I have been away from this blog for a while. A lot of changes have been happening in my life. As an Autistic woman change does not sit well with me. That coupled with the winter and the national lockdown, my mental health was bound to suffer. I wanted to talk about it, maybe to educate and hopefully to validate anyone who is going through a similar experience.
I was diagnosed with depression at 15, it was a dark time. I couldn’t get out of bed. I found no joy in anything. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do to make myself feel better, I just slept a lot. I have never slept well but I also couldn’t keep myself awake. My fatigue always hits harder when depression rears its ugly head. It made me think I was lazy, unworthy, useless. I couldn’t do simple daily tasks and I beat myself up about it every day. That niggling feeling that you should be productive, and you should be doing all these things, even though you don’t have a clue what those things are. It’s a constant battle of needing the dopamine hit and knowing that you have achieved something when your brain won’t accept that surviving is enough.
Recovery isn’t a linear line, and for some it is simply remission. I know, personally, I will always have depression and I am okay with that. I have had huge fluctuations through the past few years. I even convinced myself in the last two years that I would never have to feel the way I did at 15. I was very wrong. I truly believed that my self-care habits and lifestyle were keeping me in a manageable state, which is true, however I ignored the possibility that certain events can trigger me. I am sure many others feel the same. When you have better days, you enjoy it and appreciate it, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep that going.
I am back in a similar place; I know I am safer, and I know I am loved. Which is a big difference this time around. I do feel as though I have lost my sense of self again and am struggling to find a way back to my goals, when I remember what they are. It is a challenge to be kind to myself for not being able to do as much as I think I should be. It is very easy to feel like I’m wasting the day. It shouldn’t be wasteful to need to rest and heal. After the year we have all had, it is necessary. Mental health is important and needs constant care. I will admit that over the Christmas period I pushed myself too hard without taking the proper precautions. I partly feel it was somewhat worth it for what I achieved as it will benefit me for years to come. However, I would have liked to slow down but I hyper-focused on the task and couldn’t stop until it was done. I have a habit of doing this, thinking rest can wait until the work is done. This is what society conditions us to think, work before play, dinner before dessert. Why can’t we do what feels right? What brings us joy? And why do we have to feel guilty for doing these things? For prioritising happiness and rest over work and “productivity”! It’s all nonsense, you can always be “more productive” there is no such thing as “full productivity” or the “most productive”, it’s all relative. There is no real way to measure it! There is no reason to feel bad for doing less than someone else, just as there’s no reason to feel bad for having lighter coloured eyes.
I have always thought of depression as a demon. It’s silent, deadly, cruel. It feeds off of low self-esteem and negative thinking. I am not sure how I am going to get out of this other than allowing myself to do what feels right until I do. With my chronic pain and fatigue, sometimes that means just napping and watching tv for a while. I know there are better days ahead!
If there is anyone else going through something similar, you will be okay. I hear you, feel free to comment or message me through the contact page for a chat. Try some of these helplines if you need support:
Samaritans: Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Kooth: Chat to their helpful team about anything that’s on your mind. Message them or have a live chat.
Childline: When you call them on 0800 1111 you’ll get through to a counsellor, they’re there to listen and support you with anything you’d like to talk about. Or you can have a 1-2-1 counsellor chat online.
CALM: CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Mind: Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
You are not alone, you are strong, you will get through this!