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Hello Darkness, My Old Friend. Wednesday September 24, 2014

No, not many of us would count depression as an old "friend", but for many Moodscope users it is a familiar acquaintance which comes and goes or, too often, comes and stays far too long. And, however brief its stay, depression is always an unwelcome visitor.

I was speaking to a friend this week who has just met depression for the first time. Because this is the first (and hopefully the only) time she is experiencing it, she is feeling that she is in unfamiliar territory without a map; it's a scary place as well as a dark one.

So, for anyone going through this illness for the first time, or anyone who needs a reminder of the basic A, B, Cs of it, here's some basic advice:

• Depression is an illness, not a moral failing or weakness. You cannot just "pull yourself together" or "snap out of it" any more than you can "snap out" of a broken leg.

• Even if you feel you have contributed to it yourself, self-blame and beating yourself up about it does not help, it makes things worse, so don't do it! (And yes, I know that's easier said than done.)

• Although depression is a mental illness, having it does not make you "mad" (except sometimes in the sense of being angry).

• If you have been prescribed drugs, then take them: they do often help and will enable you to recover more quickly. There is more than one drug available; if the first one doesn't have an effect, another one might work.

• Find out all you can about your illness and take responsibility for your own health. Moodscope can help enormously with this. Try to work in partnership with your GP.

• Give yourself as much slack as you can. You may have to continue working, but cut down your commitments as much as possible and give yourself permission to let your standards slip – just for a time – while you recover.

• You may want to hide yourself away and feel you cannot face people. That's fine, but ensure you have just a few people around who understand and can support you. Leave a comment on Moodscope's blogspot page and you will be surprised at the positive response you get. Be honest with as many people as you feel you can trust: many more have gone through this than you would think, and will empathise with you and offer support.

• Try to eat healthily and to take moderate exercise if physically possible.

• Try to avoid alcohol and sugar: it feels good in the short term, but the bill comes in later and it's usually more than we want to pay.

• Hold onto Hope. Depression does usually lift and you will get better. While you are ill you may feel that there is no light and that you will be stuck in this place for ever, but hold fast to the belief that you will one day be well.

Let's hope that day will come soon – for all of us.

A Moodscope member.

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Quacko Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 2:51am

Mary- I needed to read a good concise list like this today. I fight depression and it comes in all sizes at times. I live in a place that has a brutal winter- am trying to avert a doozy of a depression when the cold and gray come. Thanks for being so forthright.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 6:13am

J'adore Mary! Your friend is blessed to have you to light the tunnel. And both of you so open about one of those who hide, I'm full of admiration for it.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 6:14am

Oops, forgot my hat...^^ it's from the room above the garage.

PWD Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 6:35am

Great post Mary as one of my symptoms is brain fog which in turn makes me forget some of the awful symptoms which in turn makes me feel like I am going mad. Hope that makes sense

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 6:47am

I can relate to depression as making us aware that we are highly sensitive to the moods and feelings of other people around us and we have the ability of absorbing those feelings and we were not taught how to manage those feelings and so those feelings become distorted and expresses itself as 'pathological sadness.'

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 7:06am

Totally unrelated , but not being a techie , only way I can think of to say " thank you " to Mary Brockhurst Hill for her helpful comment re "Evil of Emails". I followed her advice and kept the door open . The hurt parties have started communicating and I am hoping the hurt will melt in forgiveness.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 7:22am

Hiya, have you tried a sad light? I use one every day through autumn, winter and spring, it really helps keep me brighter.

Rupert Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 8:27am

I love that song and the original film too - have always felt certain empathy with Hoffman's character and the way he kind of can't see the point to it all.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 11:33am

I'm so tired of blowing my friends off, and I'm sure they're very tired of it too. So I often lie rather than tell them I'm too depressed to face life. I'm scared they'll lose patience with me.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 12:03pm

Excellent advice, Mary. Perfect.

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 12:47pm

Thank you so much for this post, its just what I needed. Having just finished Uni, my old friend is fighting very hard to come back in - being unemployed, back home, constant job rejection, no friends around me and parents who are losing patience has made this battle one of my hardest. But I've won before, and I can do it again!

Mary Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 3:38pm

Fantastic! It may take time, but you love and light can win through in the end. Thank you for the update!

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 3:59pm

Very a good checklist........will take it to my NAMI meeting tomorrow night....I do have a very tuff time letting my standards slip and giving myself permission to do so...and then the guilt arises...surely a vicious circle wee face....Have a Great Day All Dave

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 6:05pm

So enlightening to know you are not alone. Nicola

wuzzer Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 6:06pm

It's a beautiful fall day in Georgia. Unfortunately, due to knee surgery I am unable (un-motivated?) due to pain to go outside enjoy it, choosing instead to take my place on the sofa...(Hello sofa, my old friend...I've come to sit all day again)...yada yada yada...I find it harder and harder to regain the enthusiasm I once had for life due to taking daily chemo and being deaf. So you see, it is not just because of my knee injury. I take meds for depression...but I'm depressed and feel isolated. Not sure if this post is even appropriate for this site, and if not, I apologize.

Julia Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 6:40pm

Some people get more depressed in the good weather as they feel alienated by all the sunny cheery folk enjoying life in the sun; the pressure to be cheerful is just too much. Why do you think your anti depressants are not working? From what you say of your heath problems, it's no wonder you feel depressed and unmotivated but at least you wrote today wuzzer. Maybe tomorrow, write to Moodscope AND go out. It may rain so you will need an umbrella. Tell us what you do tomorrow!!

Anonymous Wed, Sep 24th 2014 @ 10:30pm

I get this!

John Farley Thu, Sep 25th 2014 @ 12:50am

I've reposted this on my Facebook page with Moodscope credit. People are liking it already!

Thanks. This helps.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 25th 2014 @ 8:15am

Mary, you are brilliant. I've printed this out and carry it around with me. I look at it often and feel stronger for its contents. Thank you.

Caroline Ashcroft Thu, Sep 25th 2014 @ 11:52pm

Thanks John, very kind. Wise words.

Kind regards. Caroline

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