Truth

I’m never going to get better until I stop loving to hate myself.

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I am forcing my self to make a post

This is one of the problems with depression: forcing yourself to maintain something.  This can be anything from keeping a blog going, exercising, or trying to eat healthier to hygiene, relationships, or jobs.  It’s been a few weeks since I made a post here and the longer I waited the more inertia would keep me from falling apart.  Allowing entropy to reign is just another part of depression,  I think Freddie Mercury describes it best, “…nothing really matters to me.”

How Can I Help?

If you have someone you care about who suffer’s from clinical depression you probably want to help them.  Clinical depression can be harder to help with then regular depression caused by an event such as a loss of a loved one, break up, health change, etc.  This is because its periods of depression doesn’t necessarily have any triggers and can come back at any point and can be just as strong or stronger.  Someone who suffers the loss of a loved might still become depressed later on, but in my experience, if the person has managed to work through their grief then the recurrence isn’t as strong since the person has reached the acceptance stage of grief.   I’ve accepted the loss of people close to me before and I might still feel their loss, but since I’ve accepted it that loss isn’t as acute.  The loss can trigger my clinical depression at times, but that is based off of the “terrible” things I did to that person while alive.  It’s no the person being gone that is troubling me so much as my mind searching for reasons to hate myself.  These feelings can be even more agonizing than the person’s initial loss.

So how do you go about helping some one who’s suffering from depression when the cause might even seem like complete nonsense to you?  Here are my suggestions:

Call:  211 for information and advice.  911 for if you think a person is a danger to them self or others.

Know Your Limits:  because you might have to be the judge if someone is a danger to themselves and others.  Also you shouldn’t allow yourself to be abused by a person even in the grips of mental illness.

The first part is the easiest to determine usually.  Anyone suffering from intense depression (clinical or otherwise) can suffer a psychotic episodes where they can be violent.  Sometimes this can be directed toward objects where they smash and destroy things.  You can try to talk them down from this but if you feel threatened, it’s best to call 911.  If the person is hurting themselves or others, just call 911.  Be clear that the person’s behavior is a mental health issue.  This will help the person you’re calling for, as well as first responders.  I’ve suffered psychotic episodes where I destroyed my things or hurt myself.  I can’t say how I would have reacted had I seen police at that time because I wasn’t in my right mind, but it’s possible I might have attacked them under those circumstances.  Letting 911 know that the person is violent and not rational due to depression will hopefully keep everyone safe and get the person to a hospital rather than a jail cell.

The second part is based on how much emotional abuse you should put up with.  The answer is not much.  Remember that this is for your benefit as well as theirs.  I have lost friends do to inflicting emotional abuse.  Sometimes this was from the panicked reactions of someone drowning.  Some one tried to help me and I lashed out when I thought they were pulling away or because the depression was surging  again.  Other times it was because I wanted to inflict the pain I felt and also convince people of what a horrible person I was.   I can only offer suggestions on how to deal with this and there are probably better ones than what I have.  This is what I think would work against me:

  1. Calmly shut the person down.  It’s hard to remain calm and patient when dealing with verbal abuse, but remember that this is the disease that is in the driver’s seat.  Tell the person that you won’t put up with that treatment but that you understand that it’s the depressions words, not their own.
  2. Tell the person that you are walking away and will be near by if they feel like talking.  Try not to get angry or feel too hurt, this is not the person you know right now.  That doesn’t mean you have to be exposed to their abuse.
  3. If they continue to be abusive, call on other friends for support if available.  This should be about getting support for the person, as its harder for the depression’s logic to hold up against multiple people countering it.  If you’re calling in friends to support you, then you might want to start thinking of the first part of knowing your limits.
  4. If you don’t have friends available and the person is not letting you walk away, I would suggest leaving completely.  If you don’t think the person is a danger to them self or others, call 211 and see if they can provide any information and advice.
  5. If things work out, try to forgive.  Depression is full of lies that are trying chew there way out of the person.  The person only believes the lies when the depression has a hold of them.  I can hate people I love when depressed, which makes me feel awful when my brain finally calms down, and which can lead right back into depression.  Try to remember that it’s not the real person speaking.
  6. Blame it on the disease.  Once your back on speaking terms, let the person know that you know all the horrible things the person said belonged to the disease, not the person.  the idea to convey is that you’re there to help them try to stop a vicious cycle, which is why you needed to shut them down.  You weren’t going to let the depression use you to inflict more pain on the person.

Understand the Depression:  pay attention to what the person is like when depressed because depression is not have just one flavor.  Paying attention to the various moods will help you figure out what might work best.  Everyone is different so you’ll need to figure out the best ways to help  Using myself as an example I’ve had depression which involved a lot of loneliness where I would kill for attention, but it might only be the attention of specific people or exclude specific people (parents are often on my exclude list).  I’ve had depression where I’ve fallen into such deep despair where words seem like they’re coming from a world away.  I think only physical contact would have reached me there.  Often times I’m angry and don’t want help or attention at all.  I have others too, so approving my depression from just one way all the time could blow up in your face.  Taking the time to watch and learn will ultimately help you help them.

Fight Their Depression When They Aren’t:  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Some of the best prevention is showing the person they matter.  If you only engage them when they are depressed it doesn’t stop the negative thoughts stop the negative thoughts from happening again.  Chances are the depression will just tell them that you are just feeling sorry for them.  I think the best way to do this is to spend time with them just to do it.  Show the person that you value them.  If you can’t do that then call, text, email, etc.  if people show they value the person with depression when they aren’t depressed, it helps arm the person the next time they battle with depression.  The frequency or depth doesn’t matter nearly as much as follow through and intent.  If you say “let’s do this again sometime” be sure to follow through because a person with depression is going to remember and the next it will show up in a bought of depression as proof that you don’t care.  Don’t try to reach out to them when you’re in a bad mood because you feel sorry for them or feel obligated to.  If you made plans, reschedule them and follow through.

Accept the Person:  I don’t mean caring for them because the fact you want to help shows that.  Depression has made me feel like a freak since before I realized I had it.  Things that matter to other people don’t to me.  The few things that do matter to me occupy more of my time due to their lack of quantity and can make me look obsessive.  I say the wrong things, I’m awkward, and am easily embarrassed.  Having someone I know coming up to me and telling me that they’re here to help me with my depression will have me vanishing like a ninja.  Don’t treat their depression like a car that needs fixing and show it off to the world.  Try to understand their interest, motivations, and fears even if they seem ridiculous to you.  Don’t force them into anything.  Be comfortable with them so they can be comfortable with you.

 Finally:

Call: 211 for information and advice. 911 for if you think a person is a danger to them self or others.

 

New Discovery for Me: You can be Happy & Depressed at Once

This was something I found out last month.  Sounds impossible, right?  Well, let me explain my discovery. 

I had been switched to a new medication after being taken of of one that wasn’t helping.  The new medication seemed to be working as my mood began to improve.  I was actually feeling happy, which was really exciting for me considering a good day for me is feeling apathetic and being unable to remember what being happy feels like (this is one of those things you’ll have to go with me on if you’ve never experienced it.  You could show me a recording of the happiest moment in my life and I wouldn’t be able to call up the feelings associated with it).  I was still irritable and  still lacked motivation and energy, but I was hoping the medication would start helping with that soon.

I told therapist about this and my hopes in a few different sessions.  I started to realize that while my modes were improving, I still had all the same negative thoughts, I was still angry,  and that the despair was still there.  Essentially the medication was helping cover some of the problem by giving my mood a boost, even though the same thoughts and feelings were there.  It’s sort of like the layer of dirt and grass covering up a septic system.  It might look nice but there is a ton of shit underneath.  This realization helped kick off a nice deep bout of depression, naturally.  It does make me wonder if this is why I always seem to become depressed after I’ve done something enjoyable.  The distraction goes away leaving what lies beneath.  It’s funny, the implication that depression is what I am at my core and that positive thoughts and feelings are distractions and camouflage for what lies within doesn’t scare me.  Who knows, maybe understanding this will help me fight my depression some day.

Dealing With Depressed People Sucks

Admitting it doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you a person.  I think we’ve all been in a situation where a friend or family member is going through a bad break up with someone you thought was bad for them and trying to help them through it.  At first you might try to comfort them while keeping your cheering to yourself.  That gives way to telling the person that their ex was a jerk and how they’ll find someone better.  Eventually though, if that person remains depressed about the split, hearing them go on about how they miss their ex and how they’ll never be happy begins to wear on you, to the point you get angry at the person for treating the loss of a jerk like the end of the world.  Most of the time though, your friend or family member will get over the break up and your anger goes away.

Dealing with people with clinical depression can be very difficult to deal with in other people when you’re exposed to it frequently because the person doesn’t seem to ever truly get over anything.  The person’s thoughts constantly go over their flaws, self worth, and futility of anything they do.  Circular thinking keeps these same thoughts popping up and when you try to point out the folly, the person will try to defend those thoughts.  Hell, I’ve studied depression for years and see it as a serious illness in anyone who suffers from clinical depression, except for me.  My depression is merely my own weakness and foulness, not caused by a disease.  Sounds kind of crazy, right?  I can accept clinical depression as a disease in others but I can’t escape the thoughts that I’m just a monster who deserves to die and I’m just trying to use this depression bullshit to hide from that truth.  Hi, I’m crazy, nice to meet you.  I can tell you that having to constantly deal with this has driven several people to anger and even ruined some friendships.  People have a hard time dealing with my self loathing and negativity and I push them away with it, sometimes actively doing so.  It can really suck to be my friend because I can’t see why a person would actively like me.

I’ve been on the other side of this coin too.  This is not just me relying on my own twisted thoughts to convince myself that others obviously find me terrible to be around.  I’ve tried to help friends with depression before and ended up feeding my own depression.  I’ve gotten frustrated and angry when I don’t know how to help them.  I’ve had the energy sucked out of me after dealing with their negativity.  I’ve even dreaded seeing them because I’ve got my own to deal with and I’m afraid they’ll just make mine worse.  All of these things make me feel like a terrible person and I’ve got a felling that I’m not the only one who gets like this.  The problem is that if you don’t take a moment to address your own negative thoughts towards the depressed person as something normal and natural, there’s a risk you might get into your own vicious circle.  The true problem is the disease, but when you start feeling negative emotions a lot around someone it becomes easy to transfer those emotions to the person instead.  This can have very negative effects on your relationship with the person.  So please take a moment to remind yourself what the real cause of your negative emotions are.

If you are the person struggling with depression, remember that people aren’t mad at you or sick of dealing with you, it’s the disease they don’t like.  I know it’s hard to believe people care about you, but the voice telling you that is your depression.  Your depression lies.  The people who care about you probably aren’t trained professionals though and might not know the best way to help.  Therapy will help.  Don’t be afraid to try different types of therapy or different therapists.  You want to find something that feels comfortable to you.  Don’t give up if the first one doesn’t work for you.

Why Suicide?  It’s crazy.

I’m going to be talking about depression as a whole here, not just clinical depression.  Even people who are normally in good mental health can experience depression, especially due to external issues.

You’ll hear this kind of talk particularly any time someone famous deliberately commits suicide:

“How could they do this to their family?”

“They’re so selfish”

“They’re cowards”

“Why didn’t they get help?”

“Everyone loved them.”

“So-and-so drove them to it”

The answer I can give to why someone would commit suicide is because they are crazy.  They are loony tunes, cuckoo for coco puffs, and even barking mad.  Now you might be thinking  “this guy is being harsh”,  but please bare with me for a moment because this is coming from analyzing my own attempts at suicide.  It might sound like I’m making fun of such a serious topic, but I want you to think about what type of imagery those words bring to mind.  What type of person do you imagine when you think of a crazy person?

I’m guessing that person is probably dressed wildly and having an enthusiastic conversation with an object or thin air.  A person who seems to be living in their own reality and not following societal norms.  I’m guessing this because that’s the what I usually think of when I imagine a “crazy person”‘, before thoughts of slasher movie killers and congressional leaders join the image.  I think of a caricature of someone with schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness where the sufferer can suffer breaks from reality during periods when their illness is most active. 

Think of mental illness like a sea tide, it has periods where it’ seems to being very active and other times it recedes.  There are even times when it can swell up above its usuall activities, becoming difficult to control and causes a lot of problems.  Take your imaginary “crazy person” and use it to mark one of these stormy periods.  I’m willing to bet that most people who commit or attempt to commit suicide are at that same level of activity for depression as what you imagine your “crazy person” is going through.  Rational thought has left the building leaving a suicidal person to make decisions based on a skewed version of reality where things that normally matter become poisonous and things that normally don’t matter can grow to the size of mountains.

I have come extremely close to suicide several times in my life.  My normal level of active depression will leave me wishing I was dead.  It can actually be a pleasant thought, the idea of having no more pain or self hatred, just being asleep with out any alarm clock to wake me up.  The simple truth is that even during periods of very active levels of depression I’m in little danger of killing myself.  I can even hate my friends and family because I feel like I have to suffer so they aren’t inconvenienced by my death.  The reason I know I’m safe most of the time is because death is freaking terrifying.  I think anyone who says that suicide is a cowards choice has no idea what they’re talking about.  If I was braver, I’d be dead.

I’m not sure I can actually tell you the level of pain and hate I’ve experienced when I’ve actually been at death’s door.  It’s a level that distorts my grip on reality.  I feel trapped with no possible way out.  Everyone sees me as the monster I think I am and wants me to suffer.  There is nothing good in life, no joy, no love, and no hope.  The only thing I can feel is hate, fear, and despair.  I am an animal caught in a trap and the only way to get out was to chew my leg of, metaphorically speaking.  It is being in pain that drives you beyond reason.  I’ve either been able to outlast the storm or I’ve been shocked out of it by some external stimuli.  Twice I had the right song come up on the radio and once a random phone call from a friend saved me.  If any of those things hadn’t happened at the moment they did I think I wouldn’t be here.  They kind of startled me back to reality.

I hope this has helped give you some incite on the suicidal.  They aren’t being selfish and they aren’t cowards.  We just like to tell ourselves these things to protect ourselves from the really terrible question: what could I have done to stop this?

The 4th of July

everyone enjoys fireworks, right?  They’re bright, colorful, and you watch them with friends an family.  I did this the other night at a local 4th of July celebration.  Through it the show I felt nothing for it.  No enjoyment what so ever.  I was in a relatively good mood for myself too.  To me they are flashes of bright color and noise that aren’t unpleasant but rather boring.  There is nothing exciting or awe inspiring about them.

Why is this important?  I think it’s a good example of one of the effects of depression that people without it don’t really get to see.  Depression is not just about feeling like crap, it’s also about not feeling good.  People with depression often don’t get enjoyment out of things a healthy person does, even when not feeling bad.  This is why I’ve stopped doing things like drawing, which used to be a big hobby of mine, I don’t find it rewarding.  Think of it like getting ready for a trip that’s being a real pain in the ass.  You struggle to show up, but when you do there is nothing there.  This is how I often feel when I’m not suffering a bought of depression and I think I’m not alone in this.

Depression is a Disease of the Brain

Hopefully this got your attention because not understand what Depression is is a major problem.  Clinical Depression is one of those diseases that society treats like a made up disease.  It’s either people whining about how much they wish their lives were better or that all you need is to take happy pills to cure it and get on to things that really matter.  The truth is that something isn’t working right in they most important organ in your body.

All the descriptions of Clinical Depression I’ve seen focus on describing moods and emotions first.  I want to to focus on the physical first so I want you to view those negative thoughts and emotions as the symptoms of the disease.  I don’t want to get into the discussion if it was bad thoughts that led to the bad brain or the bad brain that led to bad thoughts.  The brain, the organ that makes you work, isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.  The most accepted theory is that the brain isn’t producing the right amount of chemicals, neurotransmitters, causing the problem.  The problem here is that we understand very little about the human brain.  This is why finding the right medications to treat a person’s depression involves a lot of trial and error.  In one of my psych classes the professor told us that shock treatment was an effective treatment for depression but we really don’t know why, other than that it disrupts the electrochemical process going on in the brain.

So what’s the big deal here?  Well when you compare the brain with another organ, like the heart, the brain makes it look about as complicated as a paper mâché volcano.  Do some research and you’ll find the other fun symptoms like problems sleeping, being hungry or not, low energy, paralysis (always a fun one), and physical pain.  These are caused because things aren’t going right in your brain and we don’t really know why it can effect these other bodily functions.  Trust me, it’s not really comfortable knowing your CPU is on the fritz and not knowing what the exact problem is.

Hopefully looking at things from the physical helps you see Clinical Depression and other mental illnesses as a real disease.  It’s really easy for us to dismiss emotions, the physical is a bit harder.