Thoughts on Depression

I was talking the mum about many things the other evening and, in my attempt to be completely honest with people from this year on; I began by telling her that I only needed her to listen when I talk. That her opinion or advice is not something I am asking for and that some things she said before Christmas only made me feel guilty. She took this well and so, the conversation went on and lasted for some time.

Mum told me about the first time she had seen me ‘like this’ and that was over a decade ago, when I was secretly skipping lessons during my A-Levels at school. This merged in to days before transforming in to weeks. I still don’t know how I got away with it for so long or, to be honest, why I ever did it. I can remember being home the day my mum answered a call from the Head of Sixth Form… I think I was supposed to be in one that day yet, I was hidden upstairs in my room. Maybe even lying in bed; listening and waiting.

Year 12 was fine and I quite enjoyed the ‘freedom’ from GCSEs and uniform (even if half my trousers were worn hand-me-downs from my father…). One guy commented on how I had changed. Apparently, I was ‘cool’. He asked if I’d done meditation or something. I’ve no idea what really bought on the change! I wasn’t even looking for a part-time job and I was month away from getting my provisional driving license. I still spent much of my free time alone, in my room, playing on my Nintendo 64 (remember those?).

A Nintendo 64 game console and controller (Nin...

A Nintendo 64 game console and controller (Nintendo 64 is a trademark of Nintendo Company, Limited). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did feel a change towards the end of Year 12. I was growing tired, only half looking forward to that final year before stepping out and in to the real world. By the time Year 13 started, I had a job and had worked hard through the summer. I had my provisional license (I think) and was looking forward to starting driving lessons, which would begin in 2003. I had stuff to look forward to but, I wasn’t happy in my present. I was down to two A-Level subjects (Art and DT: Graphic Products – my AS Level was in Art Graphics!). Art was the one I feared the most although, partly for my teacher, who I did fear. When you step back though, you can see he is a great teacher.

My DT teacher was almost like a friend at times and always made a great effort to me personally. He saw so much in me that I couldn’t at the time see through my own eyes. After Christmas, I had meetings with different people who all tried to help. There was a really nice, upbeat woman who tried to ‘counsel’ me, I think… I can’t remember her job title but I always felt more comfortable in that narrow room between classrooms, with her, than I did amongst my peers. Another woman I had to see was a career’s adviser (although, not much older than myself). She tried her best to give me options and hoping for September as I was lacking in both plan and direction. I can’t remember whether she actually set me on a path but, I know my mum definitely helped. I remember she phoned me at home, many months later, just to check up.

I am sorry that I never got to say goodbye to my Graphics teacher. It was final year at the school and in the country, as he was moving to France with his wife (she’s French) for early retirement. I imagine it hurt him that I wasn’t there. He phoned me at home one evening, only two months before the A2 exams. I’d missed so much and was so far behind but, he was confident that we could ‘appeal’ to the board and that they could credit me with a B-grade for my attempted coursework (which was about two-thirds done). I’d done little work to my final model at home – I think my dad made most of that as I had absolutely no interest or belief. When asked, I told my teacher that I would be in the next day to hand it in to his office… I wouldn’t have to stay for the class or anything but still, I couldn’t face it and, in the end, mum ended up taking it in for me. All I really had to do now was to attend two final exams to achieve some kind of grade… I couldn’t. I still dropped out.

I don’t remember being bullied any more than the verbal taunts I’d receiving since I started primary school. I remember not having many ‘real’ friends. I used to hang around with a group of ‘nerds’ from my DT class because I didn’t feel comfortable around anyone else. I’m sure I was mocked for this and then, I still kept my distance. It felt as though everyone else in the year had ‘grown’ since turning 18 and yet, there I was, still 16 and going nowhere. Doing nothing and having little to offer.

That was one of the lowest times in my life and I still don’t understand why. Too much has been forgotten now, ten-years on. But, I’ve been feeling very low again recently (not for the first time since) and mum’s perspective has made me consider just how deep in to a state of ‘depression’ I may actually be…

New Year's Eve 'Blue Moon'

New Year’s Eve ‘Blue Moon’ (Photo credit: Images by John ‘K’)

When I’m low, I’m like a lot of other people; uninterested and unproductive, to put it very basically. I’ve always seen these times as my depressive ‘episodes’, if you will (I’m not sure if it’s right to use that word).  At other times, I’m more productive and able to cope but, I’m never genuinely happy. I often have to force or fake a smile. I can see positives, light, colour and sometimes I’ll be tickled hard enough to let out a real laugh, instead of just try to please or not-concern someone else. So, I’m now wondering…

Am I suffering from a permanent form of depression?

Perhaps my understanding of what depression is and how it works is naive.

My counsellor only ever focused on the anxiety issues and that irritated me a bit as we walked on past the depression, to be honest. Does depression lead to anxiety or vice-versa? As I write this post, I’m also narrating (in my head) in the voice of Stephen Fry… (I was watching his DVD again last night). I began counselling without much of a clue, searching for answers. Now, I’m thinking that I should get an opinion (by seeing a psychiatrist) first, so that I at least know where I’m dealing with and where I can go.

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry (Photo credit: Profound Whatever)

I must book an appointment with my GP this week as this current state has lasted around 21-days so far. Sometimes I’m higher than on other days but, the fog isn’t clearing. Recent events haven’t helped this week, even though I spent an evening with a friend in Bristol on Friday night (for me, that’s unheard of). If I leave it too long and find myself ‘out’ of this hole again though, I fear that the doctor won’t see it and I’ll even begin to doubt it myself.

This is why I feel I must start carrying a small notebook with me, to observe and to note my mood, thoughts and feelings in a diary-style format.

I have a ‘fascination’ for bipolar disorder based on events within the last year but, before I attempt a self-diagnosis, I don’t think I ever get the highs of any form. I’ve seen symptoms of mania, hypomania and even high mood that I do not recognise within myself. I’ve had some ‘crazy’ thoughts throughout my life and maybe I’ll dedicate some of those to another post soon. But, in isolation, these ‘symptoms’ are not enough for a diagnosis, as far as I understand.

I should be in my van right now. I should be driving in to Bristol, ready for a bacon sandwich and a six-mile walk around the city. But, I’m afraid. My mood was so low last Sunday that, although three people made an attempt to talk to me, I just wanted to tell them to go away. As the group broke off in two and we headed off to a café for a post-walk drink, I made a non-discreet exit from the crowd that seemed to go unnoticed, as we passed the car park. I do feel guilty about that and it’s a fear that going today would invite all the usual questions – Where did you go last Sunday? etc. I can’t explain my behaviour to everyone and now, I forget what was even making me feel that way.

It would’ve been nice to have done the walk and to have disappeared again before the proposed late-pub lunch. There are ‘famous’ parts of Bristol I still don’t know and I would’ve liked to have seen some of those today.

After the walk, my plan was to head down to Millennium Square to do some photography, in the places where I first laid eyes on May and we got to know each other. Still, I fear the presence of other people, especially when they’re within the line of a shot I’m looking to take (I fear being accused of things like a pervert, paedophile or even gay when a stranger sees me with my camera out). I don’t know how things will pan out but, I sent a message to one of her female friends yesterday, asking her to be there for her because she does need someone and, I imagine, would find it very hard to trust another man at this time. If she even reads the message, it’s up to her as to how to proceed. Anything could happen! I know that May won’t come running back to me, with her own depression and I’ll have to try again to make the first move, once I’ve given her some to to think. To assess what she does or doesn’t have. I don’t wish that to sound arrogant but I know she has placed trust within and that does give me hope.

I fear I may’ve lost her but, she certainly has not lost me and she never will.

 

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18 comments on “Thoughts on Depression

  1. Linda says:

    I’m sorry to hear that the fog isn’t clearing. The current criteria for diagnosis are a persistent low mood for 2 weeks or more, and that is with a regular GP. They should have a questionnaire/form to assess how you’ve felt over the last two weeks. Depressed moose has a link to it on his site.

    I’ve never seen the value in psychiatrists, because I’m a psychologist I guess! It might be worth it, just for the opinion, and if you think it would help. Start with going to your GP and discussing how you feel, and then go from there. I think anxiety and depression are most certainly linked and feed into each other.

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for your comment. I really do appreciate having you as a friend. 🙂 I’ve been a bit ‘practical’ today even though I didn’t feel like facing the group. I’m higher than I was this morning but still low, I guess – I attribute this current feeling to my ‘stable’ condition for the last decade.

      When I first mentioned it to him in 2009, I was unable to talk about but, he put me on anti-depressants without question. I gave up on them after two-months but would consider trying something that focuses more on anxiety, if such a pill exists.

      That’s what I was thinking of; for the opinion. I’m not looking to see a psychiatrist regularly, I just want to know where I should be going, since I’ve found that talking is too hard.

      I’ve got to be brave this week and to make that phone call one evening… I kept putting it of all of this week but I have several other things to sort out as well (one of which contributes to anxiety).

  2. WeeGee says:

    I think the best place for you to start is with your GP. Good on you for recognising that you need to seek this out xoxox

    • Thank you, WeeGee. I just hope that I do it soon enough, so that I’m not ‘better’ by the time I get there, when I’ve felt before as though I shouldn’t be there and was wasting his time. 🙂

  3. mintedmoose says:

    sadly my psychiatrist was useless. She actually said “next time you want to jump from a bridge dont let anyone stop you”.

    It takes alot of courage to admit you need help, whenever i relapse its always the hardest thing for me. Fair play to you for recognising and accepting this.

    Things will get easier although it doesnt seem possible now, it will xXx

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

      I’m sorry to hear that your psychiatrist was anything but helpful…

      Do you speak to anyone now? How do you cope?

      • mintedmoose says:

        I see my doctor once a month, I talk to a few people i trust such as my mom and a couple of close friends. Blogging is probably the biggest help. Instead of locking thoughts away i write them down. I dont always make them public bu at least its off my mind xXx

  4. Natalya says:

    Sorry you’re feeling low. I’ve been dealing with a low mood too for the past few weeks. My S.A.D. lamp helps but I don’t use it as often as I should. December and January are rough for me since the light levels are so poor. Do you have S.A.D.? I can’t recall if you mentioned having it before…

    • Hi Natalya and thank you.

      I’ve heard about mood lighting and daylights but I’ve never tried it.

      I may well suffer from SAD but, if I suffer from depression then, I’ve always assumed that would just be part of it, you know. I’d rather bag it all up under the same label than try to differentiate between the two. I also worry that if people (myself included) became aware that I suffer from SAD then, they might think less of my depression at other times of the year.

      Stigma all over again, I guess… I do get like this most winters though.

      How are you throughout the other three seasons? I know you have other contributing stresses from having read your blog.

      • Natalya says:

        Hi, I can see why you’d want to not talk about S.A.D. apart from your depression. But I think if you wanted to, on your own, you could buy a S.A.D. light and try it out maybe. They can be expensive but sometimes you can find smaller ones under $100.00 Amazon has them.

        The rest of the year, for me, I suppose I’m “okay”. Normally, I do better with longer days of light and feel the S.A.D. lifting in mid February as the days get longer. If nothing really bad is happening in my life I am not depressed, as a rule. Last year was pretty good mood wise until November when it got dark earlier. My mood is very connected to light and dark cycles. I wasn’t getting very good sleep before I bought a room darkening shade to keep street lights out of my room. The light would come through my closed blinds from either the moon or street lamps.
        Anyway, that was a long way of saying I am okay(usually) during the other three seasons. I have had separate episodes of depression before though as well. Fortunately, not last year or 2011. 2009 & 2010 were not so good though.

  5. howanxious says:

    I understand what you mean by “depressive episodes”. I hope you find peace in life and get to know more about your depression and the ways to deal with it. And I wish you get to maintain a healthy relationship with May, even if it isn’t a romantic one.. after all I have got to keep an okay sort of relation with the girl in my story.
    -HA

  6. Thanks for tagging my article in yours. I know how you feel how everything seems to be depressing, etc. I hope you’re able to find some answers soon.

  7. Hi, keeping notes about your mood etc is a good idea, I often take notes from the blog, about lots of little things that may not seem much at the time, but combine to add up to quite a lot over say a week or 2. Sometimes everything can happen in 1 or 2 days over 1 week. I think the doc appreciates I have taken the time to do that as well. All the best

    • Thanks, MADD.

      I’ll try to do what I can but I do feel it would be easier when at home or out alone, as opposed to being at work all day, where people are bound to notice.

  8. Kizzie Khaos says:

    Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. As for which one leads to the other, it’s very much like the chicken and the egg; it doesn’t matter which one started it, if you’ve got one, you will more than likely get the other.

    I think visiting your GP is a very good idea, persistent low mood does point to a possibility of depression. Depression is also often recurrent and if you’ve had it before, whether or not you were treated for it, it can come back. Some anti-depressants can take up to three weeks to kick in, so you might not see any difference if you only take them for a short time. A lot of people also make the mistake of stopping taking them the minute they feel better, and this often causes a relapse.

    Also a lot people experience Bipolar symptoms in one form or another, but you need to fit several of the criteria for a considerable amount of time to be diagnosed with Bipolar. Self diagnosis is always a risky move as you often fit yourself to the illness rather than the illness to you.

    A lot of emphasis is put into diagnosis and knowing what’s ‘wrong’ with oneself and I know it’s tormenting when you believe you think and feel very differently from others, but with regards to your therapy, a diagnosis isn’t important and they treat you and your issues, not your diagnosis.

    I realize that this probably comes across in a cold matter of fact way, but that’s not the way it’s meant at all. I was aiming for helpful and informative but I think I may have missed the mark and hit cold-hearted-know-it-all-bitch instead. All the tact of a brick to the face you see, so I am sorry about that. Still I hope it is useful to you in some way and on a completely unrelated note, I do truly believe that Lego is the most ingenious invention of all time. 😄

    • Hi Kizzie!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment after reading the other day. I greatly appreciate it. 🙂

      I found the courage earlier to phone up and book the appointment! I do have to wait until Monday evening (as it’s the earliest convenient time) but I believe it will be worth it as this doctor is far easier to talk to than my GP. It’s the first time I’ve EVER phoned the doctors! I’ve always had my mum do it (I’m almost 28… :-P) in the past so this, in itself, is a big achievement for me! 😀

      In 2009, I tried anti-depressants for about two months but didn’t feel any different, to be honest. As soon as I swallowed my first one, I felt my mind become ‘silent’ but, I feel that was more of a ‘placebo effect’ rather than the tablets kicking in. They said it would take six weeks, then eight weeks, then more… In the end, I gave up.

      I’ll share my thoughts of meeting a psychiatrist but, I do feel I should be focusing more on finding CBT, which my counsellor was unwilling to offer. This doctor recommend the same to me in ’09 – but I was unemployed and unable or unwilling to fund it myself.

      I do appreciate your time and your thoughts. It’s all fine, I welcome and am grateful for what you have to say. Thank you. 🙂

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