Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Fighting The Black Dog

It has been some time since I last posted to my blog, as you can see and indeed, you probably know if you follow it still (There must be someone who still does!). I can only apologise and try to make up for it in some way... if possible.

When I started this blog some time ago, I decided that it should be as light-hearted and funny as possible, whilst giving an idea of the day to day things that go on in my life and my insanely-wired excuse for a brain. Well, one of the main reasons I haven't blogged since last November is that things haven't been as light-hearted or funny as they have been in the past.

I have been signed off work since Christmas Eve, which is such a long time and certainly not how I wanted things to end up, but things had been building up to breaking point. I don't really want to go into details about the work side of things, but basically, I have been diagnosed with depression. After all this time, it still feels a bit odd saying or writing that word when talking about myself. I tend to avoid saying it, mainly because I don't want to draw attention to it, but also because I worry it will change how people see me. The latter feels silly now I've written it down, as I try to adopt the "fuck 'em" attitude to anyone who makes a snap judgement based on face value rather than bothering to get to know someone, but it's what I've been doing, I've not said it.

When I was much younger, I was an extremely introverted person. I really was "the quiet one" and remained so until my final days at secondary school. After that, I started to open up gradually, speak and stand up for myself more and more. I'm quite a different person now in some respects, but at times, I can still be quiet. I'm not too sure why I'm writing this here right now, but since it hit me at the end of last year, I have gone back to being introvert. I've found myself not talking about things as much as I used to. My social life has become a distant memory. Various so-called friends have stopped talking to me. I can still have a good laugh and there are still people who care, but I feel different. I'm not myself, even when I'm laughing or being silly, I'm not the person myself or those close to me recognise as me.

It's the depression. I am suffering from depression. No, I'm still not comfortable saying or writing it. I'm not ashamed to say it, it's just hard to say. Like many things I suppose, it's easy to talk about, so long as you don't say what it is. I believe it was Winston Churchill who first referred to depression as "The Black Dog" and to be honest, I've done everything to avoid using that term so far because to me, it felt like a way of hiding. Using a fancy metaphor to hide from the blunt truth of the matter. It has taken loads of mental effort for me to write all of this down and I decided early on to talk about the whole "Black Dog" term and my feelings towards it, but then I realised I was just looking for a way to hide behind how I feel and what I'm going through and maybe even hide some of these things. Now I've realised this, I can see what Churchill meant when he referred to his own depression as "The Black Dog". It sticks with you, always there, so dark and hard to ignore. Even if you're in a good situation, the black dog is still there, somewhere.

Since January, I've been taking pills to help treat it. One pill each day. I've had to take courses of medication in the past, but not for such a long period of time. For all I know, I could be on these anti-depressants for years. I just don't know. Most of the time, they do help to keep the black dog at a distance, allowing me to get on and do everyday things, but sometimes they don't work. My chemical balance will just suddenly alter and life becomes very dark and sometimes just plain scary. These changes, these states of mind can come on suddenly or gradually. They can last for hours or days and there's no way of telling. It's quite scary how quickly and dramatically it all changes, just suddenly losing control of your emotions.

What has really struck me is that since my diagnosis and since I've told people what's going on, I've realised how many people I know also have depression and feel the same about how people may or may not see them. Some people just don't talk about it. They get on and hardly say a word to anyone over it. Other people talk most of the time about it and so on. Call it whatever you like, this black dog, this depression... it's a very personal battle, but it's not a lonely battle. No-matter how lonely and isolated I feel during the terrifyingly dark times, when the dog just won't leave me alone, I know I'm not the only one going through it. I know other people are in the same battle and they fully understand. I used to think it was quite patronising when people gave advice that involved the words "hang on in there", but since I've had this and I've been through the ups and severe downs, I've realised it's good advice. It's nothing to do with just putting up with the situation, it's actually the best way to fight it.

I think I've said enough for now. It feels good to have written this down finally, but I've no idea how I'll feel when I upload it and people have had a read. I don't know if this will prove to be of any use to anybody in the same situation, or if this has been of any use at all, but it is my life right now. It may not be the happiest of times, but it's my life for the time being and this blog has been sorely neglected for so long and it just suddenly seemed like a huge waste. I'm going to do my best to update it as often as I can from now on and although I don't want it to become a dark read, this depression is part of me right now, so there will be times when it will take centre stage here, as it often does in my life.

Thank you for sticking with this small novel and an extra special thank you to the brilliant, caring, lovely people who have stuck by me.

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