The base of a limestone kiln on Anglesey

Let’s talk about “being a bit sad”

The base of a limestone kiln on Anglesey
It’s a path from light to dark and dark to light.

So, as you may have noticed – this is a blog. Some of the things on here are related to my day job (developer), and some of the things on here revolve around depression, introspection and related states of mind.

Depression is a big subject for our society, and it’s still a little bit taboo – which given the number of people affected [1] is a tad incredible. I must add, my credentials to hold forth on the subject are borne purely of experience, having been depressed, having depressed friends and family, and even depressed work colleagues. While I have studied some psychology, all that is really left of this after 15 years is a familiarity with the terminology, and a degree of certainty that Freud was maladjusted.

As this is the opener, I believe it’s traditional for me to explain some of my history (to the group!) before we touch on any of the other topics; so here’s 16 years in a few paragraphs.

When I was about 18, I suffered a head injury; a hard enough whack for me to have a temporary amnesia about how it happened, certainly hard enough to increase the probability that I would suffer depression at some point in my life [2]. (Incidentally, there are some interesting comments in that paper regarding the root cause of post traumatic depression – those in particular who suggest malingering should probably be volunteered for a double blind trial..) I didn’t have long to wait, immediately after the incident I withdrew a long way from my normal social circle and started to spend more and more time around the house. My horizons rapidly narrowed until  I was spending most of my time in two rooms.

Having been a ‘lie-in’ teenager, I then adopted an entirely reversed sleep pattern. My food intake dropped, I stopped seeing everyone except my closest friends (more on these amazing people later) and pretty much discarded the contents of my wardrobe.

Looking back it’s very easy for me to look at that behaviour and escalation and say Depression, but at the time it actually felt like the sort of change that any person goes through in their lives. Given enough time, I suspect that the younger me would have been able to rationalise or excuse any of those points (or at least become so defensive that you felt had to change the subject).

A crevice at Arthur's cave near the Biblins
A crevice from light to dark. Freud would probably have a lot to say about this picture.

The physical symptoms were only about 10% of the matter of course. The descent into the depressive mindset is something that I suspect is highly individual, in my case I am given to regular sessions of introspection – usually quite positive experiences for me – these instead gradually became quite detailed dissections of all that I perceived as bad in my character. I could easily zombie my way through something that I used to enjoy, playing a game, writing music or talking with friends while continually inspecting what I was doing and it’s lack of worth. The usual result was either hating the time I lost doing things that I felt were less useful, or hating the thing that I’d created, or hating myself for not being ‘right’ with my friends – for not being able to keep up the illusion of  a functioning person.

The route out of my first depression was assisted pharmacologically. After a lot of discussion with friends and family, I agreed to get advice from my doctor. It has to be said, the drugs were unpleasant and I was rotated through three or four before the combination of compound and dosage was found that was useful. In the end, I believe that I “thought” my way out of my depression, but the drugs gave me the leg up I needed to get me started and keep me stable during the harder days. Eventually I weaned myself off, dusted myself down and got back on with living – rather than pretending to.

So, that’s the slimline version – I’ll be mining further into some of the areas around that first depression over the next few posts.

In the meantime, if you are yourself currently depressed then please seek professional assistance as soon as possible.

Laters,

Spugs

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