As I write I feel a long way from depression, in reality I’m one crisis. I’m currently on the verge of tipping into a full manic episode. If I do, then crisis point won’t be far and with it the fall into a deep dark depression.
As someone with bipolar this is my reality, I’m, finally, learning a decade after diagnosis and at least two of living with it that this is the pattern. I spend the vast majority of my time in depression, my bipolar is that way inclined. It has meant I have better coping skills for it than I do for this manic end I’m at right now.
Depression is destructive, cruel, tiring. At its worst you can’t think, sleep, move, cry. As you start to get “better”, as your feelings start to turn back on the pain becomes unbearable, disabling.
You may have days where you feel functional, you can socialise, smile, talk. But this doesn’t mean the lead weight has lifted from your soul. Often people will mistake these days as you being ready to return to normal life. But they are just good moments in an ocean of bad. To be treasured and appreciated.
Things I have learned which help during depression…
- Suicide isn’t the answer. After attempts to end my life into the double figures I can say that all this does is add to your troubles, cause issues with family, and make you feel like crap once you realise you don’t really want to die. Will I try again? I have no idea, I don’t make those kind of promises because I know what my depressions are like. I really hope not, and Hubs and I have put measures in place to try and reduce opportunity.
- We have to work hard to help ourselves. The medication can only do so much. I’ve learned a lot of great tools to help me manage my depression. CBT, Mindfulness, Some DBT tools, etc. All designed to make me challenge what my depression is telling me about myself.
- Be good to yourself. We all have different ways to take care of ourselves, write them down, box them up, remember them, but most importantly employ them! Self care is vital during depression. Saying to yourself, you are worth it, is one of the most important things you can do.
- Not everyone will be there for you. This is a hard one. At one point I was a social butterfly, I had loads of friends, I “thought” I was really popular. Then in 2014 when I got really sick everyone disappeared faster than you can say depression! This has happened before on smaller scales but this time was a mass exodus, everyone forgot my phone number and email address! In the two years since one friends as driven up from London and knocked on my door, I have a few friends overseas who stood by me through it all, and I reconnected with a couple of childhood friends recently. But as for all those friends I had a few years ago…gone! Depression can scare people, you change, become a different person, and that frightens them, they don’t want to be witness to it. Don’t be upset if some of your friends go AWOL, mine was an extreme case, normally a few will stick around, but don’t blame those who don’t they can’t help their fears.
- Talk about it. Try and talk as openly as you can about how you feel. You don’t have to do this online but talk to somebody, it helps you get through and understand how you are feeling and it stops the depression having a power over you. Also, let’s try and remove some of this taboo and stigma from mental illness and the best way to do this is just by being open and talking.
In the end when my next depression hits I will feel like I’ve been hit like a sledgehammer again and for all my preparation I will as always feel wholly unprepared!