What I’m going to attempt to do here is put into words exactly how I’m feeling, what I perceive, and what I can maybe do about it.
This past year has probably been the hardest I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. I feel as if everything I’ve ever touched has fallen apart, or is falling apart. Losing my job and then working for a company that wasn’t offering full time work has really taken its toll. With a mountain of debt I’m unable to pay and having no money in general has been really crippling psychologically. I now feel useless and worthless. I feel being unemployed has made me a burden to not only society in general by claiming benefits, but also a burden to my family. I feel that my family, whilst they try to make it clear that they love me, don’t particularly care about my problems and I should just “pull my self together”. I really wish it was that easy. If it was I don’t think I would have overdosed earlier this year. I’ve become swallowed in this big dark pit of depression that won’t let me help myself. I recently reacquainted my self with the term “black dog”, and I think it’s a great euphemism for depression. Every time I even think about helping myself, my “black dog” keeps me down. It won’t let me gain enough confidence to address my financial issues. Looking for work has even become a struggle. I feel that there is no point most days because I think, “What do I have to offer?” I think I’m a fuck up, who will inevitably fuck up again. I think back to 3 years ago during my last episode and think, “what’s changed?”
I feel trapped, I feel that there’s no escape no matter what I do. It’ll always come round and destroy whatever I have. I feel like I have no control, because I have no control. I think to a point this is why I feel suicidal; my life/death is the only thing I can control. I can’t control the jobs I’m applying for, to get them to take a risk on me. I then think, “Why should they take a risk on me? I’m probably going to be the most unreliable member of staff they’ve ever had!”
I think I’ve squandered my life. I think even further back to ten years ago, and think, “What’s changed?” I’m still in the crappy run down back room of my parent’s place. Sure some of the things contained in the room have changed, but for the most part my room, and I, hasn’t. No job. No career. No money. No future prospects.
I think about what Doctors have said about socializing with the family. Getting out of my room, and sitting with them downstairs. But when my own father’s feelings regarding my welfare and his general approach to my person are downright negative, I cannot even comprehend being in the same space as him. If I could, I probably still wouldn’t be able to face sharing the family room, as my mother and brother barely speak to me. I think this is mostly my fault. I think I am the one who has pushed people away. I think I am the one who has pushed my friends away. I don’t know if I do this to save myself from snapping at them like my father snaps at me, or if I have done it because I feel shame for who I am and what has become of me.
I then think I’ve come to depend on depression. I resent myself for thinking this. It’s almost as if in some way I think it’s a warm safe blanket that no one and nothing can touch me with. I know better though. And that’s why I resent myself for thinking this. I feel like I look at it as a crutch, or a badge of honour sometimes. Something to use as an excuse to hide my failings in life. Maybe I do. Maybe that’s my way of coping with being a failure in life. It’s perhaps a way of dealing with this stomach full of bile, self loathing, self pitying, guilt. I know better. I know I’m not using this disease to hide behind anything. If anything it’s the disease using my self loathing, my self pity, against me, hiding itself behind these feelings. I have every right to feel like a total loser, because I am a total loser. It’s this bitch of a curse that’s magnifying it and making everything ten times worse. It’s the “black dog” that’s crippling my thought processes. It’s the “black dog” preventing me from getting out of bed in the morning. It’s that wretched “black dog” that stops me from looking at myself in the mirror and being ok with the reflection I see looking back at me.
So what do I do? What can I do? The first step is realising I need the help, whether it’s from a CPN, a Crisis Team, or even my own GP. Going through them was by no means my first choice, but I’m glad it’s happened. Being referred to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also a plus. Going to therapy to work through these cognitive thought processes is something I desperately need, and have probably needed for a long time now. Getting back to work is the next step from here. The problem is the crushing bureaucratic system of the jobcentre, and the unemployment benefit system. I’m still too much of a coward to reach out for help from other systems that are in place to support people like me. I spent several weeks attending a group called Spectrum who help assist people with mental health issues return to work. Unfortunately that was interrupted by a 4 week mandatory work placement introduced through the jobcentre. Initially I saw this as an opportunity to return to work, and do something productive with my time, but by the end I found myself resentful of being sent to work in a manual, unpaid job along with community service placements. By the time I had finished, I had fallen back into the swells of depression and lost any momentum or confidence that I had been building since my first episode in June/July.
That’s the hardest thing about depression, trying to rebuild everything you’ve lost. The biggest thing I’ve noticed since my first major episode this year was how my self confidence had disappeared. This, I think, had been building up for a while. I put a lot of it down to the calls from debtors asking for money, and persistently calling me, sometimes day after day, for updates. What update do you want? I’m unemployed, I have very little money, and you want me to give it all to you? In the end I stopped answering calls from unknown numbers, which eventually ended with me ignoring phone calls in general because I felt I was going to be harassed. This then translated into social gatherings where I’d avoid a lot of friends because they’d be asking me about how the job hunts going, and then on the other hand asking how I was able to afford to meet them at the pub. I felt, and still feel, like a criminal for being on benefits because of this. I’m not an exceptional person. I don’t hold a university degree, I have never held a high paying post in any job, but to go from earning a decent amount per month that you could pay bills with and still have money left over to buy clothes and have a social life, to then having £60 is like a drug addict going cold turkey. It’s hard, sacrifices have to be made, and for your friends to be second guessing you on where you’re spending that money makes you feel sick. Even bumping into old work colleagues feels like the Spanish Inquisition. It’s not illegal to be unemployed is it? I think that’s where society has taken us in this day and age where people who are on job seeker’s benefit = benefit fraud. For the record, I’m not a fraud. I don’t have a job paying cash in hand. I’m not playing the system off against itself, and I’m certainly not faking being made redundant from a full time job.
The odds are stacked against anyone in this economic climate. You can’t flick through a TV channel or read a tweet without hearing about hard times. Every working class person is struggling to make ends meet. Everyone is finding it hard. Whilst I’m not trying to say that being depressed means it’s the worst thing, it definitely doesn’t help. It doesn’t help that when you’re trying to explain to a job adviser that you have been struggling with severe depression for 6 months and it’s affecting your ability to look, he or she is too busy ticking off boxes to ensure that their criteria for the appointment has been met. I mentioned earlier I’ve become too much of a coward to ask for support from other agencies. I was informed at one point by a professional that by right I should be claiming sick benefit, and it was amazing I was still on job seekers. I’m too much of a coward to do anything about this because I’ve got this manly man’s thought in my head of, “you don’t need anyone’s help, and you should be able to help yourself.” But I can’t. If it wasn’t for the fact I was living at home I’d both attempted another suicide and been successful, or I’d be rotting on a street somewhere plotting my next attempt. I’ve barely gotten out of bed some days. Some days I’ve barely eaten. I’ve gone weeks without washing/shaving. Some days I’ve just sat in my room, chain smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap booze. If my family hadn’t been here I probably would be in a worse situation right now. So in that regard I wonder, how many other people are being failed by the system that is in a real worse situation than I am? What is the current suicide rate inBritainamongst 18 – 30 year olds?
I’ve gone off on a rant, and for that I’m sorry. It sounds like I’m trying to blame everyone else for my failings. That’s not the case. I freely admit I am the one who has destroyed my life, not the government, and not some bank. What I think I’m trying to say is that these institutions just haven’t helped in the slightest. That’s why I feel like I am so trapped so much of the time, because it feels as if no one wants to help you. It feels as if this entire world has left to take everything from you, to hate you because you can’t be a productive member of society, and to make you feel ashamed for it. It’s a world that’s turning your friends into people who mistrust you and you into someone who mistrusts your friends. The world is full of so much hatred and mistrust. It is filled with paranoia and conceit. This is another one of my issues, “I feel the world is shit, there’s nothing good about it, and no body can fix it.” which consciously (in part) I know to be a lie. There is good out there. I’ve seen it. Old people being helped across a street, helping a neighbour move some furniture, helping someone with directions. It’s all out there. No one remembers this. Remembering the worst of things is far easier than it is remembering the good things. My grandparents remember World War II with great detail. Ask them about Christmas last year, it gets a little blotchy. They are how ever real genuinely happy people with no (diagnosed) depression! I find it genuinely hard to remember the last act of kindness that I experienced, but that’s because for the past God knows how long I’ve been knee deep in my own negative thoughts. So I think I need to make a positive thought, nay, a positive goal. I challenge anyone else reading this to set themselves one too. Do something nice for someone else. Forget the, “Why should I?” “What’s in it for me?” routine. I’ll tell you what’s in it for you, the fact that you did something good in the world. You did something good in a world where people fight over oil, you did something good in a world where rich people cheat poor people out of life savings, and you did something good in a world where reality TV is allowed to thrive.