I Am My Own Enemy

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), what used to be called Clinical Depression, it’s not just being upset or sad about something. You can be depressed, which is a mood where you feel down, sad, etc. this can be a normal, understandable reaction to life events. Someone passes away, you lose your job etc., you may experience being depressed, and completely understandable. Major Depressive Disorder is radically different. Whilst some of the symptoms are similar between being depressed and MDD the cause and the extent of the disorder is significantly more invasive, and intense.

Socially most people are aware of Depression, to an extent they have an understanding of the difference between being depressed and suffering from depression in the clinical sense. Despite this there is a significant proportion of society who believes that those who suffer from MDD should just pull themselves together and get over it. There is also sadly, a perception that those who commit suicide are weak, selfish, and it was their choice so their death is viewed differently to the death of someone with cancer or similar illness. It’s as if because it was suicide, then why should society care. Mind you, if someone with cancer was to commit suicide then this is understandable, they were in pain, and it was just going to get worse. We even fight for the right for the terminally ill to choose to be euthanized.

People who suffer MDD can experience the following symptoms;
Low self-worth or self-esteem
Sleep issues, insomnia, broken sleep, or excessive sleep
Weight and appetite issues
Difficulty controlling emotions, anger, anxiety, irritability and pessimism
Emotional variations throughout the day or sudden emotional changes.
Things once pleasurable provide little pleasure, difficulty looking forward to events or experiences once pleasurable.
Increased sensitivity to pain, minor aches and pains feel significantly worse.
Reduced or absent sex drive
Reduced ability to concentrate
Memory impairment
Lack of motivation
Lack of energy

Since I have started to work on my OCD compulsions, trying to minimise them and lower my anxiety as a result of OCD thoughts my depression has worsened significantly. Emotionally I am very erratic, one day I’ll be sad, next I’ll be extremely irritable. Moment by moment my emotional state can change, I’ll go from being angry to ready to cry to tired. Controlling my emotional state is difficult to say the least, sometimes almost impossible.

Along with this there has been a significant increase in my thoughts towards suicide. The difficult thing is trying to separate my thoughts from thoughts which come from Depression, or OCD. The difficulty is that the thoughts all sound like my own. Understand I am not saying there is more than one person in my head, but there are definitely aspects of my brain, my thought patterns, are not, or should not be a part of me.

It is difficult to explain what it is like to live every day feeling like you are in constant battle with yourself. When I recently went to see my Psychiatrist, he is a nice enough guy but seeing him is never an easy thing to do. As I went to get out of the car I had an urge, not a thought, an urge to keep walking, into the traffic. I didn’t, obviously, but it was a scary not thinking about doing it, but my body actually trying feeling my body was now in league with my mind wanting to kill myself.

Then more recently I was driving to work, there was a semi-trailer in front of me. It wasn’t like a normal one, the trailer had a shipping container on it, but it was raised quite high. The shipping container hung over the rear of the trailer, so that if I was to drive into it the back of it, the grill of my car would have hit the rear of the trailer about the same time the shipping container would have hit my windscreen. I was stuck behind the truck, I couldn’t change lanes at the time but even if I could I wasn’t sure at the time I wanted to. Eventually, the truck turned down a different road and was no longer in front of me. Whilst behind the truck I thought of reasons not to try, that given the traffic speed, the fact the truck was in front of me, driving at a similar speed, it wouldn’t have worked.

I have recently made a list of reasons why I don’t want to kill myself, it helps to keep myself somewhat grounded. I have to say, one of the main reasons is because I am scared. It’s not a fear of dying, but it’s a fear of not being successful in actually committing suicide. That fear, stops me from trying, but at the same time worries me, what happens when that isn’t enough. I am often left worried about how much of a threat I actually pose myself. I don’t believe, and don’t want to actually do it, but the constant barrage of thoughts about killing myself, about how, when etc., I am left wondering how long I can fight for and keep on winning. But then there are days, brief as they can be where the battle doesn’t seem so bad. The thoughts take a break, maybe send a couple of pot shots at me, but they aren’t so bad.

The hardest thing about depression is getting help, as scared as I might be at times about the thoughts and how much of a danger I am to myself, the fear of what would happen if I said something can be more terrifying. In my last session with my Psychologist she and I discussed options as to what to do if the thoughts start to be too overwhelming. She ensured I had the crisis line number, a number for people to call in the event that they believe they may actually try and kill themselves. It seems kind of backwards in some ways, if you are that depressed that suicide is all you can see as an escape why the fuck would you call someone to stop you? But, from my experience there is always been this tiny glimmer of hope, a tiny bit of strength left in me to fight, to push back the thoughts. The hard thing is the idea of having your freedom taken away, if you call the crisis line they will come and take you away in a special wagon, with padded walls, to a special room and give you a special jacket to wear. Now, from the discussions with my Psychologist this isn’t actually the way of it, they will talk to you and only send medical assistance if it is truly needed. The other difficult part is, if you call and they do take you to hospital, what is on the other side, what happens if people find out, will they trust you again, ever. What happens if your employer finds out, will they limit your chances for promotion. How will people react, will they always be watching you, watching you to see if you try it again, or if you try to hurt someone else.

I have to admit, writing this chapter is the most difficult chapter I have written thus far in the book. It is extremely scary to admit that these are some of the thoughts I have, and some of the fights I face. How will people I know, family, employers etc. react if they were to read this? Would they actually understand that these are not things I have an intention to do, or have made plans to carry out? Would it be viewed as a cry for help? Let me say clearly, I haven’t written this chapter or the book as a cry for help or to seek attention, special treatment or any such bull shit. The main reason for writing this is so people who do not suffer from MDD can understand or at least appreciate what goes on in the heads of a sufferer. The other reason is if there are people who suffer from MDD, suicidal thoughts etc., that they know they are not alone.

The other reason why it is difficult to write this chapter is that I know that some of my friends, family and co-workers will read this. As said, I worry about their reaction to what I am writing, but not just their reaction towards me but also how they will feel. For some this may be the first time they have known how I feel, for others it might be more information about how I feel than they knew before. It may be hard for them to read this, to have this knowledge. They may feel that they have somehow failed me, they may not want to believe what I am saying is real. I know that it will be difficult to read, and difficult to understand for these people and I am sorry. This is the other side of these thoughts, which does help and hinder. I feel guilty, like any other person who has these thoughts would. I feel guilty for being so selfish to even consider suicide. It makes it hard to admit, it makes it hard to write this. I feel guilty because I know that this might be seen as hurtful to my loved ones etc. I feel ashamed that I have these thoughts, that I am not strong enough to just not be happy.

MDD is not just some thoughts about killing yourself though, as stated above there are a number of symptoms of MDD. I am regularly exhausted, I have not had a proper sleep for ages, despite taking medication which helps me sleep. I do find it easier than I used too, to fall asleep but I rarely sleep more than a few hours before waking up again. All night I am up and down, unable to get more than a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Come the weekend though, all I do is sleep. I might only get a few hours at a time but I don’t have to be up the following day for work so I sleep for as long as I can to try and catch up on the sleep I have lost.

Be it from being tired, or because of the MDD I tend to forget a lot of things. I’m not so bad, memory wise at work but at home I forget to eat, I forget to pay bills, I forget what I went to buy at the shops, I forget all sorts of normal stuff. It can cause major issues. MDD, like most mental health issues can impact the sufferer’s life severely, it can impair their ability to carry out normal tasks, to have a normal work or home life. Again, it isn’t because they are lazy, it’s not because they want attention, it’s not because any other stupid, miss-informed reason people make up, it is simply because our minds have become our enemies.

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