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Blue's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (life viewed through the lens of depression)
Some of you are aware of my existence by now, but for those who aren't, I'm fairly new to this forum. I've been stumbling my way along with depression for somewhere around seven years. It was triggered by a life event and exacerbated by circumstances since then, which I've done my best to eliminate where possible. About a year ago I changed track with that and made the huge decision to end the relationship I was in. Rough though that was, I finally started to see a bit of progress. I've still had a fight on my hands, to stay afloat and get control of my time and money and my peace of mind, all of which were tied up for a long time in untangling my finances from those of my ex (not his fault, the bank made it really damn hard, and my job and my own state of mind weren't helping).
Now I've started enjoying things again, and am not always instantly down when I'm on my own. I was once a (deliberately) solitary creature who enjoyed my own company and learning everything I could, so it's good to be more like that again. The depression's always there, lurking in the background, but I sometimes go a few weeks at a time without any prolonged episodes. Long enough to start feeling like I'm healing or that my emotions have some concept of cause and effect again. Then down I slam again, sometimes for a day or two, other times for weeks, and it feels like I've made no progress at all. In these periods my mind and my emotions are constantly at war, particularly when I'm alone and/or it's quiet. My mind is calm for the most part, and well aware I'm strong and capable and have strategies and I actively work on those in spite of the depression. My emotions, on the other hand, are running about with flags chock full of negative messages and even though I know it's not (or even close) I feel like everything is collapsing, that I can't deal with it and I just want everything to stop. That's where I'm at, today.
I do have an amazing partner now, who is extremely supportive, and has helped me immensely. My current problem is that I need my friends and family, too. I so rarely have time that isn't ruined by unsociable work hours and also the energy and will to socialise, but my friends are seldom available when I do. In those times I know it may be weeks or months before I can see them again, and I miss them, and that's mostly when I crash again these days. Dunno how to fix that yet, but I need to vent, and here I am. Getting better but having a really crap day.
Ran out of characters again. I do waffle, I know. Mmm, waffles...
Sorry, got distracted. What I was going to add was how it's good to be on the other side of things sometimes and help people, and that's what's happening here on this forum and places like it. It's what you and others are doing, and hopefully what I'm doing a bit of, too. There's power in knowing the struggles we've gone through and the knowledge we've gained have not been entirely in vain.
On a related note, there's a school of thought that's opposite to those with no compassion for we depressed sorts, and it's the one that doesn't want to burden us. I remind my other half often that no matter how messed up I get, I am always here for him. My partner's happiness is integral to my own, and especially when I'm feeling kind of lost and hopeless in myself, being able to help him with his troubles or just make him smile is not only great in itself but reminds me that even if I'm not being much use to myself in the immediate, I have something to offer that is important to someone.
Just a thought or two, a bit off the initial topic.
Firstly, I respect how self aware you are. I think you should know that.
I actually used to be like that...plans, plans, plans...it was drilled into me by my parents (not the most nurturing people) and there wasn't any room for movement or change. They assume that you can know what you'll want to be at 16 and keep true to that by the age of 40. Mix in some severe depression and you have a sad, sad little Joelle. Depression has actually changed me, not that I define myself by it, just that I am...malleable now. I think everyone on here is that way. We all have goals, the fact that we are all surviving is a testament to that, and we all struggle to have them, to keep them. When I feel good it's too easy to aim high, and when I work my way toward that and depression kicks in, I wonder how I ever thought I could do anything. So you have to remember why. And definitely, setbacks feel like you're back at the starting point, displacement is zero. I think it's great that you put in the research and implement what you think will work and push through with that despite what you are feeling. Even if you haven't reached a milestone yet with that, the fact that you're trying is commendable. Personally, I don't think there is a quick fix for depression. Just time and grunt work. Trying a thousand different things a thousand different times in a thousand different ways. Definitely, when it comes to big goals, always remember why. My current big goal, doing a Master's in Biomedical Engineering. Right now, I'm in grunt work territory. So I remember why.
I'm sorry that your friends have similar issues, but it is great that you have someone you can physically contact who understands. It's tough work huh, trying not to be too disheartened? 7 cups will do in a pinch. Unfortunately, I don't have the answer to solving loneliness. We are here for you on here. I agree with you, it helps a lot when you're on the other side providing support, renews some amount of self confidence, and a feeling of solidarity, and you get to speak out. Every encounter I have had in real life, I have walked away thinking I haven't said anything that was of importance. Another wasted chance. I could have said more. Here though, I feel like my voice is heard, and that means a lot to me.
Yes, I have come across that in the past. And it does help to provide that support, it is like a beacon, something good and tangible.
I agree. Waffles, mmm...
Our experience differs, there. I was never pushed too hard by my parents about anything. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. Probably good, as I'm a stubborn git when I'm pushed. My goals have been my own, chosen by myself as an adult, and for the most part have been fairly modest, but done from the standpoint of someone coming from next to nothing, well behind the rest of the herd, and just not expecting to catch up. And when you see the herd from behind, the view ain't that pretty anyway, so I wasn't much interested in following. Sometimes remembering why I was reaching for a goal was enough, but mostly it was a matter of why not? If I didn't do X, an intollerable situation would remain the same or get worse. So I doggedly got about doing X. That's my life experience since well before my general cranky and cynical nature evolved into full blown clinical depression. If I don't swim, I sink, so swimming it is (or at least a pitiful dog paddle). In that way, depression isn't really new territory for me. What is, is the way I can't quite shrug that off the way I used to.
I admit I had to Wiki biomedical engineering for a more specific idea of what you're studying, but I like the sound of it. If you don't mind me asking, is your depression part of your motivation, in terms of contributing to diagnosis/monitoring/potential therapies? Or something else? A worthy pursuit, in either case.
As for solving loneliness, that's a tricky one. For me, the loneliness is a biproduct of depressive episodes. Something triggers me off, then I can't stand my own company and need outside influences to drag me out of my head a bit. If left to my own devices too much in that state the depression gets worse and causes further loneliness and it's a cycle that can be very difficult to break. Still working on that.
this you are one of two people consistently and persistently offering words of encouragement and good sense (the other being my partner). Which isn't to say I don't appreciate the gestures of others on here, or
from various friends outside the digital sphere, but when you're this far down, it's the ones that keep talking that really start to get through. So thank you for that. And for accidentally making me think of
bacon (because that was what I saw where you said "beacon").
Hmmm...when I was 11, with the stubbornness that a child can have (I prefer to call it vehemence), I wanted to be a vet. I don't know why. I loved animals and I loved science. It seemed logical. I made the mistake of telling my parents. My mum, from that moment, every time we'd walk the dogs together, she'd ask me, wouldn't you like to be a proper and do medicine? Wouldn't you like to do medicine? Over and over...and to this day I cannot figure out when I swapped my train of thinking, but medicine was my path. I remember liking medicine, I always knew I wanted to help people, and these qualities were translated to me in such a way that my only option was med. I wasn't pushed but I was cultured in that way. For my parents it was always linear, life. And so my future was set. In the last two years of high school, depression took full swing and I didn't end up doing well. All my teachers noticed, my parents were clueless about it. With my parents, when it came to me, perfect grades were expected, not pushed for. And If I did badly (to them the equivalent of getting Credits), I was berated, there was so much anger and physical expressions of it around me. So when I did badly, which was out of character, I got anger and punishment which left me so lost. It was bad. So, when uni time came, I picked biotech, science pretty much, because it was another chance to try for med. I was an international student in Aus, and by the time I finished uni, they had cut funding to the bone, and students of science straight out of uni had no chance. So I couldn't get the experience required to stay. And being forced to leave, after years of learning how to think independently, I was forced to think about what I really wanted out of life. Keep doing degrees until something stuck? No way. They were actually asking me to consider it. And I realized, I never felt at home in Aus, I was living this lie with end goals that weren't mine. I had severe depression, I was so lost.
Your swimming analogy I can relate to but for me it's a bit attenuated. I've felt like I was floating adrift, occasionally being sucked down into the deep, and I would swim literally to get back to just floating. Now, I'm swimming while on the surface. And I have learned that irrelevant of how strong my stroke, how close my goals are, how on course I am for them, I can get sucked down. Depression...just is.
It's like DNA in cells. It has a finite number of times it can be replicated, at the point, the cell dies and is replaced. Cycles and cycles. Depression, to me, just hits. There doesn't have to be a reason, and I've been struggling with that concept recently as, for the first time in my life I made all my decisions I told people rather than asked for opinions, I didn't listen to the naysayers, everyone can catch up when they're ready. And here I am just, in a really bad bout and trying to manage. So, I understand perfectly where you're coming from. I guess for people like you (and I like to think me) who does the research, puts in the pre-emptive work and does everything right, it's harder to accept because the character type is do the work, succeed. That's what I have understood from your posts, if this is wrong, please tell me.
I just told you most of my life story, haha. Sorry. But, for as long as you want/need, of course I will keep talking. You help me also, I like to think this is symbiotic. And thank you for hearing me. I appreciate it. I recently "outed" myself to my parents about my depression and...they made jokes, and they don't want to remember, so I can't even talk about it. So, this is where my outlet is. Don't have any physical friends in this country either. So loneliness just seems to echo off the walls for me. I understand completely about not wanting to be in your own company, so I hope you find an outlet somewhere. What about going out for a walk with your very supportive partner? Maybe it doesn't have to be more complicated than that in the short term?
Biomed Eng...I love science. the mechanics of the body fascinates me. I've been down the pure science road and it's too microscopic. You pick a study and you focus right in, and at that point, you can't see too much else. I prefer a macroscopic take on science. Interconnection between all the sciences, because that's how the body works ultimately. I realized I didn't want to do med because it wasn't enough for me (not that I don't respect doctors) I just wanted more innovation than effecting things that have already been done. I also realized I can help people in more ways than just med. Plus, this would also satisfy the creative part in my brain. Incorporating everything might mean some satisfaction/happiness in life. I'm taking my risk. I hope that explains it...I can ramble sometimes.
I had to stop and think for a bit about your interpretation of my stance on things (i.e. do the work, succeed), and I concluded that's an aspect, but a long way from the whole picture. It's as much about logic and precedent. If I haven't tried something before, I can't guarantee my chosen path will succeed. If there are a lot of variables, particularly humans, which are largely outside of my control, I *definitely* can't guarantee my path will succeed. If I've had a particular problem before (i.e. one of these episodes) and something has worked before, I expect a reasonable chance of success, especially when using a combination of equally good techniques that have worked for me in the past. If my research has turned up high rates of success with a certain solution applied to a specific problem (a path of logic, if not experience), again, I estimate a reasonable chance of success. When both precedent and logic fail to yield results, I have a problem (i.e. the current little episode I'm not doing a great job of getting out of).
I won't assume you live it the same way I do or that the causes are directly relatable, but in terms of my own experience, I'm going to have to disagree with you on depression just hitting without a reason. I'm perfectly convinced that whilst this bout is a lot harder to work with than usual, there is a reason for it. I have spent a lot of time dissecting the lead-up to and duration of this episode, and have turned up a lot of little niggling things I hardly noticed on their own (and I think there are more to find), but which have snowballed into a great mess for me. I wasn't well for a bit, a while ago. Not badly ill either but my digestion was, shall we say, a little too regular. As a result, I was hungry a lot, which food wasn't satisfying for long, the hunger was keeping me awake, the sleeplessness made me need energy for which I was even more hungry, and so the cycle kept going around. Add shift work and a neighbour that won't shut up, and you have one extremely stressed person. Stressed and tired person reacts more easily to triggers, past events surface and demand to be dealt with, etc. etc. So while nothing huge is going wrong in my life that wasn't already askew and being worked on, a bit of an upset stomach threw the whole balance out of whack. It's entirely possible if you really pull apart the nuts and bolts of it you could find the same sort of game of connect-the-dots in your own relapses.
No need to apologise for sharing your story, by the way. I'm glad you did, and doubly so to know I'm of some help to you. Sounds like you've been pretty isolated for a long time, and having more meaningful communication in your life is high on your list of priorities. I'm sorry to hear your parents have been so unsupportive and lacking in understanding.
If you don't mind me making an observation, and obviously I do this without the full range of knowledge to draw from so may be a bit off, but it seems to me like you have plenty of reason to be fighting with depression in the here and now, and aren't being pulled down senselessly at all. It may not be that some huge thing is going wrong right now, but that the past is catching up with you, and/or that on some level you're realising that just because something you're going through now isn't half as bad as before, it's still not okay and you deserve better.
You said you're in the grunt work stage of your education, that you don't really have any friends to physically be with here, and that your parents expect big things of your grades and chastise you otherwise. So basically it's been a while since a milestone, and you don't have someone to be there and encourage you or support you when you struggle, or celebrate with you when you succeed or do have a milestone? That would make me pretty damn sad, and it would remind me of all the other times it was like that, which would make me feel worse. You have reason to be down, you have the right to want better and you're not the only one who has been there or felt like that, so it's not senseless or hopeless at all.
I could be wrong, and tell me if I am, but I think like me you prefer to look forward not backward and work at making things better, but sometimes the past keeps hanging onto our heels and slowing us down. Stuff you've been through is obviously still weighing on you, as is the case for me. I keep finding that little things in the present unearth stuff long past that I didn't even realise had bothered me so much. I guess it's in the same way that you can have a hard week at work, running on coffee and adrenaline, and only when you start to wind down on the week-end does the cold that's been chasing you finally take hold and you spend all of what should have been your fun time in bed with the sniffles.
Another ramble, but it's food for thought, and in contemplating your situation, I've got a slightly better handle on my own. It's a good thing.
Okay, I understand the reasoning. Your chances have a higher probability of succeeding if you base you attempt to solve the problem based on experience and logic.
I didn't mean to imply that it occurred without reason, I meant more that it existed around the good and the bad. For me anyway. This is actually a newer version of my thinking based on last year and this year. I do have plenty of things troubling me. I know this. And you are right, I tend not to look in the past except to learn from, put it in my experience pile. Just that last year, I felt lost and I was, I was uprooted from a place I've spent my entire adult life in, I left everything behind to come to a place that is trigger city for me. I had no goals, I couldn't even bring myself to think about them. Based on that, I thought setting some goals, in increments (which I have done), worked hard at it and contributed to that bigger goal, plus lose some weight (done) with a lifestyle change, I did everything right, what my psych said what I thought, and yes this Biomed thing I want it, but irrelevant of all that, here I am in this pit, struggling to function again, and I have more functioning to do. When it comes to this depression, for me, one part of my brain knows the linear causes from my environment, can put it down to brain chemistry and development because of that environment, and the second part that laughs as it bowls the other one over.
It's funny you should talk about my past actually, because all these people I have spoken to tell me that there was reason in my childhood and reason now for me to have depression, and I don't even think of it that way. So I am unable to fully accept depression because it hasn't fully been justified to me. Now, sure there are reasons, but this has been going on a while. My counsellor actually laughed at this because I said that it could have been worse.
Yea, this is why I don't like the "coping" mechanism of distraction, it just hits harder when you're alone.
I guess it is a matter of replacing the heavy weight with something lighter (says the person who has no idea how...)
I'm glad you're having some self-realization while talking things through, always helps 🙂
It makes more sense when you say it exists around the good and the bad. That's true to my experience as well. My take on that is that it's kind of like a tree (this is a loose analogy, but bear with me). A tree takes years to grow. When it falls, it takes as many years to rot. Likewise, it can take years for depression to form. Even once the circumstances that kicked it off are gone or diminished, it's apt to take just as long to rot. Longer, if you consider that life pressures continue on and feed any negativity that remains. I think these crashes we have are as much the past catching up with us as anything. But as much as they're brain chemistry and such, and tend to bowl over our logical processes, I also think they're communicating with us. Pain exists to tell us to stop what we're doing and dig out the splinter (or fence post, as the case may be).
Like me, you're working your behind off to overcome current problems and create a better life for yourself. (I love your outlook on Biomed, and that it ticks all the boxes for your creativity and desire to help people.) And the past is the past. You're onward and upward. Except things in the present have a way of linking back and kicking us in the teeth. I've found I've really had to stop and examine exactly why things are triggering me off. How many things went by while I was just surviving that I never really managed to address properly at the time? I'm a thinking person, not a feeling person, so I always rationalised and compartmentalised, and continued on my way. Now I'm a big fat depression sandwich, I've had to admit I'm no robot (sadly, because robots are cool) and that emotions figure into my existence and altogether too many things relating to it, whether I like it or not. So here I am periodically getting really ****ing sad at little things and having to stop and go "well, that thing X years ago really, really bothered me and this reminds me of it". It's been an eye-opener, and not a pretty one, and I've found a bunch of splinters so far this time, and some broken glass, and gravel... you get the idea.
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