depression and me

today, i was asked if i had seen the programme called ‘mind games – depression’ in sport. i hadnt, but soon found it on iplayer.

an incredibly well made, honest, open and moving piece of television in which various well known sportsmen talked about their battles with the illness. some real noteworthy quotes, and i would recommend anyone watch it, for a small insight to the impact it has had on some people. at the beginning, one of the quotes said by someone was ‘depression is not discriminatory’. how true is that. depression has the ability to hit you, me, anyone. the rich, the poor. the famous, non famous. it has the ability to hit anyone, regardless of their race, culture, faith, profession, background, past or current circumstance.

whilst not denying, that people whom have had ‘issues’ in the past, perhaps childhood abuse, or significant traumatic events often suffer with mental health illness, and depression, its so important to know that it also hits people without those past circumstances too. there seems to be no rhyme or reasons as to who it chooses, and why … i know people who are unwell and whom have had sad lives, i know people who are unwell who have had reasonably settled lives.

today, i was also asked, by someone different to try and explain it … unpack it more … try and give them some kind of understanding of where i have been at, where i am at, and how depression has been a part of my life. and as i thought of how to go about that process, of telling them what i could, i realised i was not sure how to go about it. what could i say? how could i possibly describe to someone who admits and professes herself to have never had depression so therefor does not understand it what its like?

how is it possible to make that person know what its like … i dont know if it is? or if i should … i guess the only thing i can do is share some of the experience, and give her, you, and whoever is reading this blog the opportunity to know little bits of my story.

the difficult thing is, i am not entirely sure where to begin … my mind does not always think logically, or with a pattern, so i apologise if this comes across as rambling.

in my head i have used a vase to illustrate what was happening to my life. it was a glass vase, holding pretty flowers. those flowers then got chopped at, chipped at, pulled apart, buds taken off, until eventually only the stems were left, and as time went on, they died anyway, and had to be thrown away. So all was left was the glass vase, that held the flowers. just the vase, until one day, that vase was dropped, and it smashed. into lots of pieces. all over the floor. and there they stayed … until for some reason those pieces of smashed glass were picked up … and dropped again … and each piece then crumbled into smaller pieces … and so it continued, over and over, picked up, and dropped, until eventually, all that were left were little shards of glass, so small, so tiny, so smashed they could not be picked up any more … and they couldn’t be smashed any more. it was well and truly broken.

imagine that being a life … my life.

i was slowly being grounded down, into those so very tiny fragments … all that was around me was black.

and i think, actually, that its the black that is the most hardest part of this to explain. obviously the sky was not black … but i guess it could have been. i would have never been surprised if i had one day looked up to see it dark. i cant explain the black. but it was like a cloud, just hovering over me, everywhere i went, surrounding everything i did. it was there, day and night, no escaping from it. it closed me in … and continued to close in on me, as those glass pieces continued to break …

when things become so low, so bad, so dark, you begin to lose all sense of anything, all sense of reality. i began to convince myself no one loved me, i began to convince myself that i was unloveable … and it wasn’t hard doing. i managed to teach myself that my life was not worth anything, and that it didnt matter whether i was here or not. i managed to get into my head that this darkness was life, nothing else existed, and actually, why should it, why would i deserve anything other. why would/should anyone think i am worth anything … and then i turned on myself even more.  i didnt care about myself, believed so heartily that no one else did either, so what did it matter. thats when things took  leap to another level … another level of lowness, that i didnt think was ever possible to reach.

think of a film set … a dreary building, lots of rooms, lots of stairs, red bricked, petty grim on the outside, and not much better on the inside. think of someone being escorted into that building, through the big sliding double doors, and turning left. Going up stairs and to another set of rooms and corridors. Finally stopping at a small room, with one sash type window, half open, a chair, and a sofa. brightly coloured. think of that person, lying on the floor, in a ball, cuddling themselves … underneath the window, and not moving for hours. not moving when the rain fell, and storm began, and they got wet, because the window was open. not moving when a cup of tea was bought in, or the man who had escorted this person into the building sat on the floor and tried to talk. not moving for hours. until the black mascara filled tear drops dried out on the streaky face. until eventually cramp set in. fearfully looking up, to find someone sat on a chair, in the corner of the room. just sitting. watching, and waiting.

i wish it was something from a film … but it wasnt. Isnt. That someone was me. And that escort person was one of the people responsible for me still being here today (for which, now, i am truly grateful!) …

i was lucky that day … i was not kept in. in fact, i was let out, to go home, back to the flat i at that time lived in alone, with regular phone called and 3 x daily visits, despite having made serious attempts to no longer exist.

why had i done that? thinking about  it right now … well, i dont know … i guess i could not see a way out. i could not see an alternative. i could not see any possible way for all those little broken pieces of glass to mend … to fix, to be molded back into something worth having … worth holding, worth loving.

the dark overwhelmed me.

and sometimes, almost two years on from that day, i am still overwhelmed. Depression isnt something that if you just click your fingers it will go away. it isnt something that if you just tell yourself to snap out of it, it will go away. depression is not something that will mend in a few weeks time, like a broken bone, it isnt something that a few pills being taken will solve.

for some, in fact many, for me its a long long journey. one that is painful at times, challenging, hard work, tiring, emotional, scary … it involves being vulnerable … it involves allowing people into my life, allowing people to love me, accepting their care, their love, their support, and that is not always easy. Its fair to say, the last two/three years of my life have seen a small handful of really amazing people, who have walked by my side, and have held my hand all the way. Be it by texts, safe houses to sleep in, phone calls, chocolate bars through the post and many other things. and i truly appreciate that. these people have not judged me, and have accepted me for who i am. in my irrational moments, i fear those people getting bored of me, or that i am too much of a burden to them … however, i only have admiration and love for these beautiful human beings, some of whom are teaching me life is worth living, and that it is possible to live!

for me, this isnt a topic i will write about once, and then thats it, never to be spoken about again. because i will write more about it, in the coming days/weeks/months. more about depression, life, self harm, hurting, and the rollercoaster world of Hmphz.

however, i wanted to write all of the above, to throw it out there a bit more … especially after watching this documentary, and the candid bravery these famous people had telling their story.

thank you for reading.

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slow fade

the official casting crowns video has had me in tears. not that that is a hard thing to achieve at the moment. i seem to cry at anything slightly emotional right now. but maybe this song and video is particularly relevant.

“Slow Fade” – Casting Crowns

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

thank you.

On Friday night, I answered a call bell. As I walked in to the room of the patient who had rung it, the man half smiled and said how pleased he was I was there. As I asked him what I could do for him, I realised the tears that were in his eyes.
He had rung, to ask me to turn the television on for him, because he had wanted to watch the Festival of Remembrance that is held every year, and shown on the T.V. He told me about the poppy’s.  He thought he had missed it already but wanted to check.As I turned on the box for him, and started flicking through his tv magazine, he began to recall a story of a friend of his. A war time friend who has passed on. Every word this man spoke to me, was spoken with choked up tears.  Just thinking about the war for this 90 something year old gentleman fills him with such emotion. How I managed not to cry myself was a miracle. I was close to it.

 

I explained to him that the festival, with the music, and the parades was not being shown until the Saturday evening, and I promised him I would make sure he had his television on at the right time, and on the right channel so he could watch it the next night. In my job we are not supposed to make promises, well definitely not ones we are not going to be able to keep, but I was damned adamant I would keep this one.  I wrote on the board for all staff, for the next day, and as it happened, I was there the next day anyway.

So, I set him up to watch it.  I ended up working late anyway that night, so halfway through the programme, I slipped into his room, and sat with him for 20 minutes. In the chair next to him, I sat, with my poppy on, he in his chair with his poppy on. And he put his hand over mine.  He told me another story.

We talked a little more, about the war. And I was able to simply say ‘thank you Mr P- for your contribution’. There didn’t need to be anything else said. And you know what he said back ‘Your Welcome’.

The whole experience with this veteran left me in tears literally. Partly because of his emotion, partly because of the whole remembrance thing, the whole concept of people fighting, people dying, for freedom. For me. People gave their today so I could have THIS day. And because I have never been in the presence of such an emotional elderly person, at this time, and been able to say Thank you.

So, that was Fri/Sat night … but today its Wednesday. Remembrance Day. The 11th day, of the 11th month. And so, at the 11th hour, today, I walked into town, to stand with over 200 other people at our local memorial/cenotaph.  I bumped into a couple of people I know, and so together we stood. And 11am exact an old solder, in his attire, with his medals played ‘the last post’.  Watching these veterans with their flags, hearing the last post, and seeing young men and woman who are currently serve standing to attention was again emotional. As was seeing over 200 people go silent. And know right behind me was the main shopping centre/area of our town, and also knowing that that had gone silent. The main walkway, which is always full of hustle, people laughing, talking, on phones, children, cars near the car park. For those 2 minutes, it was silent. It was pure SILENCE.

And in those two minutes we/ I remembered. Remembered the brave men and woman who went out into the line of fire. Who went out to serve our country.  To serve the people of our country. In previous years, I have remembered the wars. And the elderly people who fought in them. But this year, as a little tear fell, and yes I am not embarrassed to admit it did, I thought of those people, my belated and beloved grandparents who were both involved.  But I was also thinking of those who are out there serving now. Those people in the forces now. People who are dying NOW.

Remembrance Day is no longer just about then … it is about then and NOW too.

I would like to point out, that by writing this blog, I am not making a political statement. I am not, and do not want to do that.  In fact, on this day, no political statement needs to be made. This isn’t about agreeing or not agreeing with the war. Or the wars.

this is about, regardless of our views and opinions remembering and giving respect to those brave people. Bravery I am not so sure I could possess.

I guess, for me, also, as I grow older, and become more aware of history, it all becomes more poignant, maybe because I grew up with a military background. Both my parents are now retired from service, but they both served.

As a child, my early memories are of living in family quarters, housing estates with wires round, and gates to go through with ID cards. My later childhood memories, especially those of visiting my father, especially when he lived on base was of security and such things. At the time, , when you are young, you don’t really know so much. You just know ‘Dad’ goes away for long periods of time, you just know that he is off doing something but you never potentially realise exactly what or how potentially dangerous it could be.

I am lucky though, I have my parents. Some children grow up not knowing their mother, or their father.

After the ceremony, this morning, I went to pick a few bits, and then walked back through the memorial gardens. People had disintegrated. So I was able to walk right up to the memorial. A couple of RAF guys were loitering, chatting, but it had gone pretty quiet. Looking at the poppy wreaths, I again remembered the service my grandparents did, my parents, friends and family I know, and all the other people who have made sacrifices, and for many the ultimate sacrifice.

I took off my little poppy, which I have been wearing all week, and laid it on the stone, among all the big tributes. Small in comparison …

But it was my way of showing respect … remembering … and saying ‘thankyou’.

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before the throne

before the throne … of god above , i have a strong, a perfect plea, a great high priest whose name is Love, whoever lives and pleads for me.

my name is graven on His hands, my name is written on His heart, I know that while in heaven He stands, No tongue can bid me thence depart

when Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of my guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied, To look on Him and pardon me.

behold Him there the risen Lamb, my perfect spotless righteousness,the great unchangeable I am, the King of Glory and of grace. One with Himself I cannot die, my soul is purchased by His blood, my life is hid with Christ on high, with Christ my Savior and my God

– Charitie Lees Bancroft, 1863

 

i went to a celebratory event at church in the week. it was the graduation of a year long course i have been involved in. one session every month, meeting with mentors etc throughout and looking at the idea of leadership. i had been asked to join the course as a participant, and despite my minister knowing my views and difficulties with conformed worship, he still thought i would be good to do the course. i felt honoured to be asked. honoured that they felt i was good enough. so i did the course. its been a interesting ride, an interesting 12 months, especially with my up and down moods, various events happening and life continuing basically. but this week saw the end of the course, where we all got together, ate lovely cake, drank champagne and celebrated a journey.

for many people, the course has affirmed their leadership roles, for some, who currently has no leadership responsibility it has been about thinking about what they could do.  what God is calling them to do. for me, its been about what i am NOT called to do. i guess i have gone the opposite direction to the the majority of people on the course, but its been none the less just as important.

anyway, i am not big on corporate worship. not big on singing songs, and especially not so good at the hymn variety, yet for some reason, when we all got together near the end of our evening together, to worship, my soul stirred. I have vaguely been aware of the song ‘ before the throne of god above’ for a long time, but have never actually sung it, listened to the tune. its just been one of those ‘old’ songs i ‘dont do’ and dont connect with. but for some reason, while standing there, watching 30 people or so passionately sing it, i found myself singing the words. well, trying to sing the words. trying to sing them , because actually i couldnt. right from the very beginning of the song, the tears fell. and as hard as i tried, i couldnt stop. i couldnt stop crying.

and its left me weepy ever since!

not quite the normal reaction to a hymn huh? cry, cry and cry some more? (not that i sing many songs)

the song gives me shivers down my spine. and i dont know why. the song stirs in me some bit of emotion and i am not sure why. the song leaves me in bits, and i am not totally sure why.

maybe its the thought of being before the throne of God, maybe its my name being written on His hand …

maybe its the fact that i know so often i live in despair, but that maybe i should be able to look up and see Him there. maybe  its coz sometimes i dont.

maybe its lots of things. i had so much i wanted to write about this song, but my mind has gone blank now.

i find life so hard sometimes.