July 28, 2015

It’s a lonely old thing this depression malarkey.

Having suffered various degrees of depression over the years I find myself at the age of 51 doggedly fighting what is the most profound and desperate black time I have encountered. I continue to function - at work, at home, and socially – but I am dogged by suicidal thoughts on a daily basis and have had some difficult nights where these thoughts have laid siege.

It’s become clear to me that, at least in my case, there is a gulf of difference between thoughts of suicide and actually taking my own life. I have thought about suicide in great depth and about how I could say goodbye to my daughters in a way that minimises the legacy of a father who has taken his own life (as if!). I've written reams and reams to try to give those I would leave behind an insight into my innermost thoughts. The bottom line really is that I will never do it anyway. But there's the rub. Just because you know that you won't do it doesn't make the pain any less. And feeling this way continually over a long period is incredibly debilitating.

So what do I do?

I manage these horrific feelings in several ways. I keep them in perspective which is difficult but I find doable - I know that the feelings ebb and flow and if I am patient things will change. That's how it works for me anyway. I do self-analyse an awful lot.  To help me cope I also tend to drink, which sometimes is quite effective in anaesthetising an immediate feeling but has a very negative cumulative effect on my outlook, so I constantly attempt to control it.  I try to exercise, and getting off my backside when all I want to do is crawl into a hole is very effective in changing mood – if and when I can actually achieve it. I have also sought help via the doctor and been prescribed anti-depressants. It’s difficult to know actually how effective they are.

Perhaps the best thing I have done, and this is definitely in response to the Time to Change campaign, is to communicate my feelings to (some of) my support network, which I am very lucky to have. The fear of judgement is quite difficult to manage, and choosing an audience is essential I think, but it really does help to share. I have experience in the past of people and organisations reacting negatively to mental health issues (depression and anxiety) but there seems to be a change in mood these days, which is useful. The reactions of people are incredibly varied. Some people just don't get it. Some people run away. Some people get very upset. Some people (very close and trusted friends) don't talk to me anymore. Other people are fabulous, non-judgemental, supportive and just lovely.

I will battle through this horror. I will be confident, charming, funny and gregarious again - very soon. It’s my life, I'm dealing with it. I won't lose it to the thoughts I sometimes have because I am in charge of my thoughts, they are not in charge of me. I give them space, I learn to live alongside them, but I won't encourage them and over time they will wither and die. I won’t.

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Comments

Dealing with mental health issues

I just wanted to say having read this, I can so empathise with how you feel. I manage my own business, a family life, have two dogs, lots of friends but sometimes I feel so empty and, at times, suicidal. I am a similar age (50) and work in the funeral industry as a civil celebrant, helping people to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. This in itself is a big commitment but one I can do wholeheartedly but it always makes me think of living on borrowed time and how much I am wasting it (so I feel). Depression is unique to each individual and can be multi-faceted.. but by speaking out bravely about your battles with suicidal feelings (again something I can understand having been this way literally only days ago) and seeing that many others really do understand, perhaps it does make us feel less alone. Like you I drink as well, which also can be a double-edged sword, you form a habit which makes you feel good, but not for that long and becomes another worry in itself. I do believe that being kind to yourself (such a simple thing it would seem) is key because I get so locked into my own head at times, hearing myself batter the last remaining shreds of self-esteem into oblivion). I wish I knew what the key was, but when I found myself thinking be kind to yourself, it helped, at least for a day. For me, feelings and moods are like the clouds and sunshine passing over our heads...some of us need more sunlight than others but we don't always know how to seek it out. I try to find my own sunshine in what I love doing but some days it is literally hard to get out of bed. There is always a reason to get out of the pit (in either real terms or the one that is in our heads)... and for me keeping relatively busy and active keeps me grounded. I'm here for my husband, stepdaughter, dogs and friends and I try and keep reminding myself that. I believe more than ever in this world, and with the advent of social media that although we can always be "instantly connected" we sometimes can feel so disassociated from the world, with our own thoughts, trying to convince everyone we are okay. On Facebook, I don't go into detail but I will be honest and say that I am in my trough (I like pigs so it's okay)... and people usually know what that means. We must all start by being more honest with ourselves and others. Thank you for your post and be comforted that you are so very not alone in your feelings. There are many of us out there dying inside but smiling.

Your comment

Thanks for your comments Liz. I hope you are finding your own sunshine. Take care.

Sharing

I give you a lot of credit for sharing your story like you have..consider me in your position and welcome an opportunity to discuss my plight..and understands the difficulty of finding a healthy forum. Good luck and don't forget to challenge the validity of your negative thoughts.

Mike-s blog post

The above post is one of the best blogs I have read. I have BD 2 and struggle everyday, it could have been me writing this blog. I too put a brave face at work where everyone thinks I am happy and outgoing but after 2 days of work, which is all I can manage due to stress issues I spend the rest of the time isolating myself at home. I to drink to stop the racing thoughts and to quiet my mind. I have to take each day at a time, I have a very supporting family but only have a couple of friends as I don't tend to trust people to understand my ups and downs. I have been surprised lately when I have disclosed that most people do understand or at least try. This blog has made me realise that I have nothing to feel ashamed about and just to embrace ME. Thanks again Dave you have helped me on one of my darker days

Thank you for writing this. I

Thank you for writing this. I could relate to it parts of it, and so it helped me. I hope you feel better soon. May you find peace.

I know it is lonely but you

I know it is lonely but you are not alone. I battle this horror too. Thanks for your honesty.

Coping

Although this is not my major illness, Mike having read your piece, I have to message to applaud you. Coping with any mental illness is hard to bear which those that don't rarely understand but do recognise in part. I really hope that you have touched the hearts of those suffering from your illness, for me I feel sure that you will have done so. Helping people to live along side their illness is a way of acceptance which often is the hardest part. x

Suicidal Thoughts

Mike thank you for being so honest about your experience. I live with suicidal thoughts when I have a depressive episode. It's frightening and constantly fighting to keep alive at times can be energy sucking for me. Despite being grateful for my support network (my GP and Husband), until recently I have been unable to share exactly how suicidal I can feel even with them. It's a taboo I'm determined to dissolve - for myself as well as others. Talking about it is the start. Be well. Be happy.

Thank you so much for sharing

Thank you so much for sharing your story, you have just put into words exactly how i feel and how much i wish and want to find a group of people who really get it and dont judge or try to fix. Just get it! Xx

depression

mikes story is me ecceptim not working anymore and have lost or left my family and there really is nothing

Support

Hi Brenda, I'm really sorry to hear that you are in a tough place right now. Please don't feel like you are alone - there are people out there that can help you. Samaritans are now free to call on 116 123. As an anti-stigma campaign we aren't able to offer advice on support directly, but you may find these links useful: http://bit.ly/1Lh54ZT Best, Crystal at Time to Change

My Friend Mike

I have known you for years, we talk / message and we need to set up our weekend! I'm the friend that I like to think you speak too.... But dance around the edges because my life has been coloured by my father taking his own life...... YOU think I'm perhaps not the person you can talk to this about! I however think I AM the person you should be sharing this this.... It wouldn't increase my pain! It would just mean that at least in this case I can make a difference by listening, I have suffered from depression and got my strips as The Class Clown.... So you can hide nothing..... Reach out brother, my hand is there! My ears are here to listen, my arms ready to hug, and my respect for you as ever...... Deep and untainted!! I love you Mike, together we can laugh, cry, and I'll show you the hero that I see xxxxx

My blog

I wanted to thank those people who have liked, commented on and taken the time to read my words. Be reassured that there is another side to the horror. I am lucky to be rediscovering a little bit of the other side every day. The darkest thoughts and the pain have all but gone. The talking and sharing has helped me find the strength within to begin to move on, and the reaction to this blog has been very positive and uplifting. I hope that those suffering now can also find their way forward. Good luck people. x

Depression and writing

I took to writing- as a part of being constructive towards warding off unwanted thoughts, and to banish the periods of 'doom' in my head. We all are educated about something or the other- I have written an article on my blog- that I wish to share as my effort towards not only doing a good deed (sharing valuable information) but also as mental self help. The best part is you can do it alone, and then your sharing will get you your joy- from the comments of others. You could write about flowers, dogs, how taxis operate, to how kids play in the gardens- anything. From my effort, I wish you all here a wonderful self help time. You could see my effort if you googled 'therealslimkd blogs.'

thanks for sharing

I have felt the same as you for the last 5 years I do have good days but most of the time I wonder what's the point as I see no end to the problems and the guilt that I feel ever day. I have got very good at covering up how I feel, as I don't want my family to worry. Its good to know that there are other people who have been there and going through the same it makes you feel your not alone. I hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I will get there. I hope you do to

Keeping going....

I can truly relate, I too am wading through the sludge at the moment. I had a meltdown at the beginning of the year and am very slowly still clawing my way out. It has affected my sleep and I wake very early in the mornings, although I am functioning at work and at home. After the initial acute anxiety, I am left with an empty feeling and sometimes feel very ditached. I know what you mean though, I too seem to have developed this grit determination, even though everything is telling me to give in and slip under again, I refuse. I have really been changed by something i heard recently, there is a difference between noticing a thought when it pops into your head and actually thinking about it. I've found this is key to not letting negative thoughts amplify, but to just acknowledge them and then let them go again. Trying to block negative thoughts just makes them stronger and come at you harder, I am choosing to let them go and this weakens their resolve. All the best and keep going, I know as well as you do that we'll cone out triumphant in the end....

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