Depression and the angry thief

BLOG Depression

I HAVE been depressed most of my adult life.

Depression impacts on every aspect of life and well-being. It is much more than feeling sad. It is a mood disorder that can interfere with everything.

Having untreated depression can put your life on hold for months, if not years… it can also lead to thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

My own depression festered inside me as a reaction to many things: the sexual abuse I suffered as a young teenager, a major life crisis in my late 20s, battling cancer in my early 30s, relationship breakdowns, the loss of two of my children, bankruptcy, assault, the loss of my home and the deaths of my soul-mate Andrea, my life-long friend Jayne and my amazing father.

Any of these things could have triggered the condition, and for me they did as a matter of course.

The depression manifested itself in feelings of deep lows or worthlessness – especially in a relationship or at work – but also in many other less obvious ways such as anger and irritability, frustration, OCD behaviour, tiredness, insomnia, forgetfulness, clumsiness and the inability to concentrate on one thing for long periods.

In my case, it was all of these, plus for many years, an over-dependence on alcohol.

But, there is a limit to how long you can lock things inside while appearing to function normally on the outside.

And my “normal” exterior collapsed in a complete nervous breakdown on 12 June 2013… a day when I simply could not hold it all in any more.

It is now five years since that collapse.

Those years have been an important period of professional counselling, the love and support of family and close friends and the catharsis of writing and unburdening my mind, memories and fears.

In the months soon after the breakdown I was struggling to get back to a life of any sort and was fighting my way out of the corner.

Now, I am so far out of the corner you won’t find me… I have at last found my way home.

But the Black Dog never leaves and the depression can still manifest itself abruptly… often when I feel I am being dragged back into that corner.

And without control I snap.

Irritability is a symptom of depression, and it makes total sense; depression usually plays havoc with our sleep patterns.

Lack of sleep causes irritability, and makes us less able to cope with day-to-day challenges.

With depression often comes aches and pains, and our digestive system can be affected, causing us discomfort. Pain makes us irritable and frustrated.

Moreover, depression can be overwhelming. Getting through each day often requires Herculean stamina.

So much energy is directed towards trying to cope that, if anything goes wrong, or something else is added to the pile, we snap.

We just can’t handle any more.

Sadly, our irritability is often directed at others, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This isn’t acceptable, but it is understandable.

It’s good to wait until you feel calmer, then apologise, and explain how you felt at the time – it can be helpful for others to understand your perspective and give them a chance to help.

More tears and genuine remorse is a bi-product of depression.

The classic symptoms of depression – disinterest, lethargy, sadness, detachment, and sleep problems – can make our lives so difficult.

Suddenly, we’re don’t care about the things that we used to enjoy. We can’t concentrate on our favourite books, or TV shows. We don’t have the energy to get up, get dressed, and go out to meet friends.

So, we stop doing things.

Soon, we might not recognise the person we’ve become. We feel as though we’ve lost ourselves to depression. This also inevitably leads to anger; we become angry at depression, we might blame ourselves, and feel incredibly angry at our circumstances… why me, why has this happened?

Depression is an illness, yet we very often blame ourselves for having depression.

It feels like a personal failing.

Because depression is also a thief.

If we’ve been living with depression for a while, it can feel like it has been stealing from us.

It can feel like we have lost an aspect of ourselves, of our identity; we are forced to come to terms with a new ‘us’. We may wish we could go back to how we were before.

Depression can force us to give up work, or our studies, putting a stop to our life, for months or years. It’s common to feel that depression has stolen time from us, and to feel angry about what could have been. Depression can also make us lose touch with friends, or push away our loved ones.

We might feel angry – both with the depression, but also with them. It’s very easy to get lost in thoughts of what could have been.

It can help to try and look towards the future, rather than ruminate in the past.

We can’t change what’s happened, but we can set new goals that interest us, as we are now. We can reflect on the things that depression has taught us about ourselves, and what makes us happy – and make plans based on this.

We can even try reaching out to the people that we previously pushed away, and explain what was going on for us at the time. They may have been hoping from afar to hear from us again.

Looking forward, and achieving new goals, can ease the anger we feel at depression’s thievery.

If you feel depressed, talk to someone… be brave and confide, you will be amazed how many other people out there feel similar things and will let you unburden.

And how many will also forgive and help you to rediscover the real you.

There is light on the other side of that dark door… just have faith in yourself.

  • With thanks to the Blurt Foundation for the practical aspects in the second half of this blog: www.blurtitout.org
  • Thanks also to MIND, who have always been there: www.mind.org.uk
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The psychologist

I came in from the wilderness

Drenched to the bone

Darkness hung above me

Broken and alone

Your words fell like rain

And mingled with my tears

In pools at my feet

They washed away all fears

You sketched the view so clearly

Like a graphic artist in a play

A friendship etched quite dearly

There is much more I need to say

Hunted like a crocodile

Ravaged in the corn

Come in, you said, I’ll give you

Shelter from the storm

Echoes of Darkness

Beware of darkness

Beware of darkness

It eats the soul

Nightmare claws attach

Voices whisper

Wild thoughts

Trespass

Beyond sanity’s climax

 

The hopelessness surrounds you

Watch out my own sweet love

The dead of night

Darkens deeply

The shooting star

That shines

Above

 

Beware of sadness

And words that linger

Deep inside your head

Memories twisted

Vain hopes

Blistered

Beyond my own deathbed

 

The Edge

The morning dawns grey

A blanket on another day

The savage wind

Whispers

Of another place

Where time stands

Still

Like a bitter pill

Unswallowed

 

Empty Sky

Empty

Broken

Yearning

Where has the time gone?

The tears flow

And weeds grow

Hands both shake

Sat all alone

The wall

The hall

The call

Sad deserted shore

Friends now leave

Lovers grieve

Birds they fly

I don’t count the score

 

Black Dog

Black dog at my feet

The darkness drifts dreaming from another place

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

Where it all will end

 

Black dog by my side

The dawn drowns drinking hope from the daylight

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

What the morn will bring

 

Black dog on my lap

The day drags drearily to the dark of noon

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

When the sun will set

 

Black dog at my back

The evening draws draping dankly upon me

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

When the night will end

 

Blink of an Eye

Shattered pavilions

Lost in the mist of time

Broken ladders

Leading nowhere

Looking for answers

But lost for questions

Life in a broken moment

In the blink of an eye

 

Bootleg

I fought to survive the cancer

But still the boot came in

I fought to save my marriage

But still the boot came in

I fought through tears and laughter

But still the boot came in

I fought for truth and honesty

But still the boot came in

I fought with the sword of justice

But still the boot came in

I fought the nuclear dustbin

But still the boot came in

I fought to find my children

But still the boot came in

I fought for all the homeless

But still the boot came in

I fought for faith and family

But still the boot came in

I fought for Islam’s children

But still the boot came in

I fought for Labour’s heartland

But still the boot came in

I fought against Noah’s rainbow

But still the boot came in

I fought for all the others

But still the boot came in

 

Heaven can wait

Leaving Beersheba

Stumbling

Remembering

Aching

Eyeless

In Gaza

Climbing Jacob’s ladder

Reach the top

And stop

Because

There’s nothing

There

 

Top of the End

Head screams pain

Life broken again

The grey sky

Burning eyes

Hope that shone

So bright

Now

Dust under the feet

My, oh my, oh my

Let me die

 

Laughter now dead

Words are all read

Plans for the future

Solitary torture

Life that fought

So hard

Now

Lost and beaten

My, oh my, oh my

Let me die

 

The moment

I walk a fine line between sanity

And despair

Where abuse and loss

Erode

Self-confidence and self-care

The memories eat away

The small joys

Of today

And leave me sightless

Eyeless

In this land of the blind

 

Memories

Floating

Whispering

Waiting

The times lies in pieces

On this broken

Soil

A pathway

To the stars

Where the crescent

Moon

Doesn’t bend

Its light

Shines

And memories

Fade

 

Momentary Nails

Flash of anger

Howls like a

Hammer

We regret the

Past

Now

Homeward bound

It will not last

Battles won

And souls are lost

Peace is sewn

The wind is blown

Society ponders

Justice

Corruption

The sickle

Recycled

Stumbling

Hoping

Crawling

Hanging by nails

Upon your cross

And Crescent

Moon

 

Kindred recall

Sunlight dapples

Oak tree tops

Above the leaded roof

The sky screams

Infinity

Searching for the truth

 

I don’t know you

Kindred spirit

Lost refrain

Your eyes betray

Hope

And more deeply your pain

 

Victorian tiles

Line the attic

Of Dylan’s distant vision

The rain cascades

Torrential

Reaching no decision

 

Radiators rumble

Shunning silence

With dim electric noise

The heating coughs

Creative

Humanity destroys

 

Window shutters

Cause shadows

Upon the office wall

The day’s stillness

Meanders

No-one hears the call

 

I might die tonight

You smile

And your mouth says you love me

You laugh

And the world laughs with you too

You sigh

And my arms they do uphold you

You cry

And my tissues dry your tears

You break

And your eyes they see the distance

You sway

And the planet is still turning

You sleep

And I might die tonight

 

Life

Oh what a life it’s been

Even the trapped ambition

The mistakes

The gaffs

The love

The lust

The diamonds

The rust

The music

The lions

The dust

What a life

 

Oh what a life it’s been

Even the damned confusion

Despair

Regret

Depression

Recession

The beach

The waves

The reach

The illusion

The speech

What a life

 

The Poplar

The lonely poplar

Pricks holes

In the darkening

Sky

As snow cascades

And quiet songs sing

In chill white

Flakes

By a window

To the world

Outside

Just waiting

Waiting

Waiting

For the grey around

Me

To lighten

The journey

Onwards

To a place where

I can

Live

Sweet dreams

And sing quiet songs

 

Punch Drunk

Punch drunk

Been knifed in the back

Punch drunk

Dazed by distorted fact

Punch drunk

Hit between the eyes

Punch drunk

Poisoned with their lies

Punch drunk

Twisted tales that they tell

Punch drunk

Stumbled and then I fell

Punch drunk

Reeling on the ropes

Punch drunk

Left with little hope

Punch drunk

One too many blows

Punch drunk

Blood running from my nose

Punch drunk

Nothing left to lose

Punch drunk

Stand inside my shoes

Punch drunk

Depression runs too deep

Punch drunk

Fighting for some sleep

Punch drunk

Trying to stay straight

Punch drunk

The fightback is too late

Punch drunk

Dimming of the light

Punch drunk

Losing every fight

Punch drunk

The game it is too rough

Punch drunk

Think I’ve had enough

 

This is the Sea

Swirling salt water laps at my feet

The west wind finds frailties

Of what remains from the sleep

Greyness spreads to the dark horizon

Herring gulls call me to the deep

This is the end

This is my friend

This is the sea

 

Memories meander around what happened before

Questions open wounds bleakly

Yet we all know the score

Emptiness echoes as hope once evades

Waves they now crash upon the shore

This is the end

This is my friend

This is the sea

 

Tales of Brave Louise

You said the darkened winter

Might bring you down forever

Left gagging for the summer

Where pure air lets you breathe

Sea breeze cascades

The salt wash

Of Louise Ulysses

The battlefield of conquest

To your secret hidden haven

Where mermaids play

And sanity stays

Untouched

 

You fight against injustice

And the violence of your kin

Carving deep blue ripples

In the tissues of your mind

Now within your coral sea

You swim so very deeply

And Sirens laugh

Through your fingertips

To your secret hidden haven

Where mermaids play

And sanity stays

Untouched

 

You cannot yet surrender

For you touched the distant sands

And treasured friends are calling you

To leave the pain behind

Among the shingle

And the mock weed

Beyond the next beach barrier

You dance upon white horses

To your secret hidden haven

Where mermaids play

And sanity stays

Untouched
 

(Inspired by Tales of Brave Ulysses)

Beware of Darkness – Into the Light

World Mental Health Day 2016

 I WROTE the attached blog piece three years ago, following my nervous breakdown in June 2013.

https://seagullnic.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/when-you-gonna-wake-up-and-strengthen-the-things-that-remain

At the time of writing I was recovering slowly from what I believed had been the lowest point in my life.

But, an ongoing deep depression took over from the breakdown.

My depression was classified as ‘reactive depression’ – a reaction to what life had thrown at me.

The sexual abuse I suffered as a young teenager, a major life crisis in my late 20s, battling cancer in my early 30s, relationship breakdowns and divorces, the loss of my children, bankruptcy, assault, the loss of my home, the loss of two careers and unexpected close bereavements.

The depression manifested itself in the more obvious feelings of deep lows or worthlessness, but also in many other less obvious ways such as anger and irritability, frustration, OCD behaviour, unconscious selective hearing, tiredness, insomnia, over-eating, forgetfulness, clumsiness and inability to concentrate on one thing for long periods.

In my case, it was all of these.

During this time only my writing, my loving family and a few close friends sustained me.

But pain is shared, and I had not realised how much my depression was affecting those closest to me.

Two deep lows were met: in June 2015, when I tried to end my life; and again in November last year when I eventually called out for help.

Six months intensive psychiatric counselling followed and I came out of the experience a different person… stronger, more open and able to live again.

Each day is different, but I am now looking outwards and to the future.

So, to celebrate World Mental Health Day, I append a few of the songs and poems I wrote during that Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul. They are all dark, but out of that darkness came creativity and now light:

 

Darkness

The black veil advances

Cutting out the light

The smoke of day draws in

Dimming all in sight

The blanket haze envelops

Blurring edges of my plight

Dim memories are created

Nothing now seems right

Dark forces are advancing

Forcing hope to flight

The wind howls like a hammer

What can resist its might?

The emptiness inside me

As the day it turns to night

 

Soul

I am the self-consumer of my woes

The bed of my depression

I am the heart of a life that beats

The bed of my regression

I am the hope that burns within

The heat of my transgression

I am the demon that tempts me still

The soul of my oppression

I am the man that will not give in

The hope of my suppression

I am the hands of peaceful fate

The well of my aggression

I am the smile on a face with tears

The deceit of my expression

I am the sin of empty thoughts

The redeemer of my confession

I am the clock of future years

The focus of my progression

I am the whole of a living soul

The core of my possession.

 

Keep on Keeping On

I’ve just reached a place where I can’t go on

My friends all tell me to just be strong

But strength is an illusion

I have known too long

So far away from where I began

Now I just stay where I don’t belong

Play my guitar and sing this song

It’s the end my love

The end

 

Time is a window into a world gone wrong

Far away from the maddening throng

But happiness is a façade

I have worn all along

So far away from where I began

Now I just stay where I don’t belong

Play my guitar and sing this song

It’s the end my love

The end

 

Hope is the marathon we try to prolong

All the way from Memphis to far Guangdong

But music eases the pain

I have carried too long

So far away from where I began

Now I just stay where I don’t belong

Play my guitar and sing this song

It’s the end my love

The end

 

The Edge

The morning dawns grey

A blanket on another day

The savage wind

Whispers

Of another place

Where time stands

Still

Like a bitter pill

Unswallowed

 

Cry Awhile

Heart pounding

Brain exploding

You wonder what to do

The pain it tears

At emptiness

Isolated and alone

Coruscating deadliness

When there’s no direction home

 

Well, I’m crying to the heavens

Feel like a helpless child

Yes, I cried for you

Now I’ll sit and cry awhile

 

Chest heaving

Shallow breathing

Lamps are burning low

The hope it flickers

At idle fears

The fringes of the night

Cascading misspent years

When darkness dims the light

 

Well, I’m crying to the heavens

Feel like a helpless child

Yes, I cried for you

Now I’ll sit and cry awhile

 

Final days

The brush strokes of the passing day

Paint his life in shades of grey

The clock it ticks each fading hour

As his life withers like a dying flower

 

A road less travelled lies ahead

Finding a place to rest his head

The old brown moss, the limestone comb

The wooded glen where wild cats roam

 

The final doorway to his life appears

Colours saturate the passing years

Red of anger and deep blue pervade

Under the bent willow he’ll find his shade

 

Beware of darkness

Beware of darkness

It eats the soul

Nightmare claws attach

Voices whisper

Wild thoughts

Trespass

Beyond sanity’s climax

 

The hopelessness surrounds you

Watch out my own sweet love

The dead of night

Darkens deeply

The shooting star

That shines

Above

 

Beware of sadness

And words that linger

Deep inside your head

Memories twisted

Vain hopes

Blistered

Beyond your own deathbed

 

Broken Man Blues

The day you held my dick in your hand

Abused so hard I could not stand

A broken man

The day I made my great mistake

A blight from which I cannot awake

A broken man

The day the scalpel cut so deep

Nightmares have filled my deepest sleep

A broken man

The day you stole sweet Andrea’s life

And left behind pain, chaos and strife

A broken man

 

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind

Bring me my boots and shoes

I sit blindly in your doorway

Playing my guitar slowly

And sing for you these broken man blues

 

The day you swallowed pills of disdain

And your stepfather shot out his own brain

A broken man

The day you cheated in our marriage bed

Then denied everything I had ever said

A broken man

The day you stole our daughters away

My life it faded to a deeper grey

A broken man

The day you lied with a poison tongue

More years of agony had just begun

A broken man

 

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind

Bring me my boots and shoes

I sit blindly in your doorway

Playing my guitar slowly

And sing for you these broken man blues

 

The day you ran off with a married man

And left me homeless without a plan

A broken man

The day the plate cracked open my skull

The grey in my life then all turned dull

A broken man

The day the nervous breakdown came

Nothing would ever be the same

A broken man

The day I lost a lifetime career

I drowned the shame in wine and beer

A broken man

 

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind

Bring me my boots and shoes

I sit blindly in your doorway

Playing my guitar slowly

And sing for you these broken man blues

 

The day my eldest wed his bride

It left me with no place to hide

A broken man

The day I collapsed in a forgotten heap

The drugs numbed me in a zombie sleep

A broken man

The day my last child went far away

Nothing in life was left to betray

A broken man

The day I left the town of lost souls

I stumbled into a welcome of city scrolls

A broken man

 

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind

Bring me my boots and shoes

I sit blindly in your doorway

Playing my guitar slowly

And sing for you these broken man blues

 

The day you told me to go away and die

No-one was left to hear me cry

A broken man

The day I walked into the swirling sea

I hoped in vain you would hear my plea

A broken man

The day my sweet granddaughter was born

My life was then fully ripped and torn

A broken man

So I tremble shaking to hold onto a dream

That nothing is quite as it may seem

A broken man

 

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind

Bring me my boots and shoes

I sit blindly in your doorway

Playing my guitar slowly

And sing for you these broken man blues

 

Top of the End

Head screams pain

Life broken again

The grey sky

Burning eyes

Hope that shone

So bright

Now

Dust under the feet

My, oh my, oh my

Let me die

 

Laughter now dead

Words are all read

Plans for the future

Solitary torture

Life that fought

So hard

Now

Lost and beaten

My, oh my, oh my

Let me die

 

This is the Sea

Swirling salt water laps at my feet

The west wind finds frailties

Of what remains from the sleep

Greyness spreads to the dark horizon

Herring gulls call me to the deep

This is the end

This is my friend

This is the sea

 

Memories meander around what happened before

Questions open wounds bleakly

Yet we all know the score

Emptiness echoes as hope once evades

Waves they now crash upon the shore

This is the end

This is my friend

This is the sea

 

Black Dog

Black dog at my feet

The darkness drifts dreaming from another place

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

Where it all will end

 

Black dog by my side

The dawn drowns drinking hope from the daylight

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

What the morn will bring

 

Black dog on my lap

The day drags drearily to the dark of noon

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

When the sun will set

 

Black dog at my back

The evening draws draping dankly upon me

Been here before

But still I’m not sure

When the night will end

 

Punch Drunk

Punch drunk

Been knifed in the back

Punch drunk

Dazed by distorted fact

Punch drunk

Hit between the eyes

Punch drunk

Poisoned with their lies

Punch drunk

Twisted tales that they tell

Punch drunk

Stumbled and then I fell

Punch drunk

Reeling on the ropes

Punch drunk

Left with little hope

Punch drunk

One too many blows

Punch drunk

Blood running from my nose

Punch drunk

Nothing left to lose

Punch drunk

Stand inside my shoes

Punch drunk

Depression runs too deep

Punch drunk

Fighting for some sleep

Punch drunk

Trying to stay straight

Punch drunk

The fightback is too late

Punch drunk

Dimming of the light

Punch drunk

Losing every fight

Punch drunk

The game it is too rough

Punch drunk

Think I’ve had enough

 

Beware of Darkness

Beware of darkness

It eats the soul

Nightmare claws attach

Voices whisper

Wild thoughts

Trespass

Beyond sanity’s climax

 

The hopelessness surrounds you

Watch out my own sweet love

The dead of night

Darkens deeply

The shooting star

That shines

Above

 

Beware of sadness

And words that linger

Deep inside your head

Memories twisted

Vain hopes

Blistered

Beyond your own deathbed