Trapped……

6 Jun

‘I can ramble on endlessly about politics, religion, science, inequality, war and a hundred other things but the subject I find hardest to express is my own struggle with chronic depression and anxiety, predominantly because I can’t find the words and believe that only another sufferer can really understand……’

Depression has the outward appearance of ‘normality’. It doesn’t come with a plaster cast, visible scars or crutches; it is an invisible, insidious disease. This does not diminish its impact which can be just as debilitating as any physical illness……

Head_04I cannot tell you when I first became depressed, or why, but I live in what feels like a pinball machine being bounced from one crisis to another, all having an accumulative effect over my entire life and illness. Therein lies one of the problems with chronic depression because from an observer’s point of view they usually ask the same questions; why are you so unhappy and what would make you happy; both of which I can’t answer. I can tell you how it manifests but I cannot emphasise enough that this is after suffering for over 30 years. One distressing event in your life is usually surmountable; it’s when years of seemingly endless distress continues that the problem reaches epic scales.

Head_03Days vary; some are better than others but always with an underlying presence. One of depression’s most cruel and insidious effects are on sleep, or the lack of it. No matter what I try I find it impossible to establish a reasonable sleep pattern (even with prescription sleeping tablets). Chronic Insomnia on its own is known to dramatically affect your mood and your ability to concentrate. Added to an already deeply engrained depression insomnia becomes a double edged sword. When all you would rather do is sleep to escape the misery, insomnia puts the dampers on. So, not only can you not sleep but the time drags along making five minutes feel like an hour. I also suffer from sleep paralysis; a situation which occurs both when you fall asleep and wake up. It may only last for seconds and is a state of semi-consciousness where you are aware of not being fully asleep but cannot move. If combined with a nightmare or post-traumatic stress disorder it is truly terrifying fighting to escape to consciousness.

I have become so ill I contemplate suicide almost daily. It seems like the only way to escape from the prison inside your head. It also has a profound effect on your ability to function ‘normally’. I don’t eat properly, I get no exercise, I rarely leave my room and fear of the outside world can be paralysing. It’s not a secret amongst people who know me that I self-medicate, which is not uncommon, and is usually partly as a result of the medical establishment failing to deal with problems quickly and with the right choice of treatment; which is woefully inadequate. The upshot of the inadequate treatment of mental health issues is years of torment as you scream for help which never comes……

Early and appropriate intervention is fundamental for curing any illness; however, your overworkedHead_Pills_01 GP will simply reach for the prescription pad. There are dozens of anti-depressants and finding the one which may help you can take months. More often than not, once you’ve tried them and they don’t work you either continue to take whichever ‘lucky dip’ pills you’ve ended up on (usually the cheapest, not the best), or just give up altogether. Someone suffering from serious chronic depression is unlikely to enthusiastically keep returning to their GP to ask to try something new. The second and probably most important thing someone with depression needs is therapy. But this is a major problem; first of all you will wait months for an assessment. Then, if you’re lucky, you may be offered counselling; in my case four sessions. Four sessions with somebody you may not be comfortable to disclose your innermost traumatic childhood experiences with, and four hours is not sufficient to scratch the surface of 30 years of dysfunctional living, addiction, obsessive compulsive behaviours and despair. All of the time that passes so slowly only makes your situation worse and it becomes incredibly difficult to ever recover……

Head_01Although friends try to help nothing they say has much effect. The most annoying thing I’ve heard a hundred times is, “If you’ve reached rock bottom things can only get better”. Meant in good faith and from non-medical people the sentiment is appreciated but things do continue to get worse. Maybe there is a ‘rock bottom’ but for me things just get worse.

From my point of view the future isn’t something I look forward too. I see my situation as unchanging and a future in which things only appear more bleak the further away I dare to contemplate. I’m isolated, stuck in a challenging domestic situation, I feel I have no prospects of ever reaching the ‘aspirational’ trappings of success and feel that nothing will change, and I will become old, poor and lonely. In truth this will not happen because I will exercise the only control I feel I have left and which is guaranteed to end my daily inner distress; suicide. This isn’t a threat or a ‘cry for help’, it is a simple solution and when my choice will not affect the person I love, I will proceed with a sense of relief……

If there is any possibility that I can be ‘cured’ or at least feel that things were to improve, then I may re-evaluate my future but in the absence of long term, specialist intervention, I cannot envisage that future……

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