When people think of depression it tends to be a spectrum of feeling down through to suicidal thoughts that are associated with the illness. That is only the surface of things – for me one of the greatest issues I’ve always struggled with is the complete lack of inspiration, ideas and creativity. You know those skills are still hiding in your brain somewhere but you’re damned if you can locate or use them.
I’m lucky in some respects because I’m bipolar – those fast ideas and the buzzing high you get off being creative are so enjoyable that your life balances out in some ways. With depression your ideas are muted, very often you become forgetful and struggle to do basic tasks. When I was teaching the big problem for me was the marking and paperwork – and heaven help me if writing reports or exam marking and a dip in mood coalesced because I would only get two or three done a day.
When it comes to day-to-day life it’s things like deciding what to have for tea that can trip you up. There is no inspiration there so you are left with takeaways to do the thinking for you or a very simple microwave meal to fill you up. Basic memory skills are impaired too. When doing the courier work I would check, recheck and triple check house numbers or postcodes. Even with the items in front of me it would go as soon as I read it to myself. That’s a difficult place to be if you are trying to get on with your life.
From the simple to the complex, your brain is just a quagmire that you are wading through – getting stuck with each step as the ground pulls at your feet. And that’s what makes depression sufferers angry, frustrated and at wit’s end at times. You don’t want to engage in conversation because you know that either you will become annoyingly loud and a know-all or you become the quiet moody type – which is where I am at the moment.
Small talk can be difficult – you turn into a monosyllabic muttering moron. You look like your mind is elsewhere not taking in everything that is being said but in truth you are trying to tune in to something – anything – to allow you to return to some kind of norm. That’s why I find blogging about the illness so useful because my brain is on autopilot and I can just get rid of all the crap in my head and start to find the space and sanity again.
It’s experiences and symptoms like this that cause the sadness, sense of loss and dark thoughts rather than the other way round I think – I’m no expert but that is my feeling of the condition. The muddied mind in someone like me who thrives on the creative and quick thoughts finds himself sidelined by his own mind and yearning for a hyper phase.
While I am very aware that others have this a whole lot worse it’s not a comfort to feel you are not the only one dealing with it. You become selfish and introspective; analysing every thought, word said to you and inference to the nth degree. This then feeds back into the illness and makes it worse. You end up living like a zombie for the day, week or month the down period lasts and wishing your life away so that you can regain some mental ability and fight your way out again.
The only positive you can take is that it’s not a permanent state – it fluctuates hourly or daily or weekly depending on the variation of the illness you live with. For me I’m around two weeks into this part of the ongoing wave of bipolar and hope the up is on its way.