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Not the Sharpest Pencils in the Box (Depression fix)

Being trapped, seeing no way out, having something looming over your head that you have no control over. We’ve all been there, and indeed I have been there too. There are times in our lives when we have no option but to go ahead with things despite the worries and the strain that it brings over our being.

The reality is never as bad as the illusion of that reality when we are in fear of something. Perhaps it is a court date where we are to bare the brunt of the implications of wrong doing, perhaps it is in a state exam which is illegal to avoid. We will have seen, have been told, where it is the motivation of others to make us feel as bad about this thing as possible, where it is in their motivation to influence us to do this thing despite our reservation and fears, that can make these reservations and fears all the worse.

Lives are lost each year all over the world with young kids who don’t know any better, don’t know that all things eventually pass with time. Kids who don’t realise that even if they sit the damned thing the effects on their lives is never really going to be as bad as they imagine. In life we are who we are, we are built based on our actions, and there is plenty more space for us to show through our shining light, than in the achieving of solid results in a state exam that has been standardised and bastardized to access us against each other.

It is only a means to an end of college placement and meeting criteria, it is not a failure of our lives to take-off if we fail. There are always other avenues, such is the infinite amount of roads we can take, the myriad of avenues that all lead to the same place, a life filled with self satisfaction and self actualization when we go about reaching the point we are setting out to reach. It sickens me that young people take their own lives each year, out of their fear of failure and an inability to handle the fake pressures that have been built up in them by society, and by their teachers whose standing in the education system is based on the results of their students in these state examinations.

From the perspective of the youth, the trapped feeling leads to anxiety, and with that the lows of depression. The youth realises that the root of their problems is in the impending exams, and the only depression fix and removal of the pain they are experiencing is to end their lives. It seems obvious to them that this is the only way, the only depression fix, when there is no option but to go ahead with the exams themselves if they go on living. I remember the year I had to take the exams. I remember the pressures in what is regarded as the most difficult series of exams you will encounter in your life time. I remember the newspaper the morning they were due to commence, and two young people had already done away with themselves.

I was old and aware enough to know that they had done the wrong thing. Even from our sheltered existence it was obvious that the world was so much bigger than the ramifications of failure. But I guess the stress of the idea of sitting these and having the exam master walk down through the carefully placed rows of heads all biting their nails, the thought of the stillness and the quiet but for the scratching of pencils all around when your pencil struggled to put words on the paper, I guess that was too much for those poor young unfortunates who ended their lives before they had even begun. Before they had even gotten out of the starting blocks, to experience the freedom our world allows once this coming of age ‘test’ has been devoured, spat back out seeing us all degradingly graded.

Is it the End Goal or the Journey that Cures? (Depression fix)

Wanting something enough is a good start in getting there. Visualising our end goal in mind, and then with everything we do, using this image to motivate us towards our end goal, will see us get there in this competitive world.

I used that technique for athletics training when I was younger, having learnt about it from some crazy woman who gave talks and danced around like a fairy. She was so positive in her outlook that it could sour the stomach and nauseate, but I was young and willing to grab onto anything that might give me an edge.

When looking for a depression fix, the best solution is within us, even to get to the point of seeking out the depression fix, a decision needs to be made in our own mind. We need at some point (sooner better than later) to make the decision that we in fact want to get better.

I wanted to win so I gave myself an image to work towards, every time my sinews struggled under the massive pressure in the weights room, when I demanded of my body just one more repetition on the bench press, I would push this image into the front of my mind, and the sight would force my body to do its bidding, because my body wanted it too. Its goal was congruent with my own, there was an integration of my need and my body’s need, or at least the illusion of that created with my mental link.

To get to the starting blocks of a depression fix, you need to admit to yourself and maybe others that there is a problem. Then you need to make a decision that yes in fact you either want assistance in getting over it, or you are wishing to get over this one alone. It all boils down to an actual wanting to get over it. So many people suffering from depression lack even this ability to make that decision. When we are low we become almost accepting of those lows, and see that perhaps there is something natural in these lows for us. We are creatures of habit, and if the habit is to feel bad then we get used to it, and fear moving away from the area that we are used to. Motivation is very low when we are suffering from depression and when it is apparent that a fix will necessitate motivating ourselves, and striving beyond our perceived limits, this is when we can fall down and submit ourselves to failure.

So I was attempting and succeeding in using this means of visualisation in motivating and pushing myself towards the goal of being the champion of my country in an Olympic throwing event. The image I used was one where I was ducking down from my pedestal at the winner’s podium, bending over to have the medal placed around my neck. I had the image so clear, I could make out the stitches on the ribbon attached to that medal. When the day came for the national finals, and I was so strong and well practiced that I took that discus in hand and threw that object further and harder than anyone else in my country for that age. I took my place on the winners pedestal and the fanfare went out into the half packed stadium.

Having decided that you want to get out of your quagmire that is when you can be helped. Medical professionals the world over are telling their depression patients this; ‘I cannot help you unless you help yourself.’ You cannot be forced to get better against your will. You have to want to get better in order for the treatment to work.

I had wanted to be at this very point, I had heard that fanfare before in my mind and its sound had been one of the driving forces that had led me to fulfill the prophesy I had built up, a prophesy I had gone on to bring to reality out of my own determination. It is often said that what we imagine, and the way that things work out based on these imaginings are often inherently different. I was too young perhaps to understand this, everything for me was black and white. You get out of life what you put in. As I stood there and took that gold medal around my neck and the cheers and claps rang out as my name was announced over the megaphone. I felt…absolutely nothing, I had been there so many times before. I had that image used in my mind so many times to the point that the image, once it was experienced was worthless. I had expected sparks to fly in my mind, I tried to command the hairs on my arms to rise with emotion, but I was near emotionless.

Sometimes the idea of getting back to normal is better than the reality, we see our lives sometimes with rose tinted glasses that allows us to imagine things being perhaps better than they actually are. With this known, don’t let it be a factor in stopping you from making things better, it is always better, to be better than worse.

You know I could have sat on my ass for all of those years of intensive training, and the world would not have batted an eyelid, whatever athletic achievement I may have endowed is long since past. Although I got literally nothing from that day but a medal and some praise, I did get something.

That is my point, it is the journey, it is the effort that is the actual reward, it is the punishment on your anxiety levels as you push yourself to lift your eyes to meet the person you will be talking to, in making those hard yards to get your body back active when you feel fatigued. Every moment therein should be remembered and held onto as part of that motivation, it is the journey to get there that is the depression fix.

Out of Sight, Out of Their Minds with Isolation (Effects of depression)

Following the Louth Rose from bed to bed, camera in hand we came upon an old gentleman whose surname was ‘Gray,’ his skin was gray, his face had shown this grayness in his lackluster mood, but when the lovely girl made her way to his bedside his eyes lifted and with that his mood lifted, I could see that from where I stood.

It was a nursing home run by the state, it still cost the families of these elderly people a great deal of money to place them in there, but it was cheaper than sending them to the scandal ridden other nursing homes in the state. The scandals came courtesy of exposes into how they treated the elderly left in their care. The careless attitude they adopted, leaving bed sores to fester in those who could barely move their bodies, leaving the bed sheets unchanged of the infirm who had wet themselves. There was more pain in being in these nursing homes, than if they had been left to fend for themselves in the outside world, even given their diminished capabilities to handle the pressures of looking after themselves.

The caption I wrote in the paper to that picture I snapped with the Louth Rose and Mr Gary was; ‘**** Gray’s day turns a little brighter.’ How long that brightness would last was anyone’s guess. But having been around all of those elderly people, and having seen what it meant for them to have to stay in that nursing home, day in and day out, even with the rare luxury of a family visit, those days were empty, those people were isolated and I could see with good cause that those unfortunate old people were suffering the effects of depression.

When all that we have is taken from us, when we grow to be too old to do things for ourselves, when the death of our life partners leaves us lonely and reliant on our own inner resources of keeping our mental health together alone, I can see how that would lead to the startling statistics on depression in the elderly.

It is the feeling of isolation that compounds the depression, isolated and feeling useless after years of contributing to society, decades and indeed generations of hard work and taxpaying and for what? To be left to rot and wither away in a place where although the staff members might know your name, and treat you like the child they never had, their attempts to treat you correctly pale against what you really deserve, and that is to have your family around you in your last days.

But that is not the way that modern society works, whereas generations ago it was the case that perhaps three generations of family would live together in a home, living in squalor maybe, and tight conditions maybe, but at least people weren’t lonely. It is with sadness that I reflect on how society has changed so much in such a short space of time. This evolution of the family unit that has seen work life, and its pressure s take precedent over the needs of the family, has occurred more quickly than any other evolution of thought in society. There is just no space for the elderly anymore in our lives, and even looking at myself, even as I write about how this is a social malaise, I don’t know if I will fare out any better when the time comes for me to do my part in a better way.

The nursing home is an easy fix for the family, taking the need to deal with the situation out of view, out of sight and out of mind. The effects of depression on these elderly people leaves them heart broken and on a quicker road to their graves, and maybe amongst the youth, although any death is a sad occasion, maybe amongst the youth this circumstance isn’t such a bad thing. With the elderly person gone, they don’t have to feel the guilt any longer.

Mood of a People, Mood of a Nation (What was the great depression)

Looking at things from a wee nation’s perspective that is itself suffering as a whole at present I see darkness I see rain, all around is financial pain. It is in a hole, a big deep one that is bigger than the nation itself, and will likely send the nation falling ever further into the abyss. The circumstances leading up to this hole, have played out their part on the mind’s of the citizens of the country. The country is seen to be depressed, because the people are depressed, why are they depressed? Because the housing market is depressed, the dole queue (social welfare) lengths are depressing. It is only now in poor old Ireland that I can see the more than tenuous link that money seems to have on our mood.

In the Celtic Tiger Years the Economist Magazine polled this little island nation as having the very best quality of living stakes in the entire world, it put us on a pedestal and the people felt they too were on this pedestal. The young and the old took to shoving cocaine up their noses. We took to lighting our cigars with five euro notes, and we took to taking out huge quantities of easy money credit from banks only too eager to throw it out hand over fist to people who really couldn’t afford to pay it back. However time for payback has come and just like what was the great depression in the United States, and the circumstances leading up to it, when the banks called for their money back it wasn’t there to be given back.

I’m surprised that it is only now I understand the relationship between money and mood, looking at Ireland and looking at The United States we both had a ‘swinging period’ before it all came crumbling down. What was the great depression, if it was not about the mood of the people as well as the mood of the markets, there is a link there. When the times are hard, be this either of the nations, when money is tight there is a heightening of the pressures that are faced by the family unit, there is an increase in demands on what little is owned. It may end up that the family unit faces eviction, which brings with it all manner of mental anxieties and consequent depression. What happened in The United States after Black Friday is happening in Ireland now. The people have been robbed by the government who guaranteed the banks turning the private debts of the risk takers into public death of the small population. Each individual is now $32,000 in debt as a result of the signature of a Prime Minister who had no mandate to do so. That is $32k of debt for every man women and child in the nation that is living or will be born in the next 20 years.

Maybe when there was no gain for people preceding this guarantee, that makes things worse. What was the great depression, the one main difference between the Unites States one and the Irish one was that it is those who have done no wrong in Ireland who are to suffer the most, with the people who brought the country to its knees to suffer least. The uncontrollable pressures on the family unit in Ireland right now are forcing the families apart, there are no jobs to be had, the value of what people thought they had after sinking everything they had into a Government fueled property bubble is now worthless. Many have mortgages for half a million on properties now only worth 40% of what they were. Given the interest rate those poor guys will have to pay out a clean million quid on paying the mortgage in full on a property that is only worth two hundred thousand quid. Imagine the cross that is to bear. Imagine forcing your way out of bed each morning at dawn and traversing the depression weary streets, the rain pouring sideways in a cold wind that bites, imagine going into your workplace (If you are lucky enough to still have one) and to have that hanging over your head as you try to earn your hourly rate, counting up each one as a practically inconsequential dent in the debt.

The Irish are in a state of depression overkill currently, they don’t want to read about it, they don’t want to talk about it, they want to be out of it, but this depression will be lasting for generations to come, the impression of the Irish globally as a happy people may not make it through this one intact.

Tipping the Scales, Balancing Meds V’s No Meds (Bipolar depression

Weighing up the evidence, it is hard to conclude that using medication in combating depression is the way to go. Please don’t take my advice here as gospel, but it is advice derived from professionals in the field along with mounting scientific evidence that there is little positive impact from using anti-depressants in anything but the most serious cases of the illness.

It is the new code amongst medical professionals that every other means of treatment should now be exhausted before the pharmaceutical route is taken, the new meds clinically proving from mountains of research that they bring with them side effects a plenty, but very little in the way of a cure. I guess life could never be as simple as that, if battling against a stoke and winging your way back onto your feet, if doing your damnest to get back to normal after a serious breakup, if trying to beat drug addiction or in recovery from a broken leg, none of these are solvable by popping a few pills down your throat.

Sure in almost all of the scenarios popping a pill or two wont do any harm, and may be necessary, yet taking meds is only a partial solution, be it soul searching, be it getting healthy exercise and changing your diet, or getting plenty of bed rest, in all cases the war is fought on many fronts. Getting back on top can’t be sorted just by putting chemicals into your body, and the research is showing that in the instances of anti-depression medications putting these chemicals in is only marginally more worthwhile an activity than swallowing a sugar pill. Whether you are ailed by major depressive episodes or bipolar depression it is only by mixing it up, using words, exercise, diet, society and drugs that you can hope to combat.

Go down the medication route however, and it doesn’t all end with the drug helping you, if indeed it is of any benefit at all. There is still one small matter of dealing with the consequences for your body, and some of the side effects can be quite difficult to handle the thought of, let alone handle if they actually appear. You would think with having bipolar depression or another ailment of the mind that you had enough on your plate, wouldn’t you? Let’s go through the list, and see how these sound to you.

What about a rise in your blood pressure and your pulse. When nausea, and vomiting come round it isn’t a pleasant place to be. Headaches, and dizziness, drowsiness, and dry mouth, handle able, all handle able I hear you say, ‘and anyway it is unusual that you would experience all of the side effects.’ But wait, there is more. Sweating, screwing up your lab tests, insomnia, constipation. ‘Oh wow,’ you thinking about going the natural route to achieve your goals of getting over this yet? Sexual dysfunction, what if I threw that one in there? Agitation, restlessness, blurred vision, weight gain – In fact the list goes on, the implication of trying to take the easy way out can be quite severe and the easy way out is seldom the right way out.

Going beyond the atypical antidepressants and the potential side effects actually worsen hypotension, urinary hesitancy, sedation, rashes, fatigue, you know I thought that these things were supposed to be curing you, but as well as being about as effective for anyone but the most severely depressed as leaving your ice cube house in front of the fire place for safe keeping, they can be damaging and addictive too.

It is a big ‘no no’ in the medical field to dole out these happy pills to anyone with an addictive personality whatsoever, but the US culture where people actually go into their doctor and ask for a drug by name, (How crazy is that?) it has led to more addicts to these pills than will ever be known. Weigh up the pros and cons before accepting any kind of treatment for your depression, solving it is always about balance. Follow your nose on this one even in this period when your decision making abilities have been limited by your ailment.

Drugs and Depression (What is depression)

The family of a girlfriend many years my senior once asked me in table top discussion, if I had any problem with drugs? I think it was meant in a way in relation to her, I don’t think that in the look of me there was any give away that I too enjoyed the occasional puff on a joint.

I remember jokingly remarking that I had a problem getting good quality gear. They half laughed, unsure exactly what I was saying, as this would not be the expected answer from a person who was dead set against any unnatural stimulus. They knew I enjoyed stimulus of a sort alright (well I was sleeping with their sister and sister in law respectively) but it wasn’t like I was puffing away in front of them, or like my eyes were hanging out of my head that afternoon after a heavy night’s smoking session.

I actually lost that women in the end because of an all night smoking session in the den of a group of people I detested, but there was truth in my statement that I had trouble getting my hands on good quality stuff, and while it can be a pleasurable experience smoking the occasional joint with real friends, on this occasion I was poisoned by the atmosphere and really not myself the next day as I and my girlfriend (that should be woman friend, her son was closer in age to me than I was to her… long story) went on a long drive to a literary festival at the other side of the country.

I was out of sorts as a consequence of the smoking the night before, there had been booze too and I guess I was experiencing the morning after blues. What is depression if it is not the blues? But the blues thankfully don’t linger on, and they fade away. I’ve spoken about the major depression I experienced in my formative years, but in my early 20’s I believe as a consequence of my fondness for the occasional joint, I encountered depression again.

Casting my mind back, I shouldn’t have played with fire. Being in that space before I took my first pull, I should have placed myself in the moment and said “I know what is depression, why would I want to dice with it again by abusing substances?” I should have had the strength to say no. Wow looking back, what am I? 29-years-of age now? Perhaps 15% (maybe more) of my life has been spent in the throws on one mental illness or another. Each was symptomatic of depression, one was brought about through the circumstances of life, and the other was entirely self-inflicted.

Psychosis and depression are synonymous with each other, one leads to the other. Being immersed in a false reality, full of manic highs and lows even when the drug was long since quit, it caused for a breakdown in communication with anyone but the weirdest of people. Looking back at that year now, I wonder how I managed to hold it together (I was experiencing thoughts that I am too embarrassed to even speak of here) how I managed to hold down a job, pay  my rent and somehow continue living a life without getting any professional treatment?

I remember it not being easy, I remember the anxiety and more than anything else I remember the fatigue. Snoozing away on that couch even when the sun was splitting the heavens outside, missing my youth under a cascade of what would have been avoidable had I only done the sensible thing and said no in the first place, or just have been more careful not to push the boat out.

I’m so glad that despite my weakness I did manage to hold onto one thing of which I am proud in a way, in spite of drugs being all around me, my flat mates and my so called friends (the weirdo people I mentioned) I never touched anything stronger than the occasional joint. I’m certain that had I done so, had I stated to push crap up my nostrils suicide Tuesday might have been taken in the literal sense as I was never flush with cash enough to make a reload possible for the hungry animal that is cocaine. Self induced, drug induced, life induced, trauma induced, what is depression if it is not the inducement of the bad from the bad?

Talking over Soggy Cornflakes (Major depression)

It is good to talk about your issues, or at least that is what I am told. It seems like the right thing to do, it sounds good as a sound bite, and it worked for me so I guess it wouldn’t be out of place for me to say it to you.

I remember two mornings before I was going to do the unthinkable, and remove my 14-year-old life from this earth. Looking back now, the notion is obviously reprehensible, I had a lot going for me that I just couldn’t see then, I was too cooped up in the formula that a major depression has set in stone for me since I was 11. Yeah I had suicidal thoughts even at that point. I remember looking at the window of my second storey bedroom back home, before I was shipped off to boarding school, looking at that window and visualizing first my head, then torso squeezing through and hitting the dirt below.

I remember a poem, one of about 40 I wrote that I later gladly confined to the dust bin, in that poem there was a line that talked about making certain to land on my head as it was the head that had caused all of this. I felt like I wasn’t smart enough, the major depression had left my mind too fatigued to force feed itself with rote learning’s. and I lost my edge over the competition in those years.

Two days before I actually was going to go ahead with it in my 14th year, I remember over our breakfast of cornflakes and milk, bringing up the subject of suicide with two of my band of boarding school brothers. It wasn’t typical breakfast talk, in truth I don’t remember what kind of drivel we would talk about, and in that time I remember that it was my failure with words, my always feeling that whatever I had to say it wasn’t good enough for any social circle, that left me as the silent weak type. I remember even envying the strong and silent type wishing I could move one step up that social ladder.

In my bringing up the topic I would soon learn as I started to research the subject, that I was residing myself right along with the statistics. The majority of young people contemplating suicide will try to talk about the actual act itself in the days preceding. Only a few months ago I again spoke to one of my brothers from that breakfast table discussion that morning. I had never known it at the time, but they were very worried about my welfare at the time, I didn’t know either at the time that my family had been making phone-calls to the school. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t tell me that they were thinking of me, at the time I felt so utterly alone in my struggle that when I made my way to my gallows that morning I thought that there was no one who cared, no one who knew even.

I didn’t go to school that morning, what did it matter that there would be people looking for me when I failed to say ‘yes sir’ when my name was to be read out in the roll-call, I would be long gone by then. Much of that day I block out, I remember every tear, I remember writing the note, I cant actually remember the means by which I was going to do it, but I did have a stone to get some glass from a broken window. I sat I cried and listened as one by one the class bells rang throughout the school buildings. I was down in the rugby changing rooms, there was no sport due for at least 8 hours. I thought I wouldn’t be found.

I wrote a poem about that day later on, and it was in amongst the other 40 when I made that ritualistic throwing away of all those negative words, in a way tossing out my major depression along with them. It wasn’t the end but it was a line in the sand and once the lines are drawn battle can commence.

Learning to Cycle All Over Again (Depression cause)

Ever had to speak to a great many people all at once, ever had to stand there and spill your words out with the beady eyes looking on searing into you? It is a scary prospect; it unnerves us, speaking in public gets easier with time. The fear subsides, we get over it and we get a handle on it, feeling the fear and the nervousness and using it as a tool to keep us alert to our audience.

One of the more senior presenters in the radio station where I worked told me once, that the moment you stop feeling nervous before going live to the ears of tens of thousands, that is when you should stop. Stop when it gets easy? It defies belief, the idea. Isn’t that why we pursue, why we push ourselves, isn’t it always about things getting easier?

Maybe a depression cause for me has been my inability to stay tied down in any job for so long that I get to the point of it being too easy, I tell a lie I got there once. Job related stress and anxiety can lead to subsequent misery, but what about the anxiety of speaking in front of a great many people, and more importantly what if there is anxiety not speaking to a great many, but two people, three, what about when we find a change in how we speak when it is one to one?

It is a symptom that depression has set in when we lose our power over words, when the voice that comes out of our mouth changes. It becomes lower in its pitch, it gets harder just to force words out. Certainly our brains aren’t firing on all cylinders when we have depression cause if it were, then we wouldn’t accept what depression tells us to think about ourselves, would we?

It may be that we just don’t feel like talking, that so long as we can somehow keep ourselves on a steady keel by keeping our mind’s munching on images on the television we won’t have to deal with people, and we won’t have to deal with the act of connecting with anyone. When words are a partial cure to our predicament, perhaps the reason why they are so hard to get out of us is that the depression does not want us to get better, maybe the depression itself is worried that if we are comfortable in our speaking then we may do the terrible thing from its perspective, and say how we feel. It does not want us to tell someone in this world that we have an issue we might need assistance with.

I give depression a persona because it has one, are you a sufferer, what was your depression cause? Do you think for a minute that the persona of the depression is your own? It is not, your words are your own, but this new persona sees it fit to parasite upon your old persona and change the entity, it wants you all to itself, reclusive and dwelling on the misery off which it feeds.

Have you noticed in your loved one who is dealing with the condition, how their speech pattern has changed? If you are lucky enough to get more than two words out of them how do those words sound, do they sound like they are coming from the person you know and love or is there a difference? As with getting over man’s apparent greatest fear in life after death itself, the fear of public speaking, it is about doing it again and again until it gets to the point of being a walk in the park.

Same goes for learning to get a handle on your tongue again after the onset of depression. Making the effort to speak again and again practicing getting a handle on your words is almost like having to learn to ride a bicycle all over again. Always one for finding the positives, I say that as far as I remember learning to ride a bike was good fun, learning how to speak all over again can be fun too.

It offers the chance to be more decisive about what you speak on, how you do it, more aware of yourself than you have ever been before. This learning to find the power of your speech all over again is one way that you can rebuild yourself to the point where you will be better than you ever were before.

“Thank God”(Clinical depression)

I had a dream, many dreams. In fact I dream nightly, but one dream shook me, one dream in particular left me waking up to question the very fabric of my life, my reason for being, it made me question everything.

Now the first war that I am old enough to remember was the first invasion of Iraq. But before wars run for money, there were battles on this earth that were about pretty much nothing, created for the satisfaction of jingoists. In my dream I found myself transported back to the trenches of WWI (I think I watch too much Discovery Channel) This war was the greatest waste of human life in history, it was shell-shocking for me earlier this year to stand in Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina at the Latin Bridge and the point of the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, a single shot that sent the gears of war of countries all over Europe and beyond turning to begin this war of attrition, to the death.

Death, we hear it so often, it is the subject on our newsprint. We eat it for breakfast and digest the Crime Scene Investigate shows by night. It is unfortunately a part of our lives, and as you might have read on this blog, the recurrent thought of death itself is a major factor in clinical depression diagnosis. Now my thoughts of death were not then and are not now centred round death, I have no fear of it, but I guess I’m too young to really have to worry about it yet. The dream that saw me pitted in the mire of WWI with one of those rounded green iron/steel I don’t know (Guess I should pay more attention to the TV) helmets. We were all down on our hunkers in the trench, I assume that I was on the ‘Allies’ side (wasn’t everyone.)

The thing about dreams is that very little detail usually sticks with us once we awake. Here and now thought there was only one thing that stuck with me, and it haunted me. There were bullets flying everywhere, I had my rifle in hand and I stuck my head up to fire off a few rounds. I can’t remember if I hit anyone at that point but one bullet came my way and shot clear through my useless helmet. I actually remember feeling the thud, I know you aren’t supposed to be able to feel physical pain that comes out of dreams, and it is unlikely too that in the space between a bullet hitting you direct in the side of the head, and your demise there isn’t ample time to actually feel pain.

Feeling the pain would have been haunting enough by itself, but in that split second between taking the shot that would kill me, there was a thought and two words that resonated out loud, two words that I uttered across my lips as the bullet took me out of sleep through my death therein, and back into real life. We are supposed to jump up in our beds at moments like this, aren’t we? At least that is how the movies show these moments to be. But I just lay there and said “Thank God.” What did I mean by that, was I really thankful that I was dead? Was I suffering from clinical depression without my knowing? From that dream the feelings I acquired from my death were actually ones of satisfaction, I was relieved that it was all over, that life was gone. I decided in the end that it was the personality of the soldier I was playing in the dream who was speaking, that he must have been caught up in this terrible war for a thousand days of misery and that there was a delight in no longer having to be there to play witness to the misery.

I know though that I am lying to myself, that there is something inside of me still deep rooted since the days of my clinical depression. It seems that no matter how far we come, there is always the chance that we can step right back to where we were. The haunting continues sometimes, but I resolve only to assume that indeed, life is worth living and that no matter how bad things are, they can always get better.

Mark Your Cards / Self Diagnosis (Depression scale)

There is one truth in life that at least we can hold onto in a world where the truth is often hidden from us, in a world where we are lied to, or a world that seems too complex for any real core truth to exist. That is that people are different, the things that happen to us have different impacts on each one of us. The way that we interact with others affects one person in a way that would be different for another. So too depression affects us all differently, where the malaise is always the same there is a depression scale that demonstrates how it affects some people worse than it affects others.

Our ability to stave off its more serious symptoms sometimes makes it more difficult for diagnosis. There are nine points of similarity in all sufferers however. Once four of these symptoms are met, then a diagnosis of depression can be made. The level of seriousness that the depression scale denotes is down to how many, in excess of four of these symptoms we are showing.

We may be experiencing a loss of confidence and self esteem. This almost goes without saying in the pressure cooker of the mind afflicted with depression, that just wants to tell us that we are somehow not good enough. There will be high levels of guilt being experienced over things that we have no right to be guilty of at all, and it is a tall order to counteract against what is not tangible. Sometimes the excessive and inappropriate feelings of guilt we exert upon ourselves cannot be battled, as it is difficult to battle an illusion until the root cause of that illusion is determined and removed.

Where the patient does not complain of experiencing sadness, this does not mean that sadness does not exist. One of the main lessons that an occupational therapy student will learn when honing their abilities to treat and deal with depressed people is not to ask the question, ‘how are you feeling?’ It is so easy for the patient to throw back ‘fine’ as an answer. The more open question that they are trained to use in determining the state of play in the mind of the patient and for finding where they sit on the depression scale is ‘do you think that life is worth living?’ It is open enough to shake the person to the core and garner a real answer, an answer that not only allows the care worker to see how you are feeling but to also determine if you experiencing the symptom of ‘recurrent thoughts about death.

It is simple enough to draw your own conclusions on your level of suffering once the information is placed in front of you, but it may take a trained professional to get a truly honest answer from you.  This is the list of symptoms, if you can say for certain that you are suffering from any four of these then you may judge for yourself if you are in fact suffering from depression and not just having a bad day or two.

If the mood is depressed for more than two weeks, if there is a loss of interest in this things that at one point you derived pleasure from, if there is a significant drop in weight, if sleep has become and issue, if your motor activity skills are down, if you are having difficulty in concentrating on the smallest things, then there is a strong chance that on the depression scale you are in fact depressed. Looking through this list how many do you feel apply to you? The most basic calling card of depression is a change on mood, if you are consistently down in the dumps then know that you have a problem. One truth is that problems don’t go away of their own accord. Seek help and get help, it doesn’t have to be from a medical professional, seeking out help from those around you is the first step to one by one seeing these symptoms disappear and see you right back being your honest to goodness self again.