A running theme in these blogs has been the concept that understanding depression and anxiety is incredibly difficult, unless you are experiencing it first hand. Even I find it extremely challenging to try and describe to people how it manifests itself, partly due to the fact that its often impossible to recognise what has brought it on, but also the fear that describing it will lead to scorn. I thought therefore, after a particularly tough weekend, I would keep a mini diary of my thoughts throughout Saturday, to try and elaborate on how I was feeling. I haven’t edited them, and have just typed them up as I wrote them at the time:
Woke up feeling awful. Combination of a few drinks the night before, exhaustion from the previous week, and only a few hours sleep during the night. Force myself to get up and clean the flat, and do jobs that need doing, because otherwise they will play on mind and I won’t be able to relax.
Cancel plans for the evening (which I had been looking forward to) due to feeling exhausted and pretty down. Just need to be alone, despite the fact that I know this will have a detrimental effect. Also leads to guilt at letting down the person I had plans with, and extreme frustration that the illness has such a hold over my life.
Head to the gym for an hour. Cycle about 20km, and feel better afterwards, more awake, and the adrenaline is taking its effect. Feel like I may be able to go out after all and salvage some of the day.
After lunch I’m flagging again, my energy levels have plummeted and the negative thoughts rear their ugly head again. I’m also crashing a bit from 3 coffees, which I had as I was so tired. Go out for an intended walk, but felt a bit nauseous from tiredness, so I cut it short and head home. I feel very alone, but at the same time, just want to hibernate for the afternoon.
Haven’t done much for the last hour or so, have been so restless and therefore unable to concentrate on anything, but also too tired to go out. Lie down on the sofa to read and end up falling asleep for a couple of hours. Wake up and its dark. Have that horrible feeling after being woken from a deep sleep, and also feel incredibly frustrated that I’ve wasted the day. Inevitably leads to lots of negative thoughts, varying from imagined fun that everyone else is experiencing on their day off, to regret that I haven’t been strong enough to fight my thoughts and feelings, to a yearning for a long sleep.
Watch a film, but keep having to pause it as am feeling restless and anxious. Have a few drinks to try and relax. Just gives me a headache.
Feel low, dejected, and hopeless. Nights are often the worst. Text a few friends as I need to reach out, but then feel guilty about bothering them. By 10pm I head to bed, although struggle to sleep despite the tiredness.
This is not necessarily a typical day; in fact I’d say it’s a particularly bad day. Sometimes I feel stable and motivated and there would be a lot more positive diary entries. But I just wanted to try and verbalise a few thoughts that happen on a bad day. I think there are themes present that have been mentioned in all of my previous blogs; the idea that being alone leads to a worsening of the symptoms, the fact that there can be ups and downs even within a single day, and also the evident complication to the problem that tiredness presents.
News site The Might posted a question on Facebook: ‘In one sentence, how would you describe what it’s like to have depression to someone who’s never experienced it?’ It’s a really interesting read, and I can relate to a lot of what the people are saying. Take a look at the link, as I’m convinced this is a far better way of gaining an understanding of depression and anxiety than by reading a psychology book or health encyclopedia, as it’s based on very personal experiences. Sarah Wehage says of depression, “Everything is off, nothing feels right, everything rubs you wrong. You dont want to deal with anyone or anything, you want to be left alone, then you feel worse because your lonely. Never ending cycle. The most feelings you have are anger or sadness, or bitterness. You can’t shake it. You can’t change it, you can’t breathe, you can’t just be happy.”
Sarah’s quote clearly echoes a lot of the thoughts and feelings I described in my diary, and goes to prove that there are so many people out there thinking the same thoughts and feeling the same feelings. To say its nice to know there are people with the same experiences as you is not an adequate way of wording it, but it certainly makes you feel less alone.
Emily Dotterer produced the most pertinent observation. My diary demonstrates that a many of the depressive thoughts and feelings can happen without external influence (although these clearly have a big effect too), due to the fact that the majority of the battle takes place within the mind. Emily perfect summarises this when she says: “Having depression is being in an abusive relationship with yourself.” But unfortunately you can’t break up with yourself…you are stuck together, through thick and thin.