Thursday, May 15, 2014

Adventures in depression( Affirmation )

It has been over 6 months since I posted any original content here. I think I lost my flare for writing. I pray it ain't so. Though it may also be that I had been depressed for a while since sometime near the end of last year, teetering over the edge waiting for that one last tiny thing that would push me completely over.

See the thing about bipolar disorder and depression is that you can't really treat a depressed bipolar person with the normal antidepressants. Treatment usually involves a lot of anti-anxiety medication and other serotonin uptake inhibitors, and in my case, a little electro convulsive therapy to move it faster.

I have been depressed before but never had it been serious enough to require hospitalization. It was voluntary(hospitalization), according to what I'm told by my shrink, and friends. I was away for weeks and I had only informed one or two people where I was. Anyway, lets discuss depression.

A little over two years ago I'd discussed mental illness on this blog where I covered several forms of mental illnesses, mostly what I have - bipolar disorder. Although nowadays I am conditioning myself to stop looking at it like a disease. It's more of an example of how God gives with one hand and takes with the other. Contrary to what that statement implies, I'm not really mad at God for that because over time I've come to accept what I have and actually realized it gives me that je ne sais quoi quality.

For the most part, that I'm bipolar doesn't really interfere with who I am and has never defined me, how I behave and what I stand for. It just gives me extra energy sometimes, and acts as a buzz-kill other times. While it has obviously influenced how I behave in a small way, I like to believe that I'm a result of my choices, and the path I take in life is one I choose for myself as I go along.

I believe the question of how much mental conditions influence our decisions is tied in intimately with the question of free will in all humans. Is it freewill if I suddenly behave differently and do something stupid because the chemicals in my brain have become imbalanced? Am I responsible for everything I do while depressed or on a high? If I killed myself because I'm depressed, is it my fault? Did I have the option to decide that death is not the answer?

Actually the answer is really simple, when you are depressed, freewill is one of the luxuries you're denied. That's why I chose to forsake my freedom for the sake of everything I believe in, and got hospitalized for specialized treatment. Truth be told, while I have accepted that my death is inevitable in the long run, I don't want it to be by my own hand or as a result of something I could have foreseen and changed.

Depression is one of the most fucked up diseases around, it isn't really treatable unless the person going through it is willing to have it treated, and by virtue of you being depressed you lack the ability to realize that you are the one who matters most if you're to get better. Does that make sense?

I'll use myself as an example, again. When I got depressed it took me more than 6 months to realize I was in deep shit. And even after falling over the edge into chronic depression it took another 3 days to realize I was the only one who could get help for me by accepting that I was in shit and it was all going down in my mind. and to say the truth I am one of the lucky ones. The ones who are at the edge, where you have decided suicide is the answer and all that's left is how to do it as painlessly as possible, but decide to give life one last go. 

The amount of pain is not usually one of the considerations (because you're already dead inside and that is the greatest pain a person, who has ever known happiness, can feel and continues to feel). The biggest consideration is ease. That's why some people see a rafter, a stool and a scarf. Others see sleep medication and painkillers, others see guns. You have to understand that the only consideration once you've decided to kill yourself, is what is the most easily accessible tool to do it and what requires the least effort on your part.

For a depressed person there is no heaven or hell to look forward to, there is no God to wrap you in His warmth, there is nothing to look forward to except ending the emptiness, pain and hopelessness that has become your life. If nothing can make you happy why bother with going through the motions? Why bother making the effort to hang out with people who make no difference in your life? What is the purpose of family and lovers if they can't make you feel loved any more? What is the need for friends if they can't make you feel alive? What is the need of a job if all it does is make you get out of bed in the morning to go do something you don't give a shit about? All it did is wake you up from the sweet oblivion of sleep.

This is why I get bothered and angry whenever I hear insensitive statements about people who've committed suicide. People need to realize that depression is a real illness, it is a cancer of the mind. It is hard to detect,  but it's important to realize that no sane well balanced person wants to die, least of all by killing themselves. When a person suddenly becomes introverted and wants nothing to do with normal day to day activities for extended periods, they are probably depressed or heading there. When a person chooses to end his/her life, you have to believe it's not their fault in most circumstances. And here we're not talking of terrorists or criminals. 

Depressed people are rarely a danger to others, just to themselves.

I have covered depression form a personal perspective rather than a medical one to hope that maybe it would resonate with other (normal) people. It is important to know your friends and family well enough to notice it when something is just not right with them. It's hard sometimes because depression progresses very slowly over months or years. But once you suspect it, in yourself or someone else, try to find a way to introduce the topic.

Most depressed people will disagree they're depressed which is the largest hurdle to beginning treatment. Just don't shove the fact that they're depressed down their throats, you have to introduce it in such a way that they form the conclusion themselves. In the process you may have just saved the life of someone close to your heart.

Also check out this post by Allie Brosh who also had a run in with depression. I mirrored the title here from that post.

In case you need to contact a psychologist call (+254) 720 291 232

Take care of your whole self: mind, body and soul.


~ Ben

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