Smiles

Smiles can be happy, loving, poignant, brilliant, welcoming, brave, uncertain, comforting or just plain simple; they can encourage us and help us feel better. They exercise more muscles than frowning and help to mould our faces over time. Who can forget their baby’s first gummy smile or the gap-toothed grin of early school photos?

People have often commented on my smile – “dazzling”, “lights up your whole face”, “you have a wonderful smile” etc, etc but at the moment I’m finding it difficult to smile at all, especially those wide, ear-to-ear grins for which I am (apparently) well-known. The reason for this is quite simple. One word, actually:

Depression.

There – I’ve said it.

That one word conjures up so many thoughts and feelings in me that it is quite overwhelming at times and makes me despair that I will ever be back to “normal” – whatever that is.

In my experience, depression is far more than just feeling a bit down, or low or sad and is not necessarily triggered by a tragic event or difficult circumstances – although obviously these things have an impact too –

  • it’s the feeling of overwhelming indecision when faced with a supermarket shelf stacked with ten different varieties of apple or fifteen different sorts of milk;
  • it’s knowing that you have shopping, cooking, washing and ironing to do but not being able to decide which to do first, so doing nothing instead;
  • it’s looking in a fridge full of food and then having a packet of crisps for dinner because “nothing appeals”;
  • it’s realising that you’ve read the same page of a book three times because you can’t concentrate;
  • it’s realising that the conversation has ground to a halt because you can’t find the words you need;
  • it’s the feelings of sheer frustration because you used to be such a “doer” and now all motivation has deserted you;
  • it’s waking up feeling as though you’ve never been to sleep and wanting desperately to hide under the duvet all day;
  • it’s the dull, slow lethargy that creeps around with you all day;
  • it’s the irritability and snappishness that can’t be due to PMT;
  • it’s the inability to laugh over things you used to find hilarious;
  • it’s when you find yourself crying over something so trivial that you’d normally barely even notice;
  • it’s feeling useless and incompetent;
  • it’s wondering why on earth your friends should like you;
  • it’s losing interest in hobbies;
  • it’s when you make excuses not to go out and maybe even enjoy yourself because you don’t feel up to talking to anyone;
  • it’s the feeling that you need to escape from your own head because all creative thought has gone and you’ve become an automaton;
  • it’s the feeling that your head is full of cotton wool;
  • it’s the feeling of dim-wittedness that is normally so alien;
  • it’s putting on a front so that no-one will ever guess how you’re really feeling because you’re just too ashamed to admit that anything is wrong.

I could go on…

This time though, it’s going to be different. I have drugs and I’ve been referred for cognitive behavioural therapy. I know it won’t be a permanent “cure” but hopefully I will learn ways to recognise and deal with my symptoms before they reach crisis point, and ways to modify my thoughts and behaviours. It’s going to be a long journey but I think I’m ready to take the first step.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Smiles

  1. It is only when brave people stand up and explain what depression does to everyday people like you and me that others can eve begin to recognise the signs. Recognising that you are experiencing depression is the first step to getting your life back.

    I know it looks like a mountain that you have to climb but you have a guide and equipment and you are going to get training to get you safely to the top.

    Good luck over the coming months. I’ll be rooting for you.

  2. Commiserations from a fellow depressive and well done for taking the first step (that one’s always the hardest). xx

  3. pie

    Your smile is brilliant, beautiful and infectious and I’m really glad you know that even in the grips of a downward swing. One of the thing about feeling so depressed is the only way really is up and you sound like you’re doing all the right things about it! Drugs are good, and CBT is better, has worked a treat for me on several occasions!
    I know it’s hard work and hard to find the energy for anything let alone this but you can do it! Try and see the little steps up the mountain, rather than the mountain, or whatever it is Confusatious said 🙂 Your friends will be with you all the way xxx

  4. I think Kate has said everything I’d like to say but am far too inarticulate to do so (as per normal!). Here for you always, babez xxxxx

  5. leslie

    I am so glad you are taking the first step. Being depressed feels miserable; not being depressed feels good. Drugs can be very helpful. Take them and see what happens. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your fit right away. It will happen. Goodluck on your journey.

  6. Sorry you are feeling so awful, but as others have said, you are getting help.

    I recommend seeing a Counsellor if you possibly can. Try and get a personal recommendation – I’ve seen several over the years, but have finally found one who is a “good fit” for me. She is mainly Person Centred, but throws in a little of many different approaches if she thinks it will help an individual.

    I think the trouble with CBT is that it’s limited in its approach, and only a limited number of sessions are available on the NHS.

    Here’s hoping you will begin to feel better soon. Do be kind to yourself, pamper yourself a bit! Dark chocolate in moderation is very good!

    Oh, I would recommend books by Dorothy Rowe too – have found them very helpful.

    Sending you positive thoughts and best wishes.

  7. Liz

    Everyone’s said all the things I’ve had said; joining all my positive thoughts to theirs. Good luck with taking that first step!

  8. Sheepish Annie

    Understanding that it’s not just “feeling blue” and something you can “just work through if you try hard enough” is the first step. Thinking good thoughts for you even if I’m a little late in posting the comment. Clinical depression is a scary thing, but you can beat it with the right help. Good for you for taking charge of it!

    • caroline

      I have only just seen this, so I’m sorry its a bit late. As we both know, clinical depression is an illness, not quite like any other, because people who have never had it tend to think you just need to ‘pull yourself together’. Maybe they should try being us for a day! The biggest thing you have done is to get help for it. Medication can help, as can CBT, counselling, group therapy, all sorts of things. Sheepish Annie got it right, it is scary, but having the courage to take that first step is a mighty big stride. If you just feel you want someone to talk to, meet up for coffee, whatever, feel free to message me and we’ll arrange it.

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