As most of those around me know, I’m having quite a hard time as of late.
I’m finding it fairly difficult to do the life thing, as it were. Getting up, going out, getting my head around the fact that living is something I have to do, is actually quite hard. And if you’ve been a reader of this blog (or are a friend or even close family member) you may know that I have suffered with depression on and off for (about) four years. Maybe five. Who knows.
Actually, thinking about it, not many people know that at all. Around this time last year I posted my most popular post so far about getting help for my severely low moods. Last week, I went to the GP again (with the intention of getting help for something else) and she mentioned that it was around this time last year I did that.
I’ve had counselling for low moods, and I also attended a short, NHS funded course of CBT (which was the thing last year) to improve my moods. Both of which seemed to help, but apparently for the short term.
Everyone knows the basic signs and symptoms. With the increase in mental health awareness and the huge efforts being put towards ending the stigma in recent years, we all know the signs to look out for. Mood swings, irritability, suicide jokes, numbness and lack of enjoyment, yada yada yada. We know those. But what about the things that we feel, but always thought were just a part of our personalities? What about the things that could be explained by the way we were brought up, or the way our personalities are, but actually aren’t?
So, because I’ve been in my funk, and all I can really think about is why my brain is doing this, here are six unexpected side effects of depression that I actually had no idea were a thing. Enjoy!
I’ve always had a pretty shitty long term memory. Short term is generally okay, and I’m good with birthdays, but in general, if you tell me something, I won’t remember it. And it’s not even remembering important appointments that is the problem – I genuinely cannot remember most of my life.
People will say “Aw, do you remember the time when…”, and I think ‘That is something people would remember’, but I have to say no. I’ll lose entire chunks of my day, my week, or even my year. As humans, the thing we work for most are exciting and fun-filled memories to look back on when we’re old but… even when I make them, I lose them.
So, if you’re wondering why I didn’t recall that time we met and did that crazy cool thing, that’s why. Sorry, I guess.
Poor Sense of Time
Linking to the previous point, my sense of time is completely whacked (yes, I said it. Did it suit me? No?). Was that meeting last week or last month? When did I message so-and-so last? What time is it? It’s 2am. Shit. Fuck. I did it again.
By losing such huge chunks of my life to my illness, not only am I forgetting some great times, but time is actually passing me by much quicker than anyone could tell me. At once, one deadline that’s a week away is tomorrow, how did that happen? It happened because I spent that week too caught up in my head to even notice.
Feeling down or sad can make anyone into that “Fuck it, let’s go out” person. A break-up, a fight with someone, or even a bad day can make any normal person think “Screw it, I’m gonna go do something stupid like get a bit tipsy, or shout back at my parents for once”. That’s like… normal person reckless. The expected kind.
When you’re depressed, sometimes the debilitating fog lifts, and you have energy for once. What should you do with that energy? Go for a run? Make a nice meal? Call your friends? Probably.
Instead, what are you gonna do with that energy? Something stupid. Like getting too drunk. Like getting a tattoo you absolutely do not want, because you feel like taking control of your body. Injuring yourself. Smoking, taking illegal substances, drinking far far too much, or even going back to a toxic person so they can treat you like shit all over again.
If a friend of yours is depressed, be careful with this. Because their newfound energy and lust for life might not be for life at all, it might just be for something to distract themselves. Take care of them, and take care of yourselves.
This is… probably my biggest weakness.
I will never know if my personal level of indecisiveness is down to my personality (aka, has always been there), or if it’s been amplified 300 times by suffering with depression.
Either way, it sucks. Really, really sucks.
What do you want to eat? I don’t know. Where do you want to go? I don’t know. Would you like to do something this weekend? I don’t know. Can you do me a favour? I don’t know. What are you gonna do with your life? I don’t know. Stop asking.
This is something I’ve noticed a lot more lately, and it’s really really not very good, to be honest.
I’ve always had “stare attacks” (wittingly coined by my mum), where I’ll stare off into space and have real trouble coming back around, even if it’s really, quite important. I think a certain level of “stare attacks” is normal, and can be quite funny. But I’ll often find myself staring into space for minutes at a time, completely separate from the world happening around me.
I’ll do it in conversation (consequently coming off as really bloody rude, as well), when working, reading, and even driving. Yes, driving. Not good.
Something about being depressed, or having depression, means that it literally attacks you for no fucking reason. That’s literally the whole point of it. To destroy you (Protip: don’t let it).
This means that literally every single symptom or sign of depression you exhibit, no matter how different from your own personality it may be, you will think it is all your fault.
Not motivated? You’re lazy. Feeling irritable? You’re just a bitch. Sad? You’re a negative person. Losing touch with friends? They hate you.
Protip: it’s not.
Depression lies. And it’s a really good liar.
You are brave. You are strong. You are worthy of feeling better.