Depression – On the Inside Looking Out

Saturday 1280  –  23.01.2016

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

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Withdrawn.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. 

Some thoughts on my 2015

Saturday 1283  –  2.01.2016

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

Well hello everyone. It has been nine months since I last posted on this blog and Nooooo I haven’t had a baby in that time, in case you were wondering !

I would like to share some thoughts about my 2015, what I’ve been doing since I posted here last and what I’ve been thinking

1 – It’s been a difficult year personally because of ill-health both physical, with heart disease, and mentally, with depression. The first is mended the second is influenced by all the stuff that follows, but I am getting there. Anyone who has visits from the “black dog” will know how difficult that can be as it steals your motivation and self-belief, saps your energy, and affects concentration. Mental illness is still not talked about enough and many sadly still feel they have to hide it because of stigma. It is an illness just like any physical illness and people who suffer it should be treated with understanding and empathy. 

From the World Health Organisation (2012)

“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. More women are affected by depression than men.”

I’m sure I will be writing about this again!

2 – It’s been a helluva difficult year internationally and has certainly not helped the above  – Hate and destruction seem to be running unfettered, across the world, whipped up by the media, xenophobia and fear mongering by many who have vested interests in keeping people in fear: after all people are easier to manipulate and control when they are fearful; are they not? ( there are several posts in here but I have been too overwhelmed to write them yet!)  It is sometimes difficult to remember that the majority of people want peace and harmony to enjoy their lives with their families and friends, but I still believe this to be the case. 

3 – America has to contend with Donald Trump, who taps into that fear and magnifies it 1000 fold. Need I say more?  America led by Donald Trump would be a very scary prospect indeed!

4- Here in the UK we have to contend with Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP ( United Kingdom Independence Party ); some might say a watered down version of Trump.

5 – I’ve always been political but this year, faced with what seems like a cruel and heartless Conservative government, I have put my money where my mouth is and joined the Labour Party, since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader. I intend to be much more politically active in 2016 so I’m sure I’ll be writing about this as the year goes on.

6 – I lost my Mojo for photography and indeed for blogging but I am gradually rekindling my love of the 1st, hoping to share both my photos and my thoughts by way of the 2nd.

7- The world is getting smaller as social media gives us the opportunity to be connected with each other; and in real-time. I discovered twitter this year ( I have been on it for a couple of years but not actively )  It gives you unprecedented access to makers and shakers, nationally and across the globe. It is both exciting and terrible at the same time. It brings out the best in people when they share Missing people’s names or campaign against something unjust but it also brings out rank bigotry and hatred in too many people. It is easy for some people to hide behind anonymity and quick to type something without thought for the effect it will have on others. A double-edged sword indeed!

8- Many of you will know about my passion against injustice, fighting it wherever I find it, but in the 2nd half of this year I felt I should give that up for self-preservation.  Then I got impassioned by a Campaign here in the Uk called #WASPI – Women Against State Pension Equality who are fighting against unfair changes to state pensions for women born in the 1950’s. All  have had their pension age increased from 60, not just once but in many cases twice, with up to 6 years added on; in my own case 5 years and 5 months. The issue has been no or little notification of the change so no time to plan financially. It has caused real hardship for many, most of whom are not against equality of state pension age between men and women but feel they have suffered dis-proportionally.  You can find out more about the campaign on twitter or on Facebook . Main issues Here  and if you live in the UK you might like to sign this Petition to the Government. There will be a debate in Parliament on 7th January.

I am always reminded of what Nelson Mandela said –

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Throughout my life this has always been so very important to me. So the fight goes on and I suspect I will still be fighting against injustice when I have one foot in the grave. I just cannot help myself!

9 – Part of my fighting injustice in the world continues to be my support of Kiva  which I have written about before in a post called A Hand-up not a Hand-out which you can read here

10 – Some things I have been particularly thankful for this year – My beloved children Katy and Steven, my dear friend Helen and many others. The beautiful,natural world of trees, water, animals, birds and insects. How healing it has been to get outside and into nature when I have not been feeling the best. It is reliable and constant. ( and mostly wet at the moment!) I am truly thankful I am still alive and for our wonderful National Health Service which effectively saved my life; an NHS under threat by our Tory government as it is gradually being sold off to the private sector, service by service. 

Finally I would like to wish you all a 2016 full of hope, passion, laughter, love and above all peace and freedom. Please click on the photo below and watch the 3 minute Video. I am sure it will make you smile. Thank you

 Human

More here – Human-the Movie

Your thoughts are very welcome as ever.

Saturday Girl signing off.. I promise it will not be 9 months before I post again!

You can find my photography blog Photomania here 

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