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Please Don't Ask Me To Smile

Brain Stew

The song..

.. it changed my life hearing this for the first time. 

Listen…

Those sepia tones…

Depression is a very tricky beast. I can literally smile and have moments that I know are beautiful but it’s like they’re drenched in some sort of developing fluid. The photo metaphor doesn’t end there. 

I feel like days are grey, like a black and white photo blurred with fog. I feel like I’m not in them I’m seeing them through sad sad eyes. 

That’s the hardest part. Like Lisa Mitchell sings in ‘Dog’ (will post);

“And the worst part is knowing my part in it all/ Yeah the worst part is knowing it’s nothing at all”

Doubting. Wondering. Am I making it all up? Does everyone have days like this?

No. Not to this dark, dark extent. 

I feel like a chasm of doom and destruction. 

Hence avoiding all relationship. 

I felt such magnetic attraction tonight and all I could think was ‘Stay away. Far far away I am a catastrophe awaiting a victim’. 

Psychotherapy 1

So! I did it. I resisted the multipl urges to cancel a particular friend was instrumental in this with a very well timed check in message. 
Although I have accessed counselling in the past this really did feel like my first ever ‘psychotherapy’ infact there was a “lay back and tell me about your childhood and life leading up to this point” moment! And I did. And it fucking hurt. 

There are painful traumas that I thought were over. Things that I have set to theme music and related to like movie scenes. Blurs that I think would be concrete, episodic memories except there is so much pain peppered there that I think my brain fogged up the glass of my memories lense to protect my fragile little heart. 

My doctor, Dr K, congratulated me for not giving into more maladaptive coping mechanisms. He also congratulated me for using my empathic, emotionally vulnerable self to help other in my work, gently questioning if this is sustainable. 

He pointed out the multiple traumas that I have lived through and pointed out that I am a survivor and strong. I cried. I haven’t done that in counselling for a long time and never with particular focus on my own being. 

Dr K has suggested I will have ongoing, years long psychotherapy to avoid sinking to the depths of depression and dying.

This feels like a beginning. I am still tired and sad and I am not sure what my work life will look like over time. Or who I will be. But I’ve got a glimmer of hope that I might get old now.

To tell or not to tell, THAT is the question. 

So, today I had that dilemma. I think others must experience this – you vaguely nod ‘yes’ to a question requiring a detailed answer, e.g. “Which home is the best to visit first?’ And you nod with a look that says ‘I like mashed potato’. 

Anyway, this happened for me today and I thought ‘shit I have to tell this (new) supervisor that this isn’t the usual me, this is not me functioning at 100%… mmm mashed potato’ but then the inevitable question pops up…‘what do I say is the matter….THEY’RE WAITING!!!’.

“I’m unwell and so a bit vague”  or “my great aunt deleted my hard drive” or “my cat has run away with another family” –  I hate buying into the stigma about mental health issues but all of these are more attractive than saying “the black dog has bitten my heels, given me allergies and taken over my home by peeing on everything making my world grey and dark and awful” aka “I. Have. Depression.”

Maybe it’s my mental health talking but even though I feel like things are changing I still believe that there is a level of judgment of those identifying as experiencing mental health issues. 

So I just herp-derped out of there, leaving my new supervisor probably thinking ‘ummmm weirdo’ and believing the stories told about me by colleagues… Wait… Is that the paranoia talking!?

Fuck, I can’t tell. 

The dreaded “feeling better!?”

I keep wanting to start a post with ‘nobody talks about…’ But you know what? We really do now. I think we’re getting better at speaking about mental health. Although, some things are still hidden. 

Like the spiritual, soulful agony of realising you must wear a happy mask sometimes most of the time otherwise those dear, present friends will detach a little more each visit. I want to have faith that they won’t but, as Stephen Fry says ‘it’s hard being friends with a depressed person’. 

Let alone non-friends, those associates, work colleagues who should don’t have a grasp on mental health and so the slightest mention of ‘depression‘ other than an abstract concept that happens to ‘them’ has them mumbling inanely about needing to ‘just get on with it’ or ‘decide to be happy’. 

Please be careful with any assumptions about what a smile means or even a laugh. We can be very good at fitting in to social situations then in the first moment we’re alone, feeling like the abyss has appeared suddenly at our feet… that’s when the grey sadness can be seen. 

The Fear

Then there is the intense fear of seeing a specialist mixed with feeling like you should kiss they’re feet because you’re ‘sooo lucky‘ to have scored an appointment this century with them.

I’m terrified. What if they unearth some carefully buried trauma like in the movies?! What if they say I have a… GASP… personality disorder?!?

I have an appointment with a psychiatrist on Thursday. I’m so frightened but also excited but also wanting to hide in a cave.

And also, I’ll be so poor.

Just Don’t

Just FYI, when you say ‘people love you and/or need you’ it makes things worse. OMG, I am not thinking of death and non-existence because people don’t love me.

Actually, someone who has no-one to love them may be sad coz they’re lonely or the world is full of cunty arseholes THAT IS NOT DEPRESSION. 

Fun fact: Depression IS all in your head!! It is actually chemicals that have shifted for fuck knows what reason. It isn’t because I don’t run through the forest at 4am on a frosty morning. It also isn’t because I eat carbs.It might be triggered by some icky event but, no, I am not depressed because I don’t fit into size 8 t-shirts.200_s

I know I have people who love me. I know I am blessed with precious people who actually need me. I know I am not being pretentious in saying that – I have many people who let me know they need and love me. When I am at my lowest low telling me this is like getting out a giant highlighter and drawing all over my self-loathing, pointing arrows of glowing yellow at my selfishness and my western-individualist-narcissistic sadness.

Some things to say instead: “Sounds like things suck”, “Want a cider?” or even “Want me to leave you alone? Coz that is okay”.

Depression: Naomi’s Experience

**all things written here after are about my experience, depression is NOT the same for everyone**

So I have no idea just yet – do I have chronic/major depressive disorder or is it bi-polar? Like the current state-of-affairs in the USA we all hope neither but we know it is going to be one. At least with some label there may be clarity in how to attack!

So for a few years now I have experienced low moods and moments of wishing I was not here, whether that be suicidal thoughts or intense wishes for swift moving fatal disease (I KNOW!! I should be so thankful I am alive and well… welcome to depression!). On occasion I wish I was never born, no matter what I do from that very moment I realise there is only pain thereafter – either for me or for those around me.

This blog is going to be a bit of a rant space for me and a ‘tips and tools’ space for you all. You guys who feel stumped and don’t know what to say or do. Who have put their foot firmly in their mouths and especially for those who think they know just what to do…. You don’t.

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