Archive | August, 2012
depressed girl

Do People With Depression Make Things Up?

(Image Credit)

“No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time a steady eye.” ~ Winston Churchill

The top search terms that bring people to this site are ‘do people with depression make up things’ and ‘do people with ptsd make up things’. It’s been that way pretty much since the day I first bought my domain name, and they feature in the top of my stats nearly every day.

Which suggests that there are either a lot of people seeking answers to those questions or just a couple of quite desperate people.

As I knew what I thought the answer might be but had never even come across the questions before in any of the research that I’ve done into depression and PTSD, I did some Googling myself. And came up with nothing.

So I thought I’d answer the question in relation to myself. Unscientific I know. But I hope that it might help to shed some light for those of you who are reading this because you wanted to know whether people with either PTSD or depression make things up.

I don’t recall ever having made anything up about either my depression or my PTSD, either in regards to my experiences and symptoms, or my diagnosis.

I do find that between the brain fog that is depression, the numbing medication I was on for most of the last year, and the blackout that my PTSD has imposed on large chunks of memory, it’s difficult to try to describe to the people I’ve been avoiding for months on end just what I’ve been dealing with. It’s possible that my explanations may sound vague or patchy.

Also, I didn’t get this sick overnight. The mental health crisis that began five months ago had been brewing for so many years that even I’d failed to notice that something was wrong. Low level depression at least had become what was normal for me. But I pretended to other people for long after my depression had devolved into a major problem that there was nothing wrong.

There were many reasons for this:

  • I didn’t want to worry people.
  • I didn’t know how to tell people I was sick when I could barely identify what was wrong myself.
  • I genuinely thought that if I ignored the problem I could, through force of willpower, make it go away.
  • I have trust issues that make it really difficult for me to ask for help.
  • I was scared that even the people I don’t worry about discussing things with would be so weirded out by the sheer volume of the crazy that was going on in my brain that they’d run away and abandon me.
  • I’ve turned to the wrong people to help me with the root of these illnesses in the past and they’ve either used it against me or promised the earth and then left me high and dry.

However, I appreciate that the incongruence between the front that I’ve put on for most of my adult life, and the person with a serious mental illness that I’ve been unable to hide being for the last year, might seem a little incomprehensible to some.

In fact I know that there are some people who have been unable to get their heads around the idea and think that I’ve been melodramatic at best, dishonest at worst, when explaining my illnesses.

Some people would just prefer not to believe that someone they know could have been abused, or could experience thoughts of suicide, or could self harm or overdose. So they choose not to. Regardless of the reality.

But I have never lied about my illnesses.

I don’t understand them well enough. I could never have imagined that there was this place mentally, or emotionally, that a person could be in to be able to have made it up.

I hope this goes someway towards giving you the answers that you are looking for.

performance in Vietnam

Living the Dream

If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein

I’ve talked before about the traditional environment that I grew up in, and the way I was taught to expect my life to be. It’s a way a lot of people want their life to be, ticking off the boxes of education, followed by reasonably stable job, followed by partner who looks good on paper, followed by a suburban house, followed by children.

The only problem with that is that I spent the first twenty years of my life being told by everyone around me that the things that I was actually interested in doing with my life, like travel, writing, politics, helping people, were frivolous and wouldn’t be possible unless I’d made enough money to afford to do them when I retired.

In the mean time I was supposed to knuckle down, fit in, and be exactly the same as everyone else.

I didn’t.

I’m estranged from my family, I decided to opt out of the high-flying corporate career path I started out on to work for a charity, and I spend almost every summer out of the country visiting as many places as I can fit in.

But I still feel like there are things that I’m supposed to like about my life, that are supposed to make me happy, that don’t. Some of that is down to my depression, some of it isn’t.

I’ve been talking about this a lot recently with friends I studied with at university. Friends who stuck with the program, who have great jobs in London, city apartments, and supposedly glamorous lifestyles – that they hate. Everything that they’re supposed to love about their lives makes them miserable. But they’re paralysed with fear at the thought of giving any of it up because they’re supposed to be living the dream.

Never mind that it isn’t their dream, someone would willing perform the seven labours of Hercules to be in their place, and so they stick it out in the vain hope that it will eventually become their nirvana.

It’s a pitiful waste of their ambition, passion, and talents.

Too many people are basically handing over control of the decisions about their lives to some sort of hive-mind that they don’t seem to have that much in common with.

And it almost makes me grateful for my illness.

One of the, admittedly well hidden, blessings of my battle with suicidal thinking is that it has forced me to try to create a life that I actually want to live. A life I’m supposed to want just won’t cut it because it still doesn’t give me anything to cling on to and live for.

So if I find that what I really want to do is sell off all my worldly possessions, cut all ties with everyone I know, and go and become a hooker in Timbuktu, that is exactly what I have to do.

Otherwise I’ll be unwell forever.

Or until this stupid illness kills me.

And I think we might all be a little happier if we spent less time trying to fit in with who we think each other are, and more time being honest about what we really want, think, and feel. Being true to ourselves by pursuing the things that interest us, concentrating on doing the things that we’re good at, and judging our success or failure by our own measures.

Leaving other people’s ambitions alone so that they’re there for other people to pursue, and not wasting time, our own and everyone else’s, on projects and relationships that we have no interest in.

 

 

Bridge Tower

Where I’ve Been – Part II

Okay, so as I was saying in Part I, I was having a terrible week which began to turn around when my new, work-affiliated blog was Freshly Pressed. I thought it was a strange choice, since it’s a new blog, and there isn’t much on it. I hadn’t even started trying to get anyone to read it yet. But I was absolutely over the moon to be recognised for my writing.

It came just at the right time as well, what with how I’ve decided to try to start doing some freelance work, and writing seems to be the most straight forward thing to get in to.

I can’t freelance my day job because I’d need a licence, and insurance, and be putting myself in direct competition with my employer, which would be futile and get me fired.

But being Freshly Pressed gave me the confidence boost I needed to crack on and bid for a few things. And it worked. I got some paid writing work. It’s just a couple of articles, and it won’t pay very much, but it’s given me much-needed reassurance that plan isn’t entirely insane.

I was so busy being excited about it all that I nearly missed my train to Cambridgeshire. By the time a realised I just had enough time to through some stuff into my cool new weekend bag, spray some dry shampoo through for my hair, and rush off to the station to pick up my tickets then hop on the train.

I’d reserved my seat for the outward journey but, as per usual, it was already occupied. Or at least, it had a bunch of somebody’s stuff piled in it.

The owner arrived half a minute later. He apologised. He also explained that the air conditioning was broken in the carriage we were in, but he’d just been in the adjacent one, where it was cooler, and scoped out four empty seats around a table. He invited me join him.

I figured I might as well, since I most definitely wasn’t dressed for hot weather.

We spent the next three hours chatting, and flirting, and the journey eventually becoming our first date.

We’re seeing each other again in London on Friday, where I’m half expecting him to try to kill me. Because he seems far too good to be true.

This guy’s smart, he’s funny, he’s charming. He’s lived all over the world. He has a good job, his own home. He’s does triathlons, he’s really good-looking. He’s really easy to talk too, we got on like a house on fire.

I must be missing something here. There has to be a catch. I don’t meet guys like this.

I do concede that that may be in no small way related to the infrequency of my leaving my home for anywhere other than the office or the homes of people I already know, but still…

I never would have thought I’d ever describe myself as having a wonderful train journey.

And I did.

Anyway, we eventually came to my stop, and I got off the train and caught a cab to my hotel, while the guy carried on to home.

I was supposed to be meeting a friend for an early lunch – we were then both going to go to a third friend’s engagement party in the evening – but she text me just as I got there to say that she couldn’t make it. So I got checked in, took a lovely long shower, and changed into something more appropriate for the weather, which was simply gorgeous.

Then I went for a stroll around the tiny little town in, and enjoyed a cream tea beside the river while soaking up the bright, beautiful sunshine, which is where I took all the pictures.

Well, apart from the picture of the bag, I took that just now, in my apartment.

The engagement part was fantastic as well. Almost perfect.

The venue was small and intimate.

There was a balcony right on the river, which is where we spent the majority of the evening, as every time we dipped back inside to the bar we started melting.

We watched the sun setting, and when it grew dark you could see all the stars and pick out the constellations.

It was a really nice group of people. Everyone there had been invited because the couple really wanted them to be there, not just to make up the numbers.

The two sets of friends had never met but got along famously. Even planning on how we were all going to get to the wedding together, and descend on the happy couple en masse over Christmas, as they’re moving abroad.

The only glitch being when the soon-to-be bride and groom, having drunk too much, decided that this would be a good to time to break up for a couple of hours – I’d love to tell you about it, but if she ever found out she’d kill me.

The party went on until the early hours.

The next day, despite the previous night’s plans to go punting, everyone was worn out and headed home.

I’ve been exhausted ever since.

I finally had to book a couple of mid-week days off work to catch up on some sleep because it was beginning to affect my ability to function.

I think I got that covered today, not waking up until four in the afternoon. So I’m hoping to devote my free day tomorrow to catching up with you all and working on plans for generating a new income.

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Related Reading:

Where I’ve Been Part I

Weekend Review

Swan

Where I’ve Been – Part I

 

It’s funny that Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars should have nominated me for a Strong Person Award today. One of the reasons that I haven’t been around keeping up with you all is that by the end of last week I was feeling anything but strong.

Monday morning was horrendous. Somewhere between my own paranoia and a misunderstanding with my manager, I became convinced that my work were on the look out for ways to fire me, and spent the rest of the day alternating between stressing about being potentially unemployed, and stewing with anger at the inequity of it.

Despite the best efforts of my colleagues in helping me keep it together, the week went down hill from there on, really.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that my current role is having a negative impact on my mental health. A new position would probably help matters, as I’ve identified that part of the problem is that I’m finding the micro-managing environment I work in  too constrictive, but I’m not sure that it would be enough as a long-term solution.

I have applied for the job I talked about wanting a couple of weeks ago. And I would still be over the moon if the got it.

But I’m concerned that I’m finding it increasingly difficult managing to be sane to someone else’s timetable, and I’ve wondered whether it might be better for me to find a way that I can start to structure my work around my mental health, rather than the other way round. Possibly by looking for some freelance work so that I can cut back on my regular hours.

Despite my best efforts at holding things together, I spent three hours at the hairdresser on Thursday night, mostly thinking about how much I desperately wanted to die.

I feel so sorry for the poor hair stylist.

He did so much work to try to give me exactly what I’d wanted, which is a completely different colour and style from what I had before. I think at the end of it he was expecting at least some sort of reaction. Especially considering I was getting a massive seventy-five percent discount through my workplace.

And he’d done a really good job.

I just couldn’t muster anything to say.

I just all seemed so pointless; I didn’t care about my hair. I didn’t care about anything. I just wanted to disappear; for someone taking a surveying look at the canvas of life to come along and just smudge me out of existence.

I even thought that I might need to go into hospital later that night, as trying to build something worth living for just seemed like it was failing miserably.

I stopped taking my mirtazapine because I didn’t have the time, energy, or inclination to pick up my new prescription.

And that’s made me wonder whether coming off them entirely, or switching on to something different, might not be the best thing for me.

Because this weekend without them was incredible.

That might have been in large part down to my very own Super Saturday, but I don’t know whether I would have experienced the joy of that if I had been and picked up the prescription. I guess I’ll need to discuss it with my GP.

But anyway, that was phase one of my disappearing act.

The weekend went on to encompass surprising news, unbearable heat, and surprising connections, which all kept me very busy, and mostly away from the internet. Although the greatness all started with the new blog I started – so that I could add it to my CV and showcase the new skills that I’m claiming that I’ve learned in setting up this one – being Freshly Pressed.

I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t even proof-read the post that they selected and certainly I hadn’t thought it was anything special. I was just looking to generate some content to get myself started, and up and running. It had me high as a kite for most of the weekend. And reassured me that I’m perhaps not being entirely delusional in thinking that I can write.

But I will save the other side of the story for Part II…

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Related Articles

What-a To Do?

Return to Work

Weekend Review

 

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