Discussion in 'Rants, Musings and Ideas' started by Butterfly, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. Butterfly

    Butterfly Sim Addict Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    I wrote this after reading some ignorant comments on the internet. Sorry for it being a bit lengthy:

    What is depression? That is the burning question. There is the common perception of what depression is and how the media portray it, and then there is the reality of depression. We are all familiar with the “head clutcher” photos over the internet, and we all hear about “tragic” stories in the newspapers about how people with mental illness have been let down by the mental health services. To some, depression and mental illness is just a cop out and an excuse to be lazy. Others pity us and feel sorry for us. But I am not lazy, nor do I want to be pitied or have anybody feel sorry for me. It’s not always so easy to “cheer up” and “suck it up”. Depression isn’t just feeling sad. It isn’t feeling sorry for yourself and not wanting to do anything, or not wanting to get better. I’m going to use the famous cliché of “If I could wave a magic wand, I’d make this go away”. It’s true, I would in a heartbeat but the reality is, I don’t have a magic wand and I don’t know if this will ever go away. Most people go through low periods in their life. Feeling low is not the same as being depressed.

    I remember the first time I realised I was truly depressed. I was 13 years old and amongst the usual troubles and hormones of being a teenager I dealt with (or rather did not deal with) being bullied, the pressures of school and some very unfortunate events that happened to me, I began to feel really low. I dealt with this by lashing out at my teachers and other students, which only made me dislike myself more and it confirmed my beliefs that I was a terrible person and that I deserved what I got and that I deserved to be punished. If all the negative self-talk and essentially bullying myself wasn’t punishment enough I stooped to a new low. After the continuous barrage of abuse I had given myself, I got out a drawing pin and I scraped it across my skin multiple times causing multiple scratches on my arms. It hurt. It felt good. The physical pain eased the emotional pain that I was feeling and I calmed down. I felt an immense amount of relief, even though the scratches that I had made were very superficial. Just imagine wearing a very uncomfortable pair of shoes that are 2 sizes too small that you are forced to wear for 12 hours. They are rubbing against the back of your feet and your toes, causing blisters that pop and the shoes continue to rub, making your wounds very sore and sting. Your toes are so scrunched in your shoes that they become numb. The pain is unbearable and no matter how bad the amount of pain you are feeling is, you cannot take those pair of shoes off. Suddenly you are allowed to take these shoes off, and the relief you feel is indescribable, but soothing. That is how it feels when you have all these thoughts ruminating in your mind constantly with pangs of despair and sadness and you relieve yourself by self-harming. After a few hours and the endorphins had eased off, guilt, self-hatred and shame made itself known. I was ashamed of what I had done and I was left with the evidence all over my arms. It became my seedy little secret, and I became embroiled in a vicious cycle of mentally torturing myself, self-harming and mentally torturing myself, so on and so forth. Superficial scratches were no longer enough to sustain my hunger for relief, so I found new ways to self-harm and I found new instruments to do it with. With each cut, the self-hatred and shame grew and grew until one day I decided that I was going to end my life.

    I’m not really sure to this day if my heart was really in it and I think I acted more on impulse as it wasn’t planned, but the intent was there. I wanted the pain to stop. I wanted the thoughts and the voices to stop. At the moment I swallowed several pills, I did genuinely wish to cease to exist. The world would be better off without me, without a useless waste of oxygen that nobody liked and nobody wanted. I was so wrapped up in the voices inside my head that were telling me how horrible and useless I was, I failed to see how my behaviour was affecting everybody around me who I loved and I never considered the pain and hurt they were feeling when I attempted to commit suicide. Was I really selfish? After all suicide is a selfish act isn’t it? Or was I just going to extreme lengths to try and stop the pain? The reason I didn’t tell anybody about how I was feeling was because I DIDN’T want to hurt them. I was trying to protect them. I was trying to put them first. I thought that their lives would be much better without me burdening them. But I was wrong. I saw the devastation my suicide attempt had caused, and I hated myself even more for it. I felt guilty, ashamed, a burden, worthless, useless and wished I had succeeded.

    So back to the original question, what is depression? I wish I had a simple one liner to explain it, but the truth is, I don’t. At the moment, I am fighting an extremely unpleasant bout of depression so I will explain the daily struggle I go through. After an extremely crap night’s sleep, I awake at 5am to get up and get ready for work. I’m tired, my body aches and my chest feels heavy. I really don’t know how I am going to get through a 12.5 hour shift. I don’t know if I can physically, emotionally and mentally invest in looking after 11 patients for 12.5 hours. But I know I must go to work. I can’t let my colleagues down, I can’t let my patients down and most of all I can’t let myself down. But it would be so much easier to stay in bed and hide all day and shut myself off from the world. It would be easier not to think at all. I now begin to be critical of myself. I tell myself I am pathetic, and that I should stop being so fucking stupid and just get up and go to work. The mental battle has already started and it’s not even 5.15am yet. I have several voices in my head telling me I should do different things. Get up, stay in bed, you’re pathetic, you’re better than this, you’re incompetent etc. Sometimes I cover my ears and shut my eyes so there’s just silence, but it never works. It’s now 5.30am and I am now starting to run behind. I make the decision to go to work but getting out of bed is difficult. Imagine you’ve got a 50 stone sumo wrestler lying on your chest and you are fighting him off. You know you have to get up, but you’ve got 50 stone laying on your chest, making it almost impossible to even move. You’re suffocating, you’re fatiguing and you feel so helpless because you can’t actually move anywhere. It becomes a simple decision of mind over matter. Eventually I wrestle with myself, using every last bit of energy in my body, using everything I have physically and mentally have to just get out of bed, reassuring myself that I can do this. Then I fight the same battle to shower, get dressed and drive to work.

    I am normally too tired to think too much and too hard on the drive to work but fleeting thoughts of how much better off the world would be without me do pop into my head from time to time amongst other negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. I park up at work and take 5 minutes to gather my thoughts together and compose myself. My breathing becomes more rapid because I am anxious about what the day will have in store for me and my focus is on getting through the day without breaking down and ensuring that I am a competent nurse. I practice my smile in my rear view mirror and spend a couple of minutes smiling and telling myself that I can get through the day. I can’t let my colleagues, patients or their relatives know that I am weak. I have to be strong. I can’t be selfish and wallow in my own self-pity and misery. I have to “pull myself together” and ensure I get through the day relatively unscathed.
  2. Butterfly

    Butterfly Sim Addict Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    I get to work and paint on my well-practiced smile, pretend I am fine and that everything is hunky dory. It hurts. Every bone and muscle in my body hurts but it’s necessary in order to get through the day. I get into my work and I actually manage to stave off the self-abuse and torture. I am in full nurse mode and like my usual self. My patients bring genuine smiles to my face as do my colleagues. The odd negative thought surfaces from time to time but I throw myself into my work and I soon forget how terrible I actually feel. I don’t have time to think about myself, nor should I be thinking about myself. The day is busy, I have been hit and sworn at by several patients, shouted at by patient’s relatives and management are hounding us for beds, and I have had a tough day in general with poorly and complex patients. I carry on, with my painted on smile. Nobody can know about the necrosis the rots my insides leaving me feel sub human most of the time.
    It’s time to go home and the drive home is usually the worst for ruminations. I begin to think about things I should have said and done, how I should have done things differently and I begin to doubt myself and my abilities. My colleagues constantly tell me I do a good job but I don’t believe them. Any nurse should be able to do what I do and play it down. I sometimes poke fun of myself, joking that I am a “shit nurse” but what they don’t know is, that is how I really feel. I know I can’t possibly be a shit nurse because I wouldn’t be in a job and people wouldn’t say nice things about me, but it’s so hard to believe when you have a bully inside of your head telling you how crap you are as a person. Sometimes tears trickle down my face whilst I am driving and I have even pulled over a few times whilst driving as it becomes difficult to see where I am driving. I finally get home, dry my eyes and try to compose myself a little. I need to prepare my façade for my fiancé. He can’t know how weak I am, and how bad I actually feel and how pathetic I am. I turn my key in the door, take a deep breath and put on a smile. I would say it is easy, but it is difficult to maintain the several different masks I have and carry on masquerading as if everything is okay. I force myself to eat, take my meds then head off to bed. Bed time is the worst for reflecting, ruminating and dwelling. The thoughts and self-criticism are intense and become uncontrollable. I think about all the “what ifs?” and various imagery of my demise flash. Sometimes it’s all I can think about. I toss and turn for hours, hide underneath my covers and try to block out the unpleasant thoughts and imagery. I cry, I get agitated, I get up and pace. This goes on for hours until I’m all out of tears and too tired to fight the battle anymore.

    I mentioned previously about being my “usual self” but I don’t even know what that means anymore. I have battled this illness for so long that I don’t even know who I am anymore. I look back and long to be my usual happy self, but those days were when I was a child and I am now 25 so my “usual” self is no longer applicable. So what am I doing about it? Am I just being lazy and wallowing in my misery? Definitely not. I have been in and out of the mental health system since I was 15, a good 10 years. My latest stay in the system has been ongoing for 4 years. I have a psychiatrist, I had a CPN and I have been in intense group therapy for the past 18 months and I have also taken a wide variety of medication. I apply everything I have learned daily to keep myself stable and safe. It’s a long arduous battle. I have bad days and okay days and the occasional good day, which makes all the bad ones worth enduring. I try to keep my hope alive. I know I may not ever fully “recover” but I hope to achieve stability one day.

    On a good day I know I am not all of the things the depression tells me I am. I am intelligent, funny, witty, hardworking, good at my job, caring, kind, compassionate amongst a few of my appealing qualities. I have to remember that is who I am, and I am not the depression. The depression is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me. It’s a difficult battle, but one that I endeavour to keep fighting.

    So the next time someone tells me that people with depression are just “lazy” dregs of society who enjoy wallowing in their own misery and use it as an excuse, I would invite them to spend a day in my shoes because I have to put in 10x the amount of effort, mentally and physically that a mentally stable person would. It’s most certainly not “easy” and I don’t spend all day sat on my arse doing nothing. I work a full time, responsible job on top of my troubles and have a house to run and bellies to feed. Please don’t judge us, we do a pretty good job of that ourselves.
  3. MisterBGone

    MisterBGone Well-Known Member

    That is one of the best things I have ever read on the subject of depression. If only I had an answer or two for you. I used to struggle with trying to translate the disease to others close to me. And then, I gave up! You articulate it perfectly. All I can do is compliment and commend you because I for one, am very very impressed. (With how you live your life)
  4. Unknown_111

    Unknown_111 Forum Buddy Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    Wow Butterfly, this a brilliant post which I can totally relate. There is nothing worst when you are judging yourself. Like you, I am very self-critical and am trying to achieve the impossible. I feel like dog-mess (polite version) very day and but I get up and proof that I become a better person. I battle very day but try to help others. My motto is, if I can make someone smile or help someone struggling, then that gives me a purpose in life. Life is about helping others from any walks of life and nothing more. People hate me but I let them hate me as I find that hate only gives others turmoil and others just forget who I am.
  5. Petal

    Petal SF dreamer Staff Member Safety & Support SF Supporter

    AMAZING thread Lexi. I read it last night but was too tired to comment, I for one am sick of people telling me I am lazy, I am not lazy I just don't see the point in doing some things. Your post is A1, excellent. By far the best reaction to depression I have ever read. You work your ass off, every day for 12.5 hours, how dare people think you are lazy because you have the illness of depression. You are one of my inspirations lexi!!
  6. Butterfly

    Butterfly Sim Addict Staff Alumni SF Author SF Supporter

    Thanks for the great feedback guys. I wrote this straight from my heart. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to publish it publicly so people know exactly how it feels to have depression.