Obligatory ‘What is depression’ post

Home from work so time for my first real post I guess.

It seems that anyone who suffers from depression and discusses it online likes to offer their own viewpoint on what the illness is, and rightly so. So here’s mine.

Depression is the worst thing that can happen to you. OK no, that’s hyperbole, there are worse things but it can certainly FEEL that way when you are going through it. Anyone who operates from the maxim that depression is just ‘Oh you feel a bit sad do you, well have you tried y’know, not being sad? Because I don’t get sad and it’s because I try to see the positive side of everything!’ is an idiot and you should slap them in their stupid faces. If I could invent a time machine I would be the first person to receive that slap from Future Me. These are the type of people who will instantly deflect the conversation if they feel you are about to start talking about your mental issues. They have no frame of reference, and most of the time do not want to acquire one. Fair enough, I wouldn’t wish this illness on my worst enemy. But it still doesn’t stop me from wanting to slap them silly.

They are wrong, sadness is one tiny symptom of a much larger beast. The best way I can describe it is as follows.

Imagine not being in control of your own thoughts or emotions on a constant daily basis. It’s hard to fathom that if you have never experienced mental illness of one kind or another, the fact that your own brain can actively work against you and distort your thoughts into ugly, hate filled, self deprecating loathing. It’s extremely hard to describe in prose, I firmly believe that our human languages are not capable of accurately describing how it feels because we just do not have the syntactical complexity to represent our true feelings on it. It’s similar to how it’s impossible for anyone who has experienced psychedelic drugs to accurately convey what they do to your mind to someone who has never tried them. Anyone who’s tripped on shrooms or acid knows what I’m talking about; no matter how hard you try you can only offer fragments of information about the experience, as it transcends normal language.

So there’s that, the constant threat that at any moment your brain can just fuck you over and say “NOPE, NOT TODAY SUNSHINE, TODAY I’M GOING TO CONVINCE YOU THAT YOU SUCK”. Or that for some inexplicable reason you will cry at a pencil, or laugh at a dead bird in the street. It’s horrible. I used to be in control of my own mind and it is extremely confusing for me that I am no longer at the helm.

Oh yeah the confusion, that motherfucker. I used to know what I was about, what I liked, what I should be doing. I wasn’t ever one to make up ‘5-year plans’ or seriously consider my immediate future but I was content meandering through life without any real purpose and just taking things as they came. Now however I cannot stop thinking about what the future holds. I’ve become obsessed with the passage of time, and how my time is being used. I am no longer content to just let things happen and I am insanely paranoid that because of the illness I’m going to fuck things up so bad that I lose my job, wife, house, and end up living on the street. That is extremely confusing to me. I’m a logical guy, I prefer cold hard facts and logical reasoning but now that my reasoning is severely impaired I am confused most of the time. I am lost in uncertainty and it terrifies me.

Paranoia is part of it too. The constant self deprecation I put myself through on the really bad days fuel that paranoia something crazy. Before I started on the medication, but about 5 months or so after I realised I was depressed, I noticed a very distinctive voice in my head that would speak to me and try it’s best to convince me that I was worthless. This is not an auditory hallucination, I’m not schizophrenic (at least I hope not…), it is my own voice. The part of me that hates myself and who is largely at the controls when I am not taking antidepressants. It plays on all my fears, and sometimes creates brand new ones. Occasionally, it has created paranoid delusions that have held me in a grip for a few hours, only to release me and leave me thinking “woooah that was fucking bat shit man” and again I cannot accurately convey what this feels like but in simple terms it’s as if you have had your brain put in to someone else’s body, but part of their brain is still left behind, and it’s a crazy, crazy old man brain that’s infecting your own. As an example, around the New Year I was with my wife at her mother’s house just dossing around playing videogames with her brothers, when one of them comes in and points out the window. “Hey look a police helicopter, it looks like it’s right over your street!” he says, and that was enough for my brain to say “They are there for you, you’ve got cannabis in the house and they know it, you’re fucked my boy!”. Now of course, that is a silly conclusion to jump to, theres no way that the police would dispatch a helicopter for someone with a couple joints worth of weed in a drawer. Alas I became convinced that that was exactly what was happening. I immediately started feeling sick, and had to lie to my wife by making up some excuse that necessitated me going home to try and sneak in to destroy the evidence. I was utterly convinced that I was about to be assailed by a SWAT team and thrown into jail. By the time I got home the helicopter was already gone, turns out they were chasing some perp who had assaulted someone in the next town over earlier that night. After about 10 minutes of being home I came out of it and thought “What the hell was I thinking?” I knew full well that I was crazy to think that, but at the time I was utterly convinced I was done for. There have been other instances like this which I may elaborate on in the future, I’m sure there are more to come.

The voice is mostly kept under control by the antidepressants. It’s not completely mute though. I’d say on a scale of one to ten, when I’m on the meds it’s about a three on most days and completely deadened on the good days. If I go off them, that bastards cranks itself up to eleven.

But sadness is just a tiny part of it. Of course the sadness in itself can be soul crushing but as I’ve learnt the hard way, it’s just one small part of a much more serious problem. A problem I am trying desperately hard to fix which brings me to…

The apathy. The joylessness. The complete lack of interest in most things. I really do want to get better, and in the process become a better person but most days I simply do not have the drive or energy or whatever you want to call it to even attempt to fix myself. People mistake this for laziness but again they are way off. You become so utterly convinced that you deserve to feel this way because – whatever – that you just don’t try to fix it. I think to myself “I have a wife, a house, a job, I’m not crippled in any way and I have enough money to live, so why do I get to feel like this when there are people out there who are TRULY suffering.” You convince yourself that you are a selfish dumbass because you SHOULD feel OK, given your lot in life. Please see the section above about confusion, because other than telling you it confuses the hell out of me, theres nothing else I can say. You actively pursue self destructive actions and it’s fucking weird. You lose interest in things you used to love, you get brain rotting boredom that lasts for days or sometimes weeks, you become unable to take joy from things that would make ordinary, mentally healthy people gush rainbows out their ass. You convince yourself that you will never feel better, and so you stop trying to make yourself feel better. This is the most common ailment I experience on the really bad days. I tell myself that I deserve unhappiness and I feel like withdrawing from society and humanity completely. I feel like Pink, trapped behind his wall.

There are other facets to it that I won’t go into now  because this is already a long post and I’ve re-read it and almost deleted it about eighteen times so far. Suffice to say that depression is not just about feeling sad. It can be a crippling monster that beats you down so much you feel as if you are going to suffocate. It’s made me realise why people commit suicide, which again was something I never used to understand. Unless you were terminally ill perhaps, what reason could you possibly have for wanting to kill yourself? Surely it can’t be that bad!

It can, and is.

I’ve never blogged before and I don’t know what’s going to become of this. I’m doing it because I need something, anything that lets me vent or talk to like minded people because as I have already mentioned, most people who do not suffer want nothing to do with you when you start to talk about it. They may be your best friend, your lover, whatever. When you see that look in their eyes that says “The fuck is this loon talking about” it just makes you that little bit more depressed. Because you want them to know what it feels like, or at least be able to empathise just so you can have a decent conversation with them about it instead of feeling alienated and guilty. The way I see it there are three possibilities with this experiment:

  1. I will gain some therapeutic benefit from it and maybe start to feel better.
  2. It will chart my mental decline until there is nothing left but a gibbering spongy mass on the floor.
  3. I will get bored of it and abandon it.

Of course I don’t want 2 or 3 to happen so I am going to try very hard to not let that come to pass. I’m not going to post every day, and conversely I might make twenty five posts in a single hour depending on how fast my mind is racing. But I will try to maintain it. I will post reviews of videogames and I will talk about music as they are some of my few remaining passions but mostly I’m just gonna post whats on my mind. Some of what I say will no doubt be offensive to some and downright abhorrent to others, but I can promise you it will be honest.

f.

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7 comments

  1. I can relate to the apathy and joylessness you talk about. People say “just do something you enjoy doing” but what if you don’t enjoy doing anything? Have you looked into the research on aerobic exercise and depression? Supposedly it works equally well as SSRI medication. I’m trying this route myself…it’s hard…

    1. Yes actually I did. One day my wife and I went out and just bought some running gear in an attempt to try the old ‘healthy body/healthy mind’ thing.

      I lasted about a week. Mainly because where we live it’s fucking cold and we decided to take up jogging in November…

      I did consider going to a gym but then of course I’d have to deal with people.

      SSRI’s (sertraline) were the first meds I tried, but they did nothing buy make me sick as fuck for 2 months. Since then I’ve been on steadily increasing doses of Mirtazapine (from the NaSSA category of drugs) but now that feels like it’s starting to plateau.

      1. I haven’t tried any tricyclics. I have a prescription for amitriptypine but won’t take it because I’m terrified of the side effects. Are you having any side effects from the Mirtazapine?

      2. Well yes and no, depends on what you define as side effects. I noticed at first that my appetite was increased, but I don’t have a weight problem so it wasn’t too bothersome. I can’t really identify any other common physical side effects, but on the lowest dose (15mg) it’s quite a powerful sedative. For some reason the higher the dose the less of a sedative effect it has though, which sucks because if i don’t smoke some weed I literally cannot drift off for about 2-3 hours whilst I’m lying in bed trying to sleep.

        There is one MAJOR drawback to it for me though. I am convinced that certain psychedelic drugs have the ability to help with depression. I was just beginning my quest in that direction but it was abruptly cut short when I was prescribed the mirtazapine.

        Mirtazapine is an antagonist of (amongst others) the 5-HT2A receptor. The receptor that is active with most if not all psyches. It basically stops you from being able to trip. I could eat a 5g dose of dried shrooms right now and nothing would happen other than nausea. I can’t go off the meds or that voice gets louder, which unfortunately means that I can’t presently continue what was a very interesting personal journey.

    1. What I wouldn’t give to spend a couple of months in the Amazon with the Shaman. DMT is something I haven’t tried yet but I plan too as soon as I am feeling better.

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