Feeling low happens to everyone. In all the years that I have been on this earth I've had my fair share of low points in my life. Especially in the last 4 years of course. Having had to give up my jobs to be a carer, the financial implications of not being able to work, the lack of contact with friends due to my inability to socialize as often as I would like, are just some of the main frustrations that I have had the misfortune to experience. The recent death of my father just adds to the mix, I suppose. It doesn't help.
Yesterday, I believe that I suffered real depression for the first time in my life. I have always been reluctant to use the word 'depression' in the past because for one thing I thought that I was immune to it because of my optimistic disposition, and secondly, I think the word has been used so flippantly by people, in some cases to describe a disappointment they are experiencing, rather than a condition that prevents normal everyday functioning. I always thought I was low, not depressed; there are always other people far worse off than me who truly are depressed and are going through their own personal hell. Well, I have always being able to lift myself soon after a low period, so that's not depression. However, I felt utter despair yesterday, of which I have never experienced before. I could not shake it off and felt that I was not in control of my thinking. It was almost as if my thought processes were fixed on one path, like a train on a single track unable to change direction. As soon as I woke up my head was pounding and I felt that nothing mattered, which lasted all day. I didn't know what to do with myself, uninterested in anything, prefering to stare into the distance for long periods, in any direction, and just do nothing, paralised in such a way that I was unable to think clearly. If I had received the letter I am expecting about my passing my exams yesterday, it could not have lifted me from my doldrums. I would have tossed it aside, not even being upset if I had not passed. Nothing mattered. It was scary, and the world that I knew was not the same anymore. It was almost as if the depression was everything, perpetuating itself in a neverending loop. I just didn't know where to start to get out of it. Scary as hell.
I could feel emotional pain welling up as the day wore on, and it was after visiting my mum late morning that the banks finally burst. I couldn't control the tears in the car at that point and when I got home I decided I needed a distraction so I watched something on my laptop. I surmise that this emotion I was feeling was linked to my recent berevement, and the thought that he would not be here for christmas. My dad always made us laugh at christmas, his inner child and inhibition ran wild. It won't be the same without him. So, this year will be a testing one for us all.
Eventually, last night, I managed to get the opportunity to talk about how I felt to my wife, and I'm inclined to believe that it must have helped, though earlier in the day I could not see talking as any help to me, and today I have felt a bit better and not so zombiefied. Yesterday I got a little insight to what many truly depressed people must be going through. The most appalling feeling is the concrete realisation that there is no escape from feeling like this; nothing that you or anyone else can do to help you get out of how you're feeling, and that you are trapped as if in a cage and there is no key to let you out.
In my experience, feelings of hopelessness and abandonment are key features of depression. They are biggies, really. We all need people to show that they care for us, in our hours of need, and if we don't it leads to a deteriorating self-esteem, and believe me that's a slippery slope. When you feel worthless and insignificant it's a sorry state of affairs. Hopelessness sets in and I believe this is when you feel you're locked up in that cell with no key. It's important that you find someone with the particular key that will help you get out. Last night, by talking to my wife I found a key, so the power of talk should never be underestimated. Hope. What a wonderful thing that is! Where would we be without it? It gives us the reason to carry on and do the things we need to do, and should never be abandoned. The question is, where do we find hope when things appear hopeless? Luckily, given good guidance, hope can be found in a multitude of places, people's hearts being one. To be kind, honest and supportive restores faith in humanity and perhaps the lack of these qualities creates the hoplessness in the first place.
If anything, this little episode has revealed to me the importance of my time at Aberconwy MIND, a place where I always encounter the results of depression. I meet people there who live with depression every day of their lives. To experience it for only one day is only a short glimpse of what it must be like for them, and I hope I don't get many days like yesterday again.