I’m conscious that my blog posts are predominantly focused on the ‘down times’, or moments when I’m struggling and in despair. This isn’t because of a universal absence of positive moments, but merely because the focus of the blog was intended to be those times when things seem out of control, or I’m in distress or turmoil, and need to try and express myself to gain an understanding of what is going on. I just wanted to clarify that, as I don’t want people to think ‘here he goes whinging again’!
Since my blog If You Want The Rainbow, You’ve Got To Put Up With The Rain from the 24th April, in which I detailed one the lowest points in my journey so far, I enjoyed a slight respite for about 5 days in which I felt a bit better, more myself, able to laugh, and consequently kidded myself into thinking that I was back on track again. However, last weekend things took a turn for the worse again, and I slipped back under, the weight pulling me down. I assume that maybe the rope that I mentioned in that previous blog was not strong enough, and broke in two just as I was being pulled up. It appears a stronger rope is needed.
So another visit to the doctors followed, and I was signed off work for a week. This inspired the familiar feelings of failure, weakness and desperation to set in, as well as the deep sense of helplessness. The doctor presented me with a form (one which I have been given more times than I’ve had cake – and that’s a lot) in which there are 10 questions for which you have to state how often they have applied to you in the last 7 days. For example:
(1) Little interest or pleasure in doing things?
(2) Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
(3) Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
(4) Feeling tired or having little energy?
(5) Poor appetite or overeating?
You get the idea…
My frustration was probably palpable to the doctor, although he didn’t show it. I don’t need to fill in a patronising form such as this to gauge how I’m feeling. It really does cement in my mind the lack of help out there on the NHS (which I have mentioned in previous blogs), and the fact that he didn’t even glance at the completed questionnaire, merely placing it in a file, added to my sense of dismay. Is this form the best they can offer, and the best help I can hope for? I realise they are just doing their job, but they need to realise that hope is such a powerful weapon against depression, and by trivialising the illness (again, just my opinion) with forms such as this, it turns that hope into hopelessness.
I’m due to return to work on Wednesday, and am determined not to let this leave of absence descend into the lengths it has in the past. During these difficult times I sometimes need time away to regroup, to try and lift myself up, and to recover a state of mind which allows me to function at my optimum level, not to mention to recharge the batteries which sleepless nights and endless worrying deplete to a dangerously low level. However, I realise that any longer time off than this can actually have the reverse effect, and lead to further negative feelings, and a downward trajectory, due to the isolation, lack of purpose and absence of human interaction.
A final element that I wanted to mention, and which I have pertained to on numerous occasions, is the predilection for negative thoughts to infest the mind during these troubled times, and which are undoubtedly heightened during periods of solitude such as during sickness leave. One of the most significant of these is the feeling of being cut off, of not being in peoples minds, or the assumption that people don’t care about you. Of course these are nonsense, and a rational mind would correctly state that people are busy, stressed themselves, or merely don’t know what to say for the best, thinking that I may wish to be left alone. As stated before, the depressed mind filters only the negative thoughts and the worst case scenarios, rather than these more rational explanations. Still, the fact that I can rationalise this doesn’t mean I can adhere to its hypothesis, as throughout these arduous episodes, rationalism doesn’t come into it, only emotion. Which again proves why I need to go back to work, because the longer I’m isolated and incommunicado, the more my mind will gain enormous pleasure from telling myself that I’m alone and friendless, when I know this is as far from the truth as its possible to be.
Whilst I’m still feeling pretty low, I know that sitting at home isn’t going to help, so whatever state my mind is in come Wednesday, I’m willing to go into battle once again. In my blog from 24th April I suggested that a rainbow will follow the rain, but maybe that was slightly premature. A rainbow will follow the rain, but sometimes the rain pounds harder, the thunder bangs louder and the lightening strikes fiercer, before that rainbow comes out. Back then the storm was just brewing, lets hope now there’s no rain left to fall and the sun can come out.