Learning from experiences
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Battling anxiety and depression has been hard, but I feel I have learned so many important little lessons and I really want to pass them on! But the most important lesson I've learned is that it's really comforting to know that you're not alone and someone else knows exactly what it's like to go through it! That's why I started a blog dealing with the issues of anxiety and depression. I'm not sure if posting from it is okay to do here. But I really am passionate about helping others, because surely there has to have been a reason I went through so much in the past!
Here is an article on depression that may help someone x
I wanted to write this in a lighthearted way, but how do you write about depression in a lighthearted way? There is nothing light hearted about it really. It’s an awful illness that took a lot of my character away from me and I fought to get it back. I do think I have in many ways won that fight, which is why I am able to sit here today and write about it! What’s the alternative to winning this particular battle? Doesn’t bear thinking about!
As a child I was such a character! So comical and so happy! Soooooooo cute J cough cough! I loved being funny and I loved laughing! Yes it is true that when I was only a young innocent child, I looked up at my mother and in a cute little voice asked her how I would ever pay a mortgage when I get older!! Haha, yes so funny, but I believe this was the tell tale sign that I was going to be an anxious banana when I grew up (still waiting for that to happen!!! Lol). And that worries me so much because if I am right about that, then my own beautiful daughter is on the same path…but more about on another day! Believe me I’ve loads to tell you about child anxiety!
But getting back to the child I was, the funny, happy, child my parents were rearing! I was the character in the family. The joker. The one who was always messing! I loved to make people laugh. The greatest achievement of my entire youth is that I got nicknamed ‘The Divil’ by my amazing, amazing, amazing grandmother! I look back on all my memories of her and it makes me soooo happy that I made her laugh so much!!! But that was me!!! Happy go lucky me! Making people laugh me! The entertainer me! It was great! I was great, I was happy!
Then things changed! Slowly but surely I could feel something creep in. I had no idea what was happening to me. It was confusing, scary and horrible! I was in my late teens and I had never really heard too much about depression or anxiety so I didn’t really know it was happening to me! I had no clue that what I was feeling was an actual illness that I could go and seek help for! Instead I tried to hide what I was feeling. Keep it to myself. Cry on my own. Talk to myself, well more so give out to myself for feeling sad all the time! ‘Why the hell are you feeling like this? What the hell is wrong with you? Your so stupid!!!’ Needless to say my self counseling skills were not helping!! But that were all I had.
In a world where I had two brilliant supportive parents, lovely sisters and some great friends, why did I not go and speak to anybody about how I was feeling? Why did I choose to seek council with the little voice in my head berating me for feeling so weird all the time? Because I didn’t know at the time that I had a choice! I didn’t know that going to my parents or to my sisters or to my friends!!! Hard to believe I know! But only really hard to believe if you have never been a teen with feeling you knew were not normal, living in a time when nobody ever mentioned depression or mental illness! Besides I had no idea I had depression. I really thought I was just going crazy and I tried to contain it! Keep it a secret, keep the thoughts and feeling and emotions all to myself. Wow that was really hard!
This was a time when mental illness was not discussed! If it was ever talked about, it was done while leaning in closer to the other person and whispering. It couldn’t be talked about out loud! No way! And the whispered conversation usually went something like…..‘did you hear….so and so is gone to THE MENTAL…..yeah she suffers with her NERVES…..’ It was a conversation that let many people with the image of a person being carted away in a white straight jacket, kicking and screaming on their way to a buiding with no windows incase they would the ‘mental people would escape. It was a building hidden away from the public of course and every night lightening would flash in the sky directly above it! So even if I knew what that actually meant and that I indeed was actually suffering with my nerves there was no way I would come out and admit it! NO WAY!!!
But things were not improving. The tactic of hiding my feelings and worries was not working! I wrote some great poetry (although very dark and gloomy) at the time which now I can’t find!!! I regret that I didn’t look after it better, I’d love to read it now!! But other than being inspired to write dark, dark poetry things were going down hill! I was getting worse and I was beginning to crave release of my mental anguish. That came in the form of physical pain for me. I needed physical pain to overpower the mental pain. But it was only a relief that lasted a short time as the body heals itself, and at the time it felt like the mind doesn’t! Can I stress ‘at the time!!!!’ I believe differently now!
So I soon became an addict. An addict to self harm. I needed it! It made me feel better, or so I thought. But I can look back now and see how distorted my thoughts were! I only I had known back then that I was falling into an even bigger problem and putting myself at such risk. I had many methods to hurt and harm myself. I was extremely creative in thinking up ways to feel pain. I remember night I would fall asleep with a safety pin. Digging it into my flesh and pulling on it, it ought me comfort and release. Wow even now thinking back on those night I wonder how the hell I did it! How ill my mind was!
I have three scars on my body today from my self harming addiction. Only three! And the worst one still feels rotten today! It was so bad at the time I had to go to the doctor and have it patched back together muttering something about falling on a broken glass….silly me haha! It wasn’t always cutting. I remember days I would be able to move my arm from the whacking I would have given it the night before and many many many more incidences that I won’t go into.
Did I know I was self harming? No!!! I didn’t even know there was such a term! I thought I was the only person in the world that hurt myself. Which compounded the fact that I was out of this world weird! It was only later when I got help did I realise that I belongs in quite a significant statistic of young girls who ‘self harmed!’ Reading about it made me feel like I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t all that weird after all…there were other weirdo’s out there too! Lol
But getting back to the real reason why I became an addict to self harming….to bypass my mental torment for a few moments. I was feeling so low! Life was a struggle, living was a struggle. I felt overwhelming sadness all the time and tried to mask it was tiring. At the time I was studying and trying to focus was so hard. I tried to do so well and needed to so well, it was imperative I done well….(more on my downfall of perfectionism in another post!) It was like I didn’t care about anything, myself, the world, yet needed to ace my exams! I think that’s where all my depression came from. The pressure I put on myself at the time! But right now I don’t care where it came from. I just remember how hard it was, how bad it was, how lonely it was and how frightening it was!
One day I couldn’t take anymore of how I was feeling, I went into my family doctor at the time on my own. Even though I was well in my late teens I was still close to my mother and she would have came with me if she thought I needed to see the doctor. But I went in secret and in shame. I remember vividly to this very day sitting in the waiting room waithing to hear the door open and the doctor shout next… It was a case at the time that you went into the waiting room and figured out among the other people there who was going to see who and if you were behind the person sitting behind the door or infront of the person reading the OK magazine! Now this alone was a mammoth task! I was a young girl suffering m=badly with my ‘nerves’ so confidence wasn’t my strong point asn therefore talking in a room full of other people wasn’t ideal! I badly needed my mother but like I said I was ashamed of how I was feeling and there was NO WAY I was going to tell anyone! I remember sitting there, biting my nails, worn out and weary from all that I was feeling. sick in my stomach wondering if all they were all looking at me. If they could see that I was suffering with my ‘nerves!’ Well fair play to them if they did as I hadn’t really a clue what was going on at the time, only that I was weird and the only person to feel this way!
So ‘next’ was called and like a lamb to the slaughter I walked to the doctors room. ‘Well’, he says, ‘what can I do for you?’ Like a switch on the wall it was all he had to say to make me well up, and through bleary eyes I bravely answered in a croacky shakey very close to bawling my eyes out and never stopping voice I answered…’I don’t know!’ I’ll never forget him and that moment. He simply asked me did I feel like I was drowning and I couldn’t keep my head up out of the water. I burst into tears then and there was no holding back! Because that’s exactly how I felt! How did he know? How was he able to describe it to me? He was so kind, so patient, so calm, so educated, so hopeful that I came out of his room feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders! I will never forget that feeling! I went home and told my mother all about it and guess what she was amazing! She had often seen my cuts and bandages and was up the wall with worry as it was! Of course I could only see my feelings in it all. He worked with us both then to help me and he did! He was great and still is!
The greatest part of it all though was learning that what I was feeling wasn’t weird or stupid. It was an illness. It had it’s own name. There was medication for it, should you choose to take it. Doctors knew about it! I wasn’t alone! Other people had gone through it, were going through it and will go through it. I was entering into an age where the world wide web was at my finger tips and I could research it myself! I found lots of information on self harm! Wow I wasn’t some sort of freak at all and it was something I could talk about to my parents and sisters and friends.
As soon as I opened up you can guess what became less and less frequent….yes my need for self harming! I was able to release my feelings and emotions in a much safer way. My need for perfectionism stays which went onto OCD… lol lol lol but that is another story….a funnier one when I tell you my OCD stories!!
Getting back to the www and the availability of information at my fingertips…I began to research depression and self harming and became so interested in it. I have mentioned so many times now that I was one of so many girls who self harmed and I mention girls specifically because in all my research I rarely came across information for boys and self harming. I became interested in that and went on to write my thesis for my degree on depression among boys. It was aptly titled ‘Boys don’t cry.’ I was a Cure fan plus it was true, boys didn’t cry…the suicide rate among men was horrific and so so sad! But as I am beginning to say more and more…that is another post I want to write about, I want to give it the time and attention it needs and deserves!
Depression visited me in bouts for years and with the help of some great people in my life I was able to come through each bout. Learning about all the ways I can help myself has been such a help also. Being open and refusing to be ashamed is also important. Getting all the help I can and when I need is has lessoned my bouts of depression and lessoned the time in which they visit me! Yes I have bad days, I have days where I feel awful and find it hard to do anything and that’s my continuous battle but it’s a battle I feel I can fight! I feel so sorry for that poor scared teen I once was! I wish I could go back and tell her it’s ok, open up and talk to someone!
If you are reading this and you feel stupid or weird for feeling so low, if you feel ashamed and feel like you needed to mask your feelings…well I’m pleading with you to talk to someone, confide in someone, open up, go to your doctor, you are not weird and you are not alone!
So today despite the odd off day (another post another day lol) I feel I am getting back to that character I once was! As my granny said titled me ‘the divil!’ The funny one, the entertainer.. Who I am! Depression got into the ring and out up a fair fight, for a long time it was winning, but I came back with a fair punch and knocked it out! Yes it gets back up and attempts to go another round, after a few punches in my direction and I’ll admit a few that hurt, I always throw the punch that matters, the one that wins the round! I hate boxing by the way lol
I never know where my writing is going so I hope you have been able to stay with me on this one!! And I hope if you need help you will seek it, I hope if you know someone who needs help you can offer it and I hope we as a society will continue to lift the stigma of mental illness, take the shame away so people can be saved from their living hell, or worse their death!
Thanks for reading, this article is taken from my collection of articles in my blog theanxiousbanana.com xxx
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I completely agree @Carinamc , if we had to go through so much, at least let others benefit from it. I really enjoyed your article, keep posting!
Thank you so much for sharing! I'm heading over to your blog now xx
Well done you @Carinamc I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article and my thoughts are of a strong person who has been through so much but who has come to consider the need of others and that in itself is so selfless an act.
I'm sure that not only will other people who suffer in silence who read this will benefit from you but that I have this deep feeling that you yourself will succeed in striking the ultimate knockout blow. :-) xx
Thank you. Your words are amazing, I have an 18 year old Granddaughter whom I feel would benefit from your words I am going to show her it when she comes to see me as I feel she needs some help to understand what she is going through.
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