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

Beyond Dark Eyes

I am sat here alone and writing

The midnight moon shines on the temple gates

They’re drinking wine and talking

And my thoughts they all now separate

I live in another world

Where pain and death are iconised

My life is strung with traitor’s pearls

And all I see are dark eyes

 

I think of you sleeping so far away

Hear you breathe sweet innocence

Your face it fades into darkened grey

But your words now enter my inner sense

I can hear a desert drum

Beating beneath the poet’s disguise

Four riders watch as they come

And all I see are dark eyes

 

I was raised to be discreet

For all life’s intended purposes

They tell me revenge is sweet

Against my enemy’s twisted vertices

But I feel nothing for their game

Where beauty goes unrecognized

All I feel is heat and flame

And all I see are dark eyes

 

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

Poem: The False Widow

The dawn it screams in anger

How can it now be true?

How can the hope that dangled

Briefly

Be sewn with weeds anew?

 

The False Widow smiles insanely

Her web is woven tight

The Puppet Master dances

Madly

Until there is no fight

 

The morning conjures bleakly

How quickly life can change

They measured their options

Clearly

Behind the kitchen range

 

The False Widow smiles insanely

Her web is woven tight

The Puppet Master dances

Madly

Until there is no fight

 

The noontime sun advances

Their motives are quite clear

The marionette now stands

Sadly

Looking beyond the frozen sphere

 

The False Widow smiles insanely

Her web is woven tight

The Puppet Master dances

Madly

Until there is no fight

 

So evening calls more quietly

A vague hope it still clings

Touching love and life

Sincerely

And cutting webs and strings

 

The False Widow smiles insanely

Her web is woven tight

The Puppet Master dances

Madly

Until there is no fight

 

So dust the broom in moonlight

Keep it clean and new

The way ahead still lies

Clearly

Until morning’s early dew