Days matter. Monday everyone is down and miserable the weekend has finished and the long week ahead – the drudgery of work stretches out before us, Friday the world is happy and the promise of the weekend is there tempting us on into it.
Some days we are glad to be alive; some days we dread. But when you have depression, you face day after day of gloom and misery. And then you move on. You get your meds sorted and maybe you get therapy or treatment of some sort and you start the long road to recovery.
This is where I am at the moment. It’s been a while since I have written about my depression, but today I feel the need to. I have suffered from it for over a year now. Been on the tablets for certainly a year and have had CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and Talking Therapy and all sorts…and I certainly feel that I am on the road to recovery.
I am getting back to being more one with myself. More relaxed with myself – on myself. I am learning to let go a bit more, be a bit less uptight and be a bit more easy going. It doesn’t matter if the washing up isn’t done, or the ironing isn’t done. That sort of stuff doesn’t matter.
And I am having more good days; more easy days. More happy days. Which must be a real bugger to read – here I am, semi-retired BY CHOICE at the ripe age of 43, working part-time, living in a rural idyl, with beautiful scenery around me, my loving family, a fabulous new home which we are starting to refurbish…I have it all. I can walk the dog down to the pub and have a pint and chat to the old men of the village and take life relatively easy.
But I still have down days. And the real bastard is that when I do have them they are deeper and mistier than ever before. On a graph of mood over time, it is generally rising as time goes on – but when I fall, I fall a long way.
Things have moved on a long way though. They had too. You see, and this is something that is hard to admit, but hell, others have admitted to far worse (yes, I doff my metaphorical cap to YOU Mr Fry), about three months ago, I was having…thoughts…yes…those thoughts.
Life was getting to me, it was all too much. The pressure was produced inside me – that everything must be perfect and that I must control everything – but this was just bollocks. I could have everything perfect; the house needs a lot of work, and my daughter and my dog make a lot of washing and mess and I had to do a lot because my wife was going through a particularly tough time with her pain, and I was… I was suffering a headache. I was tired. Run ragged. Felt like I could sleep for a week and then sleep for more. And I opened the packet of Paracetemol to get out a couple of tablets…and I just looked at the packet and wondered…what would happen if I took all of these? Would it be enough to kill me? Would it be enough to make me ill? Would it be enough just to let me sleep…?
And straight away I knew that it was not the thing to do. I have kids. I have a wife. I have a family that loves me and wouldn’t want me gone. Whilst the insurance money would get MrsF the extension that she wants out the back of the house, she’d have no-one to share it with. It’d be a stupid thing to do…and I know stupid.
So I put the packet of tablets away and phoned the doctor and asked for an appointment as clearly I needed more help than I was getting. And the last three or so months I have been getting it. I even gave CBT a go – and I hate CBT with a real passion. I know some people like it and it really works for some people and it gives them a real success and progress, but for me, well I just find it patronising and painful and simplistic.
You see, and this might sound like I am blowing my own trumpet here, but when you think back to the old fella Maslow and his hierarchy of needs – I like to think of myself fairly well up that triangle. Pushing into the ‘self-actualisation’ area at the top. And if you are up here it’s a fucker of a place to be if you get depression, because you know…you know…exactly what you are doing and the stupidity of it all, the futility of the depression. That it is just a passing phase and you will be over it and one day you will be well and that it’s just a chemical imbalance and you are not the bad, stupid, thick, useless idiot that your brain makes you think you are. You know that your brain is mussed up and that it’s not working right, and you know that all the things you say you don’t mean, but you still think them and still say them any way.
And it’s a real fucker because it means that you can see straight through the CBT stuff. I know that I need to manage my time better, to make time for me because I can’t look after other people if I don’t look after me, but still…that was the way I was.
So I sat there one day. Outside the office of the CBT guy, who was lovely and well meaning, but I decided that when I have been talking about how I felt, and thinking about how bad I was – it made me feel that way even more. Sort of a ‘if I think I am depressed, then I am depressed’ sort of thing. And then the eureka moment hit me. If this was true about when I spoke about feeling bad that I felt bad, maybe if when I thought myself bad then I felt bad…break the chain.
Yeah, just stop thinking it. Move on. Don’t think bad things. If bad things start then move on, jump-shift. Reframe. Refocus. Don’t think bad thoughts.
And it is working for me. Most days. As I said. Some days the cloud hits me and I find it difficult to deal with some things and find myself getting lost in that fog again. I find myself lost in the mist, knowing there is a way out; knowing that there is sun out there but unable to find my way to it. But I now just accept it. Write the day off, cope with it as best I can, get an early night (it seems to have some link to me being really tired) and look forward to the next day being a new day.
And it will be. The sun will come up, life will go on and I will face the new day with a new mood. And the down days come, but they are coming much much much less often. The up days outnumber the down days 5-6/1. Which are good odds that you’d lump on in the National. But in this case when the odds get longer they are more favourable to me…OK, so today I had a down day, but let’s start again tomorrow and work at getting the good days numbers up. Because I have set a goal to get off these tablets now. A year is long enough, I need to move on, I need to kick this depression for good. I need to move on and actually enjoy the idyl that I know I have here. I deserve to enjoy it. I’m not going anywhere and it isn’t either, so I might as well get stuck into enjoying it!
Tomorrow will be a good day. Hell, it’s Friday!