Content Warning: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts
So it has been over a week since my last blog post was published. In the past 10 days I have done a lot of cool stuff, but I have also spent a lot of time doing some stuff that isn’t so cool. Today I’m gonna talk a bit about my depression.
I have had Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) for over 10 years now, and diagnosed General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) for about 7. This is something that is just part of my life now, and I have accepted. It doesn’t feel fair sometimes, no, but it is also a big part of what makes me, me.
The differential factor between Depression or a Depressive Episode and MDD is basically frequency and how episodes are linked (or so my psychiatrist told me). Unfortunately, Depression is a prevalent illness. It can happen due to catalysts of severe change in our lives: divorce, death, having a baby (post-natal/partum depression). However, for someone with MDD there doesn’t necessarily have to be a catalyst, or it can seem that way (the catalyst may have been so minor you are unable to identify it). Lots of people will suffer from some form of Depression in their lifetime due to a major catalyst, but MDD is like a cycle.
Living with MDD is having no clue what the next day is going to hold for you when you go to sleep at night. It’s waking up and taking a moment to assess whether it’s a “good” day or a “bad” day. A “good” day for me will be getting out of bed within 10-20 minutes, and responding politely when my husband asks me if I want a cup of tea (as he does every day). I can usually tell a “bad” day pretty promptly if I have zero desire to get out of bed, I lie willing myself to go back to sleep, and when Ell asks me about my morning cuppa, I will either grumble or snap at him.
One of the reasons I actually started this blog was to try and take control of my mental health a bit. As a SAHM with MDD, most days I don’t really want to get out of bed, or out of my pajamas. I am very aware that my lifestyle facilitates my illness. I don’t want it to be like that, so my blog is a place where I can have an excuse to do my makeup and show people, to get dressed and show people, and I have found that once I’m dressed and made-up, I have more drive to do things and to go out.
But obviously this has not happened this past week.
I can’t even tell you when it hit honestly, because when I am there I lose track of time and of days of the week. I guess it must have been Tuesday, because I had something I wanted to write about here on Monday and so must have planned to write on Tuesday.
Everything was wrong on Tuesday. Nothing would go right. My episodes feel a little bit like really bad PMS. I get really mad at things/people, I cry easily, nothing goes right, and when it feels like nothing is going to work I give up and go back to bed.
I had an argument with Ell because of how I was being, I think he told me I overreacted to something. Then I went to bed. I led and cried for a long, long, long time, then I tried to read. I managed to read just a few pages of my book and then my eyes started to blur. I put my glasses on but the words all just fused together and wouldn’t budge. It felt like when you really need to rub your eyes first thing in the morning, but it wouldn’t go away. When my eyes get like this it usually means I’m on the verge of a panic attack. I don’t know if this is a usual physiological symptom but it’s something that happens to me. I put my book down and just spent a lot of time concentrating on breathing. At some point I must have fallen asleep.
I woke up at about 4am and Ell was in bed next to me. This time a stronger panic attack started to hit, because we had gone to bed without resolving our argument and I felt awful. I didn’t want to wake him so I grabbed the spare duvet from the cupboard and went downstairs to the sofa bed to breathe through it and try and get more sleep.
I woke up when Ell got up for work a few hours later. I was still tired so went back up to our bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I started crying again, a lot. I couldn’t control it. Ell didn’t go to work that day because that ended up being one of the worst days. Those are ones where I can’t physically move I’m so numb, and so my day is characterised by being in bed with intermittent bouts of uncontrollable crying and panic attacks.
At times like this my suicidal ideation becomes very active and strong. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to kill myself, and fighting with the non-depressed side of my brain that’s trying to stop me doing it. I also fight my problematic relationship with medication. When I am depressed, I do not take any pills whatsoever even though my brain feels like it’s going to explode and I get migraines. This is because when I’m in this stage and look down at a pill packet my brain says “take them all”. On this particular day I did manage to avoid majorly ODing, but I do overmedicate in a desperate bid to take the pain away. Within 6 hours I had taken 4 ibuprofen, 2 cocodamol and diclofenac sodium.
I tried to have a bath thinking it would help as my head hurt so bad. Our bathroom doesn’t have any windows so there’s no natural light, and I had a bath with all the lights off in the dark. Elliot was downstairs for a bit and another panic attack hit me. When my panic attacks are at their very worst, I can’t breathe, I get pins and needles in my face, my vision goes completely, and I lose control of my arms and legs, but I am very aware. This happened when I was in the bath. My legs pushed themselves downwards, my toes curling, as did my left arm. My right arm was clutching my chest. I couldn’t feel my face but I was very aware that my head had thrown itself back and my eyes were under water, my nose and mouth just exposed. And I was really scared I was going to drown. With the movement of my legs, every so often I could feel water flowing into my nose and burning the back of my throat.
Luckily it lasted only a few minutes and started to settle, but I stayed in the bath until it went cold just trying to breathe normally. I had scratches all down my chest where I had been clawing at it when I was trying to breathe.
Then I went back to bed. Ell went out and got me some food, and managed to ease the feelings a bit just by being himself, staying by my side, stroking my back, even managing to make me laugh.
This above is what happens when it comes on strong. But it never does that then goes away. It then moves into another stage which is more what people characterise Depression with: apathy.
So by Wednesday evening this is where I was at. I managed to get out of bed and go downstairs to watch tv with Ell. I didn’t have any dinner. Everything in this stage is characterised by “what’s the point?”. I was also feeling super nauseous because co-codamol does that to me. I just kind of sit, thinking and not talking. The worst bit about this is that this is the period that lasts for a long, long time. Sometimes for me this can be days, sometimes weeks, and in a major episode, months.
My suicidal ideation becomes passive again. This is (I think) a more disturbing side of suicidality/suicidal thoughts. The notion of committing suicide seems like a viable throw-away option, just like if you want a cuppa or not or something. Someone will ask if you want dinner, and you’ll think/say “or I could just commit suicide”. “Do you want to go on holiday next year?”, “yeah, if I don’t commit suicide”. “Shall we pop into town tomorrow?”, “Or I could commit suicide”. It seems petty, and like you don’t mean it.
I also think it is potentially a lot more dangerous. If you are actively looking to commit suicide you want a plan, a time, a method. If you’re passive, you could just be popping to the shops, trying to cross a road and think “I could step in front of that car”.
Last year I realised that my passive suicidal thoughts were worse than I thought when my Mum and I nearly got into a car accident. My Mum was driving us to work and the roads were super icy. There was also a huge truck in front of us. It had tried to change lanes but the wheels slid, and my Mum went into a tailspin trying to brake from coming up the lane on his right. We slid with the car spinning about 100 metres down the road. My Mum went into shock and started crying at the near miss, and I felt… a bit disappointed.
In these periods of depression I don’t genuinely want to die. But I can’t control these passive thoughts either. I did a bit of studying on it once and found a hypothesis that those most at risk of passive suicidality are those for whom depression had set in before the full development of the brain. My depressive symptoms started at 11, so I certainly think it could be possible.
By Thursday I had to be up and active again and cleaning my house, as my Mum and Nan were coming to stay this weekend, but I was exhausted. Illnesses such as Depression are characterised as mental illnesses for a reason, but they can also be much more physical than people think. I did a lot of cleaning in the morning and then spent the afternoon doing nothing. Friday was similar. I had to pop to the shops, which are only 10 minutes away, and felt like I had ran a marathon.
My mood improved over the weekend. I was able to enjoy it with my Mum and Nan and went out for a friend’s birthday on Saturday night. In these moments it abides, but it’s never really gone. As I said before, it’s something I live with. Every day. You get quite good at hiding how bad things really are to people. Some people know, some people don’t. The person that knows the most is Ell, and even to him I don’t reveal everything. I don’t want anyone caring in any capacity about my depression, which is ironic, because the reason for that is my depression. I can logically know that, but it still doesn’t make it any less true in my mind.
In my mind, I don’t want people to think about it, to care about it, because it’s too much maintenance and so it’s not worth it. I’m not worth it. I can deal with it. I can deal with it myself. I genuinely believe that everyone else’s lives are much more important than mine. I have incredible friends and family with so much to offer the world. I would much rather speak to them about the incredible things going on in their lives. My depression is as my suicidal thoughts: passive. Boring. Not note-worthy. I guess that’s how it will get me in the end. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll die from this.
So when I go into an episode everything falls to the wayside. I feel much better today. Back to my passively-depressed-but-not-in-a-major-way self. The above is why I haven’t been blogging. And it’ll probably happen again. I just wanted you guys to know that. It seems stupid that I have titled this “An Apology”, I know that. People don’t want me to apologise for this, yet I’m always doing it.
I’m going to catch up today and put some stuff on here from last week from the days were everything was okay-ish. I’m still going to do this individually so that things don’t get messed up, so sorry if you get spammed with quite a few posts today.
I hope everyone has had a fabulous week and weekend.
If you have read this, thank you for taking the time. I’m sorry if this has been too frank for people’s liking. I guess I needed to get it out?
If you are one of 2 people I know IRL who read my blog, I’m sorry if I’ve disturbed you.