So, I’m relatively open about my depression – nowadays. I guess that’s fairly obvious from this blog, but there are things I find it difficult to talk about to certain people or at certain times.
Take work for example – I was very open about having Chronic Depression when I applied – I made sure it was on all the forms I needed to fill in about existing health conditions. I’m also fairly open with my colleagues, I wouldn’t say I’ve made an announcement, but neither do I hide the fact. If a conversation moves that way, I’ll quite openly state that I have Chronic Depression, and that it’s under control, but I don’t tend to go into any detail, and not everyone in the department knows.
However that’s pretty much where I draw the line with work, which can lead to awkward questions and conversations on occasion. As mentioned in a previous blog, I have a habit of scratching my arms when stressed, or in a particularly low mood, and although I’m openly depressed, I’ve not told anyone that a certain level of self-harm plays a part of it. I wear shirts for work so my arms are covered, but the office gets hot and I often roll my sleeves up, and this shows the marks on my arm very clearly (particularly as they tend to start at the bottom of the rolled up shirt sleeve). Occasionally someone notices them and asks what happened to me – and then it starts. I can’t say – oh I did it to myself, without getting into a conversation I don’t feel comfortable having with my colleagues. In fact they’re very hard to explain away – last time I was asked I said I’d been in a fight with a hedge. I deliberately made it a bit jokey and hoping that would be the end of the conversation – it was that time. There was a bit of follow up chat, but it was accepted that it had happened whilst gardening. It did however make me very aware of the scars on my arms and has meant that since then I’ve tried to keep my arms covered more of the time, I’ll get away with the hedge story once, but not again if there are fresh scratches and scars on my arms again.
On the same topic, a friend asked this weekend what had happened to my arms, and this is someone I know has read my blog, and is very aware of my depression and stuff, yet I still found it difficult to articulate what the scars were. I said something about – ‘Oh I had a fight with myself’, and then my friend realised and confirmed they were actually from me scratching myself. This was an odd one for me – it was a friend who knew the situation yet I still found it hard to articulate that it was something I’d done to myself. And of course there was nothing wrong with them asking, my brain just goes funny about it.The same stands true with H, for a while I passed my scars off as being clumsy (which is still one of my symptoms of depression), and it actually took them asking directly if I was self-harming for me to admit it – to myself as well.
I’ve not really thought about it before, and whilst I can understand the work thing, I really don’t know why I’m so reluctant to speak about his to friends and particularly to Helen.
The other thing I find particularly difficult to talk about , and at some level even acknowledge, is when I’m having a rough patch. I find it easy to talk about past experiences and symptoms, and actions I take to help – even if I’m going through the same thing again as I write about it, but I find it incredibly difficult to step up and say ‘this is happening to me right now’.
As an example, sometimes when on a down swing I find myself welling up for no reason, and occasionally someone will notice and ask what’s wrong. I find myself unable to share, that it’s just my emotions being all out of whack due to my depression – I’ll pass it off instead to having banged my leg on the desk, or having a cold that’s making my eyes water or something along those lines. This is not just at work, this is around friends and H as well. Again I don’t know why I do this, I’m very aware that I’m doing it, I know it’s ridiculous at some level, but I can’t get past that to actually open up about what’s happening to me at the time.
These are just two examples, but there are other similar behaviours. I find it easy enough to talk about past experiences with depression but very hard to talk about what’s happening right now – unless I’m in a good place. It’s quite possible that during bouts of depression my brain isn’t in any sort of place to talk about what’s going on – it’s all concentrated on keeping things together as much as it can. Whilst I can understand this, I also know that being able to talk through what’s actually happening would probably help me work though it more quickly. And that right there kind of sums up my depression in many ways – I know I have it, I’ll talk openly about what I’ve been through, I can recognise when I’m in a bad patch, but its effect is such that I find it hard to take the immediate steps that will help me deal with it – at least those that involve others – and that’s kind of messed up.
As ever thanks for reading and stay safe all.