Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category


The black dog returned this weekend in one of its most violent and ferocious attacks for a long time. I sit here writing this as I feel the black dog going back to where he came from but not knowing if or when he will come back to attack me again.

It started Friday a day that now seems a long time ago. Friday a day with so many thoughts racing along the neural connections in my mind going too fast to process, smashing into each other at terrifying speed and taking my world into a cold, dark place I didn’t want to go to but had no choice as I was handcuffed to the back of the black dog and dragged along behind it for mile after mile of mental and physical torture.

All I could do was get a bottle of the sickly-sweet brown liquid that dulled the pain and destroyed my sense of reality, sent my world spinning and confused what was real and what was not in my mind. It tasted good, at first, as the black dog lapped it up and left me to enjoy life briefly albeit through an ever-thickening fog that clouded my vision and mind and sent me to a place I cannot remember.

Saturday comes and I pray for the planned night out to be cancelled so that I can stay at home, alone with the black dog and feed him the brown liquid he loves. But no-one cancels and I force myself to go out wondering how I will pull on my mask and get through the night.

Before the evening I had gone out for a run in an attempt to chase the black dog away, but this black dog is fast and strong and not only keeps up with me but fights me as well draining every ounce of energy from my body. My legs feel like two small trees struggling to stand up in the face of a devastating wind that wants to destroy everything in its path.

All strength and motivation have gone and even the simple action of putting one leg in front of the other hurts my muscles. I finish my run, but it finishes me too. I have nothing left yet I must go out and pretend everything is ok, everything is good, and I am in a good place not in the jaws of the black dog.
So out I go drinking pint after pint to satisfy the thirst of the black dog and eventually it allows me a brief respite from its attack but only after I have more of the sickly brown liquid at home. The fog is getting thicker now, and it is more difficult to see. Everything becomes a blur until the black dog consumes me for the night and I wake up the next morning aching and confused.

Now it’s Sunday and the thoughts the black dog wants me to think enter my mind. Why am I here? What is the point of living? I would be better off dead. I go for another run in the vain hope that the black dog will leave me alone now having had his fun, but he stays with me and once again I cannot run, my legs are heavy and weak, and I struggle to move lacking motivation and power.

I carry on fighting the black dog and go to the club to see my friends and play dominoes. My mind is foggy, struggling to string two thoughts together yet I mask my depression well, winning at dominoes and drinking till the black dog is happy and goes to sleep. I come home and once again drink more of the brown sickly liquid that has quickly become my best friend.

Oblivion comes once again and now it is Monday morning. I am lucky because I don’t have to go to work, but I need to do something and carry on fighting the black dog. My body is aching now from a weekend of abuse, I still feel weak but I force myself to go down Halifax and have a walk about as I know if I stop in the suicidal feelings that are now getting louder and louder may become too difficult to ignore.

I go down and walk around for a couple of hours treating myself to fish and chips and some window shopping. At home I have another microwave meal unable to find the strength to cook a proper meal and taking the only option I have left in my mind.

Evening comes and the black dog is consuming every part of my mind, body and soul. I want it to end and can think of only one way out, to end it all once and for all. I cannot let the black dog win and from somewhere deep inside my very being I find the strength to fight back and say no to the black dog. I want to write about it there and then, what it’s like to be in the eye of the storm when you’re in a fight with the black dog but I’m not ready just yet to write about it. I’m still feeling weak mentally and physically and need rest. I consume another bottle of the brown, sickly liquid hoping that it will be the last for a while.

I wake up early today, Tuesday morning unable to sleep, mouth dry from a lack of life-giving water. I go downstairs even though it is early and play some games on the computer hoping they will tire me out and allow me to sleep. I go back to bed at a time when I’m normally waking up and lie there wondering if I’ll be able to go to my meeting, wondering if I be up to it physically and mentally and eventually, I drift off to sleep.

I wake up again feeling so much better than I have all weekend. I can feel that the black dog has gone home back to where he lives, back to where he belongs. I feel well enough to go to my meeting, so I do, and I have a great time. I go for another walk around Halifax mainly to see my friend who owns a shop there. I come home and start to get jobs done, jobs I haven’t been able to do because of the black dog. I want to drink water not the brown sickly liquid, I cook a proper meal for the first time in days and I write this blog post my first in a long time.

I start to think about what I can do to make things better, the little things like going out to the cinema or to see a show that might just make a difference to my wellbeing and keep the black dog locked up in his kennel where he belongs. I am starting to feel stronger mentally and physically. Not strong enough to run but strong enough to write this and think of the future with a positive outlook, a future that I want to be a part of. After the black dog there is hope.


they never see you when you’re alone
with the tv and four walls for company
the walls that talk back to you if you listen long enough
the tv that’s stuck in an endless time warp of bygone shows
repeated, repeated, repeated
these are your friends for today
the only ones who will see you
they’re here for you when you’re alone
watching the sky turn from white to grey to black
bottled up feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
bounce off the walls going deeper inside you every time
words form slowly one at a time as they
take off into the universe in search of someone
to share ideas and thoughts with
tears form as slow as ice cracks
drying on your skin before they can flow down your cheek
you don’t even notice them
as the day drags on longing to be over
you turn to the bottle your one true friend
and share some hours together
blocking out the numbing reality of life
till you wake up in a daze tomorrow


The dreaded anxiety once again came out of the shadows and attacked me again this weekend. I could feel it coming but I chose to ignore it and then fight it believing I was bigger and stronger that it was and I could beat it. But in the end it beat me again and I had to succumb to its relentless onslaught, admit defeat and move on.

But it hurts why it happened and it’s beaten me again and I couldn’t do more to beat it.

On reflection, the signs were all there. Posting endless messages to friends, pushing myself hard at the gym, overthinking everything and a head full of thoughts swimming around going nowhere.

But I did nothing about them until it was too late risking friendships and my health in the process.

Today with the anxiety gone I have had time to think about this particular anxiety attack and why it happened. And instead of asking friends to accept me and understand me I’ve decided to write down my thoughts about it in the hope I can begin the fight back against anxiety and beat it once and for all.

As I have written about elsewhere on my blog I competed in a tough fell race, the Trigger Race on January 15th and despite having to retire after 15 miles I am still very proud of what I accomplished that day.

I had 3 potentially life threatening experiences in 4 ½ hours on the Trigger Race and they were the type of situations which put you off doing something like the Trigger Race ever again or make you want more.

I want more.

And that is part of the problem. How do you recreate situations where you’ve pushed yourself way beyond what you thought you were capable of, cheat death 3 times and learn that you are tougher and stronger, mentally and physically than you ever thought you was?

But it’s the buzz that gets you. The buzz of having been on the biggest adventure of your life and come through a far better person? The answer is you can’t even though you might try. The buzz lasted over a week for me, an amazing feeling I wish I had every day. However hard you try though you can’t recreate that situation with those feelings. They are unique to that day and that situation and will be forever. Time to move on, remember that day but create new situations that give me a different buzz.

On top of everything else I tore my right calf that day which has resulted in around 4 – 6 weeks with no running. It’s not a major injury nor is it a long time off, but when running gives you your buzz, makes you feel good and helps you control your stress and anxiety it’s a lifetime. I can still keep fit but lifting weights or going on the spin bike at the gym just doesn’t seem to give me the same buzz as running over open moorland, powering up hills and flying down the other side.   

So, my only option is to accept my situation and be grateful that it’s not as bad as some of my friends are going through and I can still go down the gym and keep fit.

And there’s the waiting for my masters course to start and other things to happen. All of a sudden I’ve caught up with pretty much everything and there’s only so much reading you can do in a day before your head starts to turn to mush and workouts at the gym become easier because you have more time to recover and time doesn’t matter. Friends have promised to meet up but they have their own busy lives to contend with so you have to wait until they are free. Boredom sets in as you begin to look for things to fill your day with and you try not to become an annoyance to friends and not bombard them with endless messages that they don’t have time to read. And you start thinking about anything and everything which quickly leads to overthinking which is not a good situation.

Try and relax and enjoy the downtime because it won’t last forever and quite soon you’ll be wondering how you can fit everything you want to do into the day, and respect your friends and the lives they lead because they are different to yours.

So all in all a series of events starting with the Trigger Race has snowballed and cumulated into sky high levels of anxiety and stress which have boiled over when they became insurmountable and lead to a mini breakdown.

There are lessons to be learnt in order to minimise the impact anxiety has on me the next time and maximise enjoying life and writing this blog is a big part of it.


My journey to a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome begins sometime in 2007. I had always felt there was something different about me and I also felt that I was missing out on something in life but I could not put my finger on it. People would say I was weird, strange and displayed inappropriate behaviour at times but nothing concrete I could actually tie down and say this is me and why I am the way I am. I had looked at various mental health conditions and whilst I felt I displayed some of the traits it did not cover the whole spectrum of emotions and behaviour I felt I had.

It was a friend of mine who suggested I might have Asperger’s Syndrome. She had read the book ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night’ and felt that I displayed many of the characteristics that the main character showed. I researched Asperger’s Syndrome on the internet and immediately felt that this was me, this was who I am and these were the answers I had been looking for all my life. I booked an appointment with my doctor mistakenly thinking he would show compassion and understanding and organise an appointment for me to see a suitably qualified psychologist. How wrong I was!

My first appointment with my doctor consisted entirely of me explaining to him what Asperger’s Syndrome was and why I felt I had the condition. I will not use the term ‘suffer’ as I feel that this gives the wrong impression. People with Asperger’s Syndrome do not suffer from it. They suffer from the ignorance of others who believe mistakenly they have little or no value to society. Unfortunately this view is shared by some members of the medical profession and immediately creates the first obstacle a patient needs to overcome, that is, the very person you go to for help and guidance sees you as a burden on the medical system rather than someone who needs compassion and understanding.

My doctor flatly refused to believe I had Asperger’s Syndrome and made it clear that he didn’t believe me and thought I was making the condition fit me rather than me fitting the condition. Reluctantly he agreed for me to see a psychologist for depression and a request for an appointment was sent off. What was most distressing for me about the behaviour of my doctor towards me was his outright refusal to believe anything I said about myself! He showed a complete disregard for me and my feelings and instead wanted to impose his own beliefs about my personality and behaviour on me.

 

This left me feeling extremely confused. Was I right in believing what I was feeling about myself or was I imagining everything! Because of this I decided to write down how I felt and why I felt that way and leave it to the psychologist to decide. Consequently on the day of my appointment I was prepared mentally and went in feeling confident which is crucial in a situation such as this. On many occasions it is very easy to forget important details about something, such as a medical condition, and very often these details can make all the difference. As a consequence I was able to leave the psychologist I saw with a valuable document for him to read in-depth at his leisure and make a considered opinion based on this rather than based on memory and a brief discussion.

After a number of weeks I received a letter from the psychologist stating that he felt I had Asperger’s Syndrome and that it would be beneficial for me to attend an assessment for Asperger’s Syndrome at Sheffield Asperger’s Service Centre. I made an appointment to see my doctor to organise an appointment again assuming it would be a straightforward appointment and the relevant paperwork would be sent off to Sheffield and I would wait for a date for my assessment. Again I was wrong. All my doctor was concerned about was the cost of the assessment and who was going to pay for it. There was no compassion shown whatsoever for my mental state or for my emotions and feelings. The rest of my life would come down to cost and a faceless committee who would decide if I was worth the price of the assessment and if my life would be suitably enhanced enough to justify the cost.

This shows up another flaw in the medical system. Whilst one person may make a recommendation based on their professional opinion it may come down to another, disconnected medical professional to decide if the person gets the treatment they need. This can lead to confusion and delays and merely add to the persons problems rather than help them. Luckily for me the situation was taken out of my doctors hands as the psychologist I had seen had referred my case to his boss a consultant psychologist unbeknown to me and he had the authority to authorise the assessment without the need for it to go before a committee. Again this shows a severe lack of communication and a lack of knowledge of procedures between medical professionals. This is something that needs addressing as it can cause friction and confusion between medical professionals and patients when so many mixed messages are being sent and received.

My assessment for Asperger’s Syndrome went smoothly and it was confirmed that I did indeed have Asperger’s Syndrome and I had the diagnosis I so desperately needed. My only issue after diagnosis was again on the subject of cost when I told my doctor that I was receiving six sessions of counselling and his face dropped at this news. It was only when I told him that it was already included in with the cost of the assessment that his face began to regain some colour!

 

This is obviously a very serious subject and in summary it has to be said that a doctor in practice needs to believe the patient whatever his or her own personal feelings towards them and support them in their journey to diagnosis, not belittle and confuse them which only adds to the considerable stress and anxiety that the patient is already going through. Without this initial support the patient runs the risk of any other conditions they may have such as depression and anxiety becoming much worse and developing into self-harm or suicide because the patient feels that no-one believes them and there is support available for them.

Doctors and other medical professionals also need to communicate situations better and inform each other of the procedures that are available for a pathway to diagnosis in order that the patient isn’t lost and confused by the whole situation. I also believe that doctors and other healthcare professionals need not just more training but better training too. This training needs to replicate the full spectrum of the autistic condition and the differences between children, adolescences and adults. By doing this the whole medical profession will be in a far better position to offer care that is focused on a particular person and the blanket coverage that can occur today. By doing this and looking beyond the short term savings, long term health and wellbeing can be better monitored and maintained and in the long run savings will be made across the board because autistic individual’s health and wellbeing will be at the centre of the plan and over time it is quite possible that less will need to be done to maintain this level of health and wellbeing at the initial level of intervention.

The most important issue though is to remember that patients are human beings with real emotions, feelings and beliefs and if they are reduced to a cost then they are also being reduced to the same status as a broken down car that can be left in a scrapyard to slowly rot and not as a valuable member of society which they all are.


Many people judge someone who has depression on the face they see in public. They do not judge them on the face that lives in private. The private face is the true face of depression. The public face is a mask put on for show. Think about what may be hidden behind the mask and do not judge someone on what you see. You never know what that face may be hiding……………..