Forgot to post this at the end of May, so here it is, in full HD, soon to be followed by a more up to date entry.
Right, so i’ve finally found myself with a bit of time in which to write this post. I basically want to reflect a little on how i think my third year has gone, relate it to my other two years at university and have a wee think about the future maybe (shock). I think to start off, it feels important to say that my main thoughts as i come to drawing the curtains on this blog are these: Depression, whilst a dark and scary monster CAN be overcome. More to add here. It can be overcome my many different techniques and strategies (if you class techniques and strategies as the same thing then shhh). By reading other peoples experiences of depression, one of the main things which stands out is the fact that what causes depression ranges far and wide. To be completely honest i don’t think i would ever fully have appreciated this had i not participated in this blogring. I’d always had a fairly narrow minded view on depression and although i felt people needed a broader understanding of the illness i had never really considered the scope of depression in terms of the way in affects different people in different ways. I hope that this element of the site has proved useful, not only to those of us who write on it, but also to anyone reading. It can be easy enough, when depressed or simply when having suffered from depression in the past, to feel isolated and alone. I feel however, that simply reading the stories and thoughts of other peoples’ experiences of depression offers a strange sactuary where to discuss the topic is not considered taboo or just plain awkward. Yes, people don’t like asking about depression and yes, people suffering from it generally don’t seem to talk about it (in my experience), therefore the need for a private arena in which the topic can be introduced and built on is vital. Particularly for the ever growing internet generation. I would like to commend students against depression for the work they are doing to help people with depression or those in close proximity to it. It is an area which i still feel holds a huge lack of understanding amongst the general public and worryingly i feel amongst doctors too. I feel that far too often people use depression as an excuse; a reason not to do an essay on time or to gain special consideration for exams. Please, anyone who has got depression and used it in this context don’t be offended. I’m not referring to you. I’m referring to the increasing number of people who say that they are depressed. Call me cynical, but i don’t believe such people are. By and large, genuine sufferers of depression do not seek to make this fact known. Far from it in fact. I know that i certainly didn’t anyway. Just yesterday i was told of someones friend who split up with their boyfriend and was understandably upset and went off the rails a bit. A few months later their gran died, however, the person in question said to the person recounting this story to me that they hated their gran and were happy she had died. The person (still upset about the breakup) then went to the doctors and used the bereavement angle to obtain SSRIs. Now, i find it shocking that someone who plainly would not benefit from SSRIs would be allowed to obtain them with such apparent ease. I have never used anti-depressants myself so i’m forming my opinion on them based purely on my experience of my house mate this year and my ex-girlfriend last year who were both on Citalopram. Basically though, the medication seems to make both of them a lot worse before it made them better and to be honest, i don’t actually think it did make them better in either case. My ex stopped taking them, went off the rails and became an evangelical Christian whereas my housemate ran out of drugs and didn’t want to trouble the GP for an emergency appointment so just stopped taking them and has since improved dramatically. Essentially, i don’t know enough about SSRIs but i can see they are no laughing matter and i therefore find it appauling that people are being prescribed them for nothing more than heartache and stress. I suppose this leads me on to my largest reflection of the last year. Today is exactly a year since i last went to counselling. I believe that the benefits of this service are largely underpublicised. They even come attached with a certain stigma, as i suppose do a lot of treatments for mental illnesses. Either way; i thought counselling was absolutely brilliant. It helped me through some of the worst moments in my life and it brought me round to the realisation of what exactly the root of my problems was. To people suffering from depression which they think is not being caused by anything environmental i would strongly advise they employment of an open mind and booking into a course of counselling. I was lucky enough to have the service offered free at university but i’m unsure whether this is the case all over the country… Since that last counselling session i have led a relatively drama free life. This year has seen what at first was a deliberate avoidance of the opposite sex and what has ended with a renewed optimism in the opposite sex. Something which, frankly, i was never sure would return. I’ve also steadied this ship academically speaking and will come out of the 3 years with a degree, albeit not the classification i know i probably should acheive with my ability. Nevertheless, a degree all the same. Something which i could quite easilly have thrown away had i not sorted myself out when i did. Physical exercise has played a massive part in my general moods improving. I still keep to a relatively consistent pattern of running, which i find enables me to wind down better and also keep a clearer head, free of all the rubbish i used to think about! In conjunction with this i’ve been lucky enough to have met some amazing friends along the way in my university life. What i’ve done this year is learn to let them look after me! I’m not the kind of person who likes to bother others, however neither are my friends. How we work as a group is that we all look out for each other. Sometimes i still have to remind myself to let them do this for me though, as i’m still not really a big fan of being lavished with attention. Speaking of which. Birthday next week. This is the time of the year where my mum blags me to tell her what i want as a present, what i want to do to celebrate and who i want to be there. Every year the same response: I’m not really bothered. I’ve spent the whole of my degree years struggling to put some distance between myself and my Mum but the last year i’ve finally realised that there’s no point arguing with her. At the end of the day, you can’t choose your parents and yes, they can seem like idiots at times, but, at least in the case of my own parents, they act that way because they care… and because they’re control freaks 😛 Ultimately though, no point in arguing, it only makes things worse. Compromise is difficult to reach sometimes i realise but in these cases i’ve found that standing my ground works. The reason that these years have been difficult on myself and my Mum is because she’s had to come to the realisation that i’m now able to take care of myself. I have also realised over the last year that environmental factors play a huge part in my mood. I think music, the weather and who i associate with are the main 3 for me. Obviously there’s not much to do about the weather, but there is when it comes to the others. I don’t know if other people agree or not, but i used to find it oddly comforting listening to really depressing music when i was depressed, despite this plainly making me worse. I think under these conditions i.e. when your moods are unstable you need to do everything within your power to try and find means of cheering yourself up (sorry for sounding to patronising there), but seriously, music is powerful stuff and just as it has the power to make you sad, it can do the opposite too. In terms of people, i found that some people were simply not helping me when it came to depression. My ex-girlfriend being one of them. Sometimes i think you need to distance yourself from the people in your life who make you unhappy for whatever reason. Again, i appreciate this is hard to do in some cases, but worth trying in my experience… can make a world of difference. At the end of the day though, these are just things which i’ve found helpful. All i can do is inform you that monitoring these things DID help me with depression and therefore i would say that they are at the very least, worth giving a try. As for the future; i’m awaiting my results, i’m going to relax a bit, and then i’m going on holidays galore! Woo! Hope everyone is ok, and good luck for anyone else waiting on results 🙂
Comment by Daniel posted on Fri, 26/06/2009 13:23
Hey Andy, long and insightful entry – is this your closing entry then? It’s certainly given me a few ideas what to put in mine and I’m going to try not to give away too much now or I won’t have much to say when I come around to writing! I’m in total agreement with so much of what you’ve said though – SSRIs, exercise, distancing yourself from people keeping you down, weather…all good points, and things I’ve picked up more than ever over the last year. Just think how much being aware of these things is going to benefit us when it comes to tackling our moods later on in life! And helping others for that matter. Anyway, I could get carried away so I’m going to leave this before I say everything I want to when I write my closing blog 😀