In my previous post I shared my experience of depression within myself and how I got out of it each time. This post I will explain the things that halt me in my depression tracks. The things that flag up when I see depression looming, and make me turn around fast.
It’s All About Them
One of the biggest things that niggle at me with some (not all) depressed people is how self-indulgent we can become. Everything is all about them and dare you mention that it isn’t, and it escalates into how awful a person they are, therefore further making it all about them. The people around trying to help are likely exhausted by this, and by the giving of themselves. This is exactly why the world needs people with depression to support themselves to turn it all around. I believe that every person has their gifts and that they are inside truly wonderful people. No one needs to be off this planet. Giving to another is an amazing way to dig yourself out of a depressive hole. So take a moment and remember that the people around you are suffering by seeing you like this. They dream of you acknowledging them and the fact that they have bad days too. They want your attention, your care, your personality to shine through. Make it about them sometimes and you’ll find yourself feeling better for it.
The Tease – I Need Your Help but Won’t Allow You To
This one really gets to me, and I see it often. People who flag up their depression, or other problems and they know you want to help, But they just stay just enough out of reach to stop you doing exactly that. It’s like dangling a carrot. They will repeatedly remind you of how much they are suffering, how hard it is and how much pain they go through. So you drop them a message to tell them that you are there for them, and in response, you get silence. Or the brush off. A response akin to “How dare you try and help me”. This I don’t understand. I have utilised every person who ever offered me help. I want to get better, I want to improve my life. Refusing help pushes people away and makes the person feel even more isolated, ingraining the depression further. No one wins. It is a control game and it isn’t fair on anyone. I have reached out to so many people and many of them treat me like a leper for it. I share my story, share the anxieties I go through and often they will confirm them to me with their behaviour. It would be really easy for me to feel useless just based on the way I have been treated in response to reaching a hand out to others. I have to keep in mind that this is their illness and if I am to remain okay, I need to walk away sometimes, as much as I don’t want to.
During my depressive times I have often felt like I am chatting with a friend to suddenly be told; “I’m going to start charging in a minute”. It always confused me. I’m having a conversation with a friend, why the need for that sentence? I kind of get it now. I’ve had friends rely on me heavily for counsel and watched my own life start to fall apart as a result. Their issues become more ingrained in my life and suddenly more of my time is being taken over by another persons life. I made a decision some time ago that I will happily listen to a friend, even support them through a difficult time, but only when I am okay myself and only when I am able. No longer will I put aside my own needs to tend to another. I noticed a pattern. Certain people would contact me at certain times, and I sought to break those patterns. I stopped being available during those times if it didn’t suit me. Friendships need a balance of good and bad. No one is qualified to be a counsellor, aside from a professional. Lose the stigma of seeing professional counsellors. It isn’t fair to lean on a friend for everything. Often they end up taking on your stuff because they love you and want to help you. I myself have found kind hearted friends who listen and give good advice. So I go back to them again…. and again…. and again. Then one day I need them and they can’t be there, I have no one else so I panic. It didn’t do me any good to return to the same people and take huge chunks of their time. It made me dependent on them and not myself.
I understand that counselling isn’t always an option, at least it wasn’t for me at one time in my life. My own personal solution to this came when I was unable to easily see a counsellor because I worked shifts. I was lucky enough to find a friend who had a lot of time on their hands, and was very good at positive distraction. They would give me a task and leave me to it. They would listen to me late at night because they were in a different time zone. They were also climbing out of a hole themselves and we found ourselves in similar positions. We crawled out together and pulled each other up. Neither of us allowed the other to fall back down. When we were both standing, we talked less often and was strong enough to sort our own lives out. He never became a counsellor to me. We shared our journeys and disagreed a lot! The similarities in where we were kept us talking. It took a long time to heal from my issues that I carried at the time, but I had a companion where neither of us drained the other.
I know it is hard to feel grateful or happy about anything when you have depression. But you need to try. On evenings where I have found myself unable to do anything because I feel down, I force myself to look around me and appreciate what I do have. I am very lucky to have so much. Recently I visited my family home and spent time with them appreciating what we have come from and how we all fought so hard to be where we are now. My Mother, faced with potential homelessness and two kids to raise didn’t spiral downwards. She used her inner fire and every bit of energy she had in fighting back. I barely saw her growing up because she was at one of her five jobs. I only have to consider that and I am filled with gratitude to her and my own resilience also. I would not be where I am now if my Mother had collapsed into a depression.
I encourage you to write a list of what helps you from spiralling downwards. And consider what keeps you afloat. Make this part of your personal recovery programme.