Depression Diaries (Post 1)
A HTML edited version, republished by SANE Mental Health Charity on behalf of Brains and Bodies: 12th October 2017
I want us to start with you picturing a depressed person. What do you see? A face of poor health, a mind drowning in a tsunami of negativity, locked up in a dim and dirty bedroom, feeling sorry for themselves? Does this sound about right?
“The truth is depression doesn’t have one face, it’s a shape shifter sifting through the black clouds in the night”.
It is always adjusting in those affected whilst on the hunt seeking its next victims. There is a common misconception that sadness is the same as depression (Mental Health Foundation, 2017). However, sadness is a transient feeling, that everyone experiences –actually it is normal (NIMH, n.d). It is true that both are intrinsically linked; sadness lays the foundations for it. Nonetheless, it is when sadness intensifies and engulfs you for many months or years, you’ve enter the black hole of depression that defines you. Unlike sadness, depression is a battle for life and must be managed to prevent suicide.
During my teens, I was caught by clinical depression. For those of you who know me, this is old news, but for majority who don’t-let me introduce myself.
“My name is Morgan Isabella Shaw and welcome to my mental illness”.
I just want to make it clear, depression does not make me unique. According to (Mind, 2017) research carried out in 2016 showed approximately, 3.3 in 100 Britons share a similar diagnosis. What makes me different to some of those with it, is I was diagnosed at a time when it wasn’t openly discussed. There was a stigma attached to it. When I looked at the media there was no valiant celebrities advocates getting paid a bomb to be in a TV campaign or a front page in the newspaper. It was 2006, the economic boom, smiles surrounding me. For many, depression was not known to be on the horizon.
Let’s, fast forward to now. Things have changed a lot, since I was a teen. With one tap on Google you can find a stream of resources, blogs, Vlogs, celebrity’s stories with the public showing them support. So, it should be easier for me to speak about it- right? No, it’s never easy to talk about depression. It’s never easy, to share a poisoned mind.
“Many people don’t know why became depressed and if you asked me…I would say the same”.
Not discussing depression isn’t to spare people the intrinsic details, it’s because it is so hard to pinpoint the exact day you felt numb and empty. The day where you isolate yourself and everything you once enjoyed was abandoned. The day when nothing could make you feel better and take away your heart throbbing pain.
However, I can remember the exact causes of episodes of sadness. The first time I felt strong sadness was when I was sexually assaulted in school. Why, I will never know. I often caught nits, I didn’t wear makeup and hadn’t hit puberty – I was pancake girl. Lots of other situations of sadness involved my mother. Parents evening would arrive but there would be no sign of her.
When I became sick in hospital and she was more interested in why other patients were there. She would come to the school but not to see me. She spent her time talking to other mothers and I would walk home alone.
There were no Birthday or Christmas celebrations anymore nor family meals. In fact, I fed myself cereal twice a day, every day for years. I was also always compared to my siblings who were more academic, which made me feel worthless. As they were getting put in the top sets of English, Maths and Science I was struggling to string one paragraph together.
Roughly around this time, one of my brothers would beat me black and blue and nothing was really done to stop it. I mean, he would get told off but he knew he could get away with it time and time again, and he did. My mother’s interest in my life was slowly coming to a halt. I couldn’t fathom out what I had done to make this relationship break-down. I spent hours and days torturing myself, thinking about it.What I didn’t know was I had not done anything wrong. My mother was depressed, something I hadn’t experienced yet, something I didn’t even know existed.
“Depression runs in some family trees”.
Genetics are involved in depression but this does not mean a child will automatically inherit it. They are just more susceptible to it (All about Depression, n.d; Beyond Blue, 2017). The reason for this is because there are various personal and life factors that can cause someone to become depressed. This made sense, when I thought about it. Situations that can cause one person to come depressed may only cause sadness in another, everyone sensitivity levels are different.
I thought this title of this post was fitting because my mother and now battle the condition at the same time. We both have experienced trauma and poor health for starters. However, the main causes of my mother’s depression stems back from her childhood when she was singled out. She was beaten and treated like a slave by her mother. Washing, ironing, tidying and cooking for a family of six – she was expected to do it all. She didn’t have a childhood. She lost contact with her father for about 20 years for supporting her mother.
I am thankful she reconciled with her father and a couple of her siblings, that she has found some peace. However, she still does not have a relationship with her dying mother. Mine – Samantha, had been putting on a brave face for many years. She saw the symptoms of depression in me but she was ill too. To ill, to put me first. It is easy for people to forget depression is an illness when one key symptom of it – sadness is not.
“Depression developed roughly around the time my brother attempted suicide for the first time”.
I often look back and think, why was I feeling depressed? I didn’t wish my brother dead but we had never had a bond or a good relationship. As my parents were in flood of tears, my other brother and I sat in shock as we watched our sibling be sectioned. Every week, my parents would visit my brother but we did not discuss him. One day my parents returned from the hospital both l with different body language. I was then told I was not able to live with them anymore. Ryan was coming home and it wasn’t safe he was threatening to kill me. Due to his violent nature towards me in the past everyone was taking the death threat seriously.
I found this very unfair as a teenager. I thought he should move out and take free housing from the council because I wasn’t entitled to anything. I moved in with my mother’s friend but I didn’t belong there – I didn’t belong anywhere. You may be thinking, I was selfish and my brother needed my parents more than me and there is veracity in this.
However, I became brokenwhen I heard my mother had told people that she loved my brother more. My mother even lost a friend over that and then begrudged me. Amongst other things, this made me begin to have trust issues with other people. I felt betrayed and alone, I thought if my mother didn’t want me, no one would. Ever since then I went from one failed relationship to another. People just wanted to use me for something because they could.
Depression does not make you weak but it’s certainly makes you vulnerable. All rationality goes out the window and it’s easy to make bad decisions. Legal and illegal drugs enabled me to escape. You tell yourself it’s a short-term fix, but it just made everything worse. The problem I have now that I have cut down alcohol and stopped all narcotics, I still feel depressed. The only difference is sometimes I have hope I will feel a real smile once again.
When people look back at me they do not the sorrow in my panda eyes, nor the pain behind them. They see big bright hazel eyes, a smile and the girl cracking jokes. Why would they believe someone who appeared so happy was so miserable? Well I suppose I am just good at keeping my SHIZ together now. When I opened up to anyone, they would run a mile and I curl back up into my ball of loneliness punishing myself for trying to be honest. Depression is a vicious circle, it is a concoction of emotions. Not only pro-longed sadness spells. For me itsanxiety, tearfulness, insecurity, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, impatience, sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness and feeling empty all at once. I often confuse myself how I can feel everything but nothing at the same time.
I wake up wondering why I am still alive thinking of all the ways I could kill myself, staying in bed all day. Sometimes I don’t even brush my hair or teeth, or eat breakfast and hope that the next day has passed. I worry about the future and that I will end up in a ditch from an overdose somewhere. I spend so much time worrying about bad things that could happen I don’t seem to make a future. I suppose this all comes down to me having control issues somewhere along the line and how much I fear failure and rejection. Where exactly, I couldn’t tell you. I am soon to be trying to figure this out with yet another therapist. I just believe I am extremely ugly and no one likes me.
I have it drummed into my head you have to be really clever or beautiful, to be successful –convincedI have neither of these qualities. It is difficult to accept yourself, when the media portrays an image of perfection – something that doesn’t exist. A depressed persons thoughts are their only reality. They often say I am not an optimist, I am a realist.
Even surrounded by people I just don’t know how to feel happiness. I don’t get close to people because I don’t want to rely on them to try and be cheerful. As I scour over Facebook and see people with solid friendships, and others in relationships, getting engaged or married and having babies I can’t help but be jealous, believing I will never have that. I can’t seem to trust anyone and push everyone away from just being me – that’s the most difficult part. Medication, didn’t seem to do much for me (probably from drinking too much alcohol) and actually made me more depressed and sent me to the same hospital my brother had previously been. The difference was I have the gift of the gab and a way of talking myself out of those situations.
Back to the Future…
My mother was sent on a parenting course and now she cooks me meals and we socialise on a daily basis when I am not at University. We do have a better relationship, but funnily enough now I am an adult she treats me like a child. I appreciate her more now but I have become more resentful as I live in the past and have to be very careful what I tell her. The way she manages her depression is by speaking to her friends about all the nunny and cracks and everything in between. We both shared additional mental rough patches recently due to her having a tumour – which thankfully turned out to be a benign one. At the same time she had a pulmonary embolism in her lungs and my physical health deteriorated during my University exams due to stress.
In a way, I think blogging is saving me, it releases some of those emotions. I mean even if I am being judged it isn’t by someone I know. My mother and I can’t help but care to much about what people think of us. As, we are already depressed negative situations just add on like a paper chain. We must make a conscious effort to align our mental and physical health and take small but positive steps to see more than blue – and you can too.
I know this has been super long post so … if your still here in Morgan’s world, thanks a bunch.
The next posts in this series, will give you tips on how to manage depression, how to look for hidden signs of depression in someone else and how to support those suffering from it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on speaking openly about Depression.
If you feel alone and depressed and need support immediately you can contact any of these organisations, who can help!!
Depression UK: Supports those suffering from depression
Samaritans UK: A helpline for those who feels heavy distress or suicidal. The helpline does not show up on phone bills also.
116 223 – Free helpline (My personal favourite)
08457 90 90 90*
*This number still works to get through for Samaritans but you will be charged for the call.
SaneLine: (6pm-11pm, open every day of the year) provides support to those suffering from mental health problems)
Young Minds (Under 25 years old): A UK based charity committed to improving children and young people’s mental health.
020 7089 5050
National Suicide Prevention Helpline
National Adolescent Suicide Helpline
All About Depression: Causes. 2017. All About Depression: Causes. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.allaboutdepression.com/cau_03.html. [Accessed 05 September 2017].
Mental Health Foundation. 2017. Depression | Mental Health Foundation. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/depression. [Accessed 05 September 2017].
MIND (2017) How common are mental health problems? | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.Wa3uRJWWz4g. [Accessed 05 September 2017].
NIMH » Depression: What You Need To Know. (N.d). NIMH » Depression: What You Need To Know. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-what-you-need-to-know/index.shtml. [Accessed 04 September 2017].
Beyond Blue (2017). What causes depression . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/what-causes-depression. [Accessed 05 September 2017].