Last year when I had been under stress due to university work and my job coming to an end, I became so socially isolated and depressed and, something that anyone who has a lived experience of depression would understand, lost in the moment of the darkness of depression.
I cannot impress how unwell I had become. Moreover, at that time in my life I was unable to see the fact that I was clinically depressed. It had got to the point where I did not want to live another day and I had become overwhelmed by the darkness I call my depression. I did not actively want to end my life as I would have needed to have the get-up-and-go that was needed to do anything that involved moving, thinking or processing.
I have, over the years, named my depression “the darkness” as this is the only way I can explain these times as darkness - a world without colour and great sense of pain.
I would say my life is like a coin. On one side of the coin there is a darkness that is what I now know as depression and on the other said there is lightness which is what I call mania. My life, living with mental ill health, is like the coin spinning and spinning. Sometimes the coin lands on the depressed side and other time on the manic side. However, more often than not, the coin is just spinning and I am waiting to see where the coin will land and the mental anguish of the waiting game is played out day-to-day.
I remember I had not been out or spoken to anyone for days
However, sometimes the coin of mental ill health may be shuffled by life events and circumstances eg the loss of my job and university. I remember I had not been out or spoken to anyone for days and I didn’t even have the insight to think about opening the blinds in my bedroom. I had become socially isolated, lost within the comfort of my bedroom. My loved ones had planned to take me to hospital and it was close to happening. However two very dear friends took a different approach.
This approach was just to sit in the same room as me and watch TV. The next day my friend came with a picnic and we had a bed picnic and on day three a long chat about how I was feeling. I remember both of my friends did this independently of each other. I later asked them why they did what they did.
By day six I was sitting within my small garden with my friends
Although this was something that I did not process at the time, this was positive as both my friends had been able to offer what I needed and, by day six I was sitting within my small garden with my friends.
I believe the key to this success was that they asked basic questions “ Isaac, what do you want?” and “is there anything you don’t want me to do?” Moreover them just being able to sit with me during the times when words were not expressed or when I didn’t feel like talking. I know this is a skill that not many people have. More often than not silence can be very difficult place for people to visit. When looking back on those dark feelings that I could not process and that I didn’t have the energy to deal with, having two good friends who were able to talk to me about my needs and wants was the key to me being able to put one foot forward and then the next.