Saturday, 28 August 2010


We know that many people suffer from depression, but I suspect we've all got different ideas about what that means.... you've shared in previous blogs that you have suffered at different levels with this for a lot of years, what does it look like in general terms?
Its not just feeling a little bit fed up, or being a little bit sad. A lot of people think you have to be a really pessimistic person, but I don't reckon that's true. I would say I am pretty hopeful and optimistic, but struggle with depression. Similarly, you don't have to be crying all the time to be depressed (I thought this for ages). In fact, far from these negative feelings, for me one of the effects is for feelings to be suppressed to the point where they don't appear to be there. It has very real effects on my everyday life.

So, suffering from depression is not the same as being depressed about something - which I guess we all are from time to time?
That's right - it's a common misunderstanding - it can be frustrating, because people think that they just need to cheer you up, or distract you from the thing that is 'making you depressed' or to solve that specific problem for you. And when that doesn't work they become frustrated and expect you to 'snap out of it', 'get over it', 'put it behind you'.... But depression is not being depressed about an 'it'! It isn't simply being deeply sad about one area of life, it pervades life itself - even if there are specific underlying issues that trigger it.

Is it consistent, or do the effects have peaks and troughs?
Yes, it has peaks and troughs, though being on medication for it has helped level these out a bit, and dealing with some of the root causes of my depression is also helping lots.

So, when it's bad, what does that do at a practical level? Talk us through the nitty gritty.
There have been times when even doing the littlest tasks has been exhausting, with my brain working so slowly, it takes a lot more effort to manage to do anything needing thought and processing. It feels a bit like I am in a bubble and the world is moving a lot faster, I can't keep up. When I am very depressed conversations with people asking questions are very tiring, its not that I don't like people, its just that the effort to concentrate is a lot more. If people ask me questions or give me choices it is very difficult for me to respond, and takes me a lot longer to do. It is frustrating being unable to think. Sleep also becomes difficult, for me I often sleep very little when I am more depressed, taking a long time to get off to sleep in the night and then not sleeping when I wake up even though I am really tired. Most of the day then is not fun and a bit surreal. My relationships also become very hard work, as I mentioned, my feelings become numb and I feel very robotic. This extends to feelings for my husband and kids, which in the past has made me think I am very uncaring and not loving, and made me feel I am a bad mother and wife.

Because of the lack of understanding, I guess there are a number of ways people respond, tell us about that.
Yeah have had a few different responses myself, shall talk about three;
The dismissing it, 'you just got to get on with it' response
It kind of says, you haven't got a problem, it's just you. It adds to the guilt already felt (see above!) and makes me feel worse about myself and that I haven't been able to solve the problem.
The fix it all response
The person feels they need to provide an immediate solution to the problem; 'you could do this or that, this would help'. People are caring, and trying to help, but this approach takes away from me being a person who can choose a path to take. It subtley says to me that others know better, that I am an incapable.
The let me do everything for you, you are so inadequate and incapacitated response
Takes away from me being a unique person with a brain, and value, and choice; makes me feel helpless, hopeless, a victim...

What practical things have helped your depression?
  • People looking after my kids for little periods of the day. Learning to take time out. My husband looking after the kids for a week while I had a break.
  • For me going on medication while I try and work at the roots has really helped - it has provided the stability needed to face and deal with some of the underlying issues.
  • My husband understanding how it works for me and not suddenly panicking when I have a bit of a blip. (thinking everything is awful and that I need to be helped with everything because I am incapable of anything.)
  • You and Janet have helped me a lot by being a safe place to go and just sit without having to think or answer lots of questions, or allowing me to just have a quick sleep while you look after my 2 little ones. 
  • It is also really hard when people start to get frustrated and annoyed at me not responding to them in the timescale they are wanting. So people giving me more time to reply and not hassling me for an answer but just being caring and patient has really helped. Although I struggle to make choices when I am depressed I find it far harder if people decide and dictate what I am doing - it really doesn't help my depression!

The Wall
Tears welling up with nowhere to flow,
Trapped, held, shut off.
Hurt not expressed, twisting my insides,
Smiling, well rehearsed.
A mask,
Pain buried,
longing for truth;
bringing hope.

When I start to take a dive,
the battery dead and my head seems like lead,
you’ve shown me I need to give myself grace
And allow myself time to recover and rest.
For before I was listening to things that weren’t good,
that just overwhelmed me and worsened the flood.
And as my mind slowed, and I’d struggle to act
I’d call myself lazy, and daft, and a prat.
As if I could somehow, beat myself up
And that would improve things and waken me up.

But the more that I tore blocks off myself,
the more unconscious I got, and the less things I felt.
And the more that I forced myself to do things
the harder it got and the more I was drained.

But now I am learning to live my life free
from the hurt and abuse that has so plagued me.
Free from the torment, condemnation and shame
that has held me so tight and added to pain.
So now if I have crashed because I am drained,
I give myself time till my strength is regained.
I don’t feel condemned when I can’t do it all,
for I need to care for myself through this fall.

And when my head slows and I can’t work at speed,
I don’t think a kick up the butt's all I need.
And I don’t think I’m lazy and try all the more
as it only exhausts and punishes me more.
And if it is early and I need my bed,
I just think that's ok and off there I head.

For I am a child, of a father of love
and he says that I am free from “have”
have to be this, must think this too,
beaten by things that I should be or do.
He knows my wounds are inside and though unseen,
like physical injuries they need time to heal.
So he says to me it is ok to rest,
to take time to recover, for he wants the best.

Inside, deep down, I know what I need.
And that the world and its labels I must not heed
For there is a small voice quietly speaking
Guiding my path past the voices condemning -
voices that say lazy, mad, stupid, emotional.
But the quiet voice speaks out truth
against these weapons that hold me down
Telling me that these are lies that I’m hearing loud
So If rest is needed, rest it shall be
And if space is required I shall take it freely

I was a Butterfly not flying free
The walls to protect, a prison to me
The foundation of fear, the walls of control
kept me in chains that had a strong hold
But the beauty was there, just hidden from view
Behind walls I had built from the harm done by you.
And that beauty you see cannot be kept in
though submerged in the darkness no colour is seen
For The love of the father is stronger than fear
And black turns to colour when light rays appear


  1. Spot on. Powerful stuff. Beautifully written, Catherine :o)

  2. A brilliant description. You are fortunate that you have a support system; a safety net. I would love that. Take care.

  3. Some words of encouragement Catherine, because reading your beautiful poems and thoughts on your struggle with depression has encouraged me a fellow sufferer.
    "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give YOU!!! a future and a hope". Jeremiah 29:11 ESV.
    Be blessed you female Barnabas.

  4. Thank-you cat, yet again you speak straight from your heart to mine!!!!!! Helen

  5. I guess it is very different from one person to another, just as our personalities are different, so are how we deal with depression varies from one person to another?

  6. That is a really helpful insight. Those of us who don't suffer from it do find it difficult to understand. So thank you for explaining it, helping us understand better.

  7. It helps to know that you're not the only one. I'm sure that because people are afraid to talk about depression, in case 'they' think we're mad or lazy or dangerous or something, we all live lonely lives. Hiding away from the criticisms that just make the pain worse.
    Thank you for 'coming out'.

  8. well done catherine for explaining so well ive also been there with the medication and having to take time off work due to not being able to cope with work/life and people not understanding!.
    sometimes u just want to shut urself away from life and come back when ur ready!.