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Friend or foe? Tuesday November 15, 2016

Traditionally a fortress is a place of security and safety; a stronghold to protect those within from the invading marauders on the outside, particularly once the drawbridge is pulled up. The 'enemy' can be viewed from the safe vantage point of the ramparts, shot at through arrow slits or doused in boiling oil, if one is that way inclined.

But the fortress of my depression, which has built itself up around me, tends to do just the opposite. The thick impenetrable walls seem to set me apart from the world outside, muffle my senses, trap me in, keeping me distanced from all that's out there to be seen, felt and experienced.

Continuing with the metaphor, I do keep fighting and try so hard to do all that I can to partake in life. I take my battering ram and batter that drawbridge. I go for a run: bam! I go to the gym: bam! I meet with friends: bam! I volunteer twice a week: bam! I work part-time: bam! I sing in a choir: bam! I spend time with my family and my 5 gorgeous, funny, naughty little grandchildren (I'm so lucky to be a young Grannie) bam bam bam!!

These are all things that are recommended for good mental health, but I've just somehow gravitated towards such activities or they're part of my life anyway. Yet somehow it's never enough and I've still had so many days of late where I've not wanted to keep fighting; keep trying; keep living. And I pull the drawbridge up myself.

So yes, the sunlight sometimes shines through the arrow slits, but generally I feel as if I can't ever break out to truly smell, hear and experience a world that isn't muted and dulled. And I can't quite accept either, that perhaps this should be enough.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Sally Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 6:44am

Have you ever read Dorothy Rowe's Depression: The Way Out Of Your Prison ? I found it to be very helpful 20 years ago...just a thought.
You write beautifully, Dragonfly. I'm sorry if I am repeating myself as you have written on here before, but the images you convey are so visible, so true,,so sad too. I am so sorry that you are experiencing a really hard time of depression, and wonder who is holding you by the hand through it . Do you find counselling any use for you? Can you pinpoint any cause for your depression this time?
Too many questions ,I know, and you have probably tried most things...
Just...commiserations, then, and be kind to yourself. And know that here on Moodscopers, we care. Thaank you Dragonfly, for making me realise how lucky I am to be free of depression for the moment...
It somehow reminded me of just how bad it can feel . You put it so well. I could sense your real struggle. Don't give up. Virtual hugs. Sally xx

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 2:41pm

Hello Sally. This is actually my first blog - I've only posted a few tentative comments before, so thank you for the encouragement and hugs. And also for your book recommendation which is one I haven't read yet x

Orangeblossom Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 7:36am

Thanks Dragonfly. A great blog! At one time or another, your words have linked in to my own feelings.

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 3:01pm

Thank you for your encouragement x

LP Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 7:36am

Hi Dragonfly,
I agree with Sally about your analogy and writing paints such a vivid picture. I'm glad that despite this you still do the lovely things that you like that connect you to others. I love your name and love how a dragonfly wouldn't feel trapped even if the castle is there. You're an inspiring young g'ma! Keep enjoing those lovely children! Love to all. LPxx

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 3:11pm

Hello LP Yes, I think of a dragonfly as shimmering and ethereal. I wrote of one in a creative piece when I was studying and I've been quite captivated by them ever since. Perhaps there's something in the fact that I've chosen a creature which can flit and escape - that hadn't really occurred to me before! I am pleased to be involved with all that I do, as I also know what it's like to barely be able to get out of bed for months, but it's not without momumental effort some days. The little ones are a joy and I love their simplistic view on life - my little grandson asked me yesterday what colour hiccups are. Perhaps there's a blog in that! x

LP Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 11:27pm

Oh that must be the sweetest question I've ever heard! Yes nothing makes me more happy than seeing children happy:) xx

Hopeful One Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 7:56am

Hi Dragonfly-You write beautifully and so flowing. Yes depression can fill like a prison( to me it felt more like a goldfish bowl- I could see the outside but could not connect with it and neither could they even though we could see each other). The point to bear in mind is that the prison is of our own making (sorry if it sounds harsh) but at the same time we also have the keys to the doors. You are doing a great job of trying out different keys.Is it possible to add meditation? Apart from NEVER losing Hope that things would get better, things would improve ,I would say this was the Key that allowed me to let myself out.

And acquiring the ability to laugh( having noticed that depressed people rarely laugh) .This joke contains adult material which some may find offensive.

A petrol station owner in Dublin was trying to increase his sales, so he put up a sign that read,'Free Sex with Fill-Up!'Paddy pulled in, filled his tank and asked for his free sex. The owner told him to pick a number from 1 to 10. If he guessed correctly, he would get his free sex. Paddy guessed 8, and the proprietor said, "You were close. The number was 7. Sorry. No sex this time."

A week later, Paddy, along with his friend Mick, pulled in for another fill-up. Again he asked for his free sex. The proprietor again gave him the same story, and asked him to guess the correct number.
Paddy guessed 2. The proprietor said, "Sorry, it was 3. You were close, but no free sex this time."

As they were driving away, Mick said to Paddy, "I think that game is rigged and he doesn't really give away free sex at all."
Paddy replied, "No, no, it's genuine enough Mick. Me wife won twice last week."

Melanie Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 9:19am

Thank you Hopeful One for your time in writing out this joke - it had me laugh and smile this morning!

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 2:57pm

Hello Hopeful One and thank you. Yes, it's about the connectedness of feeling, however we might describe it. I have tried meditation (Headspace) and Mindfulness in the past, which did help, but I've never felt I've really kicked depression into touch. I've let these lapse of late and at the moment they feel like something I perhaps 'should' be trying again. I always enjoy your jokes, so keep those coming. The thing is I do have a good sense of humour - often verging on the ridiculous - and often have something to laugh about. My little ones come out with some absolute gems. I know when I stop finding things so amusing that I'm really in trouble. It's hard not to lose hope sometimes, but I do, for the most part, intend to keep looking for that key.

Hopeful One Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 10:05pm

Hi Dragonfly - it's a shame you gave up meditation having found it useful before. Meditation is subtle , intangible but profound. So I hope you do take it up again. May I suggest hat you treat it like one treats brushing one's teeth- we sometimes don't want to do it but we know it's a 'good' thing and worth doing. If you have a good sense of honour as you claim you are already half way there!

Melanie Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 9:18am

Dear Dragonfly, thank you so much for your blog - I can so relate and identify with what you say. Please never give up and think this is all there is. For me, I keep pushing back by finding self-development tools that increase my understanding of myself and others. I follow whatever I am drawn to - Hay House is a great fertile area for inspiration and learning - Robert Holden on Hay House Radio, Teal Swan with her recent book the Completion Process to transform trauma. My theory is that all that we suffer from - whatever its flavour - depression, alcoholism, overeating, codependency etc - it all comes from the same source - trauma in childhood - and as we learn to feel our feelings and stop running away and find processes (such as Teal Swan's or possibly Brandon Bays The Journey) to heal that trauma, great shifts occur. Also finding communities where we can speak of our inner world and hear others speak of theirs - such as this one or a 12 step group of some sort are so helpful as we realise we are not by any means alone. Lots of love, Melanie

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 2:59pm

Dear Melanie, thank you too. I admire your resourcefulness. You've given me quite some food for thought and some new and really interesting things to consider and explore x

Melanie Thu, Nov 17th 2016 @ 12:52pm

I am glad! Thank you for your reply and making me smile today! X

Sophie Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 10:00am

Dragonfly, you have explained my feelings perfectly, thank you for sharing with us. It is an effort, isn't it?! It's exhausting trying so hard to fight against things every day. But if we don't fight, we give in, and surely that would be worse? 'Struggle is good, it means you haven't given up' x

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 3:13pm

Hello Sophie, yes it can be exhausting and I'm sorry if things aren't so easy for you either right now. Having said that, there's strength and positivity in your words x

the room above the garage Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 1:17pm

Hello Dragonfly, how great to see you writing. I think you've just uncovered an important point, you feel it should be enough but it is not enough. If your body and mind had reached a plateau you would feel differently. This is not bad news. It simply means there will be more changes until a point is reached when you feel ok. Have you ever tried meditation? From a sceptic of the highest order about 18 months ago...I'm a convert. Its helped me to feel again. For me, it has been like someone tidying my mind by filing everything. Its all still there, but it has somewhere to be. And as things are filed, I find I have space to see and feel the better stuff. Even just a little. do you feel now you have written about it? Enjoyed reading this today, thank you for it, love ratg x.

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 3:58pm

Sorry, for some reason my reply to you is below, rather than here!

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 3:55pm

Hello Ratg. You're very perceptive - about mind and body needing to fall into alignment. The difficult thing is that making those changes, or finding the key appears to be a life's work for me (as I'm sure it is for many) and the struggle can, at times, feel overwhelming and, as Sophie mentioned, quite exhausting. I'm so pleased meditation helped you. As I replied to HO, I did Headspace for quite some time. Actually it's just brought back a lovely memory of when I visited Crete a couple of years ago. I found a rock overlooking a beautiful bay of sparkling blue waters and sat there each day to do my meditation. I think it did help with brain filing but for some reason I've let it lapse. Possibly because the 15 and 20 minute meditations began to feel like a chore. It is something I've thought of revisiting lately, but that in itself feels a bit overwhelming right now because nothing seems to help make the real shift I feel I need.

And about writing - truthfully? Despite all the lovely comments, I worry that I've made other people feel depressed! Thank you so much though for your encouragement x

The Gardener Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 5:41pm

A good 'shot in the arm' Dragonfly - in the resonance of fighting the demons and partake in life. I am trying to be sensible, organised, study Mr G's needs, avoid confrontation. I've had a super achieving day, leaving me free to sit with him companionably - interesting radio, I'm peacefully sewing up a new creation for my shop - the room is, in everybody's opinion, 'congenial'. But I'm in the goldfish bowl - with a predator - boring into my mind, trying to stay rational myself is difficult. A daughter-in-law said, after working 5 years with Alzheimers that Mr G will never be happy again. HO mentioned laughter - I don't think I'm hysterical when I go out - but I've always had a warped sense of humour - and I find humour in so much. Melanie thinks our problems stem from a traumatic childhood - I've always reckoned that you will be 'scarred' but strength, resilience and getting on with things will win through. Mr G, like me, had a war childhood. His home life was serene in spite of the horrors outside (serene going on dull) yet he grew up uncertain and lacking confidence. His mother was very scathing of him, so perhaps Melanie has got something - I think the extreme racketiness of my lot at least gave me a huge experience of life - extreme highs and lows. My parents break-up was bitter, a bitterness which shadowed their lives. I think I over-react to the huge increase of broken homes - imaging the traumas and rows which led up to the actual fracture.

Melanie Thu, Nov 17th 2016 @ 12:57pm

Just in case you come back to this dear The Gardener - the trauma in childhood can be anything - even being weaned - think how vulnerable we are as children, how dependent on those around us for safety, nurturing, validating etc lots of love, Melanie

The Gardener Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 6:54pm

Coping with a dreadful evening, talking rubbish - forgive a raving old lady - will watch a super French programme on the scandalous Duchesse du Berry - nothing like a good scandal with lots of pretty clothes to cheer one up. Although clothes to go to the guillotine in are not going to be in fashion

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 10:25pm

Dear Gardener, your first post helped me imagine such a lovely tableau of calm, companionship and peaceful creativity after a busy day. I do think that you have such resilience and inner strength. Keep laughing - no matter how silly, and I hope you enjoy your French programme. We talk of 'gallows humour', so why not 'guillotine chic'?!

Salt Water Mum Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 7:46pm

Thank you Dragonfly, I too can relate to everything you say.

And thanks Sophie for your quote - 'Struggle is good, it means you haven't given up'
I needed to hear that today.


Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 10:26pm

Hello SWM, I'm so pleased that my blog has provoked a quote from Sophie which has been helpful for you today x

Mary Wednesday Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 8:52pm

Hey Dragonfly - fabulous writing - such a powerful metaphor! Having just fired off five blogs all about just where I am right now in the darkness without struggling at all - maybe I should be fighting more - but I am just so damn tired. It seems with my depression it comes and it goes and I have no control or influence over it at all. Believe me, if I had, I would be so all over it! (As my American friends would say). It's only coming up for 9pm, yet it feels like three in the morning already. I am exhausted and will wish you a good night. This is an amazing first blog - you are brilliant. Please write more!

Dragonfly Tue, Nov 15th 2016 @ 10:41pm

Thank you Mary, praise indeed! I can relate to the tiredness you mention - I often feel I could sleep for England; just lay my head down and sleep the rest of my life away. And if only I weren't so tired, my head clearer, well then I could think through this fog and find inspiration to write as regularly and exceptionally as you and others do. Perhaps fighting isn't always the right term to use and I don't want to imply that any of us has more strength than the other. It's often just a case of trying to keep my head above water (so many metaphors!)because I have wasted years with inertia and a few terrible months of barely being able to get out of bed. Quite a few years ago now, but I never want to revisit that time. It's about trying to keep living and having a purpose even though the effort is often monumental and sometimes feels too hard. I'd be wrong to give the impression that my life is without enjoyment, but it always feels veiled and rather dulled. To go back to the damn tiredness again, I finally, after nearly a year of waiting, have an appointment next month for a fatigue clinic. This is a slightly different approach by my GP and ... well, I just don't know yet!

Nicco Thu, Nov 17th 2016 @ 12:25pm

I admire you for the way you are not giving up but keeping on zapping that drawbridge, dragonfly, and just want to encourage you to keep on keeping on. All you have written resonates with me. During my episodes it's like I'm behind a glass screen or behind a window in a shop where everyone on the other side can't hear me, few see me and when they do they can't hear or understand what I'm saying. It's like everything is happening in slow motion, including my speech, so they can't understand me. I try to get their attention but they just don't see me waving and drowning in nothingness. Everyday necessary activities are like wading through treacle and all is done a lot slower than normal. The only way is to break that glass and get out there to join the 'normality throng' but I can't find the right tool to break it with. I go places because I want to break away from mundane home but as soon as I'm out I want to be back in the comfort of my home. I know I need to be with people in order for my brain to break through into the normal world again, so I keep trying to be with people, go places, and do things but my brain just won't make the shift from the darkness into the sunlight. Thankfully these episodes seem to be getting less these days with the final passing of bad situations which have gone on for years and with the passing of the menopause. Thank you for your blog and for giving me the chance to share too. Keep zapping! Best Wishes to you, Nicco.

Dragonfly Thu, Nov 17th 2016 @ 7:32pm

Hello Nicco and thank you for your encouragement. I can absolutely relate to what you write too - going out to try and connect, but then wanting the comfort of home. And the brain that won't shift from dark to light - just brilliantly observed but makes me feel sad to think of you, or anyone else, struggling this way too. I am heartened to read that these episodes are becoming less frequent for you. I will keep on keeping on (and zapping) and I really hope you'll keep sharing x

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