Song of the Day: Crazy in Love by Beyonce (just been dancing to this on Wii Just Dance 2- lots of fun)
I think one of the things I remember most from depression is the constant self-blame and hatred of myself. Coming from a place of relative stability I can now see from a different perspective what was going on in my head. At the time I could only see these thoughts as my normal way of living- it didn’t seem like anything was really different in my head to how it would usually be. Now I can see how severely depression can influence your thoughts and what is going on in the mind.
I think everyone who suffers from depression has different issues they criticize and bully themselves about. Mine were usually the same for every episode and consisted of the following:
– Beating myself up for quitting university and
not having an amazing career.
– Being so out of control with my eating habits- bingeing on sugar almost everyday.
– Being lazy and not doing anything productive.
– Being a burden on my partner who pretty much supports me financially and for relying on benefits/welfare.
– Being so grumpy and irritable.
This all leads to the same old despairing thoughts:
– I’m not good enough.
– I can’t live like this.
– I’m a waste of space.
– I’m such a burden.
– If I don’t look slim and beautiful I might as well not be here.
– I’m such a horrible person, I hate myself.
– Why would anyone want to be with me.
At the time I was depressed I honestly couldn’t see these thoughts as being a symptom of the illness. They seemed so real, I believed every word. Cognitive behavioural therapy was some help- trying to change thought patterns to more nurturing, supportive ones, such as remembering all your achievements when you can only see failure. Whilst attending the group this did seem to help, but as soon as the group finished it was difficult to motivate myself to keep up the work. I think attending the group also provides something even more important- a supportive environment from healthy people who can model a normal, healthy way of being, and from those who are also suffering and can completely see where you’re coming from. Sometimes I found myself using the group leader’s calming voices in my head to help when I was feeling low.
I really believe depression turns you into a bully- a bully to yourself. But it’s the kind of manipulative bully who is lovely to everyone else, but evil towards you- that way nobody can see that this person is really a bully. Instead they just think you’re making it up. This is how I felt a lot- that people would just think I was making everything up to claim benefits and an easy, laze-about lifestyle. I really, really believed this! I always tried as hard as possible to mask my depression to others; I didn’t want to burden others or for them to see my “weakness”, they wouldn’t understand. But in reality, so many people I know have suffered with depression at one time or another, that I think I could have gained a lot more understanding than I originally thought by being more open and not TRYING to be normal.
Looking back, I used to try so so hard to “cure” myself. I would try to read as much as possible from self-help sections to try and increase motivation and fitness and happiness. Some of the titles make me laugh now:
“Seven Days to Happiness”
“Confidence in ten days”
Like anyone can get happy in a week just by following a book- you’d have to be mega mega dedicated!
I think all this TRYING did me more harm than good. In essence I was telling myself that I was flawed and needed to be fixed- it made me focus more on any “flaw” therefore I became more and more self-critical about it. Now if I could go back to myself crying on the bedroom floor, despairing that I was absolutely no good, I would say this to myself:
“Yes the depression is real, you’re not making it up. It is an illness and it’s not your fault. Nothing is your fault. Let the depression in, give in to it, stop trying to change yourself. You are whole and a perfectly imperfect human just the way you are. The universe loves you and wants you here. Give in to the feelings of hopelessness and despair, don’t fight it, coz it will fight even harder back. Just cry it all out and get a hug from someone- anyone, I bet they’ll surprise you and be lovely to you. You are worth looking after. You are prescious. Rest, take care of yourself. Now go and crawl into that duvet on the sofa and watch Friends for the umpteenth time! And if you want a chocolate bar, eat a chocolate bar. If you want to ring that friend but are too worried that you’ll be a burden, ring them- people love to help other people. You are cared for and loved. The horrible feelings will not last forever, tomorrow you will feel a bit better. Soon the world will be bright again.”
Saying this may be easy now- but I don’t know if I’d have accepted it at the time, but I genuinely do now. I hope that maybe it can help someone else.