20. The struggle continues

Ever since I’ve released the blog on Facebook, I’ve received a ton of support and encouragement. I am very thankful for this, as I did fear that depression would be something hard to understand. I want to reply with a few messages, and an update of where I’m at right now. It’s now been about 3 weeks since I got discharged – please excuse the post date as I have to adjust the dates to make the chapters work properly.

Don’t be sorry.

So many of my dearest friends have responded to tell me that they’re sorry for not detecting my pain earlier, or not having been around for me, or so on. Please, please don’t be sorry! I was in a state where even my closest and dearest would not have been able to help, until I had the medical treatment that I needed in order to function normally. I was also not able to call for help, so why be sorry about something that you couldn’t have known about?

In fact, if you are supporting someone with mental health issues, or have lost someone to mental health issues (due to suicide or related incidents), please don’t hold yourself responsible. Everyone is responsible for their own self care. Not you, and definitely not if you’re just a friend. I can understand the guilt, but there is no need to be guilty for something you’re really not able to be responsible for.

And also, if you said that to me, that you felt guilty, or even cried reading my story…

I love you too.

In the same note, THANK YOU.

Thank you to all who’ve reached out to me. For some, it’s been simply messages of prayer and encouragement, which has been amazing. For others, it’s been how you’ve learnt more from what you’ve read, and how you’ve shared it with others. It’s a huge encouragement to me because it finally seems that my pain has a purpose. That I didn’t go through all this for nothing.

And for those who’ve messaged me with your private pain, I set out to let others know they’re not alone. What’s happened instead is that you’ve let me know that I’m not alone. You guys deserve a medal for struggling with your own pain without the support that I have. I really don’t know how you’ve managed it. All of you are amazing.

I am greatly thankful to all who have messaged me, for your love and responses. And I hope that increased awareness of depression and similar mental illnesses will continue to spread.

My progress has not been smooth, but there is improvement.

Writing offers me the best outlet to appear normal, to be very honest. But my struggles are still there. Low moods are more common than normal days. I don’t have highs, but people with bipolar would struggle with super-highs, and super-lows, and I don’t envy them. Just being normal however, is still quite rare, and that usually coincides with a series of cold or lame jokes from me.

My wife doesn’t have it easy, one way or another.

I get frustrated with myself due to what I perceive as slow progress, even if my loved ones are constantly telling me that I’m actually doing very well. I wake up in the morning, and I wonder why I’m not at work. I see people coming out from their offices during lunchtime and I berate myself mentally for not being able to work. I can’t even begin to imagine facing people in big groups, or being mentally nimble enough to do the things I used to do before I fell ill. That frustrates me greatly even as I know that I’m sick and need to get better.

That dual knowledge also frustrates me. I know that I’m sick, therefore I should expect less of myself, yet I am aware of my frustration at not being to meet my own unfair expectations. It’s very meta, like a warped version of Inception in my own head. Work issues are at the top of my list as a breadwinner, and I can’t say I don’t worry either. I don’t know what to do about work, and I don’t know whether I’ll get more hospitalisation leave. I guess at least worry has a solution – prayer.

I pray more now. As helpless as I feel, the best thing is when I can release my stress to God. I’m still learning, slowly, how to do this, in complete surrender as my father-in-law reminded me today. It’s an immense struggle at times because I still find myself struggling with trying to work out where I should hold myself totally responsible, and where I should hand off my concerns to God. It’s a balance I’m still finding.

My counselling at the Counselling Care Centre has started as well, but that’s really only been one fact-finding session. I hope that will help me to unlock the knots inside me, and I pray God will use the sessions to help me understand myself better. It helps that my counsellor happens to be a Christian. We’ll see how that goes – I hold no major expectations as of now.

Days come and go where my energy levels fluctuate badly. I still sometimes end up shambling as I simply have no strength to walk fast, and I still default to looking at the floor more than the sky. There has even been one unfortunate day where I sat at the bus stop with a book, waiting for my poor wife to pick me up because I couldn’t trust myself to cross a simple road. It was a wise choice, as she had to pull me across at some points, to ensure I crossed safely. Thankfully that has not happened more than once.

My appetite has not picked up. The only good thing out of this is that I’ve lost weight, but this is possibly one of the worst reasons to lose weight over. Some days it takes me a lot of effort just to find one thing I feel like eating, and other days I struggle not to eat junk. Staying healthy in my meal choices is one of the hardest struggles I face, though I think I’ve done quite well so far in that aspect.

Financially we are doing ok, for now. I am thankful for that, and for all the offers of help we’ve received. I do hope I can either return to work in a timely manner, or work something out so that I can still work for a living soon. But I don’t know how long my recovery will take, enough for me to think properly and work properly.

My review with my doctors will come this Thursday. I hope I will have greater clarity on what other steps to recovery can be taken, and whether my medication will need any adjustments. The road ahead is still a long one, and I’m thankful for all the support we’ve had.

But above all, please, keep sharing this blog if you find it useful for others to learn about depression.

Thank you, for journeying with me, and my family.

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