I would like to introduce you all to Debbie. She lives with Depression on a daily basis and battles it and other mental health conditions. She is a mother doing her best to parent. And because of her mental health, she advocates for others who live with similar conditions. She has a great blog filled with informative information, so please head on over and have a look around. Details can be found below. I hope you all get something out of reading her story here.
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she can see the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.” – Unknown
There was an end to the childhood/teenage years spent in a household that was unloving and at times abusive at the hands of my Mother whose only way of expression was through her hand and use of a dressage whip. There was an end to the marriage that involved cheating, prostitutes who were more important than me, physical abuse, mental abuse, controlling, and constant hurt. There was an end to the years with the fireman who could not commit and had to keep me as his secret second life. There was an end to the jobs that involved colleagues that chose to bully, discriminate, and use my depression against me because it was easier to mistreat me than ask if I was ok and help.
There were ends to these parts of my life.
What hasn’t ended after decades of severe depression, bipolar disorder, and general anxiety despite various treatments, medications, appointments, and counselling this insidious illness has not shown any end in sight, light at the end of a very dark tunnel, and is a battle that just keeps going and going.
Not a day goes by that the cage that surrounds me, depression, doesn’t have an impact upon my day. After many years with depression, anxiety, and mania have come to terms with the fact that I will always be burdened on a daily basis by this illness. The following will detail how depression, bipolar and anxiety impact upon me.
Depression – the theory, if you can call it that, is once you take medication prescribed for depression your mood should lift or at least improve. When you undergo electro convulsive therapy (ECT) which involves electrodes put on the right side of your brain that pulse an electric current through the brain stimulating the brain to increase neurotransmitters and therefore chemicals in the brain to improve your mood. Despite these measures, trial and error with medications not a day goes by that the feelings of depression don’t haunt me, shroud my day, take my smile, or leave me house bound with a deep sadness that doesn’t lift and takes from me my ability to go about my day.
Mania – Mania is the other end of the spectrum from depression. It is a feeling of elation, high energy, the feeling you can absolutely do anything, and the ability to do anything. My manic episodes are not so frequent but when I do have them they last days sometimes weeks and because of how mania makes you feel I go like a mad women the whole time, do a million things at once, and feel like I am superwoman. While some would say this would be a good thing because at least I am not depressed, it is only a matter of time before I come crashing down, and when I do crash it is with a big bang. The end of a manic episode is complete and utter exhaustion, at times making me physically sick, and on top of that depression hits me like a tsunami bringing me down in a big way, to the extent that I can’t work, can’t get out of bed, just don’t want to do anything because it is just incredibly hard.
Moodiness – Everyone is moody at some point in their day and week. It can be caused by tiredness, stress, relationships, work stuff, a whole range of things but when you suffer depression, bipolar and anxiety you are constantly on the moodiness rollercoaster. My day can involve a range of different moods from being manic, depressed, angry, irritated, upset, and stressed, you name it and my day involves that kind of mood. Along with dealing with this rollercoaster it is incredibly hard to manage and adds to the stressors of trying to get through the day, getting your job done, dealing with people, and just enjoying the day.
Anxiety – My anxiety involves racing heart, tightness of the chest and throat, the feeling you are being strangled, sweating profusely, shortness of breath, a feeling that you are out of control and something bad is going to happen. It is neither easy to deal with or easy to get rid of. While medication can assist in controlling the symptoms of anxiety they still occur in response to your natural flight or fight response, your response to fear or threat, and the circumstances around you. There have been occasions when my anxiety has turned into a full on panic attack, and it hasn’t been pretty, and has ended with me in hospital until it can be brought under control. Panic attacks or more precisely the fear of having a panic attack is also a contributing factor to anxiety and can literally cripple people into not being able to leave their home, drive a car, go to a shopping centre, a range of other things, usually linked back to the original source and environment of the panic attack. I have been one of these people who hasn’t been able to leave the house for periods of time, can’t go to shopping centres, can’t go to social gatherings, and struggles at work. Anxiety also affects thought patterns and self talk, leaving you with doubts about your ability to do things in your day.
Exhaustion – Nobody can operate when exhausted and when we do it is not at full capacity and our daily tasks are twice as hard as what they should be. For most people, exhaustion comes, they sleep and then it is gone but for me and many others who live with depression it is not this simple. I believe my exhaustion is a combination of depression, lifestyle, and my medications. Whatever the reason the effect of exhaustion upon me is huge, it makes my depression ten times worse, it increases my rollercoaster of moods, it leads to physical sickness, it incapacitates me for long periods of time. I can sleep for 24 hours straight, sleep on and off all weekend, sleeping is all I want to do and it’s what I try to do any time I get the chance. The problem is despite how much sleep I get I wake never feeling like I have slept, never feeling rested, and never feeling renewed to start again. Exhaustion never leaves me, making my days extremely hard and long, affecting my productivity, my ability to look after myself, and sending me deeper and deeper into depression.
Little to no concentration – Depression affects your ability to concentrate and for me it can become a huge issue, especially if I am at work. When I have little or no concentration I find my mind wandering off with all its self-talk, finding myself with little motivation to carry on with my day, and struggling to get through what I need to do. On one hand I want to get things done on the other hand it is like a force is pulling in me in the opposite direction so that I feel vague, disinterested, not motivated, and tired. Sometimes the feelings that come from not being able to concentrate affect my level of depression, my mood, and how I interact with those around me because it leaves me irritated and frustrated with myself because I want to get things done but can’t.
In a nutshell these are the aspects of my life that depression has dealt me, this is the rollercoaster of most of my days, it is my constant battle, and how I end up having a major depressive episode because like a volcano there is only so much pressure from these that I can handle before I collapse in a heap. The Black Dog is invading my personal space, and I can not function mentally. I would like to think that there is a cure for these, more importantly for depression, but unfortunately in most cases there is not. We can take medications, we can see a therapist, a psychiatrist, a doctor or someone else, but we can only ease the symptoms, and hope for a reprieve from depression. Every day I hope that my day will be easier that I will feel great and that everything will be a breeze but this is very rare. Some day I have hope that it will get easier.
About Sad Mum Happy Mum
Debbie is the author of Sad Mum Happy Mum, which is the story of a Mum living with depression, and her journey to recovery and happiness. Debbie is a single Mum of a 13-year-old son, a keen photographer, reader, camper and academic, and has lived with depression since her early teenage years. Debbie’s experience with depression has inspired her to write a blog about her experiences and learnings in the hope of helping others with depression, as well as increasing the awareness of depression and mental illness, and breaking down the stigma attached to depression. A strong advocate, mentor, and living example, Debbie is determined to provide a safe environment for other Mum’s to talk about their experiences with depression, and is working towards establishing a support group that assists Mum’s living with depression.
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