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Myth No. 91 - Depression is like the flu in that recovery is consistent. Sunday April 12, 2015

If, like me, you feel you are currently ploughing furrows through darker days it can be excruciating knowing how to connect with people; how to feel part of the life/lives going on around you. It's hard, manual labour. And sometimes, it's the simple, silly things that can knock me sideways.

(I know I'm probably talking to the converted here but let's pass it on!)

Please, I implore you, never (ever!) ask a depressed soul (unless of course you're wanting some facial rearrangement!) if they are feeling better now. Neither end texts with, 'hope you are feeling better now.' Seriously, it is like waving a whopping great big red flag to a very vexed bull. Why?

With a cold or flu, once passed the worst and the fever subsides, the road to recovery is normally straight forward and the person can hope to feel stronger and stronger, better and better with each passing day. So much so, that when somebody asks the patient if they are 'feeling better now' the reply can, quite reasonably, be 'Yup, definitely on the mend, thanks.'

The main direction in the recovery of a depressed person will be up. But the recovery will more than likely have more ups and downs than a bouncing ball. Speaking personally, I'm all over the place! I can feel hopeful one hour only to feel utterly felled the next.

This is possibly why it is so dashed difficult to be around folk when very low because we know it is tough for friends to understand why, for example, Marion is back in bed seeking oblivion today when, 'she seemed fine at lunch yesterday.'

Knowing the myths or judgments that can surround depression sometimes helps. It may push us to verbalise and explain to those (and only to those) who we just know will listen with non-judgmental understanding. Thus educating, little by little, and helping to fight the secrecy that depression often thrives upon.

I'm painfully aware that it's not always easy being around someone who is depressed, and so when someone doesn't understand I must learn too. I must learn, relearn and practice the art of shrugging my shoulders and mutter, in Claire Week's words, " 'I'm not going to be silly. It will come right in time. Time will fix it.' It will."

A Moodscope member.

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Jo Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 6:29am

I completely agree with the sentiment Suzy and I wish that more people knew that recovery involves backwards steps (could do with reminding myself too I'm currently recovering from a bout...4+ weeks off work and am so frustrated that I'm not 'fixed' yet and that there are still shitty days).
But I personally love getting texts/calls/msgs from well wishing from friends and family.... and would hate to discourage anyone.... even not perfectly worded (I'm definitely guilty of the odd badly crafted text!) much better to know we're being thought when not well of than not at all.....

Sarah M Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 7:44am

Hi Suzy
Very good points indeed - I too struggle with the Are you better yet?? Questions. In the early days everyone was hopeful I would ' return to normal' but 3 years on I think we can say goodbye to that!! Folk have now forgotten I was ill or. agilely remember something and don't ask!! I head off folk with ' are u better?' With tea getting there. how are you?? Then talk about the weather/ price of cheese... I have devised many responses also to the How's work going?' Question too - included 'oh well I've moved on and I'm focussing on a few new projects now. How about you?' They don't need to know my new projects are staying alive, managing my mood and understanding the benefits system!!
People who know and love me don't need to ask... They know.everyone else can mind their own business!!
Yes in time this will pass. I have however come to understand it more though that in time you will have forgotten what life used to b like and will b enjoying a new one with new friends and a whole new Take on life xx
My favourite texts when I'm struggling are friends just saying Oi we love u! Or ' need me? text me x ' not ones from O2 offering me a reward :))
Bye for now - all the best to you on your recovery journey - sorry no maps available but certificates awarded on the way :)) x

Hopeful One Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 7:47am

Hi Suzy-Thanks for that thought provoking blog..I agree coming out of a depression is non linear for most people.More crablike climb as I have said before in other posts.But its still movement upwards albeit sometimes imperceptible if only we could drop that negative filter in our minds and see that or at least believe in it.. Ironically psychiatrists do refer to depression as the 'common cold of psychiatry' meaning I suppose that it is so commonly encountered in their practice.The people who are going to be most helpful in our recovery need to to have empathy and unconditional high regard for us which is nearly not as easily available as we think.

Anonymous Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 8:09am

Thank you Suzy, I needed to see it in black and white, love from the room above the garage xxx.

Anonymous Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 8:31am

Good luck, Suzy. It's a wonder you are able to put it all down in words so well when feeling rubbish... All credit to you for saying it like it is.

Julia Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 9:20am

Well done Suzy. Such a meaningful blog. What amazes me is that I never ever meet anyone else who suffers on a daily basis like I do. There are so many of us on Moodscope who mirror in words exactly how I feel but no-one among the friends I know here or in previous places I've lived. Can the explanation be that we are so good at hiding our feelings in public that even my close friends get depressed but I know nothing about it?
On a different note, I wish I could learn to live with my condition and truly accept it rather than hope that one day it will go away for ever!

Jenny Fletcher Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 12:33pm

Suzy please print out your post and all its comments and send to whichever politician becomes the next DWP minister. Something has to be done about WCA/sanctions before more people die - a statistic which has been hushed up.

Anonymous Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 3:12pm

Suzy, this is a wonderful post. You make me realize that I need to be more honest about the depression. I have one friend who must think i've abandoned her; she needs the truth. Also love your reference to Aunt Claire Weeks. She has held my hand many times. Again, thank you. susan

Eddy Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 10:01pm

Hey, below you find a little poetic consideration of my continuous recovery. Hope it helps:

The darkness of depression. The fear of the fear. The fear of not being able to stop fighting against catastrophic thoughts in my head.
This fear grinded me in a whirlwind of suffering. It made me feel trapped and completely alone in a cold black universe. My soul was wrung out like a floppy mop. I no longer had faith in a good outcome. I was physically exhausted and I didn’t dare to take one step back into society.
Every time a bus or truck passes I automatically thought "would I not better jump under it?" Or I said. Enough is enough..this night I well end it all with an overdose of sleeping medication. I still see myself contemplating at the edge of my bed with the medication box in my hand.
And yet there was that that glimmer of doubt:" what if I hit my loved ones harder by killing myself than by continuing this depressed life as a broken child? "
I choose to continue living the depressed life. Thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy I learned that I could not control the depression, but I can tolerate it. And by tolerating the fear, embracing it with love, the fear will dissolve. I also learned that it is important to focus on what you want to achieve and not to focus on what you want to avoid.
My anxious moods come and go, but I can handle them now. My wife has taken some blows to the head and some scars in her soul, but she carries on and smiles. My children have blossomed.
I thank my depression now for giving me a chance to understand what’s really important in my life: my family! A family is a gift.
I also thank my depression for being able to teach my children how to cope with their negative emotions and provide a platform where they can discover themselves and grow into self-confident human beings. These lessons will continue to be taught from generation to generation.
I have confidence in my inner self now. I am not my mind! You got me far little mind in my studies and scientific work. I love you. You are a powerful instrument.
I am sorry. Please forgive me for what I did to myself.
And then the pain dissolves….Thank you.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 11:18pm

Wise, perceptive, very, very true. Love this, Suzy. Thank you. And I just hate it when people ask how I am. It's embarrassing not being able to say "on the mend, thanks." If a fellow Moodscope user asks I can sometimes bring myself to say "middling to terrible" or however it is that day. But it's only ever that day. Or that hour. Or that minute... Ho Hum. We keep hanging on. One day it will be better - before it gets worse again....

Mary Blackhurst Hill Sun, Apr 12th 2015 @ 11:19pm

Oops. Re the above. A bit down at present. You can tell, can't you? Not to worry. The sun will shine soon.

Hopeful One Mon, Apr 13th 2015 @ 6:50am

Hi Eddy- well done ,do please congratulate yourself on what you have achieved.Remind yourself that you did it more or less or by yourself.And believe me it is some achievement. !0 to 15 % don't manage it and succumb to 'Every time a bus or truck passes I automatically thought "would I not better jump under it?" You did not . In my case I consider my recovery the greatest achievement of my life.

Hopeful One Mon, Apr 13th 2015 @ 6:55am

Hi Julia- I bet you many of your friend probably suffer mood dips too and some might even be depressed ..They just don't talk about it because of the stigma still attached to any mental health issue in our society which I am glad to say is slowly changing.

Eddy Mon, Apr 13th 2015 @ 11:07am

Hio Hopeful one, Thanks a lot for your congratulations! Congratulations to yourself!

Anonymous Mon, Apr 13th 2015 @ 11:20am

Thanks for helping the entire moodscope community by sharing your honest, heartfelt feelings about your depression Suzy.

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