Peaks and Troughs

It’s hard to know where to start to talk about my depression, because in all honesty, I’m not exactly sure where or when it started.

I’d previously assumed that it was a combination of a number of things that had recently happened in my life (family bereavement, job stress, severe money problems of my own making). At some point, I had realised taht breaking down and crying most evenings was not the way I should really be living my life, and so I went to see the doctor and proceeded to break down in front of him. Tears, gutterall sobs, I felt so completely drained and helpless, throwing myself entirely at the mercy of someone I hoped could help.
That was about 6 years ago. Since then, I’ve been on and off Citalopram, more on than off to be fair though, and it’s helped.

The second time I started on Citalopram, I was also referred to a local NHS mental health and wellbeing centre to go through some CBT (that’s Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for the uninitiated).
During my first chat with the therapist, we talked about the sorts of things that make me anxious, identifying my triggers, so I could then train my brain to think about them logically and not automatically follow the same path it always had.

It was at this point that I realised that I had felt this way for as long as I could remember, even as a kid. That was a strange realisation, comforting in a way. To be able to attribute previously unexplained periods of helplessness, of lashing out and breaking down, to something I now (partly) understood was an enlightening moment. A lot of moments from my life now made a bit more sense, or at least meant there was a valid reason for my behaviour.

All in all, CBT helped, a great deal. It’s hard, and relies on a lot of input from you as a patient, which isn’t always the easiest. But it’s worth it, or at least was for me. I’ve learned that different things work for different people, that’s one of the things that makes mental illness a right git to deal with. You just have to keep going until you find what works.

Day to day life is pretty up and down for me. I’m generally quite a positive person, I think. I try and see the good in situations where I can, and usually I’m seen as someone who’s happy to have a chat, a laugh and a joke. Sometimes though, like right now, I am down. I don’t think anything specific has triggered it. I am struggling to concentrate on my work. I can’t motivate myself to even try; all I want to do is go home and read a book, or sleep.

Although I am lucky enough to have understanding people around me, it still feels difficult to talk about justifying a day off work with depression as opposed to having a physically manifesting problem like the flu or an injury.

I am sure that to the outside world, I look like someone who is just lazy during times like this. It’s frustrating, being locked in this tired, drained, complacent mind, waiting to snap at someone who says the wrong thing.

What gets me through periods like this is the knowledge that I have been here before, and made it out the other side. This is what CBT has taught me. This is not the beginning of the end. It’s another trough, before hopefully soon another peak will arrive. I guess what’s important to remember is that this isn’t something you cure. It doesn’t go away, but it’s something you deal with, with the right tools. And that’s ok, that’s how this works.

So far, I’ve got a 100% record at getting through the bad days. Every single one. If you’re reading this, you’ve got the same record. Nice one. Keep it up.

Dave James