Why Knowing That I Don’t Have Depression Is Helping Me Recover

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted, and basically the reason for that is that I’ve had a lot of stuff going on with my mental health and otherwise with just life in general.

The biggest thing that happened since the last post was that I was referred to the crisis team after nearly making an attempt on my life. When I saw them, they told me something that really threw me: I don’t have depression, just low mood. When I heard this, I was really deflated. Were they telling me that I don’t have a problem, and that my self-destructive tendencies were an overreaction to normal stress? Thankfully no.

In actuality, they said, what I experience is something called emotional dysregulation. In normal English, that’s a fancy term for not really being able to manage emotions too well. So I can feel perfectly okay one day, then something will trigger a period of low mood. Not just feeling a bit sad, that is, but real depressive episodes as I’ve probably mentioned in previous posts.

Naturally I googled this when I got home, and pretty much the first result that came up was the NHS page for borderline personality disorder. When I opened it and had a read, something suddenly clicked. It was like the page was written about me; not just the emotional side but troubles maintaining relationships too. A couple of weeks later, I was referred to the mental health service for a BPD diagnostic assessment (and I’m still waiting for that to happen).

So, the title of this post is about recovery, and that’s basically exactly what’s happening. I’m not depressed, and knowing that is seriously helping me understand how and why my mood is fluctuating. I no longer feel like I have to be down all the time; now I feel like I’m allowed to be happy on my good days, whereas before I felt like a liar and a fraud if I smiled or laughed.

So, yeah. Niche post, and probably not particularly helpful to change the opinions of the general populace regarding mental health, but this has been a big turning point in my experience with mental health so far. In all, I’m glad I ended up at the crisis team even if I did have to go through a particularly scary time to get there. Recovery isn’t linear, as I’ve heard it said before, but hopefully that squiggly line will end up straightening itself out a bit from here.

–Amy

Advertisements

Small Victories

Whoa it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, oops.

So, currently I’m just getting over relapses in OCD and low mood. I’m having some pretty disturbing intrusive thoughts, and a couple of weeks ago I spent the day in bed refusing to eat. Basically it’s been a pretty shitty time.

Despite my illnesses, there are things I’ve done in this period of time that I can be proud of myself for.  I’m not talking huge achievements, I mean small things: getting out of bed, doing my makeup in the mornings, completing work to meet deadlines, for example.

Sure, these things might not seem like huge achievements to a lot of people. They tend to be things that can be done without a second thought for many, but suffering with a mental illness makes things so much harder.  Small victories like this mean so much when life becomes a daily struggle.

Even these tiny things should be celebrated, because they’re progress. To me, it’s a sign that even though I’m suffering, I’m strong enough overcome it even to a slight degree. It shows me that even though I’m sick now, I am capable of recovery, and it gives me hope.

So, my message here basically this: don’t invalidate your small victories, and be proud of yourself when you achieve things! When you stop to think of it, you will see that small victories add up into larger ones.

Super short post, but it’s all I’ve got time for with my studies taking up so much of my time. Until next time.

–Amy

I’m Not Lazy, I’m Sick

For this post I’ve decided to write about something that’s worrying me, and that’s the link between mental illness and laziness. It comes on the back of my most recent and arguably most severe depressive episode yet, which, for the first time, has left me feeling really anxious about how others view me when I’m very symptomatic.

I spent Sunday in bed. I didn’t get up until 6 pm, and during that time I didn’t eat or drink. None of the work I was supposed to do that day got done either. I didn’t have the energy to move; I just lay there, curled up, staring at my bedroom wall.

I suppose to someone who’s never experienced depressive symptoms, this would sound silly. I can imagine the response would be “but depression is all in your head, it’s just laziness to stay in bed for that long”. My answer to that? Sure, depressive moods come from your head, but since your head controls so many other processes, it’s pretty unreasonable to assume that none of them would be affected too.

It’s really well documented that depressive disorders can cause behavioural symptoms as well as emotional and cognitive symptoms. Lack of energy is one of these, and I feel like it’s often missed out in discussions even though it tends to be up there with the hardest symptoms to cope with. Using my case as an example, not being able to get out of bed for so many hours wasn’t a pleasant experience; I was incredibly hungry and stressed, feeling sick from not standing up, but I literally couldn’t move.

So, with that in mind, is it laziness? Quite simply, no. Depressive disorders are illnesses. I always use the analogy that you wouldn’t call a person with a broken leg lazy for not being able to walk. It’s the same thing; even though it’s not visible like a broken leg is, there’s something biological that’s gone wrong to cause the symptoms. As the title of the post suggests, I’m not lazy, I’m sick, and my symptoms are out of my control.

There’s a huge stigma around this area that I’ve come up against time and time again, and I guess to people with no personal experience, it seems like the illness is something that you can just think yourself out of. Admittedly, it’d be nice if it was, but it isn’t. It’s something that takes tonnes of hard work to overcome, and even when you do it’s so easy to relapse.

I guess to the MH community this preaching to the choir, but I think that sometimes we’re all a little bit too hard on ourselves for not being able to do things. So, let me say: it’s fine to work at your own pace. If you’re feeling out of energy, allow yourself to rest up because at the end of the day your mental health comes first.

–Amy

Why Are We Ashamed to Talk About Suicide?

I’m not ashamed of saying that I was suicidal, but there are so many reasons why I think people still are.

Trigger warning: mentions of suicide and other topics which could trigger depression.

I mean it. There are a lot of mentions. Post starts after the continue reading tag.

Continue reading

#MakeupAndASmile

This post is waaaay later than I had originally intended it to be – blame the low mood…

Just a little over a week ago I opened my twitter in the morning to see that I had been tagged in an image posted by one of my fellow young champions. Although she was smiling in the picture, the tweet told us that she was having a hard time on that day. The tweet was tagged with #MakeupAndASmile, a campaign run by @soph_cb.

The campaign aims, simply, to show that looks can be deceiving. As Soph puts it: “someone looking well doesn’t always mean feeling well. Makeup doesn’t always mean a good day.”

I found this so inspiring that I decided to write a post about it, and here we are. I wanted to use this post to discuss my own Makeup and a Smile experiences and emphasise the importance of this campaign to raise awareness.

Trigger warning for the next bit – mentions of suicide and self harm.

Follow the link to visit Soph’s blog, Life of Little Things, to learn more about her wonderful campaign.

Continue reading

Am I A Fraud?

There’s something that’s been weighing on my mind since this morning. I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and, as usual, I saw people tweeting about their daily struggles with mental illness. Although I genuinely love seeing others congratulating themselves over their recovery, it also makes me feel, for want of a better word, fraudulent.

I see other people suffering, then I look at myself, and I see myself steadily chugging along with symptoms that I cope with relatively easily. I feel like I’m playing at having a mental illness. Am I a fraud? Not at all.

I must admit, the thought has become an obsession to me to the point that I deliberately started forcing myself to get stuck in depressive episodes to feel like I was worthy of saying that I’m ill.  But now I’m starting to realise that there’s no one true representation of how an illness looks.

It’s my internalised stigma which has led me to think this way. Because of the amount of discourse I’ve seen about people faking mental illnesses as cries for attention, I seem to have picked up a harmful idea that to be “properly” ill, I must show it. To me, this means that I should have symptoms all the time; I should struggle to leave bed in the morning or have panic attacks when I’m outside. This simply isn’t true, and I know that if I think in this way, there must be tonnes of others who do as well.

In reality, the brain is the most complex organ in the body, and that means that any illness it develops is also going to be very complex. There isn’t one single way to have an illness, and not one single symptom that every person will have. My manageable symptoms mean that I’m recovering, not that I’m faking it.

Every mental illness is valid, no matter how you experience it.

–Amy

All views are my own.

Why I’m Scared to go Back to School

TW: suicide and SH mentioned in the third paragraph

It’s late, but I can’t get this post off my mind, so here we go.

If you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that I’m still a school student. Currently it’s the start of the third week of the summer holidays, but I will be back in September for my final year in Sixth Form. As I’m sure you’ve already guessed from the title of this post, I am absolutely terrified to return. (Or, rather, as close as I can be, what with depression dampening my emotions)

I’m not bullied or disliked, nor do I struggle academically. The reason I’m scared to return is because I’m worried about the impact this year is going to have on my mental health. A little background is necessary here: it was being at school last year (admittedly along with one other major factor that I won’t discuss) that caused my depression. Not only that, but I’m an A-level student who – rather foolishly – wants to take four qualifications. For anyone unfamiliar with A-levels, that is a lot of work. Naturally, a lot of work means a lot of stress.

To put it bluntly, I’m unsure if my mental health is in a place that will allow me to function adequately at school. At the start of 2018 until about June, I found myself in a terrible place mentally; I was self-harming and, as I refer to it, casually suicidal, which to me means wanting to die but with no intent to attempt. When I sought help I was turned away, so I felt like I had nowhere to turn. In June I started attending university open days, which, although it sounds dramatic, showed me that there was hope of escape from my current situation. I’m so worried that returning will slingshot me back into depression, from which I thought I was well down the road to recovery.

That isn’t to say that the school itself is to blame, of course; my teachers are understanding and supportive, and I’ve been amazed at times how sensitively they’ve dealt with my issues. I feel lucky to have support in place like that, since I know not everyone has had the same experience.

And now it’s really time for me to sleep; it’s taken me 40 minutes to write this post.

Night people.

–Amy