off your nut wrote a comment on my last post and suggested I try to answer 10 questions that she had posted (and answered) on her own blog. So here goes:

  1. What mental illness do you have? I suffer from depression and anxiety – generalised and social. It has been suggested that I may also (instead?) suffer from BPD but that hasn’t been diagnosed.
  2. When were you diagnosed? I was first diagnosed with depression in 2009. The anxiety has never been formally diagnosed by a doctor but has been by several psychologists
  3. Who knows about it? Only a few close friends. No one in my family knows. My boss at my last job knew and was very understanding but no one at my new job has any idea. I have struggled very much with a personal feeling of shame and this has prevented me from opening up. To be honest, with some people, I wish I hadn’t opened up so much because I have lost friends or now have much more limited contact with people I was once close to.
  4. Do you receive treatment for it? Not at the moment. I have tried medication but gave up quite quickly (too quickly I think). Likewise, I haven’t had any luck with therapy. I have a big problem with the idea of being patronised or treated like a child and so have found therapy difficult to engage with. I tried CBT but it didn’t work for me and I must be the only person in the world who finds meditation stressful.
  5. Has your mental illness stopped you from doing anything? So many things. I have lost so many opportunities due to being ill. I find decision-making almost impossible when I am really in the depths so have missed out on job opportunities as well as social and travel ones. I isolate myself and suffer social anxiety so rarely go out anymore. I feel intensely lonely but can’t join clubs or meet ups or a gym because I could no sooner walk into a room of people I don’t know than I could grow an extra limb.
  6. Is there anything in particular that helps you? Through trial and error, I have discovered that listening to audiobooks at night helps me to sleep; listening to podcasts or the radio while walking/travelling is better than music because it provides more of a distraction; keeping busy whenever possible helps (during very low periods, I can’t do much); and not drinking alone makes a big difference. My illness is unpredictable but I have learnt to read some of the signs and have become better at responding to those signs in a useful way. Talking to people helps but I have to be careful not to open up too much these days for fear of losing them. Because of this, I started writing – this blog, a diary and stories – and this has helped so much.
  7. Can you describe what it feels like to have your mental illness? It’s difficult to sum it up in one phrase but I can now say with some confidence and even more regret that I completely understand the expression “to have lost your mind”. At my worst, I am filled with an obsessive wish to have never existed. My thoughts are random and uncontrolled, leaping from one topic to another, rushing around, impossible to focus; the definition of losing one’s mind. At other times, I am suddenly filled with a heaviness that spreads up from my chest making my arms leaden, my movements sluggish and forces tears out for hours. I am paranoid and lonely. And of course there are moments of hope, there are happy moments and normal moments. But if I had to pick the most common feeling, it would be that of heavy emptiness. Of simply existing with no purpose and no pleasure.
  8. What is a common misconception about your illness? That depression is just sadness. Sadness is a fairly minor emotion on a daily basis. The fact that I can get out of bed and go to work, that I can hide my illness so well that most people I know would be amazed to find out that I have attempted suicide and wished I was dead over and over again, that I can laugh and joke does not necessarily mean that I am OK or that I am better. Depressed people can, and regularly do, appear completely “normal”. Finally, the suggestion that “happiness is a choice”. I find this demeaning and ill-informed at best. I would be happy if I could be. Simple.
  9. What do you find most difficult to deal with? There are two things: the loneliness and the loss of the person I used to be. I was by no means flawless but I was me and now I feel like someone else. I don’t like the new me.
  10. Do you have anything else you would like to say? I wish there was some way I could share with friends without feeling guilty and without going overboard and losing them. If you are friends with or a family member of someone with depression, regular contact and reassurance is important; you don’t always have to ask how the person is and you don’t have to always talk about their illness but it is an illness, it’s not a choice and they need you. I have lost friends due to my illness and now I meticulously weigh up anything I say before I say it for fear of losing others. Be patient but be honest – and most of all, be there. It will be more appreciated than you will ever know.


One thought on “off your nut

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to fill out this out! I’m so sorry that you lost friends from your illness but I totally agree with what you say for question 10. Best of luck with your recovery and I hope you now have some people you can be honest with 🙂


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