As you may be aware, on the weekend I was having a bit of a rough time and added a post which, frankly, was a bit of a Debbie Downer. I’ve spent the past couple of days seriously considering deleting the post, however something keeps stopping me.
In light of the terrible news about Robin Williams’ suspected suicide this week, I have decided to leave the post and to talk openly about the ‘blip’ I went through for the last few weeks.
Let me say one thing up-front: when I first committed to building ‘Your Best You’, it was driven by my realisation that I experienced depression because I had to experience it; it is part of my purpose, and now it is time to talk openly about it, even when that conversation is difficult and I would much rather crawl into a hole.
So, as I mentioned in my post about my parents, the past few weeks have been a struggle. My birthday in early July triggered a low mood, which it often does, and it became progressively worse until Sunday when I felt like I was at breaking point – possibly not helped along by the fact that I hit the bottle quite hard that day, quickly going from happy-drunk to tired-and-emotional. Thankfully, a healthy chat with my cousin via Facebook, followed by a two-hour late-night phone conversation with one of my aunts, gave me the outlet I needed to say the things I needed to say and hear the support that I needed to hear. It’s now Wednesday and I am starting to feel better, slowly.
This is the thing about managing depression. It is not a linear, A to B journey. It’s topsy-turvy and often involves two steps forward, one step back. I currently manage my depression and anxiety with a combination of anti-depressants and beta blockers which are usually effective, however they are by no means a total cure. Nothing really is – it is more a matter of understanding that this is something that will likely affect you for many years, possibly even for life, and that there will be good times and not-so-good times. It is also worthwhile being honest with yourself about what things trigger ‘the black dog’.
For me, I have long self-medicated with food and alcohol. Although I cut right back on alcohol consumption about a year ago, there will still be the odd time where I have that third glass of champers or that third beer and then I’m off – inhibitions are lowered and I have absolutely no self-control when it comes to limiting my intake, so I end up a hot mess then have a two-day hangover. Food is much the same. I can go for days and days without overeating, then something will trigger me and I will eat like I haven’t eaten in months. Then I will inevitably put on weight which will make me feel depressed – and the cycle continues.
So today, I begin a new approach to managing my depression. Today I make much-needed changes. Today, I make the conscious decision to stop all alcohol consumption for at least the next three months, since I must accept that I cannot trust my own willpower. Today, when I feel the need to eat, I will say to myself: “Self-medicating with food will not make me happy – in fact, it will do the opposite”.
Recovering from a ‘blip’ takes time and commitment, and it is another opportunity to really examine what it is that sits behind your depression. For me, I am glad that this ‘blip’ has happened as it forced me to confront these feelings of parental abandonment which I have suppressed over the past year and a half, so now I feel that I am ready to move forward.
I am also glad it happened because it helped me to change the direction of a book I am writing about depression (which will be released later this year) called “Fuck Depression!”
My original version was very gung-ho about sticking your middle finger up to depression, and the word “fuck” stood for ‘face it, understand it, challenge it, kick it’. Every time I got to the ‘challenge it’ and ‘kick it’ parts, I faced a writer’s block. Now I understand why. It’s all well and good to want to be so assertive about managing your depression, however the reality is that you need to balance an assertive approach with a self-nurturing approach. So the acronym “fuck” now stands for ‘face it, understand it, confront it, know it‘. A little self-kindness goes a long way, and I look forward to sharing my writing efforts with you in the coming months.
So, thanks for your support and here’s to the future!