The thing with depression is that if you’ve never suffered with it you could easily be fooled into believing that somebody is just a bit sad and that of they have a day or two smiling or acting more normally they are back to normal then everything is OK.
This is how depression sufferers fool those in the world around them at work, at school, even at home that everything is fine and nothing is as bad as it really is, when in reality our illness is eating away at our brains, our hearts, and our ability to do even the simplest tasks.
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was nine. By the time I was 25 this diagnosis was amended to a mood disorder/bipolar. I have become an excellent actress as a result. I can smile when inside I’m crying, and I can work through stress triggers which most people would run miles from. But this isn’t a good thing. Like most people in my position I’ve become a victim of my surroundings and become used to doing what I have to, to hold down a job and not get judged.
The problem is that this involves pushing myself so far and so hard that I inevitably snap and end up in crisis, so depressed that I am harming myself, can’t get out of bed, and most likely attempting to take my life.
“I don’t want to see anyone. I lie in the bedroom with the curtains drawn and nothingness washing over me like a sluggish wave. Whatever is happening to me is my own fault. I have done something wrong, something so huge I can’t even see it, something that’s drowning me. I am inadequate and stupid, without worth. I might as well be dead.”
― Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
I have lost more jobs than I care to recount as a result of my depression, and whilst I love the effort going into the Time To Change campaign, my experiences have been far from positive with negative treatment in work prior to job losses and not much better treatment from so-called friends.
Right now, alongside my physical health issues I am also in what I call crisis mode. I saw it coming this time, having recognised the signs and asked for help early and got all the relevant balls rolling before I crash landed in depression hell.
This didn’t stop the inevitable romance with the razor to rekindle or for my life to be risked as yet another suicide attempt was racked up. But at least the right people were already in place to help me deal with it and I was on the right meds.
Today, was a particularly bad day for my crisis mode. My husband and I are in a legal dispute with our landlord and she turned particularly nasty today setting her partner on us with bully tactics. This set off quite a chain of events as I spiralled downhill seeing flashes of my life ending as I went and knowing if I didn’t get help and quickly this was probably the end this time.
It’s hard to explain but when you’re in that zone, you know what is going on, you want it to happen but you also know you need to stop it, but asking for help is the hardest thing in the world. You become irrational and broken on the one hand but completely clear headed and focused on the other.
Today I just said the words “call the number” to my husband. He knew that meant the crisis support team that the local mental health care run out of hours because my case worker wouldn’t be there on a Saturday.
Within half an hour I was speaking with a mental health nurse and being brought back to the here and now, with a more rational line of thought.
I complain about the service from the mental health team not being quite what I want it to be, like any NHS service it can be slow. But when I really need help desperately, like today, it comes through, and saves me.