Tag Archives: depression

Dissociate

A blood smear on the table.
I think I don’t know how to live,
I think
Perhaps
There is a sense of an ending
A sense
Of ground turning
A thawing
A sense
Of decay.

I cradle a baby.
Together we are flesh.
One and one.
I watch the carousel
My slow consideration
Of the show
Colours and pride
And everything that died
In me.

You who
Inhabited
My dark,
The most shallow place.
All blackened fractures
You slowly seep to
Tar.
I hear the night begging
for my blood
Black hooded soul,
Horseman of
My dreaded night.

I plead to be pieced together
Before I rupture
My heart
An abscess
Bled to an empty sack
An empty sack
Of bones
And a body that says hello.

Do you know
You stood at the foot of my bed
A call
In my slowly fading
Echo chamber.
I hear the beat of God’s heart
In the toll of a bell.
Calling all those
Who want mercy.
I wilt
In the vacuum of my self disgust
Tulips grow
From my green earthed
Soul.

Desolate (poem of mine)

Stretched across
This silent tundra
Whispers turn to wings
I wait for my oasis
To melt in front of me.
I sunk some time ago
And took shelter
I dreamed in mirage,
To escape the daylight
Making vultures of my bones.
I am picked dry
All angles,
And vacancy.
I watch the sand with envy
It floats,
Lifted,
And I am left behind
Not even a tear to cry
And quench this thirst.

Ashes (poem of mine)

Sleep trails off,
Thoughts like chalk
leave their white lines
in my mind.

Dark bleeds into day,
Night rotates
to night, then
darkest daylight.

This fretful glaze of
Restless
Agony.
Its treacle sickness
hangs above me
as a defeated cloud.

Unsteady as a new fawn,
I tremble with my uneasiness,
The pit of my stomach
reaches to my feet.

Yet
The world remains,
Relentless.

Send me back (poem of mine)

Tainted apple of my soul,
Sealed,
In my envelope of hope.
What worm
Hunted your silky flesh
Like a rifle to your tenderness.

I hate the night,
Yet
Happily,
I resign to sleep
Then I wake,
Grey brained as a cigarette.
Just send me back
Boil me down.

Or let me rest.
Just a raindrop
on your windowsill.

5 things you definitely shouldn’t say to a depressed person (inspired by purplepersuasion)

1) “But you have so much to live for!”

There are several problems with this response; firstly I feel I should acknowledge that it is ok to tell someone they have a beautiful family, a nice car, a good job (or anything you admire about their life) But it should stop there, and it should never be said with the intention of making a person feel guilty or selfish.

It is sometimes helpful to acknowledge a persons personal achievements as a way of boosting their confidence. I’d say though that most people don’t need a friendly reminder from someone else about their own life. It’s irritating, and its also patronising to assume that the depressed person isn’t aware of their own circumstances any more than you are.

Please remember that people can be depressed in spite of, and sometimes even because of their “seemingly perfect life” – it is not up to you, a complete stranger, or inquisitive family member, to make a judgement about the way a person feels based on a quick summation of their life and assets.

It is also considerate to keep in mind that although a sense of perspective may be skewed for the person suffering, reminding them of the circumstances that they live in and became depressed within, is not going to “change their mind” about the way they feel. Regardless of external circumstances, a persons inner world is often at conflict with their outward appearance. This may be because of embarrassment, it may be because that person doesn’t wear their heart on their sleeve, it may be for a whole host of reasons. Trying to talk somebody out of their feelings by reminding them they have a good job and a nice car isn’t helpful. If you want to help them, remind them of the things you like about them, i.e. what you admire and treasure about them as a person. This way, you may make them feel  validated at a time when their sense of self is eroding.

2) “Why don’t you just focus on your life instead of getting so down on yourself?”

Literal interpretation = “Why don’t you just pretend you are not feeling the way you are feeling so you can stop inconveniencing me and other people”. Obviously there are several problems with this reasoning I want to talk about. Firstly, pretending that something is, or wanting something to be different doesn’t make it so, and saying something like this also blatantly highlights that the “offending reasoner” thinks that a depressed persons state of mind counts for nothing within the context of their own life.

If I hadn’t been depressed, I would have just been able to get on with my own life without causing other people the particular kind of pain and heartache that is associated with having family members that are depressed. However, as it stands, depression made living contentedly impossible. It wasn’t and isn’t a case of just “pretending” and the person isn’t going to want to try to make any useful changes to their life if you insist it can be done easily. As Stephen Fry quite eloquently said, depression is not something that is subject to reason, if you can reason yourself out of it, you must have reasoned yourself into it. To put it another way, nobody would reason themselves into a ditch and reason lying there until they felt it was reasonable to exit the ditch, for no good reason. Sometimes depression can be something that happens as a result of extremely stressful situations in life, this is understandable. The fact that it is understandable and reasonable for someone to (for example) be grieving desperately for a long time at the loss of a loved one, does not mean that they chose that specific reaction in a fit of reason and it is their fault that they are so desperate, it means only that it is a reasonable response for them, proportionate to their individual trauma.

There has to be an acknowledgement of a struggle by everyone involved who is helping that person before it can be tackled. People are more likely to have an aversion to openness if their emotions have been discredited or trivialised by family/friends/professionals before. Remember to be sensitive. Also remember that even if a persons problems appear trivial to you, you don’t get to say what does and doesn’t hurt another person. if they tell you that it hurts, it hurts. 

3) “You could be a starving child in Africa, I bet they don’t complain about it”

I’d imagine that starving children in Africa do indeed undergo a great deal of suffering, but to make a comparison between depression a person has in a Western civilisation and chronic malnourishment is just ridiculous. Each deserves it’s own acknowledgment, but there should be no comparison, because there just isn’t a comparison. It may well be that many people who have terrible life circumstances or life limiting illnesses do not complain and are happy and jolly all the time. It may also be though that people have different coping thresholds, different priorities, different perspectives, different ways of expressing themselves, and different lives that count for an awful lot more than a flimsy and judgemental comparison.

4) “Why don’t you go travelling, see the world?”

Yes, what a great idea, I’ll just get all my non-existent money together and jet off to a part of the world I know nothing about to explore it all when I can’t even set foot outside my own bedroom at the moment. Frankly, this is one of the tritest pieces of advice I have ever heard. Going on holiday does not make people less depressed if they are actually depressed. If you are not actually depressed and just “depressed” e.g. You are fed up of English weather and your boss is annoying you, then yes, a holiday might be a good idea. Planning a holiday (or world travel) requires firstly will to live, and an urge to enjoy life (which I will have none of if I’m depressed), secondly a great deal of concentration and enthusiasm for planning and organising, and thirdly, a resolve to deal with the stress that inevitably follows from organising trips abroad (and actually travelling). If I can’t even remember to wash my own pyjamas then I don’t think I’m quite ready to leap onto the next plane departing to Indonesia.

5) “I think you need to put things in perspective”

Well here’s the problem, I have done that, and so have most people that have been/are depressed. Furthermore, that is often exactly what is so depressing. You are overwhelmed by your perspective on life – often people with depression will lament “It’s too much”, “I can’t cope with my life” etc, that is another way of saying, “It is too much for me to continue having this perspective”. If you are aware of your perspective on your life, then by definition you have self reflected, you have analysed. When you have a depressed perspective on life, unsurprisingly it is depressing. With a consistently low mood comes over-analysing, hours of self reflection, and quite often a crippling sense of self loathing because of it. As I’ve said before it “may not seem that bad”, but that is because it appears to be that way to you, from your perspective, as a happy and settled person. You don’t need to make someone feel worse by hammering home how “normal” you are, because chances are, you aren’t as infallible as you think you may be.

I hope that there is nothing (original poem of mine)

I hope that there is nothing
Not the blankness
Of a blank page
Nor whiteness
Or peace
Or any earthly feeling.
This Earth
Bestowed on me
Enough of these aches,
Enough,
That I don’t need more,
For many lifetimes ahead.

I wish to leave
To nothing
Where there is no one
And none of this,
That has kept me living
Or kept me hoping,
For what is life,
But hoping for a reason,
If anything.

The past and the present and the future
Will be gone,
And not even forgotten.
Do I wish to be left
Like an empty heart
Or, an open door
A new beginning,
new learning,
New this
New that.
I can tell you,
That I have learnt.

A nothing
It cannot be described.
When you leave
You are remembered
And that is it.
I hoped today
That this would be it.
What keeps me here
Is the fear that,
My way out
Is just another way in…
What cruel host
Makes a revolving door of this fate?

The crisis is not “the cutting”

In mental health rhetoric, a “crisis” is usually defined, or talked of, as when a person engages in a suicidal, or otherwise dangerous act in an effort to seriously harm themselves, or end their own life. Of course, I don’t dispute that this is a crisis of sorts, but I’d also like to explore the idea (from my own perspective and through reading other people’s opinions on the matter) that the crisis actually happens long before the “act”, and it is at this point (when a person feels that they are deeply unhappy, unsafe, or otherwise highly distressed, but haven’t actually done anything to themselves) that the crisis actually begins and therefore requires intervention/help.

I myself have often spent months being suicidal, severely depressed, not functioning properly or otherwise unwell and been told repeatedly that because “I have managed to keep myself safe” that no intervention is warranted. When I’ve then (unsurprisingly) given up on the hope of help during that time and acted on my thoughts, I have been told that I should have sought help sooner. Well, I did, and was told exactly as I described above – essentially, that I wasn’t in enough of a crisis because I hadn’t demonstrated suicidal intent.

It was on a recent-ish A&E trip that I was told crisis services were for people who have “deteriorated to the point of actively trying to end their own life” – in other words, if you try to kill yourself, you fit their definition of crisis even if you succeed and therefore wouldn’t need their help (because you’d be dead). However, if you ask for help before this, you are deemed as possessing enough insight to know that ending your life is unreasonable and therefore no crisis action is needed to be taken. So people are often faced with few avenues to turn down other than “demonstrating” they are in a crisis (often with disastrous consequences) simply to be helped. This is probably one of the most well known double bind situations in the world of mental health service provision.

So from here, I can pose the question, is it fair to leave people hanging in a state of complete despair, and not provide them with the intervention they would otherwise get if they had actually acted on their thoughts ( and possibly succeeded in killing themselves). Is it fair that a person must be half way dead or physically ill before it is justified in allocating precious resources to them? I think I know the answer.

I get tired of the constant “distract, distract, distract” mantra banded around. At the point at which I feel I am unable to cope, I simply do not have the strength to summon the right frame of mind to do something else other than be immersed in my own suicidal thoughts. To do something banal in order to “distract” yourself directly contradicts the frame of mind you are in. You are past that point. There are plenty of other times that watching TV in order to distract yourself would be a suitable activity to turn to – but those situations can generally be condensed into the “mild distress” category (e.g you’re just “having one of those days”).

It is not a case of likening suicidal thoughts to a bad day at the office, and that you can just get over them by talking yourself out of your feelings and watching some TV. Depression is more than often not relative, it’s an innate force that twists a persons perspective to the point where they are so fragile they cannot possibly contemplate anything else other than their own unhappiness.

I have been depressed on and off for a long time. I am currently depressed. In these states I need someone to listen, to be compassionate, possibly an urgent appointment, I need empathy, understanding. Yes, that might seem “demanding” but when it boils down to choice between being demanding and potentially severely disrupting my life by being unable to cope with myself – I think “demanding” is the lesser of two evils. I don’t want to be this person. I don’t want to be depressed, and believe me I don’t enjoy asking for help, I find the whole process humiliating. So to be told that my feelings are in fact a product of “a bad day” and I should simply forget about them by “doing something nice” is not only patronising, but beyond the point of stupidity. Telling someone who is in the middle of a depressive episode to “do something nice” is like yelling at someone who is drowning in the middle of a storm at sea to admire the weather. Doing something nice can avert an episode of amateur dramatics – it does not, unfortunately, dissolve suicidal thoughts or other unusual experiences.

So, even if you did kill yourself, your death might not be the responsibility of the crisis team, because they assume asking for help constitutes full responsibility over your actions. You are to them, sane and in full control. I have heard several people say that you are more likely to be acknowledged in a crisis if you refuse all attempts to help you. Their failure to act on the threat of a potential suicidal action is supposedly their version of “not encouraging/enforcing self destructive patterns of behaviour”. They achieve this by actively ignoring almost all pleas for extra support and encouraging you to self-manage. Of course, being systematically ignored when you are desperate is a really great way to encourage keeping yourself safe – we all know that.

When I have been in a completely distressed state, I have been left with the choice of continuing to deal with my pain on my own for a set length of time (or indefinitely) or to face (or rather be pushed by virtue of having my beliefs that I am unworthy of help enforced) ending my own life or succeeding in self harm that I then come to bitterly regret. I’ve always afterwards been told “I could have prevented it”, when that is simply not the case if services were not willing to assist at that time. When I am incapable of preventing something because of my state of mind (not just in that moment but for many weeks/months beforehand) that is when the crisis needs to be recognised. Not after an overdose, not after hacking my arm up with a bread knife, not after weeks of hardly any sleep, food, or human contact. Now.

If a person is diagnosed with cancer, you don’t wait till they die and or become seriously ill before you recognise that they are in dire need of help. At the point when a person makes a decision they need help, and then requests or voices that need for help, that is when help is needed. No more, no less. You don’t say, “Oh, maybe just forget you have cancer and try to get on with your life, you just need to try harder to forget and things will get better.” It doesn’t work that way. You have cancer, it is happening, it is real, it urgent. Everybody has a right to receive appropriate help for health problems, even if those problems are the result of a complex and often confusing interaction between mind and environment. It is still suffering, and it can result in some serious consequences if ignored.