THOUGHT PORN: [DEPRESSION]

A FAUX-PAS SUBJECT:
by Ted Rogers:

DEPRESSION is a subject that seems to turn many people into positive thinking experts or is something others would rather deny the existence of as a genuine sufferable illness.

But from someone who has been diagnosed bi-polar (rapid-cycling) for 7 years and suffered many ins and outs of depression, medication, therapists and institutions, I would like to offer some of my experience and point out that it is OK and you are allowed to be depressed; it does not make you a bad person to be depressed.

Depression is not a cheery subject and can be exhausting, however, it is a reality and if you deny your depression then you will never be able to take action. So owning it seems to be the necessary course if there is any hope of moving on.

It can be difficult to “own” your depression when you are constantly being told by many around you that ,”you’re not really depressed” and that, “you just need to think positive or stop being so negative and just be grateful for the good stuff”. When these things are said it often gives me more anxiety and panic as I’m concerned as to why I cannot just think positive and be grateful. In retrospect I can see that it’s because I’m depressed and currently positivity and gratitude are severely limited in my spectrum of emotions.

My experience has led me to believe that depression is in fact the opposite of a feelings. It is a lack of feelings, or you may be stuck in one feeling and unable to feel other feelings; so regardless of how good or bad your external life is you will not be able to fully appreciate all these otherwise influencing factors.

I am currently in a position where I have some very exciting things going on in my life. I am living in the city of my dreams, I have the most incredible friends and support around me, I’m healthy and have my whole life ahead of me.

But I have also just lost both my grandparents in the space of 3 months, I’m struggling with figuring out who I am and what I want to do, it’s a daily fight to pay my rent, and I find communicating with people and systems somewhat of a task due to my Aspergers (High-Functioning) syndrome; something else which affects many people in their daily lives.

The overall point is that I cannot appreciate any of these things fully at certain times in the day, most days, for a prolonged period of time; therefore, if someone points out all of these life circumstances to me it is of no use. I can see the good and bad in my life. I can have knowledge of how I should maybe feel; but I’m depressed, so I cannot magically change my state of mind. It will not change if I “just think positive” or “stop being so negative”.

There are certain actions I can take which I have found helpful such as: I can eat healthily, I can exercise, I can attempt to sleep at appropriate times, I can get into the daylight, I can mince around a club in a jockstrap and indulge in glitter, friends and music.

Generally these things help me to feel something through the grey. But like everything in life they don’t last forever. This is by no means a resolution. It is not a cure. It is a treatment. Depression can come back in just as quickly as it left.

I am sincerely grateful for the times when I’m not stuck in depression, for me this is usually the summer months. The weather seems to deeply affect my moods. But as long as I have the knowledge that this lack of feeling too shall pass, then all I can do is take some time to self-care, and keep doing my days one at a time until it lifts.

I find it incredibly frustrating that the first suggestion from many a GP when you describe your depressive symptoms is to put you on a course of drugs. I was on medication for 7 years and tried 13 different types of medication including: mood stabilisers, anxiety reducers, sleeping pills, serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, anti-epileptics etc. I found much of this time very difficult and often wished to commit suicide and have attempted to on one occasion. I also sought relief from recreational drugs as I felt the prescribed drugs were not offering sufficient relief on their own.

I think if we as a nation truly wish to help those with mental disorders then we have to acknowledge that they are REAL; they DO affect countless people and medication does not cure people. They can sometimes reduce symptoms and help many lead a normal life. But they also have a long list of extremely severe side-effects and should NOT be distributed without correct monitoring, therapy and understanding of staff and services without prejudice, by people who have experience of mental illness first hand. And finally, perhaps what is really necessary foremost is some educated understanding, a bit of patience and some healthy lifestyle changes.

One example of negligence that still shocks me today is that it took 6 therapists before one suggested I go to the gym and eat some berries. Two things which I find extremely effective with almost zero negative side-effects.

We need change if this is any example of the mental health services in this country. 1/4 people suffer a mental disorder at some point in their lives and there seems to e very little real help out there.

I truly would like to thank all of my friends and people who support me even when I’m miserable and for periods, suicidal. I’m very privileged to have such people stand by me and I hope this does not come across as criticism of anyones good will; but more an offer of some of my experience in the hope that another may also find this helpful.

Written by Ted Rogers

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