Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Living with Depression

Depression has plagued my life for the last 9 years at least, before this time I hadn't been diagnosed but for years I knew that feeling the way that I did wasn't ordinary. And even though it is an illness, I have tried to gain as much as I can out of it. Unless I'm just floating below just my neck in it, I have found that it helps me to be creative too.

Many people describe depression as a big black dog that follows you everywhere, and that it's always there. For me, it's like a dark shadow, a cloud almost, engulfing my soul and all that I am. And of course it affects every single part of me. The harder I try to shake it off the worse it can sometimes become. Sometimes I do overcome it and once again I can feel the fire burning in my heart. This happened to me last night. While unable to sleep again, I began to think about all the things that had gone wrong for me this year. After coming back from Sweden, I have not managed to get a part time job, and not due to the lack of trying. I have dropped my CV off at countless places, applied for jobs online, had one interview and yet not got anywhere. University has been another pain; there was another bitchy incident in a seminar the other week. It almost made me feel the anxiety I suffered last year because of a minority of people in my class. As I thought of  these things, I realised how out of control I had let things go. Then I felt this fire start to burn inside me again, and once again I felt in control. This doesn't mean that I beat depression as I know it'll be back again, maybe tomorrow, or in a week, or perhaps in a few hours.

This illness absolutely affects every aspect of my life. One of my very early posts touched on my inability to go outside unless I really needed to. Perhaps that is the reason why I have always tried to do as much as I can otherwise I just cocoon myself inside, away from everyone. And because it's not a visible illness, no one really knows or realises how many battles you have to fight to try and live some kind of a life. I remember when I had just moved into the hostel as that's when it got really bad. I am naturally very hard on myself. A lot of things my father used to say to us still run through my mind, although it's now a lot less than when I had just left home. I remember the inability to get out of bed, and how exhausting it was to wrestle with my mind to leave my room and face the world. I remember remembering my father's voice running through my mind telling me that I was just being lazy, and that I am a failure. It was not so long after that my key worker told me I was most likely suffering from depression. It horrified me when I was diagnosed with Severe Clinical Depression as mental health illnesses were such a taboo in the Indian culture, and a big problem in our family. Once, my father lost his temper when he found out that my mother had been diagnosed with depression. I remember that night quite vividly. He could not understand how she could be depressed when he had given her a big house and a lot of money. He held the same belief that a lot of people still hold, these people fail to understand that money has no relation to depression at all. But then defining it by chemical imbalance in the brain is also, I believe insensitive. Depression is far more complex than that.

This is my own personal account: everyone who suffers from it have their own experiences. So, for me, I don't take any medication. This is because of a few reasons. Firstly, I saw my mother taking tablets every day for as long as I can remember. It affected me quite badly as she never got better. Even before she was diagnosed with depression, she suffered from post-natal depression, and one of the reasons we were sent to India was because she couldn't cope with us. So, as a child I saw that despite her taking tablets, she still couldn't cope with us. Secondly, I had a bad time with antidepressants, every single medication I tried made me feel either worse or zombiefied. I have had CBT and counselling in the past, which in the long term served me well. So, even though I am still a sufferer, I understand it better as an illness. Instead of tablets, I do the Balance Procedure, which is a therapy that I am trained in, based on positive thinking. I write, paint, knit, read, etc, all a form of therapy that help me feel relief.

Living with chronic pain also affects my depression. Although sometimes the depression also triggers my back. I have been in constant pain for the last 9 years. Apart from the 6 months of pain relief I had after my an operation last year. I've just had another operation a week ago so I am hoping it will relieve me of pain again. During those 6 months, I was still depressed, I had hoped and thought that perhaps I would feel different, that somehow it would break the spell, alas, it didn't entirely. But I think that when I am not completely crippled by it, it has driven me to try harder at things, and made me stronger.

Having this illness also makes me doubt my self worth a lot. I constantly need self validation, which sometimes is a good thing as it pushes me to keep going, and work hard, whether in education or other things. But when it's really, really bad, it over-empowers me which often means that I lose to it. This is where having good close friends and family really helps. I'm lucky enough to have people who understand, care, listen and love me. That is enough.