Even now, in the 21st century, little is known about the root cause of depression. Oh, there are lots of doctors, scientists and psychologists with theories, medication and medical techniques to combat it, there are lots of fancy names and technical terms for different types of depression too, but at the end of it all, there is nothing but the individual who suffers from it. Group therapy is often the most common 'cure' on offer from the NHS, but if you are feeling depressed the last thing you want to do is discuss your life in front of a group of strangers.
I guarantee that at some stage in every persons' life they will suffer from a form of depression if only briefly and sometimes without them realising until much later that they did so. Unfortunately there are more than a few of us who suffer from much deeper symptoms on a regular or semi-permanent basis.
I can't remember when my depression started, I guess it just crept up on me or perhaps it was always there behind the child-me or the teenage-me. Could it be genetic? I know my mother suffered bouts of bedridden depression and was affected by it for most of her life. She had close living siblings who loved her and she spoke to them on a regular basis, often giving the outward representation that everything was 'hunky dory'. Perhaps it's a consequence of being an only child surrounded by adults and younger children with no real same aged friends, or is that just another excuse?
The blues, sadness, grief, stress, anger, violent tendencies, are just a few of the symptoms, that I know from personal experience. Filling your life with joy and laughter can be as much a part of the pressure that gives rise to depressive thought. Often it's hearing and seeing happy people that can trigger unhappiness countermanding any joy created. It can be hard to fit in when you have been/are depressed. Social acceptance is viewed by the depressed with suspicion. Invisible emotional walls go up to protect yourself from rejection, which, in turn, create an anti social behavioural pattern. Anyone approaching is treated with caution, alienating you further. Inside you crave the ability to be free and easy with groups, but outwardly you stand aloof and alone. This circle becomes endless, you want to make friends but are scared of being hurt and each social event becomes a chore to get through rather than to be enjoyed. Paranoia sets in and the feeling of being judged deepens 'Why is that person looking at me?', 'Are they whispering about me?' And so on and so on.
Brief departures into escapism can help to combat the feeling, but it just reinforces how alone you are. Reading a book or going the cinema/ a show/ a gig/ a family gathering/ a party can help you waste time and stop you dwelling on things, but these can cause anxiety and ultimately you are still left with yourself and the dark thoughts running through your mind.
A recent depressive episode caused me to cancel some shows that I had been looking forward to.
An overwhelming sense of gloom descended and I could barely function well enough to attend my job. On the afternoon of the 4th day of feeling low, I had an accident at work and I broke a small bone in my wrist, a minor and non life-threatening injury from which ultimately I will recover. This is not really of any significance, but the events following the injury opened my eyes to what I have been letting myself and my family go through during the previous days/weeks/months/years.
This injury, this tiny little bone fracture (unlike any life threatening accidents I've had in the past...seriously I could write a book), has actually created a void in which I could stop and have a real close examination of myself and the things revolving around in my head. Thanks to the boredom of the last week and the lonely, self pitying time I've had to spend with myself and while my grown up kids fend for themselves and my partner sleeps off her night shifts, I have come to one undeniable truth, I deserve to be as happy as a I can.
Doctors and friends have said this before and medication damped down the feeling of self loathing for awhile, but it is totally and utterly one hundred per cent true, happiness comes from within and I've had enough of feeling shit, and this is the wake up call. I woke up one morning over a decade ago and quit alcohol on a whim and haven't looked back since so this leopard knows how to change it's spots and is going to do so again. Depression consider yourself an endangered species and I'm coming to kick your arse.