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Same S*** Different Day: Supporting Someone with Depression

Mental health media constantly tells those with illness to talk with someone.

This is an excerpt from https://depression.org.nz/get-better/

Firstly, that is easier said than done.

But secondly, if you are going to support someone with depression, and be there to listen, be prepared for the following.

1. Self Centred Tendencies

Most of what gets us into dark holes are centred around self. It will sound selfish and completely self absorbed. Deal with it.

2. Self Doubt

We doubt ourselves. We will put ourselves down and be the first to tell you how pathetic and useless we are.

3. Problems with No Solutions

The problems we face are often complex and have many levels of deep issues and very rarely have answers. Don’t try and fix the problem. Just listen. Support. Encourage. Show an interest by trying to understand. That’s all you need to do.

4. Repetitive

Get ready for a case of deja vu. Often what goes around our heads in the dark times will be a case of the Same S***, Different Day. And often what gets us into the dark times are reminders and triggers of those things. So that’s what we need to process and talk about. It will get boring for you. But don’t ever say anything about it. Please. We know we’ve told you before. We know we sound lame and obsessive and believe me, we don’t want to. But you asked how it was going, and if we trusted you tell you the first time, then we’re going to have to tell you again. Don’t say “I still don’t know what to do”. See Number 3. Just listen. Say the same responses you said last time. We don’t need anything new. We just need you to listen, and to give the same support that got us telling you the problem in the first place.

5. Repetitive

Did I mention this?
The issue that was real for us yesterday will very much be real for us again today. Don’t dismiss it just because you know it already and have heard it all before. Doing so just sends us the message that you don’t actually care any more and that we’ve become a burden.

I found this come through on my Twitter feed around the same time I began feeling the need to write this blog post. Obviously this is something many people are noticing.

So please – listen. It helps, even if you don’t think it does.

And please – don’t stop listening. If you stop listening then it adds to the sense of rejection, failure and loneliness that we’re already too familiar with. It also makes it harder to talk with the next person who might want to offer their support.

Lastly, thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done so far to help someone else. And thank you for all you’ll do to support us, even if it is just listening one more time.

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I’m always here for you: Supporting Someone with Depression

If you’re going to say someone with depression

“I’m always here for you”

then you’d better mean it. And you’d better mean all of it.

You’d better mean the words “always here“. Not that you’ll be there every passing minute of every single day – we understand that you have a life to live as well… But always in the sense of you’ll be there for us tomorrow, and the next day, into next week, next year, and the year after. Always. Because while it’s easy for you to say, it becomes something that we will hold onto like it’s the last hope we have on this earth. And it often is.

You’d better mean the words “for you“, because we need someone in our corner. We need someone in our corner, because often, by the time we need you, we’re not even in our corner fighting for ourselves anymore. We’ve already rejected our self worth, and we don’t need you taking offence at things we might say in the moment when despair has set in. We’re already offended enough at ourselves. We don’t need you to betray us; we’ve already betrayed ourselves. Often we can lash out at anyone who is prepared to listen, and that’s not an attack at our support people; it’s just that it becomes an outlet for the frustration and that can be taken out on those closest to us.

This doesn’t mean we get free reign and take you for granted, or a free pass to be offensive. It just means that in those moments when we hate ourselves so much that we give up and lash out with words to anyone who listens, that’s when we need the most support. It’s because we’re hurting, we don’t care anymore, and we take it out on those who we want to care. Most of us, if we’re lucky to make it through the darkest of times, will be incredibly thankful and equally apologetic in due course if you’ll give us the chance. But giving up on us when we’ve already given up; Getting offended when we’ve offended ourselves well before you came along, is not “being there for us“.

You need to put yourself to one side just for the moment and help us to stand on our own feet again no matter how hard it gets. If it’s hard for you, imagine how hard it is for us. And now imagine how hard it is for us trying to do that on our own.

That’s when people give up.

So please, before you say “I’m always here for you” please consider if you mean it, and mean all of it. Can you stand by those words through thick and thin? Can you stand by those words for as long as we need you to, not just for as long as you can? Because there is nothing worse to someone with depression than having those words said to you and then not being lived up to. In those darkest of times, in the depths of a depressive episode, those words will go around and around our heads and we will come to resent you, hate you, and be hurt by you when you’re no longer there. We will wonder “Well, where are you now?” We end up in a deeper and darker hole of rejection as we reflect on the friendship we once had with someone who said they’d always be there. The trust we once had is now gone, along with you, and has ruined our hope in others being able to help us either.

So say “I’m here for you.” Mean it.

Say “I’m always here for you.” But mean it.

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Stand on your own two phantom feet

Two weeks after her 41st birthday, Sue Cook’s life changed for ever.

She was on a pheasant shoot when she was injured in a freak accident.

A woman standing near her failed to unload the unused cartridges in her gun.

As she put it away, both barrels went off.

‘I looked down and stared at my left wellington boot. I couldn’t see blood, but it appeared to be on fire,’ says Sue, now 45, a marketing specialist in Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Sue had her leg amputated.

Four years on, she is struggling to cope — and not just because she has lost a leg.

For though it isn’t there, the missing leg causes Sue constant pain.

‘It is excruciating,’ she says. ‘I have a constant burning sensation down through my leg and foot, even though neither of them is there any more.

“Phantom limb pain is now understood to be a consequence of how the nervous system adapts to damaged nerves and the loss of a limb, and affects around 59 per cent of amputees. However, it is still poorly understood and difficult to manage.”

Phantom Limb Syndrome has been well documented and publicised and those that are still fully-limbed can understand how amputees could still imagine that their limb would still be there. But understanding is not experiencing, and I can’t begin to pretend I know what it’s like to have to go through it.

However, as I was walking through my home suburb this morning, it got me thinking of a way that others might be able understand the darkness those of us with depression go through.

Early in my battle I was told by a so-called friend that I needed the hard word and that I should learn to stand on my own two feet, rather than rely on them to always be there for me. Such comments essentially lead to the destruction of the friendship, which certainly hasn’t helped with my illness at all.

But it got me thinking about standing on my own two feet. Earlier this week, my wife showed me an article from Conquer Worry.
In it, the writer describes what depression is like for them, and it is reasonably accurate for me too.

They write:
“For me, this is Depression. This is how it has felt for me. It’s as if I could see the possibility of living a happy life, and all I had to do was break the surface of that water. But I didn’t. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, because I don’t think that I tried. And people judged me, and blamed me for not trying. It wasn’t that I couldn’t break the surface of that water; it was that I couldn’t even try.

It took all of my strength (in fact it took more strength than I thought I had) just to get up every day, go to school, go to work, and crawl back in to bed. It was a living hell, a nightmare. And they were right, I wasn’t trying. But they didn’t understand that I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I wanted to, I really did. I just couldn’t.”

You see, now that I look back on it, I found (and still find) the comments from my friend to “stand up on my own two feet” insulting. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t try. I couldn’t do it. Not on my own.

It got me thinking of what I used to say about my situation. You wouldn’t ask a man with a broken leg to walk without some help.
Taking this one step further, you wouldn’t ask a man with no legs to stand up and walk (while in recovery). It’s not that he doesn’t want to. It’s simply that he couldn’t. He might even feel like his legs are still there, but regardless, he can’t bring himself to walk. Even though his mind might create the sensations of having legs, it doesn’t change the physical limitations because of his situation.

In some ways what I’m going through is the reverse of this. My legs are fine, as is my body. Physically I feel in as good a shape as I have been in the last 10 years. But I almost have a phantom mind. I may want to be better. My body is completely better. But no matter how much I want to, I wasn’t trying. Because I couldn’t. I can’t. And while my body gets up every day, and gets ready for work and school, and takes me through my day, my mind doesn’t want to and doesn’t try. It can’t, and so it won’t. Everything else tells me my mind is there; but it’s not. It’s phantom.

For now.

Related Reading

WW1 surgeons could do little for amputees’ pain

The amputees in agony from limbs no longer there

When Depression Feels Like Drowning

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Dead to Me

“You’re dead to me.”
A saying we use to dismiss someone when you’re annoyed, angry or pissed at someone at a level that you never want to see them again.
The hardest thing is having to say this about someone who you like, someone who means something to you, someone who you still consider a friend, someone who is a loved one.
This completely removes the ‘good-riddance’ aspect of the saying, and replaces it with the kinds of feelings experienced when loved ones pass away. Grief. Agony. Pain. Sorrow. Anguish. Sadness. Depression. Emptiness.
All normal and acceptable for someone who is no longer with us.
Inconceivable, and inconsolable when you know this friend – this loved one, is still alive and well; just not for you.

Depression: When You Understand

I used to think suicide was a way to get attention. I’d threaten it to get someone, anyone, to notice me; to take me seriously.

Then I experienced it. A mate I’d spent time growing up with hung himself. His funeral still leaves an emotional scar on my heart; hundreds of young folk with an amazing outpouring of love that was unknown to him, but also too late.

It made me sad; but also figured it was an easy way out, cheap, nasty, and so unnecessary. It made me see those who end it themselves as selfish, wasteful, ungrateful, and almost ignorant as to the pain they impart on those left behind. I didn’t have much time for people like that.

Then I began fighting depression. The murky black fog that consumed my entire world suddenly made suicide a reality. Not in the sense of going out and measuring a length of rope, but in the sense that I finally understood. To me, every conceivable option to usually simple problems was way out of my reach. I could hardly see across the room, let alone deal with the next day, next week, or even contemplate how to get help or get better. It was completely crippling; physically, emotionally, mentally. But it made me see how suicide becomes the only option for some people.
>During my fight; three celebrities took their own lives within a year of each other. Charlotte Dawson, publicly ridiculed and berated; but also suffered from depression. Philip Seymour-Hoffman; one of the best character actors in my lifetime, overdosed whether on purpose or by habit, was relentlessly plagued by both addiction and depression. Both can fuel each other.

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This week the world reels in shock from the death of Robin Williams, one of the most eccentric and eclectic, yet incredibly versatile comedic actors this world has ever seen. He too was plagued by addiction as well as depression.

Each and every time I have felt more connected to these peoples fights and plights; I’ve been able to empathise on a level I never could before; because I completely understand what they must have been going through. Whilst I of all people know that every case is different, and come with different triggers, emotions, and outcomes, having experienced this I can at least understand the type of pain that afflicts them. While the rest of the world is plagued by black and white portraits and famous idyllic quotes from their acting days, I can only sit and hope that one day there will be a day where people are so much more aware of others around them, that they are able to show love, show care, show kindness in such a way that suicide is no longer the only option left for those who are troubled by these demons.

And these are just those who have made it in the public spotlight. No doubt there are countless more who have taken their own life; in this country and worldwide, in similar circumstances. It made me realise that if this can happen to the rich and famous; to those with the world at their feet, but also the ways and means to get help, then it can happen to anyone, no matter how well they think they can cope or how strong they think they are to hold it together.

It made me realise that suicide is not a selfish option. To those people at that time it is the only option. It is a reality that no one wants to face, but has become so intensely real for them that they are left with no other choice. I can no longer blame anyone for taking the easy option out through suicide; because I know what they have already endured for them to get that far gone.
It has made me realise the need for people to be more open and real with each other. There are those that want to help out there; but they can only help if they know and if they are enabled to help. There are those also who are too petrified to ask for help because it puts them in an incredibly vulnerable position of complete humility. Don’t abuse that trust if it’s given to you. If you can’t help because you too are struggling; reconsider. You will find that actually, someone who understands what you’re going through because they too are going through it can be the best help both of you will get.

Those with mental illness; We’re not dark. We just feel intensely inadequate. We’re not untouchables. We just feel out of touch with reality. We’re not scary. We just feel scared and alone. We’re not some other being. We are just human; just like you; except we’ve stood in a torrent of darkness for so long, that shadows have become our friends and the light is just another shade of black. Sure it is hard to overcome depression, but I firmly believe it is possible, I recently started learning about the benefits of CBD honey, I’ve heard of a lot of people using cannabidiol, depression is a mental trap. And it takes time and patience to rewire a depressed brain but I’m willing to do what ever it takes to get passed it.

Be a brighter shadow for us; one of flesh and blood. One of three dimensions and not a flat silhouette on the wall. Be a friend to those who need it most.

CBD oil for depression

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Is Facebook making us Lonely?

Here’s a little video I found when I was searching to find if other people were experiencing the same kind of misnomer as I was, where I felt left out, alone, rejected, and struggling to fit in, even in an environment where I could be who I wanted and put a smile in front of my obvious pain.

The video ‘speaks’ quite quickly, and I’ve found that it helps to watch at least twice to fully appreciate it’s message.

As it turns out, just when I was running out of words to say, someone else came along and said them for me.

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My Fight With Depression

In November 2012 I knew there was a problem.
I couldn’t focus like I used to. I lost all sense of time. I couldn’t order things into priorities. I couldn’t see past one thing at a time. And as a Teacher, this limited my abilities in my workplace incredibly.
By December I was almost flat on the floor. I struggled through the last few weeks of school, and stumbled through the door of my GP. I was not in a place anyone wants to be. Vulnerable. Helpless. In Pain. For no tangible or understandable reason.

Over the course of the next twelve months I was in and out of my doctors office, adjusting, searching, hoping that there might be some solution to my illness. Medication works most of the time, and once I had found the right levels by September, I was mostly able to hold it together. Visits to a counsellor have helped me discuss and be open with my wife, but has yet to find the cause, or more importantly; a solution. I have tried writing. I have tried painting again. I’ve tried the whole exercise thing. All have worked to a minimal degree for a limited time.

It has been rough. On me. On my wife. On my family, and my friends. Some have tried to help. Some have wanted to help – but as I’ve found out the hard way; I actually have to want that person to help. Many have prayed and showed their support. Many have encouraged. Many have fallen by the wayside. Some have even found better things to do with their time and cease to be there for me any more.
In December 2013, one year on from being diagnosed with clinical depression, I stripped back my life. I rid my life of Facebook, Twitter, Email. I rarely use my phone for actual phone calls or texts any more – so that was left in a draw for three weeks.
And somehow, I managed to feel better.
And so it remained. I turned twitter back on, because it’s full of things I want to know about, from people that I don’t know enough to worry about. My Facebook became a deleted account, as the numerous posts of random events made me feel more distant from people, and more isolated and rejected. The chat left me empty and abandoned as I watched for hours people coming and going.

I don’t have any answers. Even after a year of struggling, wrestling, and searching, I’m no closer to knowing how to beat this beast. It has taken these last 13 months to even go public with it and put this on my website.

But here I am. In the depths of this despair. Constantly swinging from mood to mood; often miserable, rarely exuberant. But there have been two constants. God. And my wife. And I know that neither are the cause of this.

I don’t know if I will beat this. I don’t know when it will end, or if it will end. Hope lingers on, but fades in the darkness. To this day, I continue to fight with depression every day. In the end, I hope that maybe, just maybe; somewhere out there, these words will reach someone – they’ll strike the same note or cause a stir inside someone, and that someone might see that there is a way to keep living, even though the walls seem insurmountable and the struggles wear you down until you have nothing left to give. Kia kaha. Stay strong.

There must be a way through this.

When All Around Has Fallen – Delirious

When all around has fallen
Your castle has been burned
You used to be a king here
Now no one knows your name
You live your life for honour
Defender of the faith
But you’ve been crushed to pieces
And no one knows your pain