This was prompted by a message I received late last night asking about depression.
Now I don’t just have (I am loathed to use the word suffer) Bipolar but I also have depression. It is not unusual for people in my situation to have a multitude of problems. In my case I have bipolar, depression, insomnia and to a lesser extend anxiety.
Now the psychological symptoms of depression are as follows as taken from the NHS website.
Continuous low mood or sadness –
This is a constant running thing. It kind of goes hand in hand with the swings in mood for me. One moment laughing like a lunatic to wanting to cry like a baby. The sense of sadness can be suffocating at times. It’s a foul feeling especially when I usually show the world a sunny, happy disposition.
Feeling hopeless and helpless –
This usually happens when I’m trying to sleep or do things. I constantly hear a voice (and it’s usually my voice) saying what is the point of doing anything. What gives me hope and help is the love and care of my family and friends, especially when they take the time to see if I’m okay.
Having low self-esteem –
This boils down to my appearance as a scale of how I am feeling inside. If I’m disheveled and unkempt it means I not too good, if I’m clean, sweet smelling and groomed I’m hiding something as I still feel unwell inside. It takes a lot of effort to go into the bathroom to wash and use that razor at times.
Feeling tearful –
This is the most awkward for me. Why? I have a strong desire to cry but it never happens. I get close but no, it doesn’t happen. On the other hand I will be sitting there, usually alone and my water will fall from my eyes. Like tears but there’s no emotion behind them. Personally I think crying is a normal and healthy thing for anyone to do. I’ve seen bigger, tougher and harder men than me cry. It is NOT a sign of weakness at all.
Feeling guilt-ridden –
There’s always, for me anyway, a terrible sense of guilt at the things I’ve done in the past and the people I have wronged. This sense of guilt visits like a Dickensian ghost usually at night showing you everything you’ve supposedly done and makes you feel a lot worse. Thing is I tell myself that I’m not a bad person. I have to keep telling myself that or the guilt will swallow me up and spit me out again.
Feeling irritable and intolerant of others –
Yeah, I get irritable- Sometimes I don’t know why or it’s over the smallest most trivial things. I remember one incident, and it was related to the medication I was taking at the time, my wife Sarah and I were discussing what to give our sons for lunch when I just exploded in frustration. Like I said trivial.
Having no motivation or interest in things –
My pleasure in life is photography. It’s a excuse for me to get out of the house and confront my condition, situation and demons by doing something I enjoy. However there are times I cannot get out of bed or off the sofa. I have to fight myself and struggle just to motivate myself to pick up my camera. It doesn’t even have to be a camera, it could be doing chores like washing up, washing clothes or shaving.
Finding it difficult to make decisions –
You do find you dither a lot even if over something simple – like do I have tea, or do I have coffee. They become epic life changing decisions when really they’re not.
Not getting any enjoyment out of life –
This links in with “Having no motivation or interest in things”. Now I love life, I enjoy the simple fact that I breath and wake up in the morning each day. But it is a struggle to find a purpose at times. Something that motivates you to continue. Well I do have a purpose I am a father and husband, that can be motivation enough sometimes to get up, pull on your socks and carry on. Thing is until you find that thing that fires the spark in yourself things seem pointless.
Feeling anxious or worried –
I get anxious about going to the shops which I find personally strange and bizarre as I used to be a soldier and walk in to places and face armed men. This is not bravado or me being macho, this is fact. Now I get anxious about walking into clothes shops where to most dangerous thing is a dodgy fashion sense. It boils down to the fight or flight response. Where I would have stood tall I now feel like running away and hiding. It’s a belittling feeling.
Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself –
These are the most insidious thoughts to have. Why? Because they creep on you and whisper poison in your ear. The thoughts tell you that you a worthless, useless, pointless and that you don’t deserve to go on. Thing is these thoughts are wrong, so very wrong. I have worth to my family and friends, use because I am a father, friend and husband and point I like living, simple as that. Thoughts like that have to, must be, confronted and defeated because death is rather permanent and when I last checked, unless you are Jesus or Lazarus, there’s no coming back.
I hope you have found this a useful insight from someone who has a front row seat to mental health issues. I do NOT have any or all of the answers but if my blog can help just one person in their fight with what is in their head then that is a small but worthy victory that I will happily take. The best medicine I find isn’t just chemical but cognitive and verbal. The best treatment is to take the medicine but to also talk to someone, be it a good friend who “gets it” because they’ve been there or to a professional practician like a psychiatrist or counsellor.
But in any case, speak to someone and that starting point, in my case anyway, was my GP. Talk, it is important.
Well I’ve said enough for now. Follow me on twitter at @lash1978 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until my next blog, have good mental health