7 articles Articles posted in Depression

How to Help Someone You Love Who is Suffering from Depression

With 1 in 4 individuals living in the UK suffering from a mental illness, it is likely that someone in your family or friends group is one of those people. From depression to border-line personality disorder, there is always one recurring factor that must be remembered. Seek help. The more support within a sufferer’s life, the less pressurised they feel to wallow in their irrational shame and isolation.

By reading this article, I hope to enlighten your world with ways in which you can help those in your life coping with depression. But don’t worry if they don’t reach out to you immediately. Something with such a mind-numbing pain attached can often take the person time to understand and cope with it themselves.

Understanding Depression

The first step to caring for those you love is through understanding the illness itself. Without the knowledge of how the illness is affecting them and others, there is no real relevant way that you can help. However, as each individual has their own experience of depressive symptoms, it is advised to let them explain how they feel first. Once this has been established, then you can begin to cushion the impact for them. For example, if they feel as though they are isolated from the world and this is creating an overt sense of depression, then make them aware that you are always available for company or even a simple cup of tea.

Despite this, people with mental illnesses also tend to value their time alone to reflect and get to know themselves, so you should definitely avoid any form of smothering.  Nevertheless, with a gentle reminder that you are there for them, this can go a long way.

Another way in which you can help your loved one is through the boosting of their low self-esteem. With depression, it is almost guaranteed that the way in which they feel about themselves is fairly negative. But if you want to care for them, then reinforcing a cycle of positivity can help with this. So, if they have decided to get out of bed, or are looking more cheerful on those better days, then don’t forget to remind them of this. With the occasional complimentary comment, you can help to break their negative thought pattern, reminding them that they always have been, and of course always will be a beautiful person.

Don’t Make It All About You and Your Experiences… Just Let Them Talk

If you also suffer from depression yourself, I am sure you are aware that there is nothing worse than people smothering you with their stories of how they overcame their illness. In one way, they probably believe that by telling you about their experiences, this will automatically benefit you; however, it doesn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, each individual person suffers from their own specific depressive symptoms, meaning that just because you’ve overcome your illness, by following the same path they can too. This is a common mistake and can often make those being talked at feel insignificant and overwhelmed.

The first step to success in this area is to make it obvious that you are available to talk. By extending this invitation, this then provides them with the opportunity to accept whenever they feel comfortable and ready to open up. As the first discussion can be overpowering, then you must be prepared for tears and snotty messes; but once they come to terms with their depression, and accept that they need help, then it can only go up from there. It is also important to remember that often when people discuss their mental illness, they feel ashamed of their ‘weaknesses’. However, as a stigma that needs to be destroyed, you must make them aware that it is okay to feel down. It is the recovery and learning to love yourself that is important. By doing so, you’ll reinforce this significantly important mantra: Your mental illness does not define you!

Every Little Helps

A further method support is to reinforce the importance of maintaining their typical everyday schedule. When suffering from depression, an ordinary routine can often become overwhelming, causing isolation and sadness to consume them as you feel as though they cannot leave their bed. This can often lead to difficulties regarding money, especially if they convince themselves that going into work is not an option. However, by contacting advice services such as Mental Health and Money Advice, professionals who understand will be able to create a plan of guidance and offer you services into how to help someone with poor mental health with their expenses.

By following the aide of this article, I hope that you will be able to alleviate the suffering of your loved one. As such a common problem in the UK, I know how consuming mental illnesses can be. However, with your support, you should be able to encourage your family member or friend to open up and seek the support that they so desperately deserve.

The Return of Maternity Matters

When I started blogging in the Autumn of 2010, a large part of my need to get my thoughts out of my head was because of the birth trauma I’d suffered whilst having Sausage in August 2008. Skip forward two years and I’d joined forces with Susanne from Ghostwriter Mummy, someone I’d only ever communicated with online, but who understood me better than some people I’d known my whole life because she’d been through a traumatic birth of her own.

You don’t want to believe that trauma, depression and PTSD will be something that defines you for the rest of your life but, in my experience, it’s something that does stay with you forever – you just learn how to carry it more comfortably, over time, like a heavy bag with a rubbish handle.  And it’s out of this shared experience that Susanne and I started Maternity Matters, a place for us and anyone else to tell their stories, find some support and to join together in improving knowledge and care for families who’ve suffered a trauma.

Over the past three years we’ve shared some incredible accounts of women of all ages and all walks of life, as well as collating news regarding maternity care in the UK, although life and babies (two more for Susanne and one more for me, bringing our collective total to six!) meant that the site has gone unloved for a while…until NOW! We’re hoping to bring Maternity Matters back to life and get it back on track. Susanne and I have a lot of new experiences to write about and we’re hoping that we’ll have lots of contributions from fellow bloggers and parents who want to share their stories.

In the meantime, Susanne and I will be launching the #MaternityMatters linky, starting tomorrow, for you to link up any article, blog post or story relating to:

fertility

conception

pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions/ complications

childbirth – of all kinds

breast/bottle feeding

postnatal experiences

parenting a baby

pregnancy/baby loss

The linky will go live every other Friday and we’d love to get as many of you as possible linking up with ANYTHING maternity-related. Also, if you’d like to contribute to Maternity Matters, please email jayne@maternitymatters.net with your ideas.

MaternityMatters

Billy No-Mates

Alone in a CrowdWhen I was around 20, my whole life revolved around my friends. I was a social butterfly, to say the least, and my phone would be constantly abuzz with texts about nights out and things that I was doing that evening. My friend Jamillah and I used to joke and say that Tuesday was the new Friday because pretty much every night of the week was an excuse to be out, in the thick of it. I rarely paid to get into a club because I knew all of the door staff, or knew someone who knew someone who’d let us in for free, and there was more than one occasion that I’d go out with no money in my pocket at all, because I knew there’d be plenty of places where our money was no good anyway, and the drinks would still be flowing.

I won’t lie and say I was 100% happy, or that all of it was real, because I was definitely running away from reality and lots of the people I counted as ‘friends’ were nothing more than fellow party-goers, searching for the next buzz. I’m so grateful that I met Husband when I did because I think my burnout would have been far more spectacular, had I not. As it stands I met someone who cared about me a whole lot more than I cared about myself and it gave me the impetus to stop abusing my mind and body.

Skip forward a few years and even the friends who were real, the ones I have almost life-long memories with, are few and far between. I won’t lie to you, dear readers, it’s largely my fault. A heady mix of lack of confidence because of my weight, combined with social anxiety that was exacerbated by PTSD means that I’m flaky at best. I’m great at talking to people on Facebook, but actually mobilising myself and getting to a coffee shop or friends house sends me into a tailspin. Even when I do make plans, more often than not I’ll cop out and cancel at the last minute. For someone who used to thrive on being out and about, it’s quite a turnaround.

I’m lucky in the fact that I have a lot of friends that I’ve met through blogging and social networking, people who I genuinely class as proper friends (like that Mummy Barrow, who spent ages trying to phone round my local hospital when she found out I’d been taken ill last year!). And the immediate gratification of being able to pick up my phone or turn on my laptop at pretty much any time of the day and connect with someone makes it even easier for me to be a shut in.

I’m also lucky in that I’m very happy with my little family. Husband is the best friend I could possibly ask for; we have so much in common and even when we’re both working from home, we find new and interesting things to talk about – we connect really well, even after 8 years of marriage, which is a huge blessing. And then there’s my darling Sausage. She’s an absolute pleasure to spend time with and more often than not, I’d rather go for a hot chocolate with her than do anything else.

But…

I still have this weird feeling of loneliness sometimes. I see old school friends on Facebook going out and having fun and I do get a pang of jealousy. It’s no-ones fault but my own, no-one has stopped me from maintaining my friendships, no-one forces me to be a social failure. Someone asked me last week if I’d had a baby shower yet and I was forced to admit that not only had I not ever had a baby shower, but I probably couldn’t muster up enough friends to even go to one. Same goes for my 30th – having a party would be pointless as it’d be me, standing in a big hall, surrounded by about 20 people, most of whom would be family. I’m not saying I don’t have any friends at all, I do, but I feel totally displaced from just about everyone and it’s all a bit sad, really.

Maybe it’s just me being pregnant and hormonal, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll join a mother and baby group once 2.1 comes along and see if I can find some equally lonely shut-ins, like me. Perhaps I need to just man the hell up and start actually leaving the house for longer than it takes to do the school run or wander round Waitrose.

Rejection Sucks

Alternative title: Why I’d Like to Close the Curtains and Eat Cheese Toasties in My Pyjamas For The Next Week…

Let me set the scene:

In she walks, well dressed but professional. Her hair and make-up are well done but not so immaculate that she looks over the top. She’s confident, you can tell by her stride that she knows what she’s doing. She exchanges banter in the lift with the girl who’s been sent to bring her to the interview room and she takes in her surroundings, wondering if she’ll become more familiar with them in the near future.

“Come through, please”

She walks into the room, smiles, shakes three hands and waits to be told to take a seat.

Questions, questions, questions.

She answers most of them with confidence, but admits that there are one or two questions that she’s found tricky.

She makes her presentation.

They lap it up. 

They laugh in the right places, they clap, they ask if they can use her material for their own campaign in a ‘jokeybutkindofserious’ way

They’re all smiling.

One of them offers to show her back to the lift.

“You were great” she offers.

The woman tells her that she came across brilliantly, that she’d be perfect for the role, asks what’s her availability in terms of start dates?

She almost skips to her car.

“I’ve nailed it!” she thinks.

She goes home.

She waits.

And waits.

Waits.

 

Email.

“We regret to inform you…”

“Bollocks”, she thinks.

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Suicide is Painless…?

…or so Mike Altman would have us believe. I’m not sure if I do…

I’ve had conversations with people about suicide before and in general people get very animated about it. I’ve heard a lot of negativity about people who choose suicide, words bandied about like ‘selfish’ and ‘cowardly’ and if I’m honest, I dislike it.

In terms of selfishness, I have two thoughts. Firstly, I don’t believe that you can apply rational emotions to someone who is so close to the end of their tether that they’d consider taking their own lives. Secondly, if you have got to that point and you can see no way out, you’re too tired to go on, surely its selfish of others to expect you to live a life against your wishes for the sake of them?

That’s a very base way of looking at it and I know people who are left behind have to deal with pain and suffering, I’m not trying to denigrate that in any way, I’m just making the point that people take it personally when it’s not about them.

In terms of cowardice, I don’t know about you but I think it probably takes a lot of courage to be able to take the steps to end your own life. I’ve been at a very low ebb on a few occasions in my life and although the thought of suicide has crossed my mind, I’d never have the guts to do it.

Is it guts? I don’t know, I guess I’m just lucky enough to have more reasons to live than die.

We were there.

Husband and I were discussing suicide today after we found out that an acquaintance of ours had taken his life and he put a perspective on it that I hadn’t thought of. I told him how sad I felt that the guy had been so low that he’d ended it all and he said that if suicide is a conscious decision (i.e. not drink or drug related) then it needn’t always be sad. Maybe some people just decide that enough is enough and that they don’t want to go on any further. I guess I can understand what he means, but I’m socially programmed to view suicide as an act of sadness and desperation.

All I know is, I’ve seen literally hundreds of Facebook statuses and conversations today that suggest that PB will be sorely missed and the fact that he made a mark on the world is something to be proud of.

I hope so many people miss me when my time comes.

MISSING: One Sense of Self-Worth

It’s a funny thing, self-worth. Despite the fact that the point of self-worth is ‘what you think of yourself’, it can be intrinsically linked to what others think of you. I think anyone who reads my blog regularly will know that it’s not been the best year for me. I don’t mean to be all ‘boo-hoo’, I know people out there who’ve had it a lot worse than me, but I’m really struggling to remember what the point of me is.

I know it’s depression and hormones and goodness-knows what else talking, but I feel like I’m treading water with a big weight tied to my foot, trying to drag me down. I can’t remember any ways in which I’m of any use to anyone anymore.

Yesterday was particularly black for me. I spent a  lot of it crying, sometimes because of how I feel, sometimes because of stupid things like Mo Farah’s wife being pregnant with twins. No, I don’t know why that made me cry either. I spent all day thinking about the fact that Husband and Sausage would be better off without me. I tend to just mess things up, like forgetting to pay bills and stupid things that should be second nature to me by now. I’m 28, for fuck’s sake, I’ve been married for 6 years and a mother for four of them. I look at my life and I can’t think of a single thing that I’m needed for. Everything could function just as well without me, probably to a much better degree of efficiency. It’s not like I even have a job where I’m able to contribute any decent amount to the family coffers.

I don’t feel like a very good mother. And what makes it worse is that it’s self-perpetuating, I feel like a shit mum, I get depressed, the depression turns me into a self-loathing waste of space and I behave like a shit mum. How do I ever win?

I’ve suffered with depression and low self-esteem for a long time, but I don’t think it’s ever been this bad.

I don’t really know what to do.

I don’t want to take pills.

No, that’s not true, I do want to take pills, I want to swallow a little magic tablet once a day and feel numb to it all, but I won’t. That’s not a judgement of others, it’s more to do with the fact that I’ve tried them once before and they made me feel worse and if I’m honest, I’m quite scared of them. My Nan has taken Prozac for about 15 years and she’s probably the most miserable person I’ve ever met.

Husband’s answer was exercise. He said that releasing endorphins will make me feel better and have the added bonus of making my disgusting carcass (MY words, not his) get a bit less fat, which will have a knock-on effect with improving my self-esteem. He’s completely right, but for some reason that I’ve not even worked out for myself yet, this made me want to murder him. Or at least hit him quite hard.

I have to try something. I feel like my soul has been put into a sack and beaten repeatedly with a bat.

Alone in a Crowded Room

I never got it when I read things about depression and people said “I was surrounded by people, but I felt so lonely”. I’ve suffered with depression before, but if anything, I felt the opposite. People equals pressure. Suffocation. If you’re depressed, truly, genuinely, seratonin-deficient, you often feel sad without knowing the cause. Of course, the cause is hormonal, but it’s usually the perception of others that if you’re sad or depressed, there must be a tangible reason, and often there isn’t.

So being depressed around other people means questions.

“Are you okay?”

“What’s the matter?”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

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