The Storm Before the Calm
We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘the calm before the storm’. The eerie silence that often descends before a really big storm hits. It’s a phrase often used in films and literature to convey the moment of peace before the big dramatic upset.
Yet it isn’t always so. With the weather, more often the pressure that builds before a good thunderstorm is stifling. It builds and builds until it explodes in a sky full of electricity and noise.
For me, there is no better analogy for how my head feels when I am caught in a depressive spiral. The onslaught of thoughts, the self annihilation, the stresses that build to a point where I cannot cope… It’s chaos that escalates to a point where it explodes.
When I’m at that point I can barely function. I stop speaking. I operate on autopilot. I will physically distance myself from people, or I hide. If I do talk it’s disjointed, I struggle for words, I stutter or cannot get a sentence together.
Sometimes there is only one way to find peace from the tempest in my head.
I self harm.
The flood of chemicals that this action releases into my bloodstream soothes me and restores my balance and I regain control once more.
Since my depression emerged at 15 years old, and in the nearly 25 years since, I have been battling off and on with the storms within my head. I have gone for months, sometimes even years without having to resort to my most drastic measures to find calm. I know that ultimately it’s not a good solution. But sometimes when I’m in the most extreme spirals, it’s the only solution I’ve found that works.
Like everyone, my journey is unique to me. I make choices, both good and bad as to how I deal with my mental health, but the important thing is that I’m still making the decisions. I’m not giving up.
Even if I fall, I pick myself back up because I decided a long time ago that not getting back up wasn’t an option. I’m stubborn like that.
Take for example my decision to not go down the medication route. When I was a teenager I was prescribed anti-depressants to help with my depression, but I found I didn’t feel like me, that my own personality was deadened by them. So instead I opted to follow a therapy-only treatment plan. As an adult, I often wonder if this was the best option; I question whether I would still be battling with my demons to this day if I’d opted for a different course of treatment. But it was my choice and one that I’ve stubbornly stuck to. Yes, it’s sometimes hard when you’re battling with your own mind and I recognise that medication would probably make it easier. I also fully support anyone taking medication, it works for them.
But for me, the tools I got from therapy work 99% of the time. They’ve helped me to support others too, even if it’s just spotting the signs that someone is struggling. By learning to recognise the behaviours and symptoms in myself, it’s helped me when dealing with friends and family who are struggling too.
So while having depression has been exhausting, debilliating and terrible, I also wouldn’t change it. I know that sounds insane, but for all the storms there’s been some pretty significant moments of sunshine. Being involved in this website is a pretty big one.
We’ve been able to make connections with people who are struggling, provide them with much needed support when they need it most. To me that’s a pretty big ray of sunshine.
I guess that’s the point of this post. I suffer from depression, I have gone through more mental storms than I’d care to count. The important thing is I have survived 100% of my bad days and that’s what I want for everyone struggling to do. Survive.
I’d like to leave you with a short quote from one of my favourite movies-The Crow. It’s something I say to myself when it feels like the storm is never ending.
‘It can’t rain all the time’
Good luck to you all, and if the storm is too bad we’ll be here with an umbrella.
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