Thursday, 18 June 2015

Seratonin and SCUBA Diving

Found on Pinterest

Anyone who has ever suffered with depression can tell you, it is a cruel taskmaster.  So it was lovely to see Kelly-Ann aka The Four Queens speak candidly about her experience with depression in this video.  She is so eloquent and calm in her delivery of what I feel is a very honest and open dialogue about her mental health history, and her acceptance of this part of her life is reassuring to others who may be currently battling with acceptance of their own.  I know my daughter has learned to accept herself more through certain videos from Kelly-Ann and accepts her scars as something that manifested itself in her, but does not need justifying to others.  The people who matter to my daughter don't need to ask, the people who ask do not matter.

So as a way of a response to the video I decided to have a ramble about my own battle and my feelings on the attitudes of depression.

Only in the past 2 year have I managed to pull myself out of the black hole that had me trapped for over 3 years.  It's been a long climb up the path of recovery, two steps forward, one step back most of the time.  I dealt with mine using a combination of medication, therapy and taking a proactive approach.  I can now say that I am free from the medication and no longer have therapy but I still check in with myself regularly, I still make that mental visit to see if there is anything that my 'inner friend' needs.  

I would like to think most people who have dealt with depression and come through the other side do this.  It's not alway easy though, to recognise the thought patterns that can  take them back to that dark place.  Sometimes it isn't possible to avoid going along that path again and again, as anyone with depression knows.

People are quick to judge someone with depression, as it is not an illness that is easily seen.  Most sufferers cover it up so well that when crisis happens, what I call 'The Abyss', people around are shocked, even surprised.  They wonder how it has happened, why it has happened, and the most common reaction is telling the sufferer that they should have told people they were struggling. When in reality the times that we do reach out, I found the most common responses were;

Oh, it'll sort itself out.
Everybody has problems 
Pull yourself together/get a grip
You'll be fine, you're a strong person.

I feel over the years, depression has been re-defined and not in a good way, by people who have no real understanding of it.  Depression has become something that has been relegated to the ranks of having a bad day.  But it is not ' a bad day', it is not feeling fed up because you didn't get what you wanted.  It is  certainly not shedding some tears in  the doctors office, in the hope they will give you an official letter, so your university will give you special dispensation on your degree score, as you were too busy living it up instead of studying.  (Yes, I have been witness to all of these cases of 'depression').

Then there are the people who do not realise depression is a chemical imbalance, the lack of seratonin, that anybody can develop. Even the most successful, wealthy, loved, respected and publicly adored.  Yet it seems common for others to judge by wondering what these people have to be depressed about.    It is not the exclusive realm of the lonely, poor and under appreciated.  My depression started when I was married, we had a very good income, respectable jobs even 2 holidays abroad every year.  But depression caught me in its web and now, single, working a low paid job and taking each day with acceptance for whatever may happen, and not judging mine or others choices, I am happier than I have been for many years.

Depression, real depression is that smothering, crushing feeling, when,  no matter how you try and look at things, there is nothing. There is no feeling of hope or joy, there is no feeling of worthiness, there is no feeling of understanding.  There is only fear, hopelessness, mistrust and a mental loneliness as your brain tells you that you are stupid, nobody cares, and what is the point when you are useless and fail at everything and nobody really likes you, they are just being polite (these were just some of my constant mental processes when I started down the slope).

 But the treatment of depression has to be a proactive one.  Medication works for most people but the individual's thought processes have to be worked on, altered and diverted.  If not, then the medication just masks the underlying  issues and the cycle of depression remains.  I had 3 different talking therapies, not all worked, everybody is different though and what didn't work for me can be the key for someone else.

My mother is a perfect example of what Kelly-Ann describes as cloaking oneself in their depression.  To my mother it defines who she is, it excuses her cruel side and feeds her need for attention and getting her own way.  She wears it as her badge of honour.  She has been on antidepressants for 20 years (since my father's death).  She refuses talking therapy, as she claims the therapists are useless and don't help.  She expects them to solve the issues and feels they should provide her with the answers that only she can give. 

She refuses to participate in anything that may be enjoyable unless it is something she wants to do, and if she does take part, she will criticise and complain for the duration, spoiling it for everyone else lest she is proven wrong and she has a good time.  

And yet she feels her happiness is everybody else's responsibility.  I don't judge her for it, she has no understanding of her illness and doesn't want to learn about it.  So I accept her as she is and arm myself mentally against any negativity she wants to throw out into the world.  For if she won't  help herself, then I, nor anyone else can do it for her.  

Ironically it was my mother who helped me recover, when she made the comment, after being medicated myself for almost 3 years, that I was going to end up like her, stuck on 'useless' drugs for the rest of my life.  My inner rebel sat up and thought no way am I turning into my mother.  My path for recovery was set, that very day.  

I knew there was some positive things in my life, I knew I could find that fun, loving person that was squashed so far down inside of me.  I knew I had to coax her back, gently with love, compassion and patience.  I had to wrap my arms and heart around the 'me' that the depressive mind had told me was gone and I never deserved anyway.  I had to dive deep, search through the murky depths and try and find that little glimmer of gold. Believe me it took some time to find it through the wreckage that lay covering it. Once I found that first little piece I went back every day and searched for more and more, until it was like I had found the actual treasure chest, where all the happiness lay.  I can not say I will never suffer any further episodes of depression, it is not something I plan on, however nobody ever does, but I know for now my life feels good I am happy with who and where I am and that is what matters more than anything. 


  1. What a heartfelt and clear post this is. It is so important to be open and frank about this disease. As you might remember I've been dealing with depression since puberty. It has made me stronger, wiser and more compassionate, but it was a hell of a road to get here. After years of therapy I can manage myself quite well but I cannot function well without medication. It is what it is.
    My mother and I are mirroring your relationship with your mother perfectly.:)
    I wish you more bright days than darker ones and the strength to light a candle when they do come
    Big Hug

    1. I'm a definite believer of depression/mental health issues, being genetic. It, like a physical illness, needs more understanding and acceptance. I think it's wonderful you are able to monitor your own mood, I feel that is empowering in itself.
      It is surprising how many tarot enthusiasts have first hand understanding of these kinds of issues. That's what I love about the online tarot community, there is unspoken understanding and heartfelt support. No judgement.
      It may change how others perceive us, but I think it can be the trigger to being more true to yourself too.
      Keep hold of that piece of you that is the true Ellen, it's a beautiful piece of gold. XX

  2. " When in reality the times that we do reach out, I found the most common responses were".
    There are so many things it is impossible to understand unless you've been there, but chief to me, is depression. You can't snap out of the black abyss, if we could we would. It amuses me when people say "I had no idea..." because we walk and talk like real people by the truth is always there to even a casual observation.

    . I'm ecstatic to say after five years struggle I am iin a much better place mentally. But I think that slope will always be there now and I tread carefully in many areas of my life to keep from going over that edge again.

    I am a two time cancer survivor but that word only means something to me in relation to depression, there I'm truly a survivor.

    I can also say, although I never got off my (Y) to try any of them, I have a book full of suicide recipes...

    Merciful journey, Sharyn

    1. Sharon, I agree, that slippery slope is always there, especially when a person has already been down it, it's not a pleasant journey. I'm glad you are in a better place now and I hope you continue to stay in that place.
      Your daily musings brighten my day.