Living with Depression: Part 1

Some of you who know me will know that I’ve had an on/off affair with depression since the age of about 13. There are several reasons why, but because of the public nature of this blog, I would prefer to discuss them privately with anyone interested, as I feel this to be more appropriate. If you really would like more information, feel free to DM me on Twitter

Anyway, the severity of my depression varies. I can go days, weeks, months, even years without having any symptoms, then suddenly from our ou the blue it’s back. Symptoms can range from a general low mood, feeling restless, unable to concentrate, right up to feeling suicidal. The severity is always worse if there have been any “catastrophic” events in my life. Past instances include loss of loved ones, relationship breakdown etc. The more that’s going on, the more I struggle to cope with “staying afloat”.

When things are really bad, I have had some scary instances where I kind of go into auto-pilot, where I tend to do things I’m not proud of, such as self-harm, and even attempt to take my own life. These instances are quite rare (I’ve only had 4 instances so far), but also quite scary because when they happen, I’m not in control – it’s like I’m watching myself from the outside. These episodes last no longer than 10 minuites, but I can cause alot of damage in that time, to myself or those around me. I’m not going to go into detail, as again I don’t feel it appropriate for a public blog.

I’ve been on and off medication, and I and out of psychiatric care for almost as long as I can remember. They always seem to “work”, insofar as I “get better”, but it’s always just a matter of time before it starts to fall apart again.

Relatively recently I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. Which is a fancy way of saying “you have some symptoms of schizophrenia, and some of Bipolar, but you are neither one nor the other”. I guess at least I can put a label on what I suffer from as I always felt that “depression” didn’t really cut a good enough descriptor.

So what is going on today, you ask? Well in 2014, I was diagnosed with Diverticular Disease. This is a disease where little pockets and fissures (Diverticulae) appear in the wall of the bowel (usually the colon or large intestine), and food and waste can get trapped in these fissures, and become infected, which causes Diverticulitis – a condition that requires urgent medical intervention in the form of oral or IV antibiotics, depending on the severity of the infection. In a really bad flare-up, the infection and swelling can cause the bowel wall to perforate, and the infection (and waste from the bowel) spreads into the body, causing septecemia, which can be fatal. This is all coupled with the fact that it hurts like hell too, leading to restless nights and days of work. There is no “cure”. The only remedy is surgery to remove part of the colon, meaning I get to have a nice bag attached to the outside of my stomach to collect all the poop. This can be reversed at a later date, depending on how much colon is removed.

Additionally, I was diagnosed the same day with gall stones, kidney stones and a cyst on my liver. That wasn’t a good day. The kidney stones have passed (ouch), but they still come and go, the gall stones are still there, and I get occasional pain from them. The cyst on my liver is currently not doing alot. It’s probably plotting something though so i need to monitor my health closely.

Fast forward from 2014 to today. I’m currently undergoing a 2 month flare-up of Diverticulitis. Usually it lasts a week, and I’ve been on Antibiotics for 2 weeks. These have eased it, but I’m still in constant pain and discomfort. I have other issues going on that I’m not going to reveal here just yet, but the stress of the constant pain, sleepless nights and other things going on has really taken its toll on my mental health, and I have slipped backward and I’m starting to struggle. You may have seen several tweets that I have posted that give it away.

My psychiatrist has always said I should try writing about how I feel. Getting the thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or screen), gets them out of my thought process, so the jumble of stuff going round and round in my head gets a little easier to cope with. This is the reason for this blog I guess. I’m hoping it will help anyone reading this to understand how depression affects people they may know who suffer. Or help them realise they are not alone of they are suffering themselves. But mostly, it’s about getting my shit out of my head so I can cope with daily life a little easier.

I’ve always been a helper. I come across people struggling with depression, or that are just unhappy with the way their life is at the moment, and like some kind of depressed superman – Schizoaffective Man! I throw my energy into helping them. It’s wonderfully rewarding, when it works. I get to forget my issues and concentrate on theirs. I get to see them feel better, get happier and I have made some amazing friends along the way by doing this. But sometimes it doesn’t go as well. And that’s the part that makes me doing this a dangerous risk. Because I blame myself for not being able to help. For making things worse. And then my own problems return to my mind, only now I have guilt and frustration added to it. It’s easy to say “concentrate on getting yourself better”. I’ve been doing that for 30 years. You’d think I would have nailed it by now.

Anyway right now, I’m in pain, both from.my stomach, and from stuff that’s going on elsewhere, which I cannot discuss here. Lack of sleep, worry, and stress are taking their toll, but I’m determined to get through this somehow. I have people around me to support me, but I rarely ever talk to them about it, because I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be “that guy” who is always miserable and bringing people down. I don’t want to be this person anymore. I would like to have peace. A full nights sleep, and be free of thoughts that I’m useless, that I am fat, ugly and unlovable. I would like to just be able to sit, or lie there quietly without a million thoughts going through my head. But most of all, I would like to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I occasionally say and do things that are upsetting. I’m sorry that I shut myself away, or become distant and evasive. And I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you, let you down, or made you feel like I don’t care. I’m one of the most caring people you will ever meet. I’m a fiercely loyal friend. Sometimes, I’m guilty of caring too much, and it always comes back to bite me in the ass, but I still do it, because I try to give what I’d like to receive.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, please do hit me up on Twitter. I’m an open book on a private conversation, and I am comfortable (finally) talking about my condition(s). I will try to post on a weekly basis, depending on what I have going on and how I feel. If you like this blog post, please feel free to share it. If it can help just one person feel that they are not alone in suffering with mental health issues, then I consider this to be a success.

Love always,

Shads