I HATE being depressed

I mean I really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY hate it.

Sorry.  Sometimes you just have to get things off your chest.

It’s weird.  I often think in terms of being debilitated by anxiety, and I am.  I could have spent the weekend just gone elsewhere doing different things with actual, real-life people, and it was anxiety that stopped me, not depression.

(Well, specifically, it was anxiety coupled with the knowledge that my ability to manage anxiety is fairly badly compromised at the moment.  And then anxiety about what the consequences of my compromised ability to manage anxiety would be.  And then anxiety about what effect my anxiety about the consequences of my inability to manage my anxiety would have, given my current inability to manage my anxiety…  You think that’s confusing and frustrating to read?  You should try living in my head sometime.)

I guess anxiety is more concrete than depression.  It’s hard not to notice when you start to feel massively nauseous at the thought of checking your email account.  It’s hard not to notice the feeling of barely-suppressed panic as you wait behind the world’s slowest granny in the supermarket queue.  (My therapist told me that supermarket-queue-anxiety is very common.  This knowledge was apparently supposed to be helpful, for reasons that were never entirely clear to me.  Did she think I’d spontaneously decide I could only have exotic anxiety – ‘My dear, I come out in a cold sweat at the merest mention of a guava…’)

Depression is about endless, repetitive, unrewarded effort, and then more of the same, but worse, and then more of the same, but duller.

On Friday night (and yes, I do realise this means that the depression I felt was likely associated with my continued presence in my flat as opposed to being at the start of a weekend adventure, but knowing where the depression has come from doesn’t make it magically disappear, despite what therapists and others may claim – )

and breathe

On Friday night I stood up to go and make my dinner, and I stood in the kitchen overwhelmed by the enormity of what I had to do.  It’s an impossible feeling to describe, so this paragraph will have to end early.

I’m used to being depressed much of the time.  But this feeling of absolute, overwhelming, desolating emptiness that arrives so suddenly is a terrible thing.  It’s not really sadness, although part of it is a kind of slow grief for the chances missed, the loved ones not loved, for the person I might have been, but will never be.  It’s a dry, empty, hollow feeling, resting just above the diaphragm.  It’s an inability to do anything, because of the overwhelming impossibility of doing anything, and the certainty that whatever can be done isn’t worth doing in the first place.

So, anyway.

I carried on.  I thought about what I needed to do, and put the tasks in order, and did them slowly, methodically, patiently.  I cooked a meal, and I ate it, and I drank a glass of squash, and I watched the tv, and I went to bed, and I read, and I slept (a little), and I got up, and – well, so on and so on.  You get the picture.

This is what I do, always.  Better this than being force-fed antidepressants that work mainly by placebo, and so don’t really work if you don’t believe in them.  Better this than the incoherent theories of psychologists that work entirely by placebo, and so don’t work at all if you don’t believe in them.

I don’t know when I got so hostile to mental health professionals.  Somewhere between being told that I was too unstable for group therapy but I couldn’t have 1-2-1 therapy, or between being threatened with involuntary depot medication and then being told by the exact same psychiatrist that the exact same symptoms at the exact same severity meant that I wasn’t mentally ill, I guess.  Although, for the most part, I’m not really hostile.  I think most of them are nice people who try their best, in a system that’s grossly under-funded, and despite being constantly criticised and devalued by the people they’re trying to help (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…).  But I also think they’re like people trying to stop a forest fire by spitting on a blade of grass – well-meaning, but ultimately useless, and at serious risk of getting overwhelmed themselves.

This is my life.  Years of endless depression, with occasional days-long lapses into a world of bottomless despair.  The endless chattering of anxiety, with occasional visits from the other stuff I don’t like to give a proper name to, for fear of giving it power over me.  And all of it done with no possibility of reprieve, no light at the end of the tunnel, except for the relief that comes from jumping (temporarily) out of the fire and back into the frying pan.

So, anyway.

I will carry on carrying on.  It’s what I do, always.  But there are times when I get very tired of it all.

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10 Responses to I HATE being depressed

  1. J.Wibble says:

    I wish I had something practical to say, other than that I understand how you feel about the daily grind and just being tired of the whole fucking thing, but not quite tired enough to consider ending it. I feel like that a lot of the time, and lately it’s been getting on my nerves.

    The best solution (if you can call it that) I’ve come up with is continuously inventing random things to do with myself and pursuing every interest that springs up as far as I can, no matter how spurious or supposedly pointless it may be. The emphasis is on the word ‘random’, and the more pointless it seems the better – there seems to be a sort of swing-back effect which makes pointlessness eventually go full circle back to pointfulness (is that even a word?). I end up with a lot of half-finished projects, but it often helps to stem the tide of boredom and mundanity that really drives me loopy.

    Having no energy is a pain in the hole – I substitute mass quantities of caffeine for energy, motivation and occasionally food. Whether or not this is good for me is debatable, but I figure my liver could do with the exercise.

  2. Lucy McGough says:

    Thinking of you.

    Would it be okay if I sent you an email about Ben Goldacre, or is that still a potential trigger?

  3. I wish I knew what to say, other than I know what it feels like. I hate plodding on for the sake of it. It drives me up the wall. Take care though.

    Also – know what you mean about the MH service. It’s disastrously underfunded and the staff are being overwhelmed. I know of at least a couple RMNs and CPNs who are being treated by The Priory at the moment. Ironic that NHS mental health workers don’t trust their own health with the NHS. Also read “All in the Mind” lately by Alastair Campbell. It’s a novel, but describes a psychiatrist becoming overwhelmed by depression and the stress of trying to help his patients. I am sure it is fairly representative for some.

  4. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    J Wibble – the thinking of things to do approach is a good one, but unfortunately my perfectionist streak kicks in, which means starting something i can’t complete makes me feel worse than not starting in the first place. But thank you, as ever, for the kind words and thoughtful suggestions. :o)

    Lucy McGough – thanks for the kind thoughts. :o) Well, BG still is something of a trigger, but now i know there is a potential email in the offing, not getting it would be worse than getting it. So, please, send away. No, really please do… ;o)

    intothesystem – thanks for the good wishes. :o)

  5. Neuroskeptic says:

    Also, the fact that they work mostly by placebo on average doesn’t mean that some of them don’t work very well in some people.

    I started on mirtazapine, I’d heard good things about it, expected it to work wonders – I took it for three months and all it did was make me put on 20 kilos. And have some seriously screwed up dreams. They were kind of fun.

    Then I got put on venlafaxine, was pissed off by that point, didn’t expect it to work – and was greatly improved within 2 weeks.

    I’m 99.9% sure my benefit from venlafaxine is not placebo. other people don’t respond well to it. But this is the kind of thing that clinical trials don’t really investigate.

  6. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the extra comments.

    NiroZ – Indeed. As i say in my post, ‘antidepressants […] work mainly by placebo’. They do appear to have an effect over and above placebo, just not a very significant one. But you are entirely right to emphasise that they do work to some degree. :o) Thanks, as well, for the link to the post, which makes for fascinating reading.

    Neuroskeptic – and thank you to you for writing the fascinating post, as well as for your comment here. :o)

    The problem, as i see it (and clearly you’re the one with the expert knowledge here, so please do tell me if/ where i’m going wrong), with your experience on Venlafaxine is that it’s anecdotal. It might have been the Venlafaxine that worked for you, but equally it might have been that your mood spontaneously lifted a little at the same time as a result of pure coincidence, and the effect of this coincidence was to significantly enhance the placebo effect. You observed a change in your mood, assumed (logically enough) that the drug was responsible, and thus came to expect that it would continue to have a dramatic impact on your mood. The only way to get around that problem is to look at the effect a particular drug has on average, and this is, of course, what clinical trials do, and these tend to show that ADs have only a limited benefit over and above placebo.

    I take your point that averaging out the effect tends to understimate the extent to which some people will benefit (as well as the extent to which some others won’t), but i don’t think there’s really a way round that, is there?

    Right, i’m off to read some more of the posts on your blog… :o)

  7. Mandy says:

    Hi A

    Having had the motivation (actually fuelled by cronic desire to get away for the weekend) can say that I hate,hate, hate being home!!!

    Thanks to some very caring and generous friends…I was escorted both ways in their car. I couldn’t have got away otherwise and, on reflection, better to have gone and come back and be drowning than not to have gone at all. For one thing it reminded me of a life outside of misery and I felt almost human again.

    Living constantly with a debilitating illness is horrific. Okay so that depends on level of debilitation (as in some people’s debilitation seems less than others..or maybe they have different coping mechanisms or the medication does work) but I empathise with you because I find, through my experiences of MH professionals that they often hinder well being rather than promote it and I can get a different ‘theory’ from one professional in the same week as talking to another (and in regards to the same person’s situation and state of being). It is hard to keep the faith in a system that either lies or ignores people at their most vulnerable.

    Thing is what do eh? J Wibble’s inventing random and new things to be doing is as good as any but sometimes that requires motivation that isn’t there. People who have, eventually, managed to find the right med can give hope that there is a med that might help but it is rather hit and miss and is not just dependant on a person’s willingness or desperation but the medical professionals willingness to provide it (or to acknowledge that a person is ill).

    Not sure what my coping mechanism is at the moment….but you know that I rely heavily on sedation. Is not a route I would promote for anyone else is what works best for me in absence of. I long for the day when I am not that stressed out that I have to rely on such things but is not ideal world and it really is a case of living in the now and making that as bareable as poss. Hope you can find ways to get through your day easier. :>)

  8. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Hi Mandy, and thanks for the comment. I’m pleased it was good to get away, although i’m obviously sorry to hear you feel like you’re drowning again now. You’re right though – it’s definitely good to get a chance to remember that there’s something beyone illness, and i’m really glad you got the chance. :o)

    I’ve been really bad at commenting on your blog (and most other blogs, too), but i have been reading, and i just wanted to say that you are having to cope with a lot of stress and really horrible things at the moment, and they would be making even the healthiset of people struggle. I know knowing that doesn’t make any practical difference, except perhaps to make it easier to believe that thngs will get better in time.

    Take care,
    A.

  9. Neuroskeptic says:

    A: Bah, slow reply, sorry.

    Sure, my experience is just an anecdote. I may be wrong, although I don’t think so, mostly because when my moods change “on their own”, it’s generally fairly gradual, whereas with the venlafaxine, it was pretty dramatic. But it could indeed just be placebo.

    The trouble is, there are so many problems with the way antidepressant trials are conducted (as I never shut up about on my blog), that I find it hard to put much faith in them.

    Mirtazapine, for example, is, according to clinical trials, the best antidepressant in the world, or at least amongst the best. For me, it just made me sleep more and eat more, with no antidepressant effect I could notice. Now maybe I’m just weird, but when you consider that all the clinical trials measure depression using a scale (the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression) which considers insomnia and low appetite to be symptoms of depression… I start to wonder.

    You can get 6 Hamilton points by having severe insomnia. The antidepressant-placebo difference in most trials is on average about 3 points. So even if mirtazapine were nothing more than a sleeping pill, it could still seem to be best antidepressant in the world.

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