Last week I told you the beginnings of my journey and how my walk with depression, anxiety and insomnia started. I also launched the first part of the Inside My Head series, so please check that out as well to see how my condition affects me.
Today, I’d like to take you for a little walk down another couple of roads I travelled. This post does touch on the topic of self-harm so be aware that there is a potential trigger involved. As for the post, it’s nothing too fancy, just the overview. Let’s walk.
Very early on in my journey, not long after I eventually went to see the doctor, I was medicated for my condition. It’s one of the treatments for depression, usually coupled with some form of therapy, whether that’s psychotherapy or cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll find that quite a few of the people you know take medication to manage their condition.
So as I said, I’m medicated for it. It’s been a rocky and arduous journey, my walk with the medication, because it’s a constant struggle of trial and error. Even as I write this to you now, ten months or so down the line, my medication is being changed because it’s not as effective as it could be.
In truth: there is no one size fits all.
From what the doctors have told me, medication is a way of stabilising the condition. Whether it’s a chemical imbalance, environmental factors or other stressors that are causing the depression, medication is the quick fix designed to put you in a better place, better able to cope with life. There are many different forms of this medication and there is not one that is better than the others. Because everyone is so different, it can take a while for you to find the right medication for you. As I said: I’m still trying.
Despite some of the stigma attached to medication, however, there is nothing wrong with it. I admit unashamedly that I need the medication to cope. As I am being stepped off the old one ready for the new one, I am struggling. I do need it. Some people take it for life. You might not, I might not, but some have to. There is nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all.
As far as some of the problems depressed people can end up in, alcoholism, substance abuse and self-harm are becoming more common. Thankfully I never experienced the first two but self-harm did become a problem quite early on in my journey. Now, I’m not going to say too much about it in this post because I intend to do a series on self-harm later on, so stay tuned for the full untapping of that later. However, I shall give you the overview.
Self-harm, for me, came down to three things:
- A way of feeling
- A distraction technique
To clarify: everyone’s situation is different, so other people might have other reasons but these were the three main ones for me. Let me expand upon them a little for you.
Self-hatred – I guess this is possibly the easiest for you to get your head round. When I was falling into that black spiral, I would look at how I had become and hate it. I was constantly berating myself for not being able to cope as I had always been able to cope before. Part of that is where you don’t always think of depression as a mental illness, you simply expect yourself to be able to cope. So, naturally, that constant mental berating turned into self-harm, a physical way of punishing myself for what I was going through.
A Way of Feeling – OK, this one is a little trickier. Some of you might have experienced this but bear with me. When I am caught in a depressive spiral where my mood is dropping like a stone, thoughts getting blacker by the minute, I find myself in a void. There is no emotion, there is no light and there is no feeling at all. It’s like a total numbness that envelopes me. So you try the comedy films, you try the thrillers or whatever else in an attempt to feel because you want to feel. Trapped in that numb void, you become desperate. Self-harm breaks that void. Inflicting pain is a 100% tried and tested, successful way of making yourself feel. So it helped me feel.
A Distraction Technique – this one relates more to the anxiety side of my condition. See, when I was having anxiety attacks on a regular basis, I needed something to break me out of the cycle that I could focus on. Video games, films, music, all of those were tried but didn’t do quite enough to break the cycle. Inflicting pain, however, did. Imagine for a moment you have a blinding headache that won’t go away. As you’re walking, you stub your toe hard. Suddenly your headache is forgotten as you nurse your toe. A quick fix but effective.
As I said, these are three reasons that attached themselves to my condition, they may be different for others. I shall be unpacking them more in my series on Self-Harm, so stay tuned for that.
Pills and Blades
So there you have it, two of the main factors embedded within my depression. The medication is still an ongoing process to find the one that works for me but I’m confident I will find it someday. As for self-harm, it’s dormant for now. The thoughts come whenever I spiral but I’m in a position now where I can push them aside and use other, better, less harmful techniques. It’s an ongoing journey, however.
But I shall continue to walk it.
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