Depression – On the Inside Looking Out

Saturday 1280  –  23.01.2016

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote my thoughts about my 2015  and mentioned that I had been suffering with depression. You can read that post here .

I am writing this as I hope it will further aid understanding for those who are lucky enough never to have experienced depression.

So what is depression like?  Well I can only speak for myself, of course, but I will illustrate it using this box; an art installation I saw in Amsterdam last year.

I’d like you to look at the box for a moment and think about what it might be like to be inside such a box.  

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In the dark.

Colourless.

Withdrawn.

 

Separated from the outside world.

You look as though you’re in it but

actually you are unmoored from society.

 

There IS a doorway.

You can see it,

you can see what’s going on outside it,

It’s open, but it seems impossible to go through it.

 

Your energy is sapped,

motivation non-existent.

You’re forgetful,

disorganised,

unable to concentrate.

The unexpected puts you into a tailspin.

 

It’s not a choice.

 

Depression is often invisible.

Makes you want to be invisible. 

People who see it from the outside can only look in.

 

 and they might say –

“Cheer up” 

If you could you would. 

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself “ 

I refer you to my comment above ! 

“Can’t you pull yourself together? ”  

 Now it’s getting boring ^^^^^   

“It can’t be as bad as all that” 

 Oh yes it can.

“Try not to be so depressed”  

  I am trying and so are you !

“Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for a couple of days”  

 Really!  Sigh ! This one shows the speaker has never been really depressed.

“But you look alright” 

Of course I do. Depression doesn’t make you grow 2 heads!

“But you can’t be depressed you always seem so confident “ 

I have an “I’m confident” mask.  It’s quite thin.  I hide when it gets too thin.  

“What have you got to be depressed about? “ 

Nothing actually, but then depression doesn’t need a reason. 

‘You’re not the only one with problems’ 

Correct but not helpful because it  just adds guilt into the equation as does                               the one above and the one below ! 

“Shouldn’t you feel better by now?”  

 Goddammit I should ! I wish, I wish, I wish ! 

“At least you don’t have cancer”   

 Another sigh as this is the stupidest one ever. It’s not a competition!

I could give you loads more examples of what NOT to say to someone who gets regular visits from the “Black Dog” but I do recognise that often people are trying to help, they just don’t know how. This is particularly the case if they have never had depression themselves because they are used to emotions having a direct cause as in Cause > Effect, which is often not the case with depression.

So what IS depression? 

Eminent neuroscientist Professor Sapolsky, in his lecture on depression ( video link below) defines depression as

“a biochemical disorder, with a genetic component, and early experience influences, where someone cannot appreciate sunsets” And how sad and distressing this is, comparing it to how some people with serious life threatening illness who despite being scared of dying have found that they have a renewed interest in life, found the true meaning in friendships etc. He continues saying that “humans have this astonishing capacity to derive pleasure out of the most unlikely domains. What could possibly be worse than a disease who’s defining symptom is the inability to feel pleasure

A  couple of facts from the World Health Organisation 

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

and it’s on the rise, along with other mental illnesses.

So why so many in the world ? 

There are many, complex reasons, which I am not going to explore here.  I’m not a scientist but I can’t help feeling that, certainly in the developed world, the more technology reaches into our lives and takes it over ( she says typing on her computer and posting on the internet! ) the further away we get from our “animal” existence and our connection with nature.  The greedier we get for “things” also takes us further away.  

The world moves too fast and our ability to evolve is much, much slower causing turmoil as we try, in vain, to keep up. Stress and depression seem to be linked as it is widely believed that chronic stress can cause chemical imbalance in the brains of susceptible people.

The saying  “Stop the World I want to get off”  about sums it up!

So to step back to the beginning what is helpful in interactions with someone who is depressed, or what would I find helpful I should say?

I would say the key is empathy, patience and being a compassionate listener; you cannot cure someone’s depression but listening really helps.

Ask how you can best support them?  Tell them you may not understand how they feel but they are important to you and you want to help.  Tell them they deserve help. Don’t be judgmental, tell them you know it’s not their fault.

Give them a hug, if you know they normally like them, I do but not everyone does. Encourage them to go out with you for a walk, to the cinema, swimming or out for dinner; don’t force, encourage.  Text them just to let them know you are thinking about them.

There are many other things and I have included a couple of links below for further reading 

Some reading :-

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/how-can-friends-and-family-help/#.VqVMEpqLQW0

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/helping-a-depressed-person.htm

Eight things you SHOULD say to someone with depression

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

http://www.nature.com/news/mental-health-a-world-of-depression-1.16318

and viewing :-

Oh and by the way, I am feeling a lot better; this week anyway   :o) 

Your thoughts are very welcome as ever. 

Saturday Girl signing off.. 

Take a look at my photography blog Photomania ; in particular the post Photos and Poetry 11 – The Magic Box  which features the same box. 

Woman of the Chalk Hills

Saturday 1282  –  16.01.2016

If you are new to my blog take a look at my About page here

Today  I went to visit my 89 yr old mother in Wiltshire, it’s a 7-8 hr round trip so I don’t see her often, especially at this time of year as my night vision isn’t great. I normally try to avoid long journeys and too much night driving.  

Mum lives in a residential home,  has early dementia and is nearly blind. My visits can sometimes be difficult, particularly if my mum hasn’t slept well the night before because tiredness makes her more confused and uncooperative, especially when eating as she now needs to be fed.

Today was different.. she had slept well and was in excellent spirits. I always arrive in time to feed mum because it usually takes ages and this helps the staff and of course mum. Today she ate quickly and really enjoyed lunch, especially her dessert. ( I get my sweet tooth from her)  We chatted, most of it was sensible, even from me!, and we laughed a lot; sharing memories.

I left feeling very happy, the sun was shining still and instead of driving straight home as I normally would, I decided to take a detour through parts of Wiltshire I was so familiar with, from when I was student nurse. This was at Pewsey Hospital for people with Learning Disabilities, or the mentally subnormal as they were called then. Isn’t that a terrible term?

Anyway decided is the wrong word really, as it was more of an emotional pull than a decision. I believe the reason why this happened on this particular day was because on Friday my Facebook “memories” ( you won’t have a clue what I’m talking about if you’re not on Facebook! ) decided to show me a photo of myself, aged about 18 or 19 that was posted, 6 yrs ago, on the timeline of an old flame and which I had commented on. The photo is from my student nurse days, back in the early 1970’s and here it is.me aged about 18 or 19

The drive took me through the chalk downs in an area known as the Avebury World Heritage Site and you can see a map of this below.  You can read more about this whole area by clicking here  

A little excerpt –

“Within the 23 square kilometres of the WHS the monuments are of exceptional size and interest, including remains of the largest stone circle in the British Isles, the longest stone avenue (West Kennet), one of the longest Neolithic burial mounds (West Kennet long barrow) , one of the largest causewayed enclosures (Windmill Hill), and the largest prehistoric mound in Europe (Silbury Hill).”

All of this is close to the very famous Stonehenge site and the whole area has a truly mystical feel tied to its history.

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How I love this area, with its rolling chalk hills, straight Roman roads, ancient White Horses carved into the chalk and not forgetting the trees; so many beautiful, mature, native trees.

I was born in a little village called Badbury on the edge of these chalk downs. The village is still there,but alas the house is not, as part of Badbury was knocked down to make way for the M4 motorway. Such a shame

You know how some places hold a very special place in your heart that never leaves you? This is just such a place for me and whenever I am in this area I always feel the pull. On this day I felt a great inner joy and peacefulness; both rare for me in recent months. 

Along the way I stopped and looked at Silbury Hill, below, a massive prehistoric artificial chalk mound. The reason it was built is still unknown even after several tunneling excavations. 

Most Mysterious Of All Monuments, Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, England.

Most Mysterious Of All Monuments, Silbury Hill, Wiltshire, England.

 

You are no longer allowed to climb to the top but back in the 70’s you could, and indeed we did. I remember a group of us climbing it one summer night, sitting or lying on the top of it, drinking cider and watching the sun rise while someone played Guitar, another old love. ( unless I’m mistaken? ) Well it was the 70’s !!  We may even have sung, but alas my memory is hazy.  A truly Halcyon day though.  We thought we could change the world in the 1970’s and I’m still trying. :0)

As we age I think we do look back on our memories: reliving and refeeling how we felt at the time. This is especially good in places like this that have changed so little over the years. There is a tremendous reassurance in that lack of change.

I rediscovered that I am indeed a Woman of the Chalk Hills and in the spring or summer I shall give in to the pull, go back and stay longer to explore once more. Expect photos! 

Which reminds me, none of the photos on this page were taken by me for once!

Your thoughts are very welcome as ever.

Saturday Girl signing off.. 

You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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