Depersonalization

Understanding Depression, Ctd

Continuing on from my post of yesterday. During the worst time, de-toxing from anti-depressants I experienced the lowest and  nastiest time of the whole experience. I also suffered depersonalisation at the time…it is too hard to describe. I hated myself, I hated everyone else around me and I did and said and did hateful things, and I can barely remember them because of the depersonalisation. I am so grateful that I have good friends, understanding friends, I nearly lost them all.

This paragraph and this image helps a little to understand it:

I’ve always wanted to not give a fuck. While crying helplessly into my pillow for no good reason, I would often fantasize that maybe someday I could be one of those stoic badasses whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things. And finally – finally – after a lifetime of feelings and anxiety and more feelings, I didn’t have any feelings left. I had spent my last feeling being disappointed that I couldn’t rent Jumanji.

I felt invincible.

 

The destruction that is depression

This isn’t a pity post, it is an explanation, apology and a promise. I am well on my way to reshaping my life without prescription drugs for depression, and without depression, I don’t want pity.

I suffer from long term depression and depersonalisation disorder. But those are just labels and certainly not in any way excuses, but to some extent I have been using them as excuses and that must end.

I has been a hard six years. Six years in which I have destroyed pretty much everything that I ever had. I have destroyed relationships, friendships, wealth, talent, and I almost destroyed my will to try to get better.

It is hard to know now, after taking Prozac, Citalopram, Venlafaxine, Zyban and numerous sleep medications and anti-depressants that I have forgotten the names of, whether through all of that drug induced haze it was depression causing depersonalisation or the other way round. Either way the combination of the two essentially destroyed, pretty much totally my life, or at the least the life I thought I had.

One thing I have learned though is the pathology of both the illnesses and I try everyday to avoid the causes or the situations that lead to them. Consequently I am now risk averse, avoid fights in person like you would avoid cancer, and have conditioned myself to almost be like Pavlov’s dogs immobile to the pain and hurt being inflicted upon me, mostly by my own actions.

I have hurt people close to me, my family, my friends and I have hurt other people too. Mostly I don’t even know that I am doing it and when I come out of a DPD episode beat myself up over what I did. It is almost too hard to explain in any other way than like living in a movie. But living in that movie seems so real, but like the movies ultimately it isn’t, except the pain, anguish and suffering that I cause to other people because of my actions, that is real, and that is awful, and I have to live with that and the consequences of it. One of the most profound consequences being loneliness. I mean who wants to be around such a complete c*nt? Someone who is awful to even his closest friends. No-one does, why would you?

For all those people I have hurt and abused through my insensitive, rude and obnoxious behaviour I apologise unreservedly. I make no excuses, and lay no blame on anyone but myself. That is one thing I do alot though, blame myself. No one is harder on me than me, it is one of the things I need to learn to do better.

Next year is going to be a challenge, but one that I am prepared to meet. I am going to act and treat people like I want people to act and treat me. Take this post as an early New Years resolution. And take this blog post as a heartfelt apology to all the people I have affronted. There will be changes, I need to make changes, there has to be changes, what those are I’m not exactly sure yet, but I certainly need to be looking to be as happy with my life and circumstances as I can possibly be. I will address the real reasons for my depression. I will make the necessary changes so that, going forward, I can be hopeful and optimistic about the future, and in doing so, become a better man.

Will I stop calling out politicians? No I will not. Will I stop being me? No I will not. But what I will be is a better friend and better blogger and a better person.

This is the last post I will ever do about depression. I am over it, physically and literally…it has almost got me, but I will not, and do not give in. It will not beat me, not now, not ever.

To the people who kicked me in the butt this year, and those who supported me I give my heartfelt thanks. I truly haven’t appreciated you, know now that I do.

The last thing that I will say is that this year I will learn to love myself again. If I can achieve that then life will truly be on the mend.

Movember – Day 2

Today is my birthday, it is also the day that 6 years ago I went to the doctor and found out that the reason I wanted to punch every one out and was so utterly exhausted at the same time was because I suffered from depression.

That started what has been a six year battle with depression, anti-depressants, a scum insurance company called Fidelity Life and their equally scum doctors Des Gorman, Anthony Asteraidis and Ralf Schnabel (medical professionals who make their living almost exclusively from insurance companies). It is only now, after de-toxing myself from the anti-depressants that I also find out that covered up under all the medication and depression was de-personlisation disorder. Adam Duritz lead singer of the Counting Crows published an essay in which he describes his experience with suffering from depersonalization disorder. (It is the best, but also most frightening description of what it is like with depersonalisation disorder)

Now that I no longer have the anti-depressants in my system I can start to address the causes of my depression in a meaningful way instead of plastering over the cracks.

Fidelity Life thought a year ago that I was cured, this despite their own medical evidence, yet in the past year I haven’t managed to even remotely get near working. In that year I have lost my house, been in court, and removed all drugs from my system, this year has been one of the hardest of my life, it is almost as if I am starting a new life.

I realise now, even, if Fidelity Life doesn’t, that I will now live with the spectre of depression for the rest of my life. It isn’t something, now after 6 years, that will just go away. I live every day hoping I don’t slip into a DPD episode or wake up in the morning so utterly exhausted just from surviving the previous day that I can’t get out of bed.

Three things keep it all at bay, or at least help when depression and DPD strikes. The gym, music and blogging.

When I say the gym, I don’t mean some namby-pamby poofs type of gym, I mean my mate Buck‘s gym in the heart of South Auckland, where fatties, gang members, both patched and un-patched, Pasifika, Maori plus a few of us whitey go. A gym where there are no sooks, and there are no soft options. When I go to the gym it is for two hours at least and it is tough. It needs to be to reset my core being. because in living with depression for 6 years I have learned and understood the pathology of the illness so that I can try to combat it.

For me, my form of depression is the “fight response”. That means my body thinks it is always in a battle. The closer to the edge of depression I get the shallower my breathing becomes, its all automatic, the body is designed that way to divert oxygen to the muscles for battle or for flight. It is one of the reasons why John Kirwan was able to perform so well despite his depression, literally his body was tuned to provide huge amounts of oxygen to the fast twitch muscles which enabled him to score magnificent tries like there was no-one in front of him. This is the same mechanism that causes people in high stress situations, in battle, in acidents, in trauma situation can perform huge feats of physical amazement. It is the ancient “berserker” mechanism of the Vikings. The problem is my body is set on that full time. With it come determination, hyper-vigilance, and utter, utter exhaustion. Eventually if you don’t reset you just collapse as I well know. The gym forces your body to breathe deeply and helps reset.

I encourage anyone suffering depression to start of by going for good, hard long walks or bike rides. Trust me it will help. It is what got me started on the road to recovery.

It is only now after I have purged the drugs from my body that I am finally starting to feel like I am getting on top of the “Black Dog”. But it is still a daily battle. As I mentioned music helps and in particular some songs that have a great deal of meaning for me. Here is one I listen to frequently. It helps to express out loud what is going on inside.

Of course I don’t have to tell you about my blogging, you are all my loyal and understanding fans so you know already how that helps. by reading and commenting and supporting you have all helped me immensely and for that I thank you you all.

I will continue the fight against depression and I will continue to try to educate people as to why depression isn’t just about feeling a bit sad. Unfortunately Insurance companies and Fidelity Life in particular don’t seem to grasp this issue and continue to force feed their clients and patients with cocktails of drugs that do nothing to address the core issues of depression. The pity is that Fidelity Life doesn’t want to talk so I will have have to educate them in a court room, an education that will cost them far more than a few meetings.

Movember is a cause I feel strongly about and I’m asking you to support my efforts by making a donation to me.  To help, you can either:

•    Click this link http://nz.movember.com/donate/your-details/member_id/17568/ and donate online using your credit card or PayPal account
•    Write a cheque payable to ‘Movember Foundation,’ referencing my Registration Number 17568 and mailing it to: Movember Foundation, PO Box 12708, Wellington, 6144

All donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

To join my Movember team go to http://nz.movember.com/register/105390 and follow the steps. Once registered you’ll be sent all the information you need to raise funds and start growing as part of my Movember team.