tw: depression, mental health, suicidal ideation
i tend to speak very openly about my mental health. about three to four years ago, i was at my absolute worst. i got stuck in really dangerous thought patterns, things like "if i were to jump out this window then i could knock myself out for a week at least at best". i was fortunate enough to (almost) never pull through with these ideas and sought help when i was at my lowest. within two weeks i got a first appointment with a psychotherapist in training. preliminary diagnosis: f32.1 moderate depressive episode. five months later i found myself in group therapy. i filled out a questionnaire at the beginning of every session which had me reflecting on my mental state of the past two weeks. the result was a score representative of the severity of my depression. before my first session i got a score of 33 out of 63, thinking it wasn't that bad. we weren't given the scale until late into therapy where we had the opportunity to look at our past scores and reflect on our mental growth. as it turned out, a score of 29 and above is classified as a severe depressive episode. it hadn't dawned on me just how messed up my mind was until then. at my last session, i got a score of 5. the scale didn't speak of depression up until a score of 8.
the reason why i speak about my mental health is because i think i created a solid foundation for myself since therapy so that i don't fall back into my old habits nearly as hard as i used to when depression rears its ugly head. the people i spoke to who were dealing with similar thoughts always found it empowering and encouraging. some might assume i'm bragging about my mental growth but that's an argument i find really hard to defend. in the end, i just want to live without feeling like an emotionless husk. i want to share tips and tricks that helped me in the hopes that others who are going through a similar phase can help themselves. i want to help destigmatize mental illnesses because even though they're much more rooted in public discourse nowadays, the stereotypes surrounding them have grown much the same. look no further than greta thunberg whose political enemies keep attacking her based on her being on the spectrum. depression, or any mental illness really, is a constant battle. it's never really "over". if you met me on the street, you might think i'm a well-adjusted human like anyone else living a decent life, but i still keep fighting the same battles over and over and over again. it's just that i find handling them to be a lot easier now.
during therapy i learned to identify my own unique early warning signs that should help me avoid the infamous spiral. since i moved to my own place, i found a new warning sign that didn't stand out to me until very recently. i keep things scattered around my apartment, thinking i'll take care of them later. this results in me leaving random objects in places they shouldn't be. there's been an empty, dirty flowerpot on my kitchen counter for a couple weeks now. there's been a percussion drill on the sideboard in my small hallway. there's been a plastic bag on the heater in my bathroom. there's been a bag of dice on my living room table. i don't remember how they got there but i know i was meant to put them away. stashing these things away would've taken maybe 30 seconds each, if not less. and as these things pile up i blame myself for not taking care of them in the past, knowing fully well it really doesn't take that long. "just go and do it then" is what some might say but when you've been deep in the dumps, you know just how hard it can be to "just do it". leave your guard down at the wrong time and depression will find a multitude of reasons to make you feel miserable by simply not doing it.
on friday night i went out with some friends for some drinks. the weather was nice and we were having good conversations, but i wasn't being careful and overdid it with the alcohol. so i woke up feeling horrible on saturday morning. i had to cancel an event that i really wanted to attend. i stayed in bed for way too long until i found the courage to get up and make myself breakfast. and i've been stuck on my couch until the afternoon, looking around my apartment and seeing these small reminders all over that i was actively sabotaging the system i created for myself to go easy on myself even when i wasn't feeling too well mentally. i felt horrible. i got up in the afternoon to at least enjoy some sunlight before making myself dinner. cooking is a coping mechanism of mine that i've been honing for a long time now which helps me distract myself pretty effectively. so at the end of the day, i felt only slightly subpar which was still an improvement over how i felt when i woke up. today i woke up late once again, but at least without the taste of stale beer on my tongue. after breakfast i spent a whole hour walking through my apartment and being laser-focused on getting rid of these small things that have been occupying space in my apartment. and though it shouldn't surprise me, i was still stunned just how much it cleared up my mind.
this should serve as an example that you rarely ever know what's happening in the lives of the people you meet on a daily basis. everyone is fighting their own battles every day, some more than others. and although i'm significantly better than i was years ago, i'm still shocked sometimes at the ways depression manages to sneak its way into my daily life. i will never, ever, ever judge people based on my first impression of them because of that. i know how damn hard it can be to accomplish the bare minimum, to just function on a basic level. and i know how defeating these days can be when this one seemingly simple goal isn't met. i can only encourage people to never assume something malicious when it can also be explained with someone just having a really rough time instead.
my go-to song to listen to in these times has been "it hurts" by enter shikari. the instrumentation, chord progression and chorus you can scream along are so simple but brilliantly executed. i love the message about embracing defeat and learning from it. and if it's your first time hearing about enter shikari, go check them out. i may be a bit obsessed with them so i'm definitely biased. but they were the best live show i've ever been to and their discography is so diverse that there's probably something for everyone.
mail: mybtm (at) proton (dot) me
coffee: ( ˘ ³˘)❤️☕️