Or that I don't smile.  Or that I do.

To keep my adrenalin under control I take a drug 3 times a day which does a pretty good job keeping my anxiety from grabbing hold of me.  When my fear and anxiety begins to win against that particular medication, I take a little bit of a half a tranquiliser and I can usually muddle my way through.  Rarely, however, does one enjoy muddling through.

I spoke to my psychiatrist about this fear and constant anxiety.  He recommended a drug called Olanzapine. He said it was good for treating fear and anxiety and he would start with a very small dosage twice a day.  I thought, "Cool. why haven't they given this to me before?"

Within 20 minutes of taking this drug, I thought I was losing my mind.  My limbs, legs and particularly my right arm, began to move uncontrollably, like restless limb syndrome.  My balance was off.  I felt like I was on a rolling ship at sea in a huge storm.  I bumped into walls trying to get downstairs to get some help.  I was dizzy and kept thinking I was going to black out.  I was agitated and highly paranoid.  I was more afraid than I've ever been.

The nurses were cold comfort telling me that since I had already taken the pill, there was little more they could do.  I just had to ride out the storm.  They offered to have someone sit with me.  Well, what kind of help is that?

In the end, I fell into bed and fell into a very restless sleep very early in the evening.  I woke up confused several times during the night.  I reported this to my nurses this morning who assured me that when they looked in on me I appeared to be sleeping soundly.  Well, that's ok then, isn't it?  I was so out of it last night that I didn't even get my sleeping meds which I am sure made my situation even worse.

Today I await the visit from my psychiatrist for Plan B, or rather, Plan G.  None of these plans seems to be working.  I am angry.  I am frightened.  I feel so alone.

I have more voice mails, texts, phone calls, Facebook messages, tweets and visits from my army of friends than I can respond to.  It is genuinely a pity that depression strikes even those who are loved so very much.  If love could cure depression I wouldn't be paralysed with this fear, this anxiety and this sheer and absolute darkness.  Please don't be upset if I haven't replied.  Please don't think I don't love you.  Please know your message meant a lot to me and sometimes I just can't cope with the world right now.

I want it to get better but on days like today it doesn't seem like it ever will.