Tag Archive | Major depressive disorder

I give in

I try so hard. I now think that I try too hard and I can’t do it anymore. Maybe it’s a small misunderstanding between friends, I’m not sure but it feels like a huge chasm has opened up and all of a sudden everything seems hopeless. Unfortunately it is the middle of the night and there are no trains out of here but I’m up and ready to leave if I have to. I suppose I’ll head home but I’ve got past caring. A train anywhere will do. I can’t be bothered.

I’m lucky I have my son William. I wouldn’t be here fighting this losing battle if I didn’t. I would be forever at peace, rid of this torment and turmoil that is depression. Despair overwhelms me as it has threatened to do for weeks now and I have no resources left to resist. It’s strange that after all I’ve said and done that one small sentence can tip me over the edge. To be so misunderstood is heartbreaking and I thought I’d done so well. How wrong can you be.

But that’s the stuff of dreams right now. I have to fight, I have to stay strong, and it will take every ounce of my energy but I will still be here tomorrow, and the day after and the day after.

I suppose that’s a victory in itself.

Depression will not win. Ever.

Depression Awareness Week- We need to talk about it

I started this blog last November during a period of time off work recovering from a particularly severe bout of depression brought on by me doing too much and not looking after myself. I finally “saw the light”, put provisions in place to prevent this from happening again and sensibly (for me)  took some time out to gather my thoughts and my equilibrium. Although I was feeling particularly raw and vulnerable  I was still determined to use my experience  to try and help the “depressed community” by writing openly and honestly about my battles with depression. By community I mean people who suffer themselves, as well as the family and friends who are often at a loss how to cope with and help someone with depression and/or anxiety. And so “Poppyposts” was born.

I am increasingly proud of “Poppyposts” because, contrary to my initial expectations, it clearly and thankfully serves a purpose. It is helpful  for many. If I can only help a few people recognise their condition and seek help, start people talking about depression as not some dreaded lurgy but as a perfectly valid illness in it’s own right, and get sufferers, their friends and family together to fight this illness I will be more than content.

So.

A big “THANK YOU” to the people who have visited this blog 4,500 times in less than 6 months.

Let’s kick depression into touch and regain control.

Thank You

Depression Awareness Week-Sod it!

Depression. Latin: Joyus Strangulatus 

Some of you reading this post will have already come across a lovely slimline book called ” Sod it! The depression ‘virus’ and how to deal with it” written by Martin Davies.

If you haven’t yet discovered this gem, I recommend it for its light-hearted but very practical and informative way in which it explains what depression is, its symptoms, its causes and ways to help lift yourself out of the gloom.

Illustrated with amusing cartoons throughout, this book is an easy read and perfect for friends and family who would like to understand more about depression and how they can help. As the author himself has experienced several episodes of depression the information and guidance clearly resonates. It is always easier to accept what are sometimes difficult messages from someone who understands and this is one of the reasons that this book is so successful.

Treat yourself to some light reading over Easter and get this book now. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Depression awareness week 11-17 April

Next week, April 11-17th is Depression awareness week and I for one will be trying to get more people to talk about this illness and their experiences with the ultimate goal being that eventually it will be seen as a perfectly normal thing to do rather than a “brave move”. We still have a long way to go to succeed in our battle against stigma and discrimination, and public spending cuts don’t help the cause but as a “tribe” we can do a lot to change people’s perception of depression and mental illness ourselves and help to eradicate the myths which surround this illness.

To do this successfully we need to “stick together like birds of a feather” so that our voice is a united and strong one in both the public and private arenas. By joining forces with like-minded individuals and support organisations like the Depression Alliance we have a solid platform from which we can promote and demand change. By becoming members of and working with the Depression Alliance   we get access to information and professional expertise in the medical, social policy and support disciplines as well as an opportunity to tell THEM what WE need.

So next week these are my goals;

  • To link up with as many people at work that I know who have depression and make sure they know about Depression awareness week.
  • To contact the Depression Alliance and discuss ideas and suggestions put forward by the Depression Alliance Facebook members
  • To follow up and promote the Depression Alliance Picnic in the Park scheduled for early June-let’s make it happen and happen good!
  • To blog everyday about a self-help technique or tool to alleviate depression symptoms

And yes, it’s great to have high-profile entertainers, sportsmen and women and politicians admitting to their depression and talking about  how they cope with it but we also need all you “extraordinary-ordinary” people to come forward and do the same. Let’s follow their example and prove that this illness is nothing to be ashamed of and show that the only people who refuse to accept depression as an illness like any other and to  provide proper care and support are those ignorant of the facts.

The A-Z of depression (A Part 2)

Awareness and acceptance- One of the first things that an individual needs to do before embarking on their road to recovery from depression or low mood is to become aware of their emotions before accepting them for what they are.

“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance” [Nathanial Branden]


I often tell people that my road to recovery began with my surrender to the illness and they recoil in horror to think that I should have on the face of it accepted my condition and given up the fight.  This is not what I mean by surrender or acceptance and I feel this is an important distinction and lesson for people to learn and understand. I learned that instead of using my energy to fight against the illness its impact and the stigma, by accepting depression as part of me I was able to transfer that energy into getting better. This made a big difference.

“As you become more clear about who you really are,  you’ll be better able to decide what’s best for you” [Oprah Winfrey]

It is difficult to express what I mean by surrendering or accepting my illness but Alexandra Massey in her book “Beat Depression and Reclaim Your Life” sums it up nicely in parts.

“At some point you have to surrender to the fact that you are suffering from depression and that you feel powerless over it…..submit to your feelings.”

“Don’t be afraid of what might happen; you won’t lose any more control than you have lost already. Good things will come from this stage. If you feel worse than you have ever felt before this is because the feelings that you have been running from are surfacing. But it is more exhausting to be constantly running than it is to STOP, turn around and face what you have been running from. ….you have had to contend with the exhaustion of running plus the fear of the unknown”

To surrender, Alexandra recommends some of the following every day;

  • Sink into your depression
  • Stop trying not to be depressed
  • If tears rise to the surface, let them out
  • Ask no questions
  • Take time off-get a sick note
  • Stay in bed-damn the world
  • Make no big decisions
  • Shelve your projects
  • Suspend self crticism-surrender instead.

Remember; ” Acceptance is not submission, it is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation then deciding what you’re going to do about it” [Kathleen Casey Thiesen]


The A-Z of depression (A Part 1)

In amongst my random posts outlining my journey through depression, its impact on my life and family and the tricks and tips I use to help alleviate the symptoms I have the idea to work my way through the alphabet all the way from A-Z as it relates to depression. If nothing else it will provide a focus for posts should my inspiration run dry. I was wondering how to start, but I soon compiled a list of words beginning with the letter “A” which are often used in the context of depression and I will try and incorporate them all in a couple of posts which do not develop into novellas.

So to quote Lewis Carroll, “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop “ (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland).

Let us begin with a couple of common “A” symptoms relating to depressive illness.

Anxiety and anger are just those. Both anxiety and anger can be beneficial, positive emotions in the right place, at the right time and directed at the right subject. But they can also be very destructive if not exorcised and expressed in a controlled way. They are often found lurking together ready to plunge you into extreme negativity.

The word anxiety derives from the Latin “angere” which literally means “to choke” or “to strangle” “to torment”. If you know someone who suffers badly from this debilitating condition you can clearly see that it is aptly named. It chokes, strangles and torments to the point of despair.

Anxiety can range from mild to crippling; from the relatively harmless butterflies in the stomach to outright fear. Anxiety can be a complex condition and in many cases professional help and medication are required to deal with the underlying issues. If anxiety is spoiling your life and preventing you from functioning seek help straight away.

Anger is also a very strong emotion and if it is suppressed or outbursts are uncontrolled and inappropriate it can lead to additional negative feelings of frustration and guilt. It is important that you learn to manage your anger by questioning why you feel the way you do, what has caused the anger and whether in fact you are angry, or confusing the feeling with sadness or fear. Being claustrophobic, I get angry when I feel trapped and find it very difficult to control that anger. Thinking about it however, it probably isn’t anger at all. It’s fear. I need to deal with the underlying fear to avoid the “anger” kicking in.

One tip which I wish I could adopt every time!

“When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred. “

[Thomas Jefferson]

My next “A” post will look at ways in which we can help ourselves and others deal with negative emotions. Anti-depressants, Affirmations, Acceptance , Awareness and Assertiveness.

Until then- Be ‘Appy.

You may also like

MIND-Dealing with anger

Fighting the Blues- a Blog written by someone who suffers from anxiety

Anxiety, panic & phobias-Royal College of Psychiatrists

Existing on two levels…..

When moderate to extreme depression bouts strike I find myself existing on two levels. A personal, despairing overwhelming level and a sensible, face-the-world-pretend -I’m-OK level. This is how I find myself this week but am determined to ride it out and regain some equilibrium in due course.

Gone are the days when I panic thinking that this is the apocalypse and there is no future hope of happiness. From experience I know that this mood will lift and I will  find contentment and balance when I’m ready. It may be a while but I have to keep the faith. It’s a hard lesson to learn and I wish I could reassure others perhaps going through this experience for the first time that it will get better. But depression is an individual experience and it would be wrong of me to offer such hope without concrete foundation.

Keep the faith. Retain hope. Stay strong. Believe in recovery and be kind to yourself.

Depression and meditation-is it safe?

On more than one occasion I have been advised not to try meditation as part of my recovery from deep depression. This came as a surprise at first as I had always thought that meditation aids relaxation and provides relief from stress and anxiety. So it does, but there are also times when meditation is not advised when suffering with depression and you should bear this in mind if you are thinking of it as relief from your low mood.

When and why should it be avoided?

The meditation process of focusing inwards can actually heighten feelings of despair and depression and it is not recommended that you meditate when you are extremely depressed especially not if you are having thoughts of self-harming.

For those with depression it helps if you find an experienced meditator with whom you can work closely face-to-face, by phone or on-line. This is because when depressed, a person tends to focus on what’s wrong and this can lead to feelings that the meditation isn’t working, even when it is. An experienced meditator can help you deal with the frustration and feelings of failure.

In addition when meditating you focus your thoughts  inwards and it can trigger a person to over-think about and analyse what is wrong in their lives (rumination). Far from helping the recovery from depression-it can make it worse.

Meditation can certainly help people recover from depression and reduce stress and anxiety when practised at the right stage of recovery and under the right conditions. But if you are in any doubt as to whether meditation is right for you, seek expert advice.

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Wildmind

Why did I start my Blog?-Part 1

I wasn’t going to bore any more people by retelling my battles fought with depression over the last 30 years or how my life has changed dramatically in the last 8-9 months but, when confronted with this Blog topic suggested by WordPress and with my readership increasing daily, I feel it is time to put it all together so that you understand how it all started.  I hope it makes sense.

“From little acorns mighty oaks grow”

Apologies for the length of this post but if I’m going to tell you how Poppyposts was born needs must. I created Poppyposts as a result of everything that has happened in the last few months and the build-up is critical to understanding the initial purpose of my Blog.

My experience with depression started more than 30 years ago but my story doesn’t kick-off until Spring 2010 as you will see.

Last April I was lucky enough to attend a course for “talented women” run by Aspire. The course was an intensive experience and I spent two days with 19 of my colleagues being inspired, motivated and encouraged to fulfil my potential regardless of the barriers, real or perceived I felt were in my way.  Unlike some others I have never felt that being a woman, working part-time, or having children has been a barrier to my career progression. My biggest enemy was and is depression. I didn’t feel able to communicate this during the two days but I left the course with an amazing feeling of being freshly empowered with the endorsements of both the tutors and my colleagues ringing in my ears. I was truly humbled by their appraisal of me. I went into that course wondering what was missing from my life and how little me could possibly make a difference and I came out thinking I could rule the world!

To give you an idea how humbled I was here are some of the words spoken about me on the course.

Focussed, determined, driven, confident, open, strong, enthusiastic, energetic, committed, intuitive, giving, generous, a leader and a role model with a pioneering spirit.

I was advised to put all my previous concerns aside and to “Be who I am” and “Go for it”.

Having been emotionally repressed out of self-preservation for so many years I found this public outpouring of openness a little unsettling. Unbeknown to me at the time a chink had appeared in my armour and the floodgates were about to open. My defences were breached and I had no control over what was about to happen.

Soon after the course came a public holiday and I remember thinking that I was going to use that extra time to reconnect with old friends and focus on my relationships. Relationships and a strong support network are key to a happy life and I had neglected them for too many years.

Friends are the mirror reflecting the truth of who we are


Suffering with bouts of depression with mood swings, periods of self-induced solitary confinement, unpredictable behaviour and general lack of energy and interest resulted in a drop-off in the number of people I could truly call my friend. I must emphasise that this was at no time their fault or their responsibility. More, it was me feeling that I was an inadequate friend. I hadn’t the energy to help others with their problems. I couldn’t be bothered to make an effort. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning was a major achievement.  If I couldn’t reciprocate or learn to live with my guilt therefore, then friends had to go. Some faded away gradually and some remained, understanding my quirks and foibles completely and accepting that I would help out and turn up when I felt well enough, but respected my condition so as not to put any pressure on me at times when I was more withdrawn.

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be

That weekend along with others,  I traced an old school friend Colleen Henderson-Heywood who I first met when we were ten years old  trying to find our feet at boarding school. It is probably one of the most significant things I have ever done. You can find out more about Colleen here, but suffice to say she is an amazing person, inspirational, creative and ready to “kick-ass” at any given opportunity! I would not be doing this today if Colleen hadn’t challenged me to get off my arse and fight back like she has done against the Parkinson’s Disease that struck 6 years ago.

Cue Janet Street-Porter (JSP). I have often admired JSP for her outspoken approach and even if I disagreed with her opinions she was at least making an impact and stimulating debate about any number of important topics. That was until she wrote her incredibly insulting article about depression in her Daily Mail column. Her article was called ” Depression? It’s just the new trendy illness!” and you can read it here although I warn you that your blood pressure may rise as a result just as mine did.

After a few days of ranting and raving to anyone who would listen, Colleen suggested that instead of wasting my energy moaning and complaining, I might care to do something more proactive.

Aha! Why didn’t I think of that?

So, after work one evening I explained to my husband that I was taking my glass of wine upstairs to write my response to JSPs article-I remember saying that “I may be gone for sometime”. Unlike Captain Oates however, I was back within 20 minutes, article written. It was there composed in my subconscious just waiting for me to put pen to paper. I didn’t have to make any amendments. It appeared as if from a magic article-writing pen.

Unfortunately, I was too late to publish my response on-line as so many complaints were received that the Daily Mail had to close their in-box. But the process of purging my thoughts onto paper had been therapeutic and calming and since then I haven’t stopped.

That was only the start of my journey culminating in Poppyposts in November  but 8 months on, I still feel like a volcano that has erupted after laying dormant for hundreds of years with an unending flow of larva pouring from my core.

Will it ever stop?

To be continued.

The Times-Taming the black dog men & depression

The truth about men and depression by those who live with it.

If you can get hold of today’s Times, you will find a great article in The Times 2 Section called Taming the black dog written about men and depression by men who live with it.

I live with depression and I talk about it a lot as you will have noticed. There are two topics which are particularly close to my heart. The first is stigma. I am committed to reducing the stigma surrounding depression by talking openly and honestly about my experiences. More of that another time.

The second concerns men and depression. From experience I believe that it is more difficult for men to admit to feeling depressed and they are less likely to seek help and support when needed. I wrote a post for my Blog before Christmas called “Man Blue” which addresses some of the concerns raised in the Times’ article. I am not going to repeat them in this post as you can link back to the original, but the facts speak for themselves. In the UK alone, 30 men under 45 commit suicide every week. This is shocking and proof, if any is needed, that more support is required to help our men.

My husband has depression and has found it very difficult to cope with. Initially seeing it as a weakness he went through various stages of resentment, guilt, self-hatred and low self-esteem. Fortunately he is married to someone who genuinely understands the symptoms and behaviour patterns associated with depression and together we will get through it.

I am taking the liberty to write on behalf of all women who understand this illness to pledge our care and support to all men suffering with depression. Speak up you guys. If you need help ask and remember “Depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you have been trying too hard for too long”.

Talk to someone today it may save your life.

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CALM

The Scent of Dried Roses-Tim Lott memoir of suicidal depression