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Things I have been told in the past week

16 February 2017 | Post A Comment


"I think you probably just have a problem with motivation"

"You're very sensitive, very fragile"

"Just don't let yourself panic"

"Have you ever thought about going on a walk?"

"You look really good, are you feeling a lot better?"

"You have let anxiety stop you your entire life"

"You are so rude"

"I'm not sure if you are strong enough"

The Surprising Symptoms of Depression

13 February 2017 | Post A Comment

Most people are aware of the most common, most talked about symptoms of depression; the feelings of guilt, worthlessness and pessimism; sleeping problems; loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable; over or under eating and fatigue are among the most well known. 

Some of the most difficult symptoms of my depression that impact my daily life are among the less known. Trouble with decision making is a big one for me. The simplest decisions can seem huge and be impossible to make. If I can't decide what to eat, I will probably not eat, if I can't decide what to wear, I will likely not put on any clothes. Being asked to make a decisions about what to do with the day is infuriating, I usually fail to see any positives in any possible option and my depression is just magnified.

Being unable to cry. I really hate this one. When most people think of suffering with depression they imagine a lot of tears. Sometimes I feel at my worst when I have days of not crying, because it feels impossible to cry, I feel too numb. This can easily lead to self destructive behaviours with the intention of being able to feel something, that releases the tears that have built up. Just because someone isn't crying, it doesn't mean they are not broken inside.

Another big one for me is irritability and frustration. I will get frustrated and annoyed twice as fast as I would normally and the frustration effects me more than it should. I take things more personally, and might assume that something was done purposely to annoy me. 

Everything takes so long to do. Once I have decided to get out of bed in the morning it will normally take hours to gather the mental energy to actually make a move. I will often get stuck sat down at points in the day for hours at a time, feeling no motivation to move or do anything. If I decide to have a shower it will usually take hours between making the decision and getting in the shower and then I won't be able to motivate myself to dry off and at least half of my day is gone.

Another surprisingly common, yet less known symptom of depression is unexplained aches and pains. This is down to a couple of reasons that I could go into in more detail in a separate post. It can actually hurt a lot. Neck pain, back pain and headaches are my depression's favourites. It makes getting out of bed even harder when the mental pain spreads to the rest of my body. 

With depression, the presenting symptoms can vary greatly. No one person experiences it the same as another which can make sympathising, understanding and diagnosis extremely difficult. Awareness of how the illness can effect someone and gaining more insight into personal stories of depression is how we can move forward and continue to fight the stigma. So please share this post and share your stories with others or in the comments.

Mental Health and Benefits, My Assessment

11 February 2017 | Post A Comment

The more pressure I put on myself to try and write, the more anxious and stressed it makes me. It's a cycle I am so strongly trying to fight out of. I know that writing on here gives me a release and a focus and I desperately need that at the moment. So I am giving myself a shake and going to blindly write down letters until they form sentences and submerse myself in a web of my own words. 

I think I have been unemployed for almost 6 months now. Wouldn't it be nice if in that time to 'relax' I had seen some improvements? There has been none. A big reason it hasn't been a time relax is because of the constant stream of demanding benefit letters and novel length forms to fill out and send back at short notice. A bit like having a job really.

I attended my benefit assessment today. I had been dreading it and hated every second of it. It took every ounce of determination to not run out and attempt to keep it together through the barrage of probing questions. 

"Do you have panic attacks?" 

"Yes" I said, staring at the closed door in a room I felt trapped in, very aware that it was located down a long corridor. 

"What causes these panic attacks?" 

A number of things, but I could only manage to spit out "feeling trapped" through my silent tears, keeping a deathly stare on the door handle and feeling the panic rise in my chest as the woman's apathetic eyes burned into the side of my face. 

"What happens when you have one of these panic attacks?" 

At this point I break down and I feel so defeated at being reduced to a sobbing mess when I was trying so hard to keep it together. She dismissively hands me the tissues and waits for an answer, between gasps and gritted teeth I manage to answer "the normal things that happen during a panic attack". If I listed my symptoms I was trying to fight I know they would have come to life in front of her and I also know that I would become unable to answer any further questions. The flow of tears increased when I realised that watching me hyperventilate and scream in her office may have been the best convincing argument that I am unfit for work. 

She types for a while as Rob comforts me and I try to calm myself. I imagine the words leaking from her fingers, 'unable to correctly explain the symptoms of a panic attack'... She then noticeably glances at the scratches I have made to my hands in times of extreme anxiety and asks very politely yet bluntly, "do you burn yourself?", the list of questions continued.

The benefit system in the UK deeply angers and frustrates me. It so heavily favours visible illnesses. The harsh scrutiny genuine cases suffer is simply humiliating especially as we are all aware of the ingenuine cases that manage to slip through. 

It will take up to a month to receive a letter of the result of this assessment. I am almost certain that my benefits will be affected in some way but I can only wait with increased anxiety and stress until that letter arrives and try to distract myself in the best ways I can in the mean time. I hope that involves a lot of writing on All Things Beautiful if my infuriating mind allows. We'll see.