I have had depression for as long as I can remember. I remember suffering from it when I was in primary school, all the way back to playschool. I’ve always had these brain-gremlins.
At the begining of this year I sorted through a load of old papers, and found some old notes of mine… some very depressed writings. I typed them up onto my computer and threw away the originals, because I felt they needed to be remembered, but not to be held onto. I have enough troubles now without holding on to the ones from the past.
(I found other things in my old paperwork too. Birthday cards from friends, letters from penpals. I did hold onto those. You can never have too much joy in your life.)
Anyway, I thought I’d share my old writings here so that people who are interested can see what goes through my mind when I’m low. Please remember that these are just snippets from a life that is wonderful and has many ridiculously happy times and memories. And remember that, even when you feel like you’ll never be happy again, this too will pass. Things always get better.
– In secondary school:
Who? Her! I know her, yes.
Her name is… Well we call her…
I can’t quite remember
It’ll come, just wait and see.
I ought to know, she’s in my class,
In Geography, and Spanish, French
and science, Irish, Maths.
I’ve heard her name, so many times,
But now it seems it’s slipped my mind.
I know she’s quiet during class,
(And mostly after class as well)
She likes to draw, and hates to write
She also likes… well I can’t quite,
Seem to remember, not right now,
We never talked, at least not much,
About things we both liked and such,
I’m sure she’s very nice and all,
But her name I can’t recall,
I barely knew her. As a rule
We never met outside of school.
Only once, or maybe twice.
When we talked she seemed quite nice
But I must say, I don’t quite see,
How all of this relates to me.
She was just another girl,
Someone I met but never knew.
We talked sometimes, that much is true,
But beyond that she was not my friend,
Just a girl I knew from school.
– college years:
Free writing. I’m just going to write without any plan and hope that it can help me sort through some of these emotions. I know that I’m making progress. My mind is clearer than it was and I’m not feeling so… unfeeling anymore. I’m still having a lot of problems, especially with my low self esteem. Now that I have a boyfriend it’s really becoming obvious. It keeps telling me that it’s only a matter of time before he figures out that I’m not worth it. It’s strange to think about that. I have trouble with the fact that I believe I’m worthless, yet it’s behind everything I do. My life is built around the fact that I have to prove myself. Every day I prove to myself that I’m a good sister, that I deserve my place at home, that it’s ok for me to have friends. Then the next day I have to prove it all over again. If I stop trying then there’s only the worthless me left. I feel like only my actions have any meaning.
I know that I’m a good person, I know that I’m a good friend, that I’m caring, friendly, kind. I prove these all to myself all the time. I know I do good things because I make sure I do. I need to to earn my place, to deserve what I have in life. At home I prove myself through housework. I don’t know how else to do it. I feel I have to protect Aisling, to give her guidance and comfort and love, but I don’t know how to do it. So instead I clean and clear and tidy. I want to have a nice home. I want my family to have a nice home. I want them to be able to come back here and feel that they can relax here. I want a home where the worries don’t come crowding as soon as you come in the door. I want a home where the bills are paid and the paperwork dealt with as soon as it comes in the door. I want a home where we have what we need and don’t need to panic when something unexpected comes up. I want to help but I don’t know how, so I clean instead. A clean house means to me that I’ve done enough. That I haven’t failed, or messed up. It means that I’ve done something to help. It means that I’m worth something.
– Later in my college life:
I’ve been lying to myself. I’ve been pretending that everything’s ok when it’s not. We don’t have enough money for me to go to Seattle. Even if I get a summer job i still won’t be able to go. Even worse we don’t have enough money for me to repeat a year if I fail my exams. I’m not even studying for them and if I fail I’m out of college. Forever. I need to get a job. I need to start studying. I need to act as if something really matters not just the now. But I just can’t focus. I’m feeling resentful towards dad. I’m feeling constantly tired and I’m getting short tempered with my friends. If I go on like this I’ll lose eveything. I’m so afraid of messing up. I’m afraid of losing my friends, of going back to life like it was before college, alone, no enemies, but no friends either. Only this time I won’t even have mum there for me when I go home. And I’m losing Dad too. I’m losing him and he’s losing me. We never talk about how we feel. I don’t think he even sees how much I hurt and I never mention it. I’m silent til I snap. I never talk about how I feel and when I do it’s not with Dad. Colin, Cathal, Lowery, Aine… I’m closer to them than I am to my family now. They keep me sane. They hold me back from the edge. If it wasn’t for them I’d be lost. I can hardly remember what it felt like to sit alone because I feel more comfortable that way. I used to. I would avoid others. I didn’t feel comfortable in company. Since coming to college I’ve worked hard to make friends. I’ve had to build up my trust until I can believe that the people I know really want to know me. That I mean as much to them as they do to me. It has been hard but I’ve come so far. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all. I’ve come this far. I can go further. Whatever comes I can make it, as long as I never believe that I’m done. there is always more to come.
just over a year after leaving college:
“I’m an unemployed bum. I’m a drain on the system. I’ve been unemployed for over a year now and there is still no sign of me getting a job. Hell, all I’ve done in that time is decide that I don’t like my chosen profession. Maybe it’s all my fault. I know I could try harder. I know I could be better. But then, you can always try harder and be better. When can you have enough? When can you just sit down and relax and not have to feel guilty.
What if I’m no use?
What if I’m no good to anybody?
– When I started looking at my depression more from an outside point of view:
I don’t remember when I first became aware of the voice in my head. I certainly know it existed for a long time before I gave it a name.
“I’m calling it Horace” I announced to my friends on facebook “So when it argues with me I can retort with ‘Yeah? Well you’re named after a cheese’ ”
And argue it did. Horace’s favourite phrase was “shut up shut up shut up!” and he seemed to use it as often as possible.
I’d be lying in bed, telling myself I should really get up soon.
I’d be budgetting; wondering if I could afford a weekend away.
I’d be trying to get up the energy to work on a project, knowing it would be good for me.
At first I assumed that Horace was the sulky brat part of me. The bit that shouted at anything that wasn’t going his way. Gradually, though, I noticed something:
When I lay in bed in the late morning there was a voice in my head telling me I should get up and do things. There was another voice that insisted that there was no need to get up, and nothing to do. Neither of these voices was Horace… In fact, Horace wouldn’t make his appearance until the debate had been going on for a while. “Shtupshutupshutup” he’d say, or sometimes when he got particularly talkative “Fuck off world!”
But what was he getting so emotional about? He sould never say!
Slowly the realisation dawned. Horace was the childish part of me, but he wasn’t a spoiled brat. Instead he was hurt, alone, confused… and wishing that his parents would please, PLEASE, stop fighting.
Horace didn’t care if I stayed in bed.
Horace didn’t care if I got up.
Horace only cared about endless hours spent arguing with myself; neither of me listening to what the other had to say. Horace only shouted because it was the only way he knew how to communicate. The only way I’d ever shown him.
I’ve always been good with kids. I treat them with respect, and I listen to what they have to say, and they appreciate that. Now, after all these years, I’m learning to treat myself that way too. It’s a long lesson to learn, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a little respect can make!
– About 2013 (this one was tough to transcribe ‘cos it was in mind-map form)
Can I do it?
I’m too lazy
–action or inaction is a choice not a state
–seriously, have you seen the things I can do if I’m motivated?
people wouldn’t belive I can
–people believe many things that aren’t true.
I have no idea what I’m doing
–You don’t need to know everything
–Running training, teaching crafts, Captain of DUFC
I’m afraid of responsibility
–only because I take it seriously. That’s good.
–I’m also scared of people, noise, and water. When has that ever stopped me?
I can’t do it all myself and I have trouble letting others help
–Don’t “let”. “Ask”. Your terms, not theirs.
–You’ve been practicing being a leader. Now use it!
I suffer from depression
–NO! I *cope with* depression. I *live with* depression. I beat depression on a daily basis!
Anyway, I know this was a long post, and I hope if you read it all you feel like you’ve gotten something from it. I guess the only point I’m really trying to make here is that you are not alone. Other people feel like this. I feel like this. And it’s shit, but it’s not wrong. We are still good and worthwhile people. We just have to deal with some brain-gremlins that like to tell us that we’re not.