Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Going Dark

Having read Stephen Fry's frank and heartfelt Blog piece I realised that, while depression in general is pretty widely discussed, the various different types and the multitude of ways it affects people is not really that well understood at all, partly because it's hard to put it in words and partly because we tend to develop our own phrases and terminology to discribe our experiences. The only way to combat this is for those of us whose lives are affected by depression to speak out and let people know how it is, for us.

I have what's classed as a form of Reactive Depression. This means that rather than a chemical imbalance or genetic predisposition my depression is a direct result of things I've experienced, specifically, being sexually abused as a child. In the majority of cases reactive depression is easily treatable with medication and therapy. In some cases, as with mine and many other survivors of abuse, the trauma event(s) leave us suceptable to a multitude of possible triggers that can reignite the depression.

What this means, for me, is that I can go months without feeling down at all, then all of a sudden my mood drops and I become pretty much useless, I call this "going dark". I lose the greater majority of my energy and motivation, I avoid leaving the house, I neglect most of my housework and personal hygiene, partly because I lose the ability to care but mostly through a conscious decision to focus what little motivation and energy I have into ensuring I continue to meet my son's needs. I feel worthless and sick and almost constantly anxious, I have nightmares and delayed sleep phase at night and flashbacks and panic attacks by day. I obsess with reading anything, books or online, to escape from all the horrible thoughts running through my mind, memories and fears that push themselves to the forefront of my mind when I let my guard slip.
 And then, just as suddenly, I'll hit what I call "the bounce point" and everything will gradually improve until I'm no longer depressed again. 
Sometimes it lasts days, sometimes it lasts months, I can't predict it and I can't control it.

This unpredictability makes antidepressants ineffective. By the time they've started to take effect I'm usually out the other side and all they achieve is to numb all my feelings, making it impossible to experience all the joy in my life when I'm not down. The last time I tried them was when my son was a baby, I remember watching him laugh as he played and knowing I should've been able to feel happiness watching him but it was like it was trapped behind a wall of grey. That was the moment I decided never to used them again. Yes, the bad times are hard but not hard enough to make it worth sacrificing the good ones!

I've also had counselling for my experiences. I know it wasn't my fault, I know I'm safe now, I'm no longer angry, or hurt, I've faced and fought every demon it left me with but no amount of counselling is ever going to make the memories go away and all the while they're there they're always going to be a trigger point for my depression. It's just something I have to live with. Much like an amputee must adjust to living without a limb, this is my scar tissue.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful partner, a guy who understands what I go through and is there to take the strain when I stop functioning. He's my rock and I really don't say how much I appreciate him as often as I probably should! 

I apologise if this post is a bit rambling and morbid, I'm once again in the dark, but I will bounce back again, I always do!


  1. All I can say to you is keep your chin up. I am one of the unlucky/lucky ones that can use the meds and they dont have the side effects. I say unlucky/lucky as mine is genetic, but it also means I am on meds all the time so I can function.

    Cant wait to see you bounce back :)

  2. Next week, I'll be talking to my MD about getting on medication for my depression. I'm in the process of breaking free from my family, and I've spent too damn long dealing with this. Over the last 3 years or so, my problem hasn't been so much with the emotional side as the physical side. So much pain and stiffness, and horrible fatigue.

    I hope your doctor can find a medication that can help you even out your symptoms.

  3. Thanks guys! I'm pretty sure I'm close to bounce point again cos I'm starting to notice things that need doing (like the washing up) which tends to be a good sign ;)

    Sheldon, Good luck next week :) the right treatment can make the world of difference! While I personally don't get on with meds, I did get great help through therapy (both dealing with everything and learning coping methods for when I am down) and from exercise, which I honestly wasn't expecting to be as effective as was being claimed, so that was a positive surprise!