Saturday, 22 February 2014

What it feels like: to have depression part 4

One of the many things I hate about the word “depression” is the assumption of blankness attached to it, as if the experience of depression is as absent on the inside as it looks to be from the outside. That is wrong. Depression is a place that teems with nightmarish activity. It’s a one-industry town, a psychic megalopolis devoted to a single twenty-four-hour-we-never-close product. You work misery as a teeth-grinding muscle-straining job (is that why it’s so physically exhausting?), proving your shameful failures to yourself over and over again. Depression says you can get blood from a stone, and so that’s what you do. Competing voices are an irritating distraction from the work. No wonder depression doesn’t get invited out much. Not because it’s not the life of the party, it knows it’s not that, but because self-absorption as a work ethic is so prickly and one-eyed. That’s okay with depression—it figures, who’d want to be friends with it, anyway? – Lesley Dormen

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Colourful Affirmations

I have always enjoyed drawing and doodling.  I am not especially good at it, but I am enthusiastic. I recently bought a new notebook with blank pages so decided to fill it with decorated affirmations and positive quotes here are a few of my early offerings. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

What it feels like: when someone you know commits suicide

It has taken me a long time to write this post. It is such an emotional subject for me, but it's an experience I think is important to share.

S and I had a troubled relationship.  Both of us had mental health problems,  me with depression and anxiety, him with manic depression.  Not a good start.  For reasons I won't go into now we broke up, this was August.  In September I left our shared flat. In October he had a severe manic episode and was hospitalised.  In December he killed himself.

Though we were no longer together I still had feelings for him. I was sad when he became unwell and visited him in hospital. He wanted us to get back together and it took all my strength to refuse him. I couldn't put myself back into a situation I had escaped once, I wasn't sure if I would a second time if need be. 

After he was released from hospital he waa very depressed and I tried to help him. I hated knowing he was suffering.  He asked me over and over to come back to him but I refused. On boxing day I received a text from him that I only skimmed and sent a reply saying "Stop wallowing I'll call you tomorrow". I regret that so much now because it was the last thing he said/sent me.  The next day I got a call from one of his friends to say he was dead.

The first thing I said was "it's not my fault". But I knew it was.  If I had just taken him back he would still be alive.  Even so many years later I still think this.  My reasons for leaving were sound,  no one could fault me but I felt such incredible guilt. I was 23. This was my first real experience of death.

I remember crying with my mum who felt helpless.  How could she help me when because of me someone was dead? How would I ever be able to forgive myself?  I read and reread his last messages over and over and realised his last message was his good bye.  He quoted a song that was around at the time, "goodbye my lover goodbye my friend. You were the one, you were the one for me". 

I was in touch with his family though I could hardly bear it. I knew they didn't know what message I'd sent to their son while he was dying but they would do soon enough.  As his ex girlfriend did I have any right to be involved in his funeral,  did I even want to be?  Not really but I needed to say goodbye.  I kept my distance and went to the funeral with myfamily, I didn't sit at the front although there was a seat left for me specially.  His family didn't even know I was there until the burial. Afterwards I cut contact with them completely. my head was full of questions; did they blame me? Did they hate me?

I realised that I was struggling to come to terms with what happened pretty quickly and found a therapist.  I saw him every week for about 3 months and he helped me start to see that it wasn't my fault. S had a mental illness and had not received the care he needed.  Taking his life was his choice.  Honestly, I am not sure if he truly meant to kill himself or if he thought I would see his text and send for help.  That's another thing I felt guilty about,  if I had read the message I could have saved him. Ultimately I would end up having several rounds of counselling to relieve me of the guilt.

One thing that perhaps is a positive to come out of his death is that when I have been suicidal myself I just have to think about S's father at the funeral and I know I couldn't put my own family through it.  

For anyone  contemplating suicide please, please don't.  I know you might think that no one would miss you.  Trust me, they will.  You will have touched many lives and people will notice and miss you.  Also you will leave those who care about you with horrendous grief that they may never get over. Your brain is lying to you, please go to your dr, psychiatrist, loved ones and ask for help

For anyone who is grieving, I am so so sorry for your loss. Nothing I say can take your pain away.  Perhaps the only thing I can say is to try and remember this person was suffering and now their suffering is over. They made a choice to end their life, you cannot feel guilty for their choice. All you can do is miss them and try to live the best life you can because I am sure that would make the person happy.  I am sure S would be glad to know I have gotten help with my own problems and that I am in a good relationship.  

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Book Review - Happier at Home Gretchen Rubin

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday LifeI loved The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunIt gave me so many ideas and i used the resolutions to do my own happiness project. Happier at Home is the follow up where Gretchen Rubin continues her quest for more happiness. I didn't get as much out of this book as i did the first one, perhaps because i don't have children or work from home, but i did get some ideas from it. 

I liked the fact Gretchen doesn't portray herself as perfect but acknowledges that she is can be irritable and too focused on work, in fact she talks about it so much i began to think she was quite mean. I also liked that her "truths" were backed up throughout the book although at times it did feel a bit repetitive.

What i liked was that Gretchen has the self awareness that her behaviour was negative and that if she changed it she would feel more happy and her family would also be happier. Change is difficult and i liked that she didn't pretend that she magically changed and now her home life is perfect.

If you think your home life could be a bit more harmonious then definitely give this book a read, you may get some ideas and if not what have you lost?

Read about my own experience of a happiness project here

Saturday, 1 February 2014

An instagram a day - A round up


I have been doing a project this January and taking an instagram a day.  It's been fun and at times difficult.  What i've produced is an honest portrayal of my life i think; food, quotes i like, Tyrion, shopping and quiet time.  Some day's i felt like "aagghh what am i going to take a picture of" and some days i found loads.  I enjoyed doing it... and i'm glad i'm finished!