I accidentally bought a huge cup of coffee, and man I’m glad I did. It feels as though my brain stopped working about three days ago. I’ve just been gliding through life, drinking tea, coffee, reading Harry Potter and eating frozen, homemade meals that my mum stocked me up on last weekend (hero.)
The weather outside seems to be reflecting my mood – it’s dark, cloudy and looks like it’s about to chuck it down any minute. (In fact, it’s eerily dark, which is quite discomforting if I’m honest). I’m sat in university in the empty social learning zone, with the canteen lights flickering wearily, catching my attention every so often from the corner of my eye. I don’t know whether it’s my mood, but everything seems exhausted and ever so slightly sad today. I’m also cautious that this blog post seems to be going down the route of looking like a desolate, emotive novel, where the protagonist reflects on everything that’s going wrong in their life, and embarks on a journey to either ‘find himself/herself’ or has to get saved by some knight in shining armour. Well, my knight in shining armour today is coffee. Wonderful, wonderful coffee.
Ironically some sad music just started playing through my headphones… oh this scene is perfect for a melancholy exert from a novel about the burdens of life. I’ll just admit now that my life looks like a really depressing novel right now. (Albeit a boring one).
I’m trying to look after myself and break away from the anguish thrust at me from my lovely friend depression. And naturally I’m doing what I’m best at… mocking myself. Though sometimes I really do worry that I’m being ‘dramatic’, I have days where I really feel ‘sorry’ for myself, but these are the days where I know that I’m actually really struggling, and pretending that I’m ‘feeling sorry’ for myself, or being melodramatic makes it easier for me to brush aside my need to ask others for support. It’s days like this where I completely feel as though others won’t be able to support me… or that the people who say “you can always call me, even if it’s 2am” are actually lying. Of course, I know that people genuinely do care about me, but my brain does a fantastic job at convincing me otherwise, so much so that it doesn’t feel as though it’s ‘convincing’ me anymore, it just feels like a truth.
In fact, yesterday on the Dearest Someone Twitter I tweeted out: ‘despite everyone always saying they are there to support me I always find it so difficult/silly contacting them.’ It seems a lot of people feel the same, the response was very empathetic, with people agreeing that they experience very similar feelings. But how do you overcome that?
I often have conversations with people about how difficult it is to arrange support for mental illness when you’re really not feeling great. I work with and am friends with other service users, who often mention that when you’re really struggling it’s so difficult to let others know because it’s very easy to distance yourself from others and keep quiet.
For me I’ve found that I find it quite difficult to completely feel at ease in relationships with my friends, my family and those around me. I love them all dearly but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let them know fully what’s going on – partly because I don’t understand myself and partly because my brain doesn’t want to burden them, or for them to think I’m being silly. I’m always terrified of how people will respond to me, that I strive to put on a brave face – but this actually does help (most of the time). It allows me to identify when I’m struggling and when I need to take things easy, but also it reminds me that sometimes it’s okay for me to push myself and say ‘screw you’ to my depression.
However, sometimes I really do need support, professional support. One of my main worries is that as I have received support before people will get fed up of offering me support and that I should just be ‘over’ whatever it is that is causing me difficulty. I feel like my low mood, and my difficulties have been prolonged, and that they don’t seem to be getting any better. And that the longer I find things difficult the harder I find it to ask for help because I should in fact be ‘recovering’ and not continuing to struggle.
It can also feel incredibly lonely when I’m not telling others what’s going on and they’re not asking me what’s going on. But, that’s because I’ve said many many times that I’m okay, and quite honestly I know that if they were to ask me if I was okay I’d reply ‘yes’ and just get on with things. I used to find that when I had weekly psychology sessions I was able to hold onto things and break everything down during my sessions, but now I don’t even have contact with a Community Psychiatric Nurse, and they expect me to get in touch when things aren’t okay. That’s a mighty flaw in my opinion. If I’m not okay the last thing I’m going to do is phone up a stranger and ask for help, it’s not in my nature. But I also know that I can’t have people wait on me hand and foot, so really I find myself in quite an exhausting dilemma.
Though, I was in hospital a few months back, and have been under the care of both the Home Treatment and Crisis teams, yet since I have been discharged I’ve had barely any contact from anyone in the mental health services. And that really exhausts and distresses me – so much so that I now have no idea how to facilitate that support. When I’m feeling really awful I need someone to reach out and offer me support – even if it’s a quick cup of tea and a chat, or someone offering me the space to help me work through what it is that I’m feeling. At the moment I don’t feel as though I have that at all, and I don’t understand how I can go from feeling incredibly supported to suddenly feeling as though I’ve been left behind.
this is indeed the problem with mental illnesses…they are invisible. i’m sorry you are struggling right now and am glad you reached out here where there are others who know this problem well and can support you.
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Thanks lovely, I hope you’re well xx
so evocative and well written, I can completely relate to you in every way. Depression is just a vicious circle but manages to prevent you from being able to help yourself and reach out. I find the thoughts I have in a low mood often seem the truth to me and it is a painful experience. Im still not sure whether when we feel better our healthier perspective is a illusion so we can cope with the grim realities of life. Most creative literature and art has been from life hardships/realities? Anyway I feel for you especially as it is not so long you were in hospital, how quickly the support falls away, its shameful. Is there any way you can trust one person to open up to when you feel at your worst, I know how hard it is but you need to take care that you don’t get more depressed and isolated? I think overcoming your pride and caring too much what people think, i.e. you are just a sad story, is essential. Maybe you haven’t come to terms with your illness and as you are young you hope you will overcome and put it all behind you. I don’t know your diagnosis but please take care of yourself and push yourself to get the support you need. Love and hugs Alison xx
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I completely agree with the feeling that when we feel better it can feel as though it’s an illusion! It doesn’t feel real because the negatives feel so rule. I do have one person that I can talk to, I’ve just been finding it very difficult lately! I feel like I’ve come to turns with my illness but suddenly that sense of knowing it’s an illness has just faded away and I do feel ashamed, it’s odd! Thank-you for your comment 🙂 hope you’re well xx
I’m Jo, I’m an artist, writer, traveller, wild west nut ( http://www.kitty-or-roy.co.uk) and renaissance soul. I’ve recovered from thirty years of depression and anxiety and I’m blogging about the rebuilding of my creative lifestyle. I thought you might like to read it. Thanks! http://www.joclutton.simplesite.com
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Hi Jo, thanks for sharing, I’ll have a read!
depression always makes you feel like you aren’t worth of help, or that people don’t care & everything else you mentioned. It IS incredibly hard to reach out when you really need it, but on the occasions I have managed it, I’ve learned one important lesson:
I am not burdening people. How much they take on is on them- do they have healthy boundaries with people, are they good at tolerating stress in their own life etc. You can’t choose to be a burden or not. People will feel overwhelmed by something, or they will just take it in their stride and be a support to you.
I hope you’re okay & I can promise you that your depression is the liar, not you! Xo
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I’ve never looked at it that way, I just instantly feel that nobody wants to help but they just feel obliged too! I’m trying very hard to keep my head above water! I hope you’re well xxx
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