Monday, 5 May 2014

Depression

I've touched on this briefly in a previous blog, (could be the last one, depending on if or when I decide to publish this) but over the past year or so I've found it increasingly difficult to actually do any creative work. It wasn't until about 7 months ago that I realised that I'd become very depressed.

Being a person of a naturally maudlin disposition, it took me a while to notice. I'd assumed that was just what I was like, and that was that. It wasn't until I was in a situation where I really ought to be a lot happier, but found myself unable to be, that I realised that being quite that maudlin might not be how I was supposed to be after all.

At first there were periods of days where I'd feel down, with a few days or weeks respite in between, then it grew and stretched and swapped until one day I realised I couldn't remember the last time I'd actually been happy. That's an awful realisation to have, but unfortunately it wasn't the turning point I was hoping for. The one moment in the film where you get a realisation so shocking and jarring that your life immediately changes doesn't really exist.

I'd been depressed before, but that was triggered by external factors. I remember the trigger for getting better was when I was sitting in the bath drinking vodka and trying not to think about anything, and realised that I expected to want to kill myself at some point. That led to Motivation March, which I mentioned on here over a year ago, being as it was, in March. A turning point I suppose, but then, I wasn't so bad that time.

I remembered that, once I realised this was depression, and considered my options. There were a number of things I felt I could do to make myself better, but on days where it's difficult to bring yourself to walk across the room for a glass of water, it's even more difficult to make yourself do something more productive. The problem lay in the fact that I didn't feel like I deserved any of those things - I had no reason to be sad, so I didn't deserve to be better.

I hated myself like you wouldn't believe. If I drew, it was terrible and I had wasted my education. If I read, I was self indulgent, if I wrote, god forbid, it was hideous trash. I felt that if I could just stick at doing any of these things regularly, I might have a chance to get better, but I couldn't bring myself to. I spent my time instead avoiding myself as much as possible, and feeling bad about inflicting my company on those who loved me, not least because the longer they spent in my presence, the more quickly I thought they'd realise what a failure of a human I was, and leave me alone.

Allie Brosh put it best in these, (Part 1, Part 2) I think, where she said she found herself wishing nobody cared about her so she could just die. And that happened. And it still wasn't a turning point or a wake up call. I don't know that there necessarily is such a thing. Perhaps you just have to wait it out. I was forcing myself to spend more and more time alone, with that horrible mind who hated me so much, and wanting nothing more than to stop existing. I read Allie's comics on depression, and that's when I started crying. And I couldn't stop. It was just before Christmas.

I don't like Christmas, so the depression was even worse for the whole of December than it would have been otherwise. I'd started regularly imagining what it would be like if I just stopped existing and idly considering dying. I had ruined every occasion and outing of the Christmas period for myself, like trips to London, drinks with friends, even just evenings in, by constant self-flagellation by my own brain, convincing me that everyone hated me.

In Allie's comic, she'd mentioned how telling people was very difficult. It seemed insurmountable. How can you tell somebody you love that you want to die? But it had to be done.

Talking about it, was, I think, what helped to make it better. I didn't hide the crying any more, and for the first time in months, I wasn't alone in my own mind. In fact, I cried more, and it was OK, because I was feeling again and I wasn't alone. I had somebody who loved me unconditionally and I saw how hating myself so much was hurting them. It took a while after that to get better, and I am now, or I was for a month or two, except that I'm now seeing the signs of it coming back. Or rather, I'm constantly on the look out for them, and sometimes see them, whether they're there or not.

Perhaps it isn't a process of getting better, more of finding a way to cope with it until it passes. It makes me sad that I'm not free yet and may never be, but I've been on that downward slope before - the Catch-22 of self flagellation. I have somebody to talk to about it now, and while there's the lingering fear that I will make them hate me if it happens too often, I can talk to them, and they can help. I think that's the thing to remember, and I hope that means that if and when it happens again, I won't fall so far. It's hard to rely on somebody that much for my sanity.

I mention this here because I feel like I need to. Perhaps nobody reads this but the fact of the matter is that hiding it doesn't help. When you're sitting by a window at 3am, wondering how far you'd have to fall, it's hard to believe anybody else feels like this. But they do. I did. And I'm still here. That's a pretty big deal.

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