I wrote 2 years ago about how I was suicidal and depressed. I guess this is like a follow-up to that.
I write about it because conversation about mental health (even if you don’t have a diagnosis to ‘qualify’ you as being in need) is incredibly important. We need to talk about it constructively as opposed to capitalising on it, and when you’re in a dark place- what else is there to do but talk.
I fell into a small pit of depression again recently as life began to get too much, so I’m writing about it again 2 years on in an attempt to help anyone who needs this. I’m not an expert, I just want to do what I can.
Before getting into the actual point of this article; I want to say a sincere thank you to my old school friend in Tesco who randomly bumped into me (while I was quite wrecked) and told me how much she appreciated my blog, how she read it all the time, and how she used some of my ‘deeper’ posts to help her understand some issues that family members are having. Thank you to the random girl on twitter who told me that she could relate to the things I say and that she found comfort in it. Also the biggest to thank my friends who when finally told about what was going on in my life showed up to my house and put me in their car and did all the right things, flooded me with messages, and offered me their time and energy. Random acts of kindness go the furthest way, because they’re so unexpected. I have nothing to say but thank you, and I love you, and I am glad you exist.
So anyway. The type of depression I felt two years ago was more childlike. I didn’t know what to do, I wasn’t sure who I was, I didn’t know what I wanted. So many questions, not enough answers, and that made me want to give up.
The depression I felt this time around was a weight on my back. It wasn’t complete loss but it was burnout, which so many adults both young and old suffer from because it’s not talked about enough.
It’s the feeling of having so much to live for but no motivation to live it. Knowing that leaving would break your sisters heart, knowing that if you could just find some will to live you will eventually get a job which pays you enough to get a flat, knowing that something has got to give. But the longer you spend with time ticking over, the sand timer slowly draining all your energy and strength, the more you become a shell of a person. The more you think, “what good has it done to have come this far?”. The more you lose hope.
You can have all the strength in the world, but for me at least, I think the tipping point of it all is self-concept.
Back in April I went through some things but I was fighting. I felt like I was winning because life hit me with something and I could handle it. I was exercising and socialising and working; I was improving my mental state and health to a huge extent. What kept me going was my self-concept. Knowing that I was doing a good job- an okay job at best. Knowing that I could be proud of myself for not sinking and brushing off what had happened like it was a minor blow.
As time went on, I resumed
back to trying to ‘sort my life out’ long term. With sorting my life out came
pressure. I have a lot of improvements to make on my life, and I feel like I’m
running out of time. I’m doing my best but my best never feels good enough
because my situation doesn’t seem to change. I still go home to the same place,
I still face criticism every day, I work harder and harder and eventually that
critical narrative drowns out any good thoughts you have about yourself and it becomes
a voice inside my head. You begin to see yourself like a self-indulgent,
isolated, terrible person with nothing to offer anyone.
Then, there’s the whole ‘fading into the background’ thing. I go out with my friends but I am sad when I go home. I don’t talk about how I am sad when I go home because I don’t want them to bare the burden of my sad thoughts. I don’t want to be that tragic little figure that people hang out with out of pity; I’m the funny one. I make the jokes and do stupid stuff and share my clumsy stories and I laugh a lot. If I’m not that people will get tired of me. I can’t be like that for more than 5 minutes and I have to end every semi-negative sentence with “It’s fine though, all fun and games”, or else I am an awkward and negative burden.
Alternatively, you speak to people about your problems and you know full well that they can’t do anything about it. They can’t move you into a flat or get you a new job, and despite being offered a place in their house you don’t want to take it, because they will get sick of you being in their space. You will become a burden and then you have lost a friend. And then you are not only poor and homeless but also you are alone.
So you eventually just stop talking about it, and you feel like you’re slowly dying a bit. You’re on autopilot. Keep busy, go out, deprive yourself of things you feel won’t fit in your life right now. What good will talking do? But also how can I keep going when I feel like my legs are falling off and my stomach is in my throat at all times, and I’ve started bursting into tears at work while doing the washing up.
So that meant I, like many, felt like I was suspended in thin air.
If I have anything to write about from this experience which I can offer someone else; it is this.
Take a day.
Not a planned day where you put pressure on yourself to have a nice time, but a spontaneous, surrendering day.
I know you won’t ‘take a day’ because I told you to, if anything you’re probably gonna sit there rolling your eyes and be like ‘fucking not this again, you don’t UNDErStAND, I CAN’T take A DaY, It won’t fix my problems! It wont cure my depression! It won’t put me in a flat by tomorrow and get rid of all of my traumas!’
And yea, you right. They were my excuses too.
For me, I seem to have to reach the point where I either mentally or physically cannot seem to go on before I “take a day”.
Last time I did this I quit my job and ran away with a friend for 3 days before befriending a group of people who weren’t the best for me, started living out of cars and squatting in flats, and generally went on a mad one. Needless to say, that contributed to my reluctance of ‘taking a day’.
This time around, I had a doctors appointment before work, came out crying because the doctor had basically told me there was nothing he could do and asked me if I had considered ‘joining the army’ (?), and booked in to see a different doctor which resulted in me calling in sick. Seeing as I had several free hours to fill and I could not stand the thought of being alone crying in tescos car park in my work uniform, I reached out to all my friends. I told them what the deal was so that they were on the same page, I asked for help, and that was my day. It wasn’t a special day, I was just running errands with people I love, but it was what I needed. A day out of the ordinary where I didn’t feel alone. That was all I needed to see that 1) people actually want to be in my company, 2) There is a life outside of my job and desperate attempts to escape my life, and 3) there is kindness in this world worth staying alive for
Side note- Something I will stubbornly stand by for the rest of my days is that there is NO shame in talking about being at breaking point. If I hadn’t had been so public about how I felt, I might have still been feeling the same for weeks. I personally refuse to be ashamed, and anyone who winces at the thought of being so open is not to be listened to, because they are suffering in silence and could do with some help themselves. They just aren’t ready for it yet.
There’s always someone who will show you a random act of kindness. Often in this scary adult world it feels like everyone’s forgotten, everyone’s too busy, nobody cares enough. But there’s always people who care. Not about what you wear or how you look or whatever, when it comes to that stuff I guarantee you that no one cares. But they care about you not feeling good. Even if they’re in the background of your life. Someone you don’t know very well might show you a random act of kindness that ends up inspiring you to go on. A friend may pick you up in her car at 1am because she couldn’t sleep, you texted her saying you were sad, and you chat yourself out of misery knowing that you’re not all alone. (Thanks mollie b). And in turn, your little acts of kindness mean the world to others. Surprise, you’re not useless! Your offering to dye your friends hair or post something for them is a small act of kindness that makes their life easier, and their gratitude for your favour might be as irrationally huge as the gratitude you have for a stranger on the street giving you a tiny compliment on a bad day.
These people can’t fix your problems, but people are all we’ve got. Sometimes being shown that there is something to be grateful for is what you need. Being shown. Not told that there is something you “should” feel grateful for. Actually seeing it and feeling it. Feeling that sense of knowing you can give back. Not being too busy feeling guilty for not having the capacity to see it. It’s not your fault that you haven’t been able to see kindness.
The day isn’t gonna put you in a flat before you can afford it and it can’t get you out of your physical situation- but it can show you a side to the world that drives you to carry on. It’s just a relief. That’s all you need sometimes. Just remember who you are, who surrounds you, how your place in this world is valued. It’s okay to ask for help. People don’t all understand things from your point of view but the more you talk the more people who understand you will come forward.
Learning to accept kindness is a process, but if there is one thing I urge you to do, it’s to take a day.