Depression: Silence of Being Ignored Feels Like Loss

Depression: Silence of Being Ignored Feels Like Loss.

“I’m sharing this post in the hope that it will help others going through a similar experience, as well as those who are close to them and wished they could find a way to help. Depression can be as just as tough on friends and loved ones.”

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My reply

Dear Julie,

Your post moved me. I am glad that you have overcome your depression and that you are better now. Your message is an important one. It is so tough to share how we feel when we are depressed, that it is vital for us to have the courage to explain to loved ones what depression does to us, what it makes of us, how it skews our perception of the world and those around us. That way, they’ll be able to read the signs, be there to help when we need them.

When I started getting suicidal thoughts, what kept me going was the belief that my family and friends cared about me, that they would not want for anything bad to happen to me, and that ultimately they would miss me if I were gone.

I am lucky in that respect, that even in the deepest thralls of despair, I still had their love to hang on to. It did happen sometimes that when I would try to reach out I would be ignored or dismissed, but I never thought it to be out of malice, or out of a lack of care. I always assumed that I had not been forthright enough, open enough about what I was going through.

It is tough for someone who has never experienced depression to understand it. It is not that they do not want to, but they simply lack the necessary tools to do it. Many people find it tough to deal with it. They feel helpless and sometimes it is easier to run away.
I am sure that you have more people in your life who care about you than you think or feel when you are depressed. They might just not be very good at showing it. When they ignore you, it might be nothing more than their being wrapped up in their own problems and unable to find the head-space to respond.

Continue to reach out. It is better than keeping silent. When you are happy, make the most of it. Your friends will miss the sunshine in you when it’s gone and will want to light it up again, feeling certain that dawn is not far.

Warm regards,

Vic

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Breaking the silence on Depression

This has been a toughie. Sorry to have kept you waiting, my darlings, but I hope you think it worth the while. The main reason I came up with the COMING SOON post was to prevent myself from chickening out of the post you are reading now.

I was a happy, healthy, confident young woman. And then I wasn’t.

This is what depression does.

It crushes all that is good in you. It blinds you to the best you have to offer. It hollows you out.

I lead a charmed life. This is how I see it when I am healthy. This is what I cannot see when I am depressed.

I am lucky to have a wonderful husband, great friends, and a caring family. They would’ve helped me through this, if I had let them.

I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was the maiden in distress, in my impenetrable tower. There was no Dragon guarding the entrance. But the other D was.

They deserve the truth. You deserve the truth. At last I am ready to be candid.

I know now that I am not alone.

I hope that my speaking out about this will help others who continue to suffer in silence.

It took me a long time until I realised that enough was enough!

Time to break the silence on depression.

This letter is as much an apology for pushing you away, as it is a public acknowledgement of my struggles.

Dearest friend,

I do not want to start with an apology. Apologies sound hollow when written. You deserve so much more than any of these feeble surrogates for feeling could express.

I do not want to give any excuse for my absence, and for failing to get in touch with you. What I want to do instead is explain. And trust that you will understand.

I have been depressed. Still am. Clawing my way out of the bottomless pit.

I cannot pinpoint the moment when it came back. It is difficult to say, because when it comes it does not announce itself. There are early symptoms, yes, but there have to be eyes and a willingness to see them too.

My near-obsessive focus on getting the thesis submitted on time blindsided me to those warning signs.

I did not see them, because I did not want to see them. I could not, would not accept that this was happening again, so soon (at least it felt that way) after I’d managed to recover last.

I marshalled forward regardless.

One morning, some six months ago, I got in front of the computer. Routine. Turned it on. Opened the file. And then it happened.

The panic attack.

I had to crawl downstairs and get out into the garden for air. I could not breathe inside. Every time I returned, it struck again. After a while the attack subsided. I thought it best to take the rest of the day off. I put it down to exhaustion. One day. And I will be fine again.

I wasn’t.

For over three months, it happened again every morning. And then it got worse. It stayed. Chest constricted, gasping for air, hour after hour. I lived in panic, became paranoid. Afraid.

I do not know what I was afraid of.

Being watched. Being seen. Being found out.

When you are in the clasp of depression, the fear is somehow organic. Now that I am slowly coming out at the other end, I struggle to understand the logic, if there was any, behind this fear.

I isolated myself from the world. Worse than that. I was still in denial. No one close to me knew first-hand what I was going through. None of my friends. No one in my family. Not even my husband.

I concealed it from him until ten days ago, when I finally broke down and told him all, that I could see no end, no solution in sight.

The past two years, call them five, were an incredible strain on our relationship. We’ve pulled through somehow. It is beyond me how this did not manage to wreck my marriage, because it certainly gave it a good try.

Two years ago my grandmother died. It made me realise that I had become estranged from my father, if not by choice then by omission. It broke me.

I was afraid it would be the final straw, that he would not be able to take any more of it and I would be left alone, with my world crumbling around me. I am grateful that this did not happen. Yet the feeling of panic and fear were constant. My relationship was the only thing I had left that kept me going. I was afraid that if I told him, I would lose that too.

In the past, I’d never considered, really considered suicide other than in theoretical terms.

I always supposed that thinking about death, the pointlessness of life and pain, the lack of meaning in this world, were all prerogatives of a philosopher’s daily burden. I was a philosopher in training, so it was only to be expected that the subject would concern me.

When I finally hit rock bottom, the line between theory and action became blurred. Too blurred for comfort.

I was afraid that in one of the worst slumps, I would no longer take the daily demons, and do something stupid. Put an end to it.

For months I was an automaton, going through the motions, barely alive. I ate. I slept. I could not function at any other level as a human being.

It was worse this time than the last. Two years ago I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, cried myself into the morning night after night. Had to skip several nights of sleep for my body to become so exhausted that I would finally collapse and rest. Not this time around. It was worse, because all feeling, all emotion was numbed.

I was in denial about being depressed.

Not eating, not sleeping, and crying: these were all symptoms I could recognise. So my mind created a blocker, numbing all emotions. I subsisted in this false state, where on the one hand I was incapable of doing anything that might categorise me as a functioning individual, and on the other continued to deny this being the case.

Every morning, I climbed the stairs to the top room after breakfast, put my computer screen on and then stared blankly at it for hours on end. The panic attacks came. I numbed that too. When I felt them coming, I went through the motions until they subsided enough. I accepted them as part of my daily life, just like eating or sleeping. It was something that happened. That was all.

Churchill called his depression his little Black Dog.

I had a whole pack biting at my ankles. When one was done, another took its place. I can’t even be sure that they are gone. I still feel them lurking in the corners, around the recesses of my mind. They are always there. All I hope, is to keep them tame enough. Live to see another day.

I know now that I ought to have sought help. But I didn’t. Depression does that. It made me, in a skewed deranged way, impervious to the outer world. I became a spectre.

In truth, I wanted to remain so. To disappear, be forgotten, for the world to no longer exist. And since the world carries on regardless, for me to no longer exist instead.

Several weeks ago I started writing again.

I used it as a purge, or the equivalent of a leech that would presumably suck out the bad blood that coursed through my veins.

Day after day I wrote. I clasped onto it. It anchored me into life. After a while I breathed. I started clawing my way out of the abyss, see the light again.

It is time for me to break the silence on depression. I refuse to be ashamed or afraid.

I am grateful to you for all the support over the years. I hope that I succeeded with this letter, if not to fully explain, at least to make a positive first attempt at explaining myself.

With the deepest affection

Vic

Reason Me This

I loved this post. I’ve long believed that reason is nothing more than another social construct. It attempts to find the lowest common denominator for the greatest number of people and then declares it to be the norm. This is Reason.
What its supporters fail to acknowledge is that — and here I am linking into what notsinglebutnothappy said about writing honestly:

Most people, most of the time pretend.

At first they do it because they are told that this is what they must do. They learn to curve their behaviour accordingly. Then they do it because it is easier. They become socialised; it is the only way society can function after all.

But the truth is that none of us are ‘normal’ or have ‘reason’ – not when you get down to it. And I think this is one of the sources of depression – at least the way I try to make sense of it – realising that somehow you do not fit into the mould. You are not what and how you are expected to be.

I have been writing since the age of six, but it took me years to stand up and say “I am a writer.” In fact, the first time I said it was a few days ago when I first started my blog. Because, writing is not a ‘real’ job, I was told. It is a hobby, something that you do in your spare time. So I struggled to fit into the mould until it nearly broke me.

So… Rather than being a reason-rich conformist, I’d rather be a reason-less writer.

 

Fly with Me

When Ismay was nine she learnt to fly. It was all semblances, dreamscapes of course. Even a child of nice can distinguish between what is real and what is not, but for her, sleep had become more than a necessity. It was a refuge.

Her mother and father had rowed before, of course. But never that badly ever before. “Of course” – she learnt to accept it too soon.

She watched love turn to loathing. Wakefulness was increasingly painful to her. There was nothing she could do to change the goings-on in her home, so instead she searched for sleep. She was forever sleeping.

Years later, she could still remember with perfect clarity her first encounter with Patrick. He came to her in a dream.

She was sitting in her aunt’s garden, under the walnut tree, reading her favourite book. This was the place she felt safest in. It was hers to escape to. The gate creaked open. As she looked up from the page, she saw a teenage boy fighting his way through dandelions to reach her. He smiled. A second sun joined the day.

She was transfixed by his other-worldly beauty.  That skin, so pale yet radiant in the summer light, that rebellious mop of jet-black hair, and those eyes: indigo – like bathing in the sun-dance of a field-full of violets.

He offered his hand to help her stand up next to him: “Hi, Ismay.”

“Hello…” she paused, suddenly unsure, “Why are you here?”

“You were unhappy, so I came. I’m Patrick.” He kept her hand in his and motioned over towards the little plum orchard at the back. “Tell me, Ismay, did you get your wings yet? Can you fly?”

His question was an odd one, but she did not find it so. “It can’t be done.” She told him. “It is an impossible feat.”

“Trust me.”

He picked up a couple of pieces of flat timber from under a plum tree. They were even and thin and Ismay noticed that their edges had been smoothed out so that they looked almost oval in shape. Patrick ran his fingers over the two surfaces in turn and then placed them on the ground one next to the other. He stepped onto the board closest to him and indicated for her to step onto the other.

He took both her hands into his. “Close your eyes. Feel your feet against the timber.”

She did as he said.

“Can you feel it?” he asked after a few moments, “Can you feel its stillness against the ground?”

There was no mockery in his voice. He told her to trust him and Ismay took a leap of faith. “Yes.” she said.

Her feet were one with the timber. The timber was one with the earth. There was a flowing energy connecting all together.

“Now drive it into the ground,” said Patrick, “Imagine that you want to push it down, all the way to the centre of the planet.”

She did as she was told, but nothing happened. She opened her eyes and looked at Patrick, her lower lip protruding slightly. It did not work. It could not happen. But Patrick did not seem unhappy.

He held her hands and grinned broadly, “You’ve got it!”

And she had! Incredibly, they were floating on their boards a few inches above the ground, as if the magnetic force of the Earth had reacted to that of their bodies, set against it and pushed them skywards.

“We are flying!” she laughed happily. “Patrick, I am flying!”

“Not yet. But we are air bound and that’s a start. Now you need to imagine yourself moving forward. Just imagine the force in your back foot outweigh the other and find a point of reference… How about the gate?”

He let go of her hand and moments later was at the gate, floating just above it. He waited for Ismay to join him. The strain of the exercise had crowned his forehead with water beads. They glinted in the summer sun like gemstones.

She focused all her new-found elation of flight on him. He was her point of reference. She wanted to be next to him, to hold his hand again. This will move her forward. She strove to get near, and her board seamlessly carried her to where her heart’s wish lay.

The lesson was over. Their adventure was just beginning.

Soon they were two blurry outlines above the yellow-green fields. Then hand in hand they crossed oceans, the saline wind whipping their cheeks.

“This is heaven!” she exclaimed, “Let’s never stop!”

She breathed in the flagrance of prairies, of algae peppered seas, and frosty mountaintops. She abandoned herself fully to this voyage he gifted her. She will always crave the exhilarating newness of a journey.

But stop it did. As the evening approached, Patrick told her that she had to return home. It was with great reluctance that she agreed. And as she waved goodbye, standing next to the gate at her auntie’s house, she wished with all her heart that she would not wake up.

Morning came. The dream was over. But from that day onward, Ismay could not wait to go to sleep again. Her parents’ drama raged against the walls of her outer-world for months. For months, night after night, Ismay’s mind turned inward as she visited mysterious continents at the side of her wistful companion.

She was convinced that he was real. Somewhere in the world there lived a boy whose face and voice were already familiar to her, and through some unknown magic, their minds had found a plain of existence where they could be together.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/writing-challenge-health/