Depression is a term that is very over used and underestimated. What does depression feel like? It isn’t just sadness, it is beyond sadness. It is pure hatred of yourself and your life. ~ Anonymous
With me, it started off really mild. I didn’t know anything was wrong. I just knew I wasn’t happy. I was a young adult, my Nannan had died and I was really stressed out with work and college, I never had any money and things were just rubbish. But I didn’t know any different, I thought that was how it was meant to be. Adult life was shit and that’s the way it was. I hoped that things would get better, but I never expect them to. Everybody always says being a grown up is rubbish and it was. I had just turned eighteen and was old enough to by my own alcohol and I think the power went to my head. I enjoyed buying it and drinking it to much. I used to drink after a rubbish day at work, sometimes after a good day at work, to celebrate. The more I had, the more rubbish days I had and the more I drank when I got home. It didn’t solve anything, but nothing would. It just made things feel better. It was just a way to relax at the end of the day. Some people smoked, some people had chocolate, I had Martinis. That was just my thing. That’s what I told myself for years. Everybody has their thing and that was mine.
Over the years I found myself to be drinking more and more, and feeling worse and worse. i felt like I was rubbish at my job, I was rubbish as a friend and I was rubbish as a daughter. I couldn’t seem to do anything right for anyone. Eventually I started to wonder if maybe I was depressed. But then I thought nah, I’m just a horrible person that can’t do anything right. I was super stressed at work, always falling out with my Mum and Dad and I was just pushing everyone away. But at the time I didn’t realise it was me that was pushing, I thought it was everybody that was sick of me. My Mum and Dad tried to help, but it didn’t feel like help. So I was always falling out with them. At this point I was just about keeping it all together and on the edge of reality.
Then my sight got worse.
This well and truly tipped me over the edge and sent me out of control. My life was a mess anyway and now this. One big escape I had was to go out on my own and just walk around making sense of my thoughts. And getting away from everyone so that I didn’t get on anyone’s nerves. I couldn’t do that any more. I tried for a while, not very successfully. I could barely see a metre in front of me at the time, I was lucky to get home safely. We were still unsure about whether my sight would improve or not so I couldn’t have new glasses. I found some old ones which I could see through slightly better, so I wore those for a while. I was reluctant to get my sight registered because hopefully things were going to getbetter. It was just a waiting game. I sometimes went out with my Mum and Dad, when I hadn’t fallen out with them, but other than that I didn’t go out at all. I used to look forward to the day we went food shopping, some weeks that was the only time I went out, once a week. How sad is that! I managed to find the courage to go up to the shops to buy booze though. I needed something to live for! I lived for drink, that was the only thing I had to look forward to.
After around a year my sight had improved, but it seemed to have stopped. It wasn’t as bad as it was, but it was no where near as good as it used to be. I came to realise that, this was it. This was it for the rest of my life. It’s only ever going to get worse. I didn’t see the point in anything any more, I hadn’t for a long time anyway, now, what was the point??? I couldn’t see anything properly, I couldn’t do anything properly, I was useless. But there was a life out there, I knew there was. People can do all sorts of things when they are completely blind. So why couldn’t I? What was wrong with me??? Why do they get it so easy and deal with it well and I don’t? How can they ski and climb mountains when I can’t even walk up the road without bumping into something? Why was I so pathetic? I know now that they haven’t had it easier than me, it just takes time, a very long time.
Eventually I realised I needed to get my sight registered. I didn’t want to, it would be official that there was something wrong with me. But everyone was telling me I will be better off if I do because I can get Disability Living Allowance. I didn’t want DLA, I didn’t want to be disabled. I’ve never had anything against disabled people but I wasn’t one. But I gave in, just to shut everyone up. I was registered as Severely Sight Impaired/Blind. I got a parking badge, a toilet key and a disabled bus pass. What was the point in a bus pass, I couldn’t get on a bloody bus??? The money came in useful though for taxis, and booze.
I got to the point where I stayed up most of the night drinking and slept it off most of the day. I woke up late afternoon, then when evening came I would start again. if ever there was a time when I had to stop drinking, because of medication or something. I felt a lot better, I ate properly, I actually had an appetite. I hadn’t had one of those in years. But it didn’t last long, as soon as I could I would start again. My intentions were good, I’ll just have a bit and try not to over do it like before. But it never worked. After a few days of trying I was back to normal again. back to drinking all night, throwing up and sleeping all day. At least when I was asleep I was out of the way and not annoying anyone. I often stayed in bed as long as I could, just because there was no point in getting up. It usually involved somebody being mad at me so at least when I was asleep I didn’t have to deal with it. Asleep was my favourite place to be, it meant I was free. I often didn’t care whether I woke up again or not. I had just had enough of being a disappointment to everyone.
Everybody was trying to change me and control me. Stop drinking, go to bed earlier, get up earlier, eat properly, lose weight, get more exercise, get in the real world, act your age.
Nobody ever told me but I was a really shit friend. I missed two of my best friend’s weddings. One of them because I didn’t have the money to buy drinks. It was cheaper buying it to have at home. What kind of friend does that??? I will never forgive myself for that. It didn’t even occur to me that she actually wanted me there. I didn’t even make a good excuse, that was my excuse! The other friend, my Dad was working and couldn’t take me, but I didn’t make any effort to go on my own. I would have been alright with my friend’s family. I just couldn’t face it. I didn’t want baby sitting. I didn’t want her to see me needing baby sitting and someone needing to keep an eye on me. To make sure I was fed and watered and went to the toilet. Like a dog! I couldn’t do it on my own in a big busy place. It was just to difficult being around my friends when my sight was so bad. I couldn’t act my age. I felt old.
I was a burden.
I always believed that you should always be yourself, you should never have to change for anyone. And I wasn’t going to. That was me and if you didn’t like it you could shove it. But deep, deep down I knew everybody was right. I did need to change. But I wasn’t strong enough to. So I didn’t. I didn’t even try. I knew I desperately needed help. I tried to tell people how I was feeling, loads of times. I tried in person, by text, email, Facebook, everything. So many times I wrote something and I thought, finally! I’ve done it! Then either nobody would reply or they would the day after and the moment had passed. And I hadn’t done it. When I read it back it looked like I was just moaning about having a rubbish day, like everyone else on the planet was. Nothing special, nothing important. I started to think it was because nobody cared, they should have read in between the lines. The more I tried, the more it happened and the more I believed nobody cared, not enough anyway. And they didn’t care enough because I was a horrible person. So what was the point in even trying. I had ruined everything.
At my worst I felt toxic. Absolutely disgusting and toxic. Everything I had in my life I had wrecked. Everything I did, I did wrong. I was toxic and I was vile and I could see why people didn’t like me. What happened to me? Why had life messed me up so much? Why had I messed life up so much? I was constantly in a daze, beating myself up. I sat and watched telly, but I wasn’t watching. I listened to music, but I wasn’t listening. I didn’t need to, I had my own drama going on in my head, way more interesting than what was on telly. Nothing worked any more. Talking didn’t work, drining didn’t work, there was no escape. Only sleep. I sometimes thought, would anybody even care if?….. It would definitely be less stress for everyone. And If I did, how? Luckily I never have been any good at making decisions. So it never went any further than that. Just thoughts, very dark thoughts.
One day I was unwell and I had to get the doctor to come. I told me I needed to go to hospital. He said people in my condition, that drink as much as I do only usually have a few years left. It was a shock, I didn’t realise I was that far gone. But what is more shocking is that I wasn’t planning on stopping, just cutting down, cutting down a lot though! He said I was dealing with the news well, that I was going into hospital. I didn’t argue against it, or try and fight it, I just went quiet and went along with it. I remember saying, maybe things will change now. I knew that I needed something massive to happen to knock me out of sync and make me change direction. Maybe this was it. I really hoped it was.
And it was.
The truth is, I didn’t choose to stop. I was made to stop. Because I was so unwell I was sedated through what would have been the hardest bit, coming off it. I was to out of it to even think about drink. I kept thinking about the two years the doctor said about. I would be lucky to get out of hospital, never mind have two years. I suddenly realised how precious life is and how I would do anything to get well enough to go home one day. I didn’t care how much medication I needed or how many hospital appointments I needed. As long as one day I was well enough to go home, live a fairly normal life and I was going to do my very best to be happy. Sounds silly that doesn’t it, you can’t just choose to be happy, you either are or your not. But that’s not true, you can choose to be happy and make the best of all the shit. Or you can choose to let it break you. Some people say what is the point in being optimistic, you only get disappointed. If you don’t expect anything then you can’t be disappointed. Thing is though if you choose to be happy and positive, then more positive things come to you. If you choose to be a miserable git then you’ll always get things to moan about. It’s just the way the universe works!
While I was in hospital I realised how wrong I had been about everyone. Even when I was sedated I could feel the fear, the worry and the love of everyone. I had very long, vivid dreams where I had died, and I saw how everyone reacted. I think that was my brain’s way of letting me know what was going on around me. And how loved I really was. How loved I really am.
Eleven weeks and five, or six days later a new person came out of hospital. A happy, relieved, loved, extremely lucky person that I didn’t recognise. I didn’t know who I was, or what I was doing, but in a good way. One thing I did know is that I had to get everyone back that I had pushed away. The rest of the stuff, it was all in the past, and that is where it will stay. This is a whole new life, and a whole new me. You often don’t realise how much you haven’t been yourself, until you do start to be yourself again. The whole time I thought that was me. But I have never been further from myself than I was then, the scary thing is, I didn’t know.
So, back to the original question…What does depression feel like? If you haven’t already got it, here goes. Depression isn’t just sadness. It is a constant battle with your own mind. Your mind tells you horrible things like, you’re not a very nice person, your ugly, you’re messing up a lot. At first you don’t take it seriously. So your mind has another go, and another go, and another go until you believe it. Then it moves onto bigger stuff. You mess up ALL the time, everybody HATES you, you’re a waste of space. Again, it goes on and on and on chipping away at you until you believe it. Then, onto the major stuff, what is the point in you being alive?, you’re completely useless, nobody cares about you, nobody wants to help you because they don’t want you around anymore, you’re a total disappointment to EVERYONE!!! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not voices in your head, just thoughts, very dangerous thoughts. Your own mind chips away at you until there is nothing left and no person left, no personality, just a wreck of what used to be a life.
Depression should NEVER be left untreated, because it will only get worse. The scary thing is, your mind is what keeps you safe. If you are ever in a situation where you don’t trust anybody around you, it’s ok because you trust your own judgement, you know what is right and wrong. But the truth is, you can’t always trust your own mind. With depression, it’s the other way round. You should be trusting the people around you, and not trusting yourself.
I just want to make it clear that the thoughts I had weren’t the truth. Nobody has said or done anything wrong so PLEASE don’t take anything I have written personally. It was all my mind making me believe things and feel feelings that weren’t real. Everybody did everything they could. I was very good at putting on a fake smile and pretending everything was ok. I even convinced myself sometimes.
This incredibly personal story was recently shared with me by the author. She simply wanted me to read it and tell her my thoughts. My first thought was, Wow… She did not hold back! Secondly, I thought It was a brilliant piece of writing that took a lot of courage to share. And lastly, I thought that someone out there in the world may need to read this. Someone may need to know they are not alone in their past, or present, struggle with sight loss, addiction, or depression. She had no intention of publishing it. But, I wanted to. So, with her permission, I published it for her. PLEASE feel free to leave an encouraging comment for her, and anyone else who knows this journey all too well. xx