Do you like what you see?

Lately the question of morality has started to play on my mind.

Areas of my personality have come to light, and accepting them and being at peace with them is of a great challenge. We’re set the standards for what is “right” and “wrong” by the world outside of ourselves, but when that doesn’t fit with what we’ve come to experience for ourselves, the lines get blurred, and lost in a cloud of grey. I know I have traits that are looked down upon, but they still need to be expressed, some how. It’s a case of finding a healthy outlet for the ugly, or maybe exploring if it’s really that ugly in the first place.

A battle of desire, really.

 

Depression: Dealing with your personal hell

I first experienced what could be classified as depression when I was a young child. I remember a time when I was staying with relatives and ended up shutting myself away in a bedroom during the day, just lying still on the bed, shut down and not wanting to do anything else for hours. From there, the depressive state would inevitably progress through my teen years and in to early adulthood, finally with it becoming paraylzing in my early 20’s. Since then, for the most part I’m generally one degree under, while having varying degrees of depressive states lasting from a few days to weeks on end. There have certainly been exceptions and highlights where I genuinely felt free from the depression, yet it has been my prominent state of being for a large part of my time in this world.

You can look at a check list of “symptoms” on various medical websites, you can go to have yourself analyzed by a regular Psychiatrist, but in my experience this tells you little about the source of the condition and only really helps in describing and identitfying some of the experiences that have generally shown up from living with it. Having been down the Psychiatric route, taking different drugs, spending time in hospitals, reading more on/associated with mental health in general and from interactions with others struggling with the mental health, my position on the matter is that I do not believe it to be an illness, but a state of the human condition with as many causes as there are unique individuals.

However, what I’m looking to focus on here is the depression experience itself and why I feel it essential for it to be completely considered and understood to begin with if a person is to be helped to come to a better state of wellbeing.

Typically, the onset of a deep depression for myself normally starts with irritibility, anger and frustration in anything I happen to be doing  (usually when a trigger comes to mind). Then my world closes down around me and the hell starts to manifest. It’s like being in a plastic bag, where the top was once opened, but then it suddenly gets clenched together and tied up, leaving you with little air to breath. At this point, everything loses it’s value, it’s comfort or anything that would be pleasing. All that’s left are the various ways in which the mental and emotional body can torture me. Most notably, vivid memories which highlight particular emoitonal traumas.

The memories tend to be associated with the triggers that I have. It can be essential to know your triggers, as it can be a key in limiting your exposure to them or to safely overcome them. For example, I have a trigger connected to rejection. If I were to put myself in a situation where there was a strong likelihood of harsh rejection, chances are I would come tumbling down like a house of bricks that has just had the foundation knocked out from underneath it. Depending on whether that situation hits more than one trigger, it can pro-long the torment and the sensation of a dagger piercing the heart can accompany the crashing feeling.

Once the memories have surved their purpose, then my imagination can turn to different ways of self-anhillation. Picturing my demise is just a way of acting out and serves only to pass the time and express the torment (I personally don’t feel anyone wants to kill themselves when they’re in the darkest depths of despair, it’s just that the person feels it’s the only possible way they could be free at that particular point. All death is, is the promise and hope of freedom and it’s the freedom that’s desired.)
At some point or another, the irritation, anger and frustration can return. Especially if it means doing anything related to keeping myself alive, like having something to eat or drinking enough water.

When I sink further, I can get insomnia when I want to sleep, or if I do sleep it’s short lived. This reinforces the hell, because the only way to be free at that point is to sleep, so I’m denied the only solace I receive and it feels more like being condemned.
There are a few ways I tend to be brought out of the state.

1) I weather the storms long enough to be brought back up to a calm state where I can function again. Eventually the energy behind this all dissipates, and there is peace for however long it lasts.

2) I find the company of someone very specific so I can communicate and work through what is currently coming up in thought from the experience. This is pretty much a theraputic kind of relationship, where someone is capable enough to tackle this with me.

3) An event outside myself takes place that has some profound meaning to me and intiatiates a shift. This is more rare, but it certainly happens at the most unexpected of times.

In discovering all of this about myself, it’s made the journey into the depths acceptable and given me the strength to become more resilient to it. There have been points where the depression has completely lifted and there still continue to be those points. It’s only when the exploration is complete and the correct amount of knowledge and wisdom gained, that there will be liberation from it for good.

It’s the exploration which is key and why it’s important for professionals who are assigned to help us, to understand what is taking place and why, with the emphasis being on the individual whose experiencing it. The exploration allows for progression (of which there has been considerable from when it first started for myself) for a person to manage their hell to the point where it can be escaped without anything other than human contact to assist. The answers to our problems are contained within all of us, and what we are entitled to have as human beings, is the chance to discover them and utilise them so that we can be our own saviours. Having that power taken away from us and put in someone elses hands only serves to weaken us and make us susceptible to being controlled and manipulated.

We are much more powerful than we’re often led to believe and fully capable of overcoming the difficulties of the human condition by our own means.

 

 

Batteries not included

I’ve recently come out of a particularly dark week, where it was common to have imagery of self destruction and complete hopelessness.

I managed to work through it and seem to have come out on top much better.

I’ve been pulled out of my comfort zone, by spending more time outside, doing different tasks and socializing. There is this sense of something inherently wrong or unsettling by doing what most would consider just ordinary. There is this perpetual tension going on inside and I can’t quite place why. Perhaps because I have desires and needs that are harder to come by, or maybe I’m expecting too much of myself and others. It could be that I’m waiting for the right road to turn down to open up the greater possibility of development. It’s like every step I take, there is a cross road under my feet and none of the directions have any appeal. I can listen to others, take interest, join in – but I feel little effect from it. My actions have no weight to them – they feel empty and lifeless.

It’s like being a man made machine, or robot, with an emotion chip built in – but not quite.

It’s a challenge to feel like a functional human being.

I’m going to persist, by going out and trying some new activities and see if anything new comes to light.

 

 

Gotta get it out somehow, right?

Drawing for me can be like hard work. I’ll settle into it for hours on end, even though I may find it stressful or frustrating. I’m not one to find my myself fully enjoying the process. I mean, I don’t consider myself very talented but I do my best to represent something which has had some thought behind it. I like to convey different meanings and messages through the medium.

I can freshly remember many years back where I first started to seriously contemplate sitting down to put ink or pencil to paper on a regular basis. I was going through a particularly difficult period and I would cover a page of A4 paper fully with an abstract representation for the suffering I was going through. It had a very tribal feel to it, done in black ball point pen – to me, I’d done something I didn’t think I had it in me to do. Out of an unseen imagination I’d created something uniquely my own in material form to see. An expression of my own personal experience.

It seems the importance of our creative natures is often underplayed when it comes to our health in contemporary society. At times it can be the only action necessary to remedy what has stricken us down, amongst all the common treatments meant to fix up just right. I had a vision once of people healing themselves by combining creative arts in talking therapy sessions. Where people could speak their mind through their pictures, words or music when their voice was no longer adequate enough. By unifying all aspects of healing to suit an individuals needs we cater to the very core and essence of that person. Why settle for anything else?

Involuntary prisoners

How many people in the world consider themselves in confinement, regardless of their situation?

They may get up everyday next to their partner, greeting their children as breakfast is undertaken. They may walk out the door early in the day on their way to the familiar career that they have. They may have lunch with friends. They may attend a performance of some sort in the evening. They may greet their mistress or secret lover late at night before going home. Some may have more or less.

Yet, behind going through the motions they may still feel locked in chains and shackles.

Every set of walls they come to reside in may remind them of how trapped they really feel, and how much they wish they were free to do as they please, or be liberated to discover what that was.

I may live a life locked away in my own prison, escaping once in a while to taste a world out of these four walls. Yet rather than seek a way to be free from it, I’d prefer to create freedom from within it. This is currently my journey as I see it.

Getting out of limbo

The past few weeks I’ve found myself becoming lower in mood, and as a result I’ve had less energy to get on with things. As of now, the only time I tend to step out of the front door is to see my psychotherapist or visit the local shop once a week. Sometimes I struggle to motivate myself to do either of those things.

Having such an inactive lifestyle doesn’t help, but being caught in a vicious circle tends to keep it that way. I feel in order for it to be worthwhile to step out of the front door more often, something fundamentally within me needs to change, so there is less disharmony and discord going on. That’s what tends to eat up all the energy. That being said, I’ve been medication free for a number of weeks now, so if I’m able to remain relatively stable emotionally and mentally then I can be thankful for that. The last thing I really want to do is to jeopardize my well being further, resulting in another trip to the psych. hospital.

On the upside, being in contact with a couple of people over the web recently has helped to lift me somewhat. It reminds me of how vital it is to keep contact with people who can mean something to us. It ended up resulting in a sleepless night, where I felt more motivated to try and take a step forward to do something constructive – hence why this blog exists. Towards the end of being up 36 hours straight, I felt I was on the verge of becoming a bit high, with the possibility of being lost to racing thoughts. While the odd bizarre thought popped into my head, for the most part I was grounded in reality (as much as I can be anyhow).

I still wish to be making more progress than I am, working towards a more healthy lifestyle. Spending most of my time in-front of one screen or another takes it’s toll on me. I’d prefer to push further away from apathy and to look to sustain what interests I still have, enough to motivate myself to create a life outside of these four walls. Easier said than done of course, but just having some sort of starting point would do.

Hopefully I can continue to keep my head above water – then bring up my shoulders.

How can ‘lived experience’ be useful?

In more recent years within the UK, there has been a greater emphasis towards the ‘lived experience’ of people suffering with mental health problems. People working in the field have been asking how these people have found mental health services to be and what it is they have to offer in order to work towards improving the help available for those people that require it.

As someone who falls into that category, it’s a question I’ve pondered on from time to time. I’ve offered some of my time to different courses, workshops and volunteer opportunities with this question in mind, but I’ve found it a challenge to make effective use of the lived experience I have to offer. Having found that to be disheartening, I’m more curious to know the answer to the question asked.

I feel part of it has to do with the general attitude from professionals and employees within mental health services and the field, towards the people who look to use them. With how prominent the Psychiatric system is, and with what is considered to be the facts and truths associated with ‘service users’ and their health, having an opinion or personal evidence that contradicts this otherwise tends to be dismissed and given little consideration. Say, for example, you have lived experience of Psychiatric hospitals and their facilities. There are certain rules and laws that take away your basic human rights, but due to the models and beliefs in place from those in power, having lived experience doesn’t really have any value towards making a difference in this respect.

I feel for lived experience to truly make a difference, more people have to give much less power over to those in mental health services, and work towards taking it back for themselves. Having more people who are considered to be service users working together with each other, whether it be within their communities or within the mental health field, is probably what needs to happen for lived experience to be of any true worth or value. I feel it’s crucial that those who are directly involved in creating mental health services, have a great understanding of what it’s like to live with these problems. In saying this, the only way of truly understanding what it’s like to suffer with these problems is to have had first hand experience of it to begin with, as opposed to coming from a purely academic background on the matter.

Perhaps a greater challenge for those with lived experience, is that of having enough of  a reason to care about making a difference. With what these people have to face on a daily basis, it can be of great difficulty to sustain an interest and to feel it’s worth their while to make the considerable effort required to contribute to the cause. Being able to give the people the courage, inspiration and motivation to better themselves, or to make the time for the cause, may end up being the one important key that opens the door to the greater possibility.

 

 

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