‘Bent out of shape by society’s pliers’ a line from “It’s Alright ma, I’m only Bleeding” by Bob Dylan, an artist who has got me through many a good and bad time since I was young. It encapsulates how I feel.

I have been tweeting prolifically from my bed this morning;

Chloe Miriam@chloemiriam

I shud blog this twitter is too short.

My depression is made worse by a society that won’t give me space to think in such a bleak way, it turns destructive when denied #mentalhealth

The #antidepressants just seem to numb me I feel nothing, a void which is worse than the ups & downs at least with them I feel alive

after A few days of a reduced dose (by accident) I feel my mind coming back! But dr says I’m not stable enough to reduce #antidepressants

1of those days where I simultaneously feel invincible & want to do a 1000 things yet unable to get out of bed#wtfmoodswings #antidepressants

 

I now have the urge to write a full post, a strong urge. All the feelings that have been subdued for so long by my medication have come flowing back, my life, my soul,the fire in my belly or whatever you wish to call it. I know I am medicated as this being often wishes destruction and despair on me, yet I am never sure if the intense numbing (which no one ever seems to take seriously as a side effect) is worth it.

I feel the dark moods are more a problem for a society that won’t give me the space I need to deal with them, that pathologises what I feel as only human, that denies me the time and space to just feel as utterly despairing and miserable as I need to. If society was more open, if I did not feel like a freak every time I mentioned I felt depressed or suicidal or that I think of these sorts of things in an abstract way a lot of the time and explore things intellectually, if I voice thoughts like it doesn’t really matter if I die because if I am dead it won’t matter; thoughts I don’t often mean as intentions but are just things I think about, that I can’t help but think about. That what I feel and think makes society uncomfortable, perhaps it leads to questioning too many things, so I am told I should not feel this, or I should strive to make it go away as soon as possible, to deny it, to never let it take the time and exploration it needs.

I do not enjoy feeling suicidal at all, I do worry I will go beyond the thought stage one day, after all I do self harm and have taken small non lethal overdoses for the hell of it, having no intention to die but just some sort of curiosity or strong urge to do it. Yet it is precisely because I feel like that that I resent having these feelings and thoughts metaphorically beaten out of me, told they are wrong, that I must not feel them to be ‘healthy’. Yet these thoughts and feelings are as valid as any, they never truly disappear when they are pushed down, out of sight, perhaps that’s why they have become so violent and viscous; I have been told my whole life to not say certain things. That it isn’t ‘normal’ to say stuff like ‘well everyone dies’ even if it is true. That you should not think about the dark side of life, yet it’s there whether we like it or not. That ‘positive thinking’ is good and I should try it whenever I feel down. That I should not read Sylvia Plath, or Camus or listen to depressing music even though I feel a wallow in angst helps me far more than ‘cheering myself up’ by painting on a false smile and engaging in shallow psychological short cuts. I have always been a bit gloomy, an Eeyore, I have had these things said to me since I was a small child. Don’t say this, “ohh don’t be so depressing’ the insinuation something is wrong with me because I think about things people find uncomfortable to hear. Is it any wonder I end up so fucked up? That all that curiosity and thought ended up being so destructive as it was denied any time or space to just be, perhaps the irony is if society let me be miserable I wouldn’t be so fucking miserable half the time. If it’s perfectly socially acceptable for people to inflict their happiness and good moods on others why shouldn’t bad moods be given equally open status?

Yet at the same time I feel so hideous I also have the capability to feel amazing. That sense of mild euphoria you get from just ‘being’ and realising it, feeling like god or the world or something is letting you in on a secret by showing you how wonderful the world is whilst others rush past and ignore the marks left by climbing plants in paint that stun in their intricacy, or the feel of the breeze on your skin, or the smell of damp tarmac mixed with blossoms in spring. The beauty of language, how words can just dance through my mind, often in rhyme or poetic flow, how I need to write things down because if I don’t my head will explode as it contains so much. The ideas, the thoughts, the intellectual capacity I get in rushes to describe my views on the world, to form coherent dialectics on this that and the other, to feel that fire again that I am alive and that I feel, I think, I am and that I matter.

After having accidentally reduced my dose  due to a bank holiday prescription miscalculation (that would make an excellent pretentious indie band name) these feelings are all flooding back. It is not until I feel them again that I realise how utterly deadened I have become on anti-depressants that whilst I may be ‘doing well’ according to outside eyes it is at a price, a price which my psychiatrist seems reluctant to even acknowledge. The more time passes the more I feel I am not sure I am willing to sacrifice those moments of wonder for bland stability. It’s not as if I don’t get depressed on antidepressants, I do it just seems to be a duller, nagging ache of depression as opposed to a sharp, acute all encompassing surge. Yet I never feel truly happy on anti depressants, not even for a moment. I just don’t really feel anything and I think that’s a big problem, it’s very hard to try and sort out your life or to try and do anything worthwhile without feeling anything. I have no motivation whatever I do I feel the same sort of ready meal uniformity, I have no impetus to do anything that involves effort as I feel nothing as reward.

Above all I suppose I feel some sort of arrogant desire to not to be ‘normal’, to revel in my unconventional mind. I don;t want to give in and become a beige, pebble dashed box going along with the systems I despise and fitting in and not causing trouble. I want to stir shit. To make a noise.

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I’m not sure how to title this  post, it deals with something I have been thinking about for years, off and on. Something I know I need to face up to but never quite have the courage to.

Basically I have been lucky enough to have other issues besides depression, namely M.E/CFS, yet I have felt consistently isolated from the M.E/CFS support community for as long as I can remember, my Mum still reads the magazines and suff and perhaps as my M.E/CFS isn’t as bad as it used to be I use it as an excuse to shy away, I’m not ‘one of them’ anymore. The truth is I never was. This explains why.

Attitudes such as this from the daily mail (admittedly not a bastion of sensible and sympathetic thought, but I have seen this attitudes in M.E support magazines and online. The quotes link to the articles

An online comment:“I have given up going to the Doctors for them to tell me its all in my head & try to prescribe me anti depressants – seriously!? I didn’t wake up one day & decide I had this condition.

In the article copy itself  “Patients as they are dismissed by their doctors with ‘it’s all in your head’ attitudes when many patients have clinical signs of illness”.

It is articles and opinions such as these which have made me feel distanced and reluctant to get involved in the M.E community. I was diagnosed with M.E/CFS at age 11 yet have always suffered depression too, with the latter being more destructive and debilitating the last five years.

Such ignorance and stigma aimed at mental illness from a community that is about the support of those with an often misunderstood condition is disgusting. It is fine to suggest M.E is a psychical illness, as I believe it is myself, but to use such ignorant, insulting and divisive language is unacceptable. By asserting that M.E is a ‘real’ illness because it is not ‘all in the mind’ discredits the idea of mental illness and suggests that those who suffer are not ‘really ill’. Something which is especially painful as many M.E sufferers know exactly what it is like to be on the receiving end of such ignorance.  There is a prevailing though amongst many in the M.E community that it’s not ‘just’ depression, that depression would be easy to deal with, that a diagnosis of depression is just that of a ‘not real’ illness. How am I supposed to find support amongst groups that have such views or do little, if nothing, to challenge such stereotypes?

The comments and quotes above (even websites such The M.E Research UK carry a caveat that M.E is a ‘real’ illness, the implication of which is that if one accepts a psychological basis then the illness somehow becomes ‘unreal’ or ‘fake’, it may be intended by the people who write such sentences but it certainly comes across that way) reinforce this attitude that depression is not an illness; depression does have ‘clinical signs of illness’ as do other mental health problems. No one decides to have a mental illness.  It doesn’t matter if an illness is ‘all in your head’ it’s still an illness. These medieval attitudes towards mental illness do nothing to further the cause of M.E/CFS acceptance. A blatant refusal to accept or support any treatment that has even the merest hint of a psychological basis, even if it is merely a way of helping someone to cope with a chronic illness, does many patients no favours. To draw such stark battle lines between the psychological and the biomedical smacks of ideology before people.   I am quite frankly sick of reading a lot of M.E/CFS support communities online and the letters in magazines as I am made to feel unwelcome, I am made to feel like a lesser human being because I am mentally ill. I feel these communities have nothing to give me, I cannot sit back and read people describe one of the most painful and debilitating experiences I have ever gone through as not a ‘real’ illness or ‘all in my head’, with the implicit assumption that my suffering is not worthy of the same sympathy as that caused by a ‘real’ illness. The pressure to be the stereotypical ‘cheerful despite a horrible illness’ nice little ill person, I could never stand it, yet because of this crazy stigma about not being  “just depressed”. I always felt alienated by the cheery attitude of groups like AYME and never felt I could be open about how utterly fucking miserable I was. Someone might thing I was actually depressed or something and then I’d ruin their whole little cosy distance yourself as far as possible from the nutters routine. There always seemed to be a shadow, an unspoken but strongly implied notion that to admit to being depressed was to give in, to defect to the side of evil psychiatry and somehow tar the whole thing with being ‘not really ill/all i your head/just making it up’ and make everyone else look bad.

I sometimes wonder if my depression was caused, or at the very least exacerbated, by this belief. Actually reading the above is it any wonder I became depressed? That my teenage angst became such a snowball of tumbleweed gloom? I faced a miserable adolescence of being told I was depressed, then that I wasn’t that I was ‘really’ ill. Now I can see the effects of this; the way I feel trapped and unable to take the time and rest needed to help with my depressive moods, the way I feel I have to deny them, to push them away to never feel them fully; yet I know I often need to to let them pass. Perhaps most importantly in the way I find it so hard to accept that when I am incapacitated due to depression it is genuine and I don’t have to ‘snap myself out of it’ and that it is real.

Sometimes I look back and wonder if I had ever had M.E at all. I wonder if if it wasn’t ‘just depression’ all along and I got shoe horned into another diagnosis at an age where I was too young to know what going on, as if people did not want to accept  the possibility of an 11 year old fed up of the world and already feeling alienated and wanting out. People telling me I’m not depressed, people telling me I am. I know I was certainly utterly fucking miserable and this horror at going to see a psychiatrist (only bad crazy people go to see psychiatrists), all this insistance that I am ‘really ill’ and not ‘making it up in your head’ or other such insulting misconceptions about mental illness. Was it any wonder I couldn’t admit to be depressed?

Was it just easier for people close to me to accept a physical ‘real’ illness than to face up to a mental illness? The interactions between mind and body are not fully understood, we do not know what M.E is and what causes it. Whilst I accept many psychological treatments for M.E  in the past have been inhumane and damaging, even fatal; they have been to many a sufferer of mental illness too. This is something that goes unacknowledged in this debate; that those with mental illness have been treated abominably by psychiatry too, it is not just some crazy vendetta ‘psychiatry’ has against M.E.Perhaps the real pain comes not from the treatment itself (which are often brutal and damaging), but how the mentally ill are often treated as less than human during those treatments? The anger so many seem to feel at being treated as mentally ill seems to go deeper than any rage at unsuitable or ineffective treatments but goes to the core of our prejudices surrounding mental illness, that to be mentally ill somehow renders you less than human. Renders you worthy of scorn, worthy of being the butt of the anger felt at suffering a misunderstood illness; “hey at least we’re not mentalists!” is another seedy undertone that creeps out of these attitudes.

To refuse to acknowledge any psychological aspect of M.E is narrow minded. The assumption one draws from such attitudes is that if something is psychological in nature it is somehow ‘not a real illness’. At the end of the day, if M.E is bio-medical, psychological or a combination of the two; does it matter? Whatever the cause we still have to live with debilitating symptoms. So please stop this prejudice, M.E is a real illness that can cause almost unimaginable suffering and exactly the same can be said for mental illnesses such as depression.

So yeh, M.E sucks, depression does too. Your experiences with M.E now matter how horrific do not give you the right to stigmatise the mentally ill, whether directly or not. I can tell you that all this does affect me, it does leave me feeling unwanted and somehow ‘wrong’.Like I must place my M.E symptoms on a higher pedestal of being ‘really ill’ as if there is a class system of disability and ‘mental illness’ is right down at the bottom, in the pit marked ‘common as muck’.

To put it simply; whether you mean it or not every time you describe M.E as being ‘real’ you imply mental illness IS NOT, which is FUCKING WRONG AND IT HURTS.

 

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Yesterday after what has felt like aeons, I had an ‘up’ mood. I felt euphoric for a bit, I wanted to do stuff, I wanted to party till dawn; but alas (or perhaps for the best) a miserable Tuesday night is not prime party night. Though it swiftly lead to insomnia and frustration at staying in, and the return of a bad habit.

Now I feel rather mixed, I still have a bit of a buzz but due to the insomnia that comes with these moods I’m not very awake. It’s like when you have coffee to stay awake and it leaves you buzzed but sleepy at the same time. That frustration at wanting to do so many things yet not having the means, or energy, to do so.

But god it’s good to feel something after so long!  I have feelings beyond ‘meh’ and ‘humphpppwhatever’! I’m alive! I’m a person!

Though in these moods when I finally have an urge to do something, it’s never anything on the list of ‘important stuff I should really get around to’.

 

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It often feels like I live in a different world to everyone else. Either when I’m in a good mood and I can’t believe people don’t see  how wonderful it all is, how shadows fall just right, how the air feels on your skin, how amazing it all is, it feels like I’ve been let in on a secret.

I was once in an art gallery and there was a photograph on an entire wall and I felt for a second I could touch it and it’d ripple and I’d go into another world behind it, like Narnia. I remember being disappointed as a child my wardrobe went nowhere, and to an extent I still am. I like to cling to some sort of mystery, I know Father Christmas isn’t real but part of me still wishes he was and wonders idly if I’ll hear sleigh bells.

Then when I’m ‘down’ and able to function mentally (which is increasingly rare these days) I feel equally like I’m let in on something. Like I have a filter or special glasses that let me see secret stuff other people don’t. It’s hard to explain but they way I seem to understand things and the way most other people talk about the world and their feelings the don’t seem to describe the same world at all.

Maybe my medication just numbs me and dulls my senses to a ‘normal’ level, but if this is normal it fucking sucks! I have no thoughts or insights into anything I feel like a drone. It’s the same old dilemma, do I try and become ‘normal’ and ‘stable’ when I feel I’m losing something of myself when I do? Feeling bland, beige and boring and feeling nothing feels worse than a depressive episode when at least I know it will pass within a week or so and ironically feeling so intensely, even if you wish to harm yourself or end it all; it’s feeling, it’s being alive, it’s something.

I am lucky that I have an amazing friend who understands me, how I’ve never felt ‘normal’ and have never fitted in for as long as I can remember, all that stuff that counsellors and psychiatrists just never seem to ‘get’ or don’t listen to as much as it doesn’t fit into one of their sodding boxes. I still remember nearly being kicked off CBT because I wasn’t ‘engaging’ with the therapy; when I was just being honest about how I felt and how I know that the deepest, darkest depression doesn’t come from anything ‘real’ I can identify it’s just ‘there’. But feeling like this, there isn’t space for it in the world, the world wants conformity and I can’t without loosing part of my soul. I can’t go and work in an office, make money, screw people over, become a capitalist, not without being miserable. The biggest ambition is to just ‘be’, to know myself better, I don’t care so much about all that other stuff, mortgages and jobs and crap, it’s padding, fluff.

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I got rather freaked out by missing one day of my medication. I couldn’t sleep, when I did I had nightmares that were so vivid it was more like hallucination and I woke up in a cold sweat. Eww. I was seriosuly contemplating phoning my parents and crying down the phone and begging them to miss thier weekend away becuase I felt I wasn’t safe on my own. Very pannicy , tense and weepy.

Thankfully I managed to calm myself down a bit, take my newly replenished medication and go back to sleep for a bit.

All after one missed dose. This terrifies me. I feel like I’m an inadvertant drug addict, that if anything should happen and I can’t get my medication I’m screwed, this is after a day, after longer I’d be a wreck. I’m worried that I’ve signed up for a lifetime of strong medication, I was first put on prozzac as a teenager and I’ve been on various things since. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this, I’m not sure it does me good, but withdrawal symptoms are hellish it’s not worth even considering coming off without a supportive Psychiatrist, mine has told me I am not stable enough to even think about lowering things, maybe he’s right. Or maybe the drugs are making me madder, it’s hard to tell when the list of side effects is oddly similar to the list of symptoms of your illness (how do you tell if you;re depressed becuase of anti depressants or becuase they’re just not working?).

So yes, must be super organised in future and not develop a lack of medication induced moment of madness when home alone, which just adds another level of panic re: creaky house noises, wind, funny sounding cats in the street, omgi’mcrackingupican’tcopei’mallalone

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