When You’re Exhausted From Living With a Mental Illness

By Bread Skalka

My wife and I were talking last night, about… I’m not sure, something, we talk about a lot of things and the topics either get very silly or very serious. Last night was serious night and we talked for a little bit. Then I told her I loved her and hoped that she truly understood just how much I love her and how sincere I was and am when I do so.

Anyway, last night we were talking about our life of various mental health problems (we tend to flock together easily), and how one thing people tend not to realize is just how exhausting it is to have depression. Hell, to have any kind of mental health problem. It’s physically draining to be like this, even if it’s just for some of the time, and it causes other physical symptoms, too. Like I’m having a bad anxiety day, and I slept, but not peacefully, and I know I slept curled in a ball for a lot of the night because my legs ache so much today. My knees aches and my legs are sore, just from one bad night’s sleep brought on by anxiety.

The anxiety was caused by having a strange cat in my house, who did not want to sleep in my porch (he wanted to be outside), and would bang on the door every now and again. Waking me up thinking we’re being attacked or broken into.

This morning my anxiety was so bad I couldn’t move. I was immobilized by my own panic. My wife had to physically sit me up, stand me up and help me walk to the shower, step by slow step. I could move my own legs, I was holding onto my glasses so tightly she had to take them out of my own hands because she thought I was going to break them. If I hadn’t had so much to do today, I would’ve begged her to leave me.

I’ve begged her to leave me before. Actually God damn begged. Desperately asked her not to pull me out of bed, not to get me, not to help me because I can’t stand to face the world outside because the panic is so overwhelming the only part of my body I can move is my damn mouth and I can’t even breathe and just because I am actually breathing doesn’t mean I can breathe. I can’t breathe.

But I had the cat to take to the vet, and a letter that needed to be written at the charity where I volunteer and I was supposed to see the “The Lego Movie” (my niece was too ill to go in the end) and for the first time since I’ve had a panic attack that bad, I beat it. I got up, went into into town, did the stuff I needed to do, and came home, with the anxiety reduced to the low level I tend to live with on most days.

And when I came home and cleaned up the bathroom and made tea and sat down, I started to panic again because I was so freaking tired. I was too tired to play Skyrim (I kept dying) and I went to bed and slept for four hours (despite the cat crying in the bedroom with me).

I’m exhausted. Right now, I’m physically, and even more so, mentally exhausted. I’m writing this because I’ve had tea, and dinner, and I’m on a writer’s roll. I have words, I will get them out, or I will not sleep. And I really need sleep (lie-in tomorrow though).

And that’s just anxiety. Depression, for me, has always been exhaustion but with self-harm and suicidal tendencies thrown into the mix. When I have depressive days (and I get them still), I get sad to the point where I can move again. Or can’t face a five minute walk to the garage for food (even when there is none in the house), because all the energy is gone, even if I slept well, even if I’ve had all the sleep in China (like the tea, but lazier). I think that makes it worse. All that energy, it just gets sucked into the atmosphere and I lie there, unable to move again, though, able to breathe at least.

I used to get anxiety attacks. Like panic attacks but much more physical. Rocking, violent rocking. The self-harm meant blood loss and, well, anaemia and blood loss are pretty tiring in their own way. And the pain, all that pain takes up the energy I tended not to have in the first place because, well I’m depressed, and in pain — and even on the days where I’m so numb I swear even my heart has stopped working — it’s tiring because you spend all your time trying to figure out why the hell you feel (or don’t feel) like this.

Why you?

You spend all your time thinking, overthinking and then thinking some more and only about this. You think and obsess and get no where because sometimes there is no answer (and more often than not, a diagnosis is not an answer) and you are always desperate for understanding and meaning and change. Change. Better. To be better, but it never comes and your brain never stops.

It never stops.

Once, I suffered from some psychosis mixed with my obsessive compulsive disorder. For six months I didn’t step on a line or crack. Not a single one. I had all sorts of rules for what counted as lines and where I had to walk, and I did this for six months. And do you know why? Because I was convinced, without a moment of doubt in my mind, that the devil was sucking up my soul and my “good things” through the pavement every time I stepped on a line or crack. And sometimes that devil was my dad, and sometimes he was red with horns and the reason my bank account was empty so often. I actually should’ve been on antipsychotics or in a hospital at some point during those six months, they were pretty bad (and I don’t talk about it much), but I was working in temp jobs in Warehouses, sweeping, putting boxes together, etc. I was self-harming every day (at work), I was suicidal and trying (and failing) and while I was in therapy, we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with that or anything else. Because I was convinced it was the devil and that was all there was to it.

And I managed to work, and stay out of hospital and convince my boyfriend at the time (who I lived with) and my family that everything was normal, and I was (mostly) fine and not going freaking “insane” on them. Which is something else that is exhausting.

Trying to be normal.

Either trying to be normal, or pretending to be normal, or even just trying to stay under the radar of normal people. That is exhausting. Trying not to have a panic attack until you’re alone or at home. Cutting and hiding the cuts and scars from everyone, all year round, including the man you live with. Trying to hide the fact that you are walking funny for six months because if you step on the line the devil will have your soul and if you tell anyone, they’ll put your in hospital and the devil will own you. Own you. Just trying to be normal because you don’t want to explain anything, or talk about it because you can’t guarantee a good reaction, or even a non-reaction and you are so, so scared about being laughed at, or picked on even though school’s been over for years and you’re in your 20s, and if you tell people they might put you in hospital and you don’t want to go there, don’t want to go there and you can’t go there because you have to work and pay the bills some how and you still owe the gas company £300 because you were too scared to leave the house for six months and pay the bills and they took you to court and put in a meter and it all went wrong and you’re so, so tired of it all and would really like it all just to go away.

And this is just me, and just some of my stuff. I was tired for 10 years and I didn’t even sleep for most it because I suffered from insomnia from the age of 13 onwards until a few years ago and after a year of full-time and exhausting therapy.

I am still so tired sometimes. For a few years I was napping in the afternoon. Every afternoon. Even when I slept in until noon, I would have to nap around four. I was really worried about going to America last year because I was still napping at the time. Being in the U.S. for those three weeks actually got me out of that habit or need. I manage my days much better now, manage to stay awake all day, most days now, unless they’ve been particularly tough (today) or a I slept really badly (day before). Yes, all these things are terrible, I’ve been suffering since I was roughly 16 and I’m still tired, still suffering a little and still tired.

Still exhausted. But less so. It’s getting better. But, you should know, if your friend with the depression, or the anxiety, or the OCD is tired a lot although they may be sleeping just fine, it doesn’t matter. It’s exhausting being like this. Trust me.

Foo Fighters urge mental health awareness: “Depression is a disease”

By Philip Trapp

Members of Foo Fighters are speaking out on depression and mental healthissues following the deaths of Linkin Park‘s Chester Bennington and Soundgarden‘s Chris Cornell. Read what the Foos have to say below.

Mental health awareness has been pushed to the fore of many artists’ minds after both Bennington and Cornell were tragically lost to suicide this year. As reported by the NME, Foo Fighters recently spoke to New Zealand radio station The Rock FM about the important matter of mental health awareness.

“When it comes to someone like Chris Cornell or Chester, you know—depression is a disease,” says Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, who lost his Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain to suicide in 1994. “Everybody kind of goes through it their own way. … The hardest part is when you lose a friend; I just always immediately think of their familes and bandmates.”

“It just goes to show you that it doesn’t matter what’s in your bank account or how many hits are on your YouTube page,” offers drummer Taylor Hawkins. “All that kind of crap all goes out the window if you’re not feeling right. If it looks like someone is down, way down, check on them.”

“Going through something like suicide, it’s a long road,” Grohl says. “And Chris [Cornell] was such a beautiful guy—he was the sweetest person, he was so talented, he had so much to offer. It was a real shock.”

“Mental health and depression is something that people should really take seriously. There’s a stigma attached to it that’s unfortunate.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, there is help to be found. Please consider these online resources and talk to your regular doctor about your symptoms:
MentalHealth.gov – Get Immediate Help
ImAlive – Online Crisis Network
International Association For Suicide Prevention – Resources
The Anxiety And Depression Association Of America
The National Alliance On Mental Illness
American Psychiatric Association – Finding Help
National Institute Of Mental Health
American Psychological Association – Psychologist locator

Foo Fighters – “The Sky Is A Neighborhood”

Watch more: Dave Grohl and Machine Head cover Pink Floyd (APTV)

 

8 Habits People With Concealed Depression Have

Written By Vanessa Hojda

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), depression is a mental disorder marked by sadness, isolation or despair that lasts for a long time. People with depression don’t just feel the sadness we all feel every now and then. It’s much darker and harder to deal with.

Statistics show that 6.7 percent of the US population is affected by depression. That’s 15 million people—and it’s only an estimate reported by the National Institute of Mental Health. The real numbers could be much bigger, seeing as most people don’t get the treatment they need to manage their depression.

On top of that, people with depression still have to work, go to school, and deal with the stress of daily life. Because of this, they might develop habits that are only typical of people trying to conceal depression.

Please don’t diagnose others or yourself just from reading this list. Depression is a combination of complex physical and mental symptoms. You should consult a registered psychologist if you think you have depression.

1. Drastic changes in eating. One of the symptoms of depression is a disturbance in appetite. So if someone stops eating when they used to do it all the time, or if they start binge eating when they used to eat healthily, this could be a red flag.
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2. Sudden changes in sleeping habits. The person dealing with not enough sleep or too much sleep might look constantly exhausted. Not everyone who has depression deals with this, but it’s a common symptom.
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3. Easily irritable, angry or upset. A person with depression might not realize that they’re doing this. Their reactions to small amounts of stress can be to get irritated quickly when there’s no need to.
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4. Change in productivity. Another symptom of depression is a diminished ability to think clearly or concentrate in everyday tasks. Someone with depression might start making a lot of mistakes that they never made before.

45. No social life. A depressed person might still manage to go to work and school because they have to, so they cancel everything that isn’t absolutely necessary (including social events).
5a hard time responding to emotions. Depression is more than feeling sad, it’s an inability to feel anything the way you’re supposed to. Someone who is depressed might feel numb and unable to reciprocate happy, positive feelings during an interaction.
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7. They constantly put themselves down. We all joke about ourselves every now and then. A depressed person feels so worthless and disposable that they only have negative things to say about themselves.
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8. They view the world through “black tinted” glasses. Depressed people are seeing the world with a negative bias, so their point of view on a lot of things (work success, romance, parenthood, death) might seem darker and more “negative.”
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5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Was Diagnosed With Depression

Sad-Girl

I used to cry myself to sleep every night. I walked around the cold Chicago city feeling lifeless, numb, and bored with life. At night the tears would always creep aggressively back in and rock me to sleep. I would obsess over my day and feel tremendous guilt and anxiety tied to my eating disorders, drug addictions, poor choices in men, and staying in a job I hated. These bad feelings would just push me back to my bad behaviors. I would do whatever I could to avoid the sinking feeling that I hated my life and myself, so I tried to numb myself with food, drugs, codependent relationships, etc. It was a vicious cycle.

Realizing something was wrong I went to my doctor. She diagnosed me with clinical depression and wrote me a prescription. As I opened the door to the pharmacy, an invisible wall literally pushed me back. It was as if a force field had sprung up in front of me, preventing me from getting the prescription filled. As I looked at the scribbled piece of paper, I had an awakening. Although I knew depression is a real, serious mood disorder that requires treatment, and that for many, antidepressant drugs are necessary, my inner voice said, “This is not you; you don’t need these drugs to feel better.” Just follow your heart.”

I’m not quite sure where that conviction came from. Although I believe that we all have that inner knowing of who we are and what we need, that voice had been muffled so long, drowned out with the thoughts of self-hatred that tormented me. That moment was the turning point of my life. As I ripped up the prescription, I made a promise to myself to always follow my heart and to start to ask myself why am I so unhappy. I realized, in that moment, that

I couldn’t control the world around me but I could learn how to control my own role in my life. I could continue to allow the world to happen to me, or I could happen to the world, meaning I could make a difference by becoming healthy and happy.

My thought was that if one less person in the world was hurting, then that is making a difference and helping the world. So I chose to take responsibility for me. No one else, just me. And the most glorious thing happened; I became happy. I found myself. I fell in love with my life and myself.

Instead of focusing on my diagnoses I focused on wellness. I put my attention to healing and moving through the pain instead of allowing that to be my final outcome. Looking back on the years I suffered silently in my depression I realize there are things I’ve learned from this painful time.

Here are 5 things I wish someone told me before I was diagnosed with depression.

1. Rock Bottom is the Premier Catalyst for Change

What I’ve learned is that in our darkness, if we are open, we can find the light. I hit rock bottom and it was the biggest blessing as it served as a shift for me to focus forward and pull my life together. It was a wake-up call and opportunity for realignment to my true self. The pain, addiction, sadness, and grief we experience are nothing to be ashamed of. It is an opportunity for personal growth and self-understanding. If you are going through a difficult time right now, you are not alone. You are being groomed for greatness. Give yourself the ultimate gift of living a fulfilled life by being present in your journey.

2. There is Healing in Sharing Your Story

Have you ever noticed your favorite song lyrics, the bestselling book or the memorable movie are drenched in emotion and epic battles of self-discovery? There is always a pain, but there can be beauty in the breakdown. When we share ourselves with others we open our selves up to be seen and cared for, we also build connections.

3. Comparing Yourself to Others Just Keeps You Stuck

When we look outside of ourselves at other people, we often self-sabotage our efforts to heal. Because we think things like they have it all together, or they seem to be healthier or happier, I must be doing something wrong. We blame ourselves and become victims. Remember this, If you are alive, you will struggle. Take comfort in knowing that part of being human is to know the struggle brings clarity. You can live your life fully by going into each moment and embracing it.

4. Thinking Your Don’t Have a Choice is a Choice

We may not have a choice about our diagnoses or actual situation, but the way we move forward and perceive the situation we have full control over. Make intentional efforts to focus on the healing instead of the struggle.

5. Trust Life More

If the situation you are in is causing you more stress than joy, it is a clear sign that the situation has expired. A lot of the times we stay stuck because we are holding on to things that we are supposed to let go of. So let go and watch yourself feel more freedom and joy. The reason most of us don’t let go is that we don’t have full faith in our future. Dig within yourself to find the courage to trust yourself and your life, because when you take the steps, one step at a time, your path will reveal itself—but you must first take the step.

100 Things You Can Still Do While Being Depressed (That WILL Make You Feel Better)

By Ioana Casapu

1. Wash your face and gently pat it dry with a clean towel.

2. Feed yourself the aliments your body craves for. It craves them for a legit reason: lack of.

3. Surrender to the deep hole you’re falling through while holding your loved one’s hand. They won’t let go.

4. Plant fresh flowers. Water your plants. Plants love us back infinitely.

5. Have some goji berries for breakfast. They do help boost both our immune system and our mood.

6. Revisit old, dear memories, such as photo albums, collected memorabilia or letters from high school.

7. Watch a real bad movie and see yourself still being able to laugh about it.

8. Daydream. No place is forbidden to travel to in our minds.

9. Help others, as little as you can. If you can’t, it’s fine as well.

10. Let yourself experience things you like. Even if you’re alone.

11. Check out some Brene Brown or School of Life videos on Youtube. They explain a lot of our modern search for a soul.

12. Listen to someone who’s had a hard day too. Comfort them as you can. Don’t stress too much about it. Empathy comes uncalled for, because we’re still so much capable of emanating it, even when we think we can’t.

13. Exchange experience with people on a forum, such as Experience Project. When you need compassion, that’s a good place to be.

14. Do something crazy, like skydiving or crashing a wedding. Adrenaline makes us forget our pains and lifts our mood instantly. It’s tested.

15. Go dancing. Body moves pump back serotonin in its right places.

16. Sing. Whatever you feel like. Sometimes the sound of our own voice is more powerful than any other sound in the universe.

17. Stretch your neck and shoulders for a couple minutes. Stress accummulates in those areas but it’s not impossible to shake off.

18. If you’re religious, pray. And if you’re not, you can still pray to that one thing you strongly believe in deep down. Religion is not important. Faith is.

19. Touch, or hug trees. Caress the tree. Admire its beauty. Its force. Ask the tree gently to give you some of its strength. This can truly do wonders. Plants have vital energy and they do pass it to us humans. It’s a miracle.

20. Go out in the snow. Inhale, exhale. Feel the cold on your hands. As you’re back inside, you’ll feel much more oxygenated.

21. Call your doctor or therapist if you have one. If it’s an emergency, you are very entitled to ask for their help.

22. Give yourself permission to feel angry, sad or alone. You have every right to feel so.

23. Do one thing at a time. You don’t need to multitask or rush. It won’t really work anyway.

24. Colour. Adult colouring books are super effective to help you feel more relaxed and focused.

25. Call in sick. You need to rest. There’s no use to get to work if you can’t move your face.

26. If you have a priest that you trust to talk to, go pay them a visit.

27. If this is an option, spend the day in bed. Sleep. If your loved one can stay next to you, it’s even better.

28. Clean your house a bit. It keeps your body moving and your mind detached.

29. Watch videos of animals having fun in the wild.

30. Call someone who’ll support you in this harsh day. If there’s no one to call, talk to Siri. I know, she’s a bot. But she can be nice AF and she’ll say she loves you back sometimes. No BS.

31. Pour yourself a glass of wine, or your beverage of choice. If consumed with moderation, alcohol helps us relax and is the equivalent of a dopamine refill. Dopamine makes us happy and social.

32. Smoke cigarettes if that habit helps you out. Don’t start smoking though if you haven’t been a fan.

33. Go to the movies, take someone with you. If no one’s available, go alone, at a matinee for instance. Dress nice for it. Smile at the cashier. You might as well feel lighter.

34. Move the furniture around and redesign your living space. Some will protest, but I was living in 20 sqm studio at some point that only had a bed, a desk and a small built in kitchen and I still got creative (and proud) about it.

35. Start reading a new book. If the idea sounds painful and tiring, pick a magazine you like from the stand (or one you’ve never read before) and read it cover to cover.

36. Go to the library, decide which book cover you like best and why. You don’t have to borrow it.

37. If you’re into cartoons, go ahead and re-watch your childhood faves.

38. Give yourself permission to reject calls and leave text messages unattended. The world won’t die.

39. Write down a short list of the people you love and why. Alternatively, write down a list of things in your life you don’t need. Writing helps the memory paint things in a realistic light.

40. Get off Instagram for a while. It already makes you feel like crap about who you are(n’t).

41. Put on your favourite clothes and do your make-up. It may sound useless, but it’s something that’s helped me a lot especially in those days when I hated what I saw in the mirror. You’re not vain for wearing lipstick and concealer.

42. Wash your hair thoroughly, cleanse it, and style it the way you love. It’s a meticulous activity that keeps you focused on something else other than your mind.

43. Go to Sephora and smell all fragrances you’re curious about. Scents help us detense and feel generally better. Get a free make-up if that’s in store. Ask the beauty consultants to give you some free samples.

44. Go shopping. If you can’t afford shopping, just browse through the stores you like.

45. Take a short walk in nature and breathe in all the fresh scents.

46. Hug someone you love, if that’s something you can do. Hugs that last longer than 10 seconds are scientifically proven to heal.

47. Take a long shower. Warm water soothes our tired bodies and invigorates our cells.

48. Try a 10 minute yoga exercise for depression and loneliness.

49. Lay in bed. Cover yourself in nice smelling sheets. Warmth brings us comfort.

50. Talk to a stranger on Quora if you have no one to talk to. You can even do it anonymously. Most people there will offer great life advice.

51. Cry, as much as you need. Crying is good for releasing toxic emotions.

52. If you afford this luxury, go to your parents’ place. Let them take care of you.

53. Eat a hot meal. Comfort food isn’t called than for no reason.

54. Ask someone trustworthy and close to give you a massage. It will release serotonin and you will feel a bit lighter.

55. Talk to a loved one who is in Heaven. Ask them how they are. Tell them how you’re doing. Ask them to gently guide you.

56. Listen to your favourite music.

57. Go to the spa, bathe in Lithium salts. Lithium is used in psychiatry as a drug and is proven to stabilize mood swings and offer a general good mood. Lithium baths can be found in most spas and the time you need for it to start working is 15 minutes per day.

58. Alternatively, you can take Lithium orotate as a dietary supplement. A doctor’s prescription is not required.

59. Spend one hour out in the sun. Pretend you’re on the beach. Vitamin D is essential to our general well being.

60. If the weather’s not friendly, vitamin D can be found in egg yolks, tuna, salmon, soy and some dairy products you could create great meals with.

61. If you’re too lazy to eat right now, ask your doctor to prescribe you the right dose of vitamin D, especially if you live in cold climate.

62. Swim, if you can, or spend time at the pool. Water helps our muscles relax.

89. Curl into a ball, play this tune that is scientifically proven to help loosen tension.

90. Stay in bed, create your own virtual makeup. There are tons of apps.

91. Eat peach pulp straight out of the syrup can.

92. Breathe according to this exercise.

93. Spend ten minutes on Headspace. Do nothing but breathe.

94. Kiss your cat on the head, just like you’d kiss a small baby.

95. Order in something special and healthy such as peas soup, salmon salad with raspberry and quinoa or roasted veggies with pineapple.

96. Caress your own face and head slowly, hug yourself if you must, the way you’d do for a friend in need. Sometimes we are our own best friends.

97. Lay down in the grass facing the sky. This works best on a Full Moon, as the energies in the ground sip directly into the body and contribute to a general good mood.

98. Masturbate. I can’t stress how much good you’re doing to yourself. Serotonin kicks back in a matter of minutes.

99. Spend time amongst animals. Horse riding is fantastically soothing. Sitting with your pet and caring for them is brilliantly helpful. Animals may not speak, but they feel our pains and are able to calm us down.

100. I love you. Your depression does not make you a bad person. It does not chip away your capacity to feel, love, play or experience the good in life. You are a friend. You are a lover. You are a child. You are a soul. You are infinite. You are permanent. Your soul is permanent. You are a river. You are beautiful. You are exquisite. You are who you are, and that’s fine by me.