My ‘In Blackest Night’ posts are my way of cataloguing all things depression related. My experiences, musings…just a way of getting those thoughts out there. My Mind appointment last week concluded with me having some ‘homework’. We talked about it a little but I needed to do it objectively.
The task was to document any indicators of mood change. Not just your typical bad mood days but when the darkness appears to be seeping back in and trying to take control. I was able to identify a number myself from conversations I’ve had with people before or upon reflection with the new found wisdom that I seem to gain every time I relapse. Different people may have different indicators, whether they be invisible or plain as day.
This list is in no way a reflection of what every person who suffers with depression will display or attest to. It is merely me sharing what I know or what others observe. I’ve said it time and again; I considered a lot of my dark thoughts as normal–everybody has to think like me, right? This is a common thought process for folks suffering with depression and other mental health issues. Because we know what we are thinking and those thoughts seem natural, we assume that others do the same. It’s almost like an extension of Descartes‘ cogito ergo sum.
Perhaps my list won’t be dissimilar to yours. Perhaps it will prompt you to consider your own and break the thought cycle that you endlessly run. The cycle is almost like a chase scene in ‘Scooby Doo’ with the recycled scenery, predictability and the inability to change the ultimate outcome. Perhaps it will help you to relate to someone close to you who suffers and won’t/can’t let you in. Whatever your takeaway is, if it helps then awesome.
So here goes. There may be things I haven’t added to the list because I haven’t identified them yet so I may end up editing this post with any subsequent observations/considerations.
- I become increasingly irritable and find myself needing to shy away from people
- Tying in with the first point, I become very quiet and avoid social situations where I can
- Typical, every day noises irritate me to the point where I feel like I want to scream
- I put my earphones in/headphones on and try to block out all the noise around me
- If I’m wearing a hoodie, I will put my hood over my head (and often have my earphones in too)
- I swear a lot more than usual and there is an element of vehemence behind it
- I feel my neck tense up and the pulse going up the right side of my neck and face pounds away like a jackhammer (I liken this to Stressed Eric)
- I often become incredibly drowsy and lie down and go to sleep
- I (unintentionally) take a lot longer to do things like get out of bed in the morning, get washed and get out of the bath/shower, get dressed and often turn up late despite being an early/punctual person on my ‘good’ days
- I tend to write a lot more (blog posts etc.)
- My concentration span becomes non-existent and I need to get people to repeat themselves as the words they’re saying fail to register
- I struggle to speak clearly–I stumble over words as if they are physical hurdles and I become increasingly angry at myself for it which then makes me do it even more
- I fail to think rationally and simple problems seem insurmountable
There are probably a lot more that could be added and it may be the case that myself and others have become fairly complacent and unable to differentiate the different behaviours I may display. But, to be fair, that’s a pretty hefty list. A few months ago, I would probably only be able to write one or two. That’s the funny thing about behaviours; we get so wrapped up in our own shit that we don’t stop and think how certain mannerisms, body language, physical manifestations etc. come across. For the majority of the time we don’t even realise we do these things until our attention is drawn to it. It’s a bizarre paradox considering I have a hyper-awareness and focus on how I am perceived by others and try to inhibit myself to avoid ridicule and such like.
A word of caution, though–these behaviours and other indicators I have outlined are what I convey/feel myself. Just because others may have similar traits doesn’t necessarily mean they are like me. They may suffer less or worse than myself and the situation itself can be a minefield. Until about a year ago, I refused to believe I was depressed. It angered me that people banded the term about when talking to/about me. It could easily have turned a lot uglier than it did and it’s a thin sheet of ice to walk. If you think someone close to you may be suffering from depression or any other mental health issue, don’t go in all guns blazing. It’s a tricky situation because pussy-footing around it can be just as damaging. Maybe there’s a knack to it or maybe it’s just pure luck/a mater of time but they have to come to terms with it themselves and in their own time. The stark reality for myself is that it took me around 14 years to come to terms with it.