Thursday, 11 July 2013

The thing I hate most about Depression

Here is the thing I hate most about depression: the way it removes my ability to feel or even remember joy.

The last fortnight has been hellish. I have struggled to do anything at all. Waking up in the mornings, I have come round already dreading the day ahead. Waking up to palpitations, a sort of fuzzy sense of unreality and the feeling that today is the day that will prove to be too much is exhausting. My anxiety has been so high I have spent most of the days trembling in anticipation of some nebulous, indefinable awful thing that I feel certain is going to happen, soon. 

It's been so bad that I found myself planning out in intricate detail how to end my life. Just because that is a bad thing, so if that bad thing happens then it's done with. No more worry. No more pain. Live or die, something will have happened and either I won't be around to deal with it, or I will but at least there will be something to deal with. A problem I can name and point out to people. Rather than this constant, terrible dread which I can't name, can't describe, can't explain to people.

I've wanted help, desperately. But depression does something truly awful to me, it takes away my voice, my language, my ability to communicate. It's why I've written nothing on here. It's why I've spent hours staring blankly at the phone trying to remember how to speak, how to use it to get in touch with my doctor, the hospital, a friend. Anyone. In place of my voice it leaves me only apathy and fear, it leaves me exhausted to the point that moving becomes next to impossible. 

I am not proud to say that there was a day that was so bad, even moving from my bed as far as the bathroom was too much. I lay there in my own  pee and cried. For five hours. 

This is what an acute episode of depression looks like, for me. The only good thing, really, is that for all my planning I never once had the energy to try and enact it. Even ending this thing - the only way in the pits of despair that seemed possible - was beyond me.

And right now, as I finally feel able to drag myself far enough out of this pit to find people again, to find my voice just enough to whisper a cry for help I am glad of that. Even if a week ago I wouldn't have been.

But none of this is what I hate most about depression. No, what I hate most is that when things get that bad, it seems impossible that they will ever get better again. It seems impossible that they have ever been better in the past, that I have ever been happy. Or even simply not actively unhappy.

Depression at it's worst makes it impossible for me to feel joy, to recall a time when I ever have felt joy. To know that joy is something which even exists.Instead it tells me I have never been happy and never will be. It tells me this so effectively that even when presented with evidence to the contrary - a friend sharing a
memory of a great night out, photos of holidays I enjoyed, time spent with my beloved - it still wins. Because I try to remember those times but it's like watching a movie about somebody else, with completely different experiences to me and in a foreign language. The pictures in my mind are of somebody smiling, laughing, joyful but there is nothing I can relate to. I try, but I can't summon even the faintest echo of joy. In it's place is  a hollow, dull empty feeling. Nothing. No joy to be found. No tools to fight back with. Just, nothing.

So, that's why the blog has been quiet. It's why I've not been in touch with my friends. It's why I've not been to work. It's why I ran out of me medication when I needed it most and it's why I failed utterly to get to the doctor for another prescription.

But here's the amazing thing that depression always conspires to make me forget. It get's better. It does. Because right now, things are still awful. They are. But today I made it to the bathroom. Today I got dressed. Today I managed to write these words. Today, there is no joy or smiles or laughter, but I found a photo of me smiling and recognised the girl as me, recognised the emotion as one I had felt and as one I will feel again. Today I made it to the doctors and asked for help. Today I told a friend I wasn't coping. Today I regained my voice. 

Maybe tomorrow I will remember what joy is but if I don't there will always be the day after and all the days after that because I know it's real, I know I've felt it before and therefore I'm capable of feeling it again. Right now, all I have is the vague memory of joy to guide me back towards it. It's not much, but it's more than I had yesterday and it will have to be enough, because the alternative is horrific.

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