Tag Archives: insomnia

The best way to get rid of a Dementor is to write about it

It’s been one of those days, and I have retreated to my safe place of happy films and Pinterest. During an inspirational pinning session (we’ve all been there am I right) I found a quote about writing – ‘a day will come when the story inside you will want to breathe on it’s own, and that’s when you’ll start writing’. Sometimes I get so sad I feel like I’ve swallowed a black cloud and my ribcage is going to burst. Sometimes I am scared of leaving my bedroom for fear of life collapsing around my ears, and no matter how hard I try ‘life’ that day I end up lying on my side in the dark waiting for my husband to come home. There are days when I am the essence of fun-loving itself, but there are days when a text can reduce me to tears – swings and roundabouts, bloody swings and roundabouts. Today is one of those days where the Dementor is sat with me in the living room as I tap at my keyboard, so I might as well try to tap him away (much less calorific than chocolate too).

I’m incredibly lucky to have lots of wonderful people in my life – people who give me pep talks when I need them, people who are a shoulder to cry on, people who are ready to kick me in the direction of reality when I need it – but not everyone can talk about it as freely as I can. So many sources claim that 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from depression at some point in their lives, so you’d think it would be easy to talk about, right? Not right after all. It’s getting easier, especially if you’ve stopped caring what most people think as I have done, but it’s not nearly as easy as it should be. You can chat to your friends if you’ve come down with a cold, or if your smear test came back irregular, or if you’ve been getting regular headaches – all medical problems, all illnesses – but if the illness happens to be depression then the conversation is a lot less run-of-the-mill.

These days people seem to be a lot more informed about mental health issues, even if they don’t suffer themselves or know someone close who does, but there is still a mystery there and I’m beginning to think it is down to the sufferers to fill in the gaps. I have amazing friends who have said I am the only person they know with depression, so it is up to me to explain it as best as I can – to send them into the world and every day life with a better knowledge of what it’s like to live as a normal, functioning, fun-loving human being that happens to live with the black dog every now and then. Where do you begin though?!

I read an incredible book on honeymoon called ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ by Matt Haig. I couldn’t recommend it enough, and if I was more financially stable I’d buy every single friend of mine a copy. In the early days I read a lot of psychology books, thinking if I could identify what was physically happening inside my head I’d understand it all better. I’ve read memoirs, I’ve read articles, I’ve read every blog under the sun – clinical depression, PTSD, post-natal depression, grief, stress, bipolar, personality disorder…every single one gave me another snippet of understanding, another patch to add to the fabric of knowledge, but this book was the biggest lightbulb moment of them all. I’m a very quick reader but I absolutely devoured every page of ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’. It’s basically about a man who suddenly began having panic attacks which lead to a massive breakdown and his subsequent diagnosis of depression. He is brutally honest about the lows, some I’ve definitely not experienced myself, but every paragraph gave me that feeling I love from the best kinds of books, the feeling that someone else has felt the exact same thing as I have.

If you asked me how depression felt the answer would change depending on the day. When I’m happy, depression is like a rainy day – you know one is going to come by eventually, and even though you’re not looking forward to it you are comfortable in the knowledge that it won’t last forever and besides, it’s such a sunny day you can’t possibly think about a rainy one. When I’m sad, it’s like someone has literally sucked the endorphins out of me; I can look at happy photos of myself and feel like it’s someone else’s face smiling back at me – that can’t possibly be me, I can’t comprehend I was ever that happy and the thought that feeling will ever come to me again is impossible to imagine.

It’s like true love – when you feel it, you know, and explaining it succinctly to anyone else is not an easy task.

I have not had a really awful episode for quite some time now, and I am touching wood that it is quite some time until I have to endure one again. When I get a visit from the Dementors it is unpleasant and unkind, but I have to remind myself my current success rate of defeating them is 100% so I’m doing alright. I can’t explain how it feels and I can’t make it easier for people near me to understand, but the fact people are actually acknowledging that it is a struggle is a victory in itself.

To all my friends and special people who have come to notice when the black dog is visiting, who know to give me space or that there are times when I am truly not myself, my gratitude could never be as full as I wish it could be. To all my friends who still don’t quite understand, thank you for sticking with me all the same. I hope one day we will all be able to talk about the problems in our heads as easily as we can talk about the problems with our bodies. Until more money, research and resources are ploughed into mental health issues and their treatments, we’re going to have to get used to them being around. Might as well get talking.




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Fifty Shades of Blue

They say therapy comes in all different forms. Some people like to sit on a big couch and tell a professional all their problems; some people like to sit on a friend’s couch and tell said friend all their problems. Some people go shopping, some people pour a stiff drink and some people buy a cat. I can find therapy in all sorts of different places – it’s usually in friends or Harry Potter marathons or taking deep breaths in my garden, but sometimes the tried and tested methods don’t seem to cut the mustard. Tonight is one of those nights so I am turning to the age-old therapy of writing about it in the hope that it will help.

I don’t know how long it’s been since I last wrote. I started this blog in the hope that I’d be able to chip in regularly, but this grand idea faded quite quickly when I realised it would either become an amateur attempt at self-healing or a constant update of my temperamental changes in mood, something which is hard enough for an individual to cope with let alone people reading for fun.

I didn’t want to write only when I was in the depths of despair, nor did I want to write when I was having an on-top-of-the-world day and feeling obnoxiously optimistic. Depression can be both those feelings, but more often than not it is a spectrum – fifty shades of blue, if you will.

There is the warm glow of periwinkle when you wake up to realise all those nasty thoughts keeping you awake last night are actually untrue, and your head has allowed you to get through this day without a mean voice badgering every move. There is the deepest navy of those days where you feel like you will never see periwinkle again and the only place you deserve to be is crying in the corner of a dark room because you are worth no more. Some people might think that to have depression means only having navy, and to not have depression means everything is periwinkle all the time, but they don’t see all those shades in between where people suffering from depression spend most of their time.

When it’s a bright day my brain tells me I’m exactly where I need to be and that I deserve every success. On a pale day, it tells me I am lucky and that I should be grateful. On a dark day, it tells me no-one knows quite how I’ve held on for this long and the world will soon discover my happy life is all a mistake. How I feel about life depends on the shade of day I’m having, and it’s easy to see why depression is so exhausting.

I’m at a really busy time of my life at the moment – thankfully, I am often too busy to be concerned with what shade I am and the only option is to plough through regardless. Although this is a successful strategy for getting stuff done, it does leave me feeling knackered and more susceptible to the darker blues when I am lying in bed late at night with a tired body and a whirring brain.

Night time is the worst time, hence me writing this blog post at such an ungodly hour. No matter how busy I have been during the daytime, as soon as evening comes along I am panicking about the night and readying myself to fill it with activity to the point where my eyes are struggling to stay open and sleep is the only option. I distinctly remember dreading bedtime when I was a child and now I am 25 that fear has not gone away – I just have no adults to make me go to bed now, so my early hours are filled with work, books, jobs around the house and music until my brain is forced to succumb. It’s not ideal when a good night’s sleep is billed as the ultimate keystone for a healthy life, but anything that stops me from crying into my pillow at 4am gets my vote.

The clock is pushing 2.30am now and I feel like I’ve dragged this night out as long as I can. In past posts I have managed to wrap everything up on a positive note, but perhaps this post is about being comfortable with how things are going whatever shade you are feeling. It has turned into the first day of a new month, and it’s a month which marks the start of a very busy, meaningful and exciting time in my life. I know happy times don’t guarantee a happy mood, and that a difficult patch doesn’t mean constant dark days, but I am learning to make the most of the light in every day no matter how dim it can seem.

Morning will be here soon in more ways than one, and if there’s one thing I can be sure of it’s that I always feel better in the morning.

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