What depression means to me

so I thought it could be good to blog about what depression means to me. I think it probably means something different to us all, but we can relate to the fact it’s horrible! I’d like to start this blog by copying out a piece I wrote in my journal i titled ‘What depression means to me’ I wrote this when I was in one of my darkest places , I was on an acute psychiatric ward I didn’t want to be on, I was actively suicidal and on a lot of medication. I’m going to sensor out the very detailed bits but some may find it slightly triggering so read with caution. Apologies for how incoherent it is but like I said – a lot of medication! This is also quite scary for me as it is very personal and not something I ever considered sharing openly up until now. 

What depression means to me 

Feeling dark, hopeless and numb. As well as feeling numb my mind tortures me to the point that it physically hurts. When I’m this depressed I can’t even cry and I don’t want to move. It’s like being stuck in the deepest darkest hole and people keep trying to pull you out but you don’t have the will power, motivation or determination to let them. So you just stay at the bottom surrounded by nothing and no one. I cut myself just to remind myself I actually exist. I loathe everything about myself and feel like I’m not worthy of anyone’s time – or life itself. I think of ending it all. Every second of every day. It feels like there’s no other option. I begin to obsess about it. What would be the easiest way? Then I remember how much pain I would cause my friends and family. So I don’t kill myself …. Then I resent them all and feel bitter im alive because of them. This just makes me feel guiltier. The emotions swarm around my head until it feels like my mind is screaming. But I can’t let this show on the outside for everyone else’s sake. Then when I get to be by myself I get to *(do something not very nice)* I just wish I could go that bit further so I couldn’t recover, but there’s always someone watching, always someone preventing this. The sun in the morning stops looking beautiful , happy music I used to love makes it feel as though my ears are bleeding, others company is so tiresome. I’m irritated by my own breathing, heart beat and thoughts. I want it all to stop. I feel as though I have no existence. It’s hard to register what everyone else is saying to me, I don’t understand them, they don’t understand me. Everything that was good and beautiful looks dark and scary. There is no enjoyment in anything. The nights are long drawn out torturous events where thoughts and memories bash through my head like a tornado. There is no release, there is no escape. Even my dreams torture me. Everything around me distorts , night time feels like hell. It feels like doom is impending but it doesn’t come, and I just wish it would hurry up. I’m tired of waiting. Depression is feeling worthless, hopeless and undeserving and there is no end in sight. There is no making it go away. This feeling definitely could be fatal  

okay so that’s a little insight on to how I felt about depression at one of my worst times! Well done to anyone who’s still reason …

There was a bit more than depression going on at the time, I was very entrenched in my eating disorder, I was frequently dissociating and my medication wasn’t exactly agreeing with me. 

I have come a long way since then in some regards, I’ve learnt some good coping methods and I’m a bit stronger at challenging the black dog. But this is something that requires work, my depression hasn’t gone away, but Gemma has gotten a little bit stronger. Unfortunately anti depressants don’t agree with me so I can’t control my depression with medication , however many people do. At the moment, depression is still a massive part of my life. Everyday depression wants me to stay in bed, it doesn’t want me to socialise, it doesn’t want me to speak up and it doesn’t want me to get help. Despite this I am speaking up and engaging with mental health professionals , I’m trying to share my story over social media and this blog and I’m trying my best to help other people who suffer. 

Depression isn’t laziness or being grumpy or melodramatic or neurotic. It is a serious medical illness that warrants as much attention as any physical illness. It’s exhausting and debilitating. In my opinion, what makes depression so fatal is that people don’t feel they can open up or seek help( cue society , stigma , underfunded nhs and uneducated GPs to name a few …..) if as a society we were more understanding and supportive of people suffering with any degree of depression, we could save a lot of lives. I guess my advice to you all is to not judge someone, you can’t know their story or what they’re feeling unless they tell you. Don’t underestimate the power depression can have over someone. Be kind always 

Just because someone appears ️okay doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering. I am absolutely categorically clinically depressed, and if I wasn’t open about it people might not even know. Not everyone with depression walks around with their head in their hands , this is my face of depression and what depression looks like for me ….  Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

 


Acute psychiatric wards

okay I thought I’d share some of my experiences of acute psychiatric wards! I have been admitted to these kind of wards five times. Four of which being my (then) local secure unit , and once to a private hospital that was part of the priory group. Experiences varied from ward to ward and depended on the patients also on the ward, as well as what staff were working and probably what kind of mood I was in !

I’ll start with the positive, in the darkest of places I stumbled across my now best friend Anna. She’s wonderfully strong, compassionate and creative and I could not be more thankful our paths crossed. She is my rock and grounds me every single day, and provided me with much entertainment whilst on the ward! 😉

    

Asides from meeting Anna and some other pleasant characters im no longer in touch with , there wasn’t much else positive about my experiences. On one ward I had a fantastically understanding psychiatrist but the time you spend with them is very limited. There was some wonderful nurses and support workers too , but they were heavily outweighed by the not so pleasant staff I came across.

Patient safety – considering this was a secure unit and one ward I was on had allocated beds for forensic patients, the safety of us was not made a priority. There had been some terrible tragedies at this unit resulting in deaths, the unit was in special measures when I stayed in 2013. Alas changes didn’t appear to be being made. Patients were allowed to go on unescorted leave and enter back onto the ward possessing sharp objects, medication, alcohol, drugs and god knows what else! On one occassion the clinic room was left open and unattended ,  me and two other patients had access to ligature blades , tape measures and scissors just to name a few! Need I say more ? Patients on one to one observation managed to seriously hurt themselves. One of the support workers observing me once actually fell asleep! Many others were often on their phones or just not paying a fat lot of attention.

Physical health – my physical health was not monitored appropriately at all. I practically fasted for 5 weeks and some days consumed no fluid but little was done. Blood tests came back abnormal but no treatment was taken. 10 days after leaving the ward I ended up in resus at a and e as my heart beat was so dangerous, this was due to low potassium that likely showed up at the psychiatric ward.

Eating disorder support – general psychiatric wards are not appropriate for someone suffering with an eating disorder. I was promised meal time support and support afterwards to prevent me purging. I never entered the dining room to eat and no one even attempted to support me. I was prescribed fortisips without being told, my named nurse presented me with one one day, and after I read the nutritional content , I threw it. They never even attempted to get me to take one after that. When I was discharged I was very physically and mentally ill.

Threats – it seems to be the trend that staff on these wards like to threaten and blackmail to get you to tow the line. On one ward I was told if I self harmed they would take all my belongings – even my clothes – off me and leave me with a seclusion gown. How is that going to help someone scared and distressed ? All that achieves is making them feel more ashamed! I was threatened with im injection when hysterically crying – all I needed was some time and someone to talk to, not threats of medication! Every time I tried to discharge myself I was threatened with a section. Which is hypocritical as when I was then discharged there had been no improvement in my health.

I personally believe these wards are no place for recovery. They are simply holding pens where you are medicated until you are deemed safe to leave. There was nothing therapeutic about any of my experiences and in my case , they unfortunately helped me very little if at all. I’d advise anyone to engage with support in the community as that can be a lot more therapeutic and you have more of a say in your care plan.

    

You can’t win them all

Some days I am so determined to not let mental illness ruin my day, I try and try and try and I still finish the day feeling awful and defeated. I’m learning to accept that I can’t win every day and it’s about choosing my battles , and not dwelling on the fact that some days haven’t been a roaring success. No one has a 100% track record of good days anyway right ?!

Yesterday it was my mums birthday, and tonight we came out for a family meal to celebrate. I struggle a lot with this and have been anxious for a while. However , I decided I was going to do everything in my power to kick negative thoughts out of my head for the day.

In preparation for the meal I kept busy , I went shopping, I did housework , I filled in my food diary , I knitted. Then I allowed myself lots of time to get ready , I challenged myself and put on a dress and make up and did my hair with the new hairband I purchased today.

When we arrived at the pub the negative thoughts were so loud , I couldn’t drink what I wanted , I couldn’t have a starter , I couldn’t order the main meal I wanted and I couldn’t have a dessert. Watching everyone else enjoy themselves is hard. Dealing with the awkward glances from everyone else as I pick at my food is hard. Sitting with these guilty feelings is hard but I’m blogging now as a distraction!

I feel exhausted and awful and utterly hate every inch of my being. However tomorrow I shall get up and try my very hardest all over again. And hopefully tomorrow will be more pleasant. That’s what recovery is all about, sometimes you get beaten to the floor but you get back up and you keep fighting. You can’t win them all.