The Battle for Bed Sheets

As anyone who has ever shared a bed knows, there is nearly always a battle for more bed sheets. I’ve shared beds with my sisters, my friends, and partners, sometimes single beds, sometimes double beds. Space hasn’t been that much of an issue, but the sharing of bed sheets is.

The other day I was having a Down Day, which is what I call it when depression starts to win in the battle with me. As I was thinking about life, death and mental illnesses, I realised how similar The Battle for Bed Sheets is to the battle against depression.

When I sleep I pull the blankets around me as I roll from my back onto my stomach, effectively cocooning myself. Also not leaving a lot of spare blankets. This is fine when I’m sleeping alone, but as soon as you put someone else into the mix, I become a “blanket hog”. It got to a point with my ex-partner that we would have separate quilts because both of us were blanket hogs (although he was worse, just saying).

If you imagine the scenario with the blankets representing Happiness and the person I’m sharing a bed with being Depression, then it looks very similar. I try to roll over and surround myself with Happiness, while Depression wants to take it all for itself. Unfortunately, in this scenario I can’t get separate Happinesses for us to have, we have to share.

I’ve spoken about depression before, comparing it to a little creature. I like to picture depression as something physical, because it makes it seem easier to fight that way. Picturing it as a problem, like bed sheet sharing, helps me put it into a different perspective. A friend of mine once said that he always says “I have depression, depression doesn’t have me”, because it makes him feel like he has control. This is just a different way of coping with it.

I’ve recently been having a lot of Down Days. This happens sometimes, I start to lose the battle, I lose grip of the bed sheets and lie alone in the cold feeling resentful. It’s often very tempting to give up completely, to relinquish the bed sheets and accept that I’ll have to sleep in the cold. It seems easier than having to pull the sheets back and fight to keep them. But then you lie there, cold, miserable and isolated and you remember why you’re fighting.

You’re fighting because bed sheets are warm and comforting. You’re fighting for all the people willing to share their Bed Sheets with you (in this case I mean happiness. Although, possibly also literal bed sheets). You fight because when you win and get those sheet back then you’ll feel satisfied and accomplished. And every time you win a fight you get to add that to your Achievement Pile, and the bigger that pile gets, the harder you can fight because you have a whole pile of wins that remind you that you can do it.

Mental illness is a difficult battle, something that people often don’t know that you’re fighting. I know a lot of people who think that when they ‘lose’ to depression, whether that means they failed a class, they lapsed back into old habits, they self-harmed or whatever it is, that means that they’ve failed. Set backs like that can seem like a failure, like you’ve given in, but they’re just set backs. It’s not the end, the battle goes on and you can keep on fighting.

If you’re having a tough time, there are lots of resources available to you. I’ll list some below:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

https://www.sane.org/

https://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/

www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

Remember, if you or someone else is in danger of hurting themselves you can call the emergency line (000 – Australia, 911 – USA, 999 – UK, etc). You can also take them, or yourself, to the emergency department at the hospital.

 

Image credit: http://www.prevention.com

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Depression: My Reality

There are probably thousands of blog posts about depression. It’s quite a common thing to suffer from, but everyone describes it slightly differently. I’ve spoken to a few different people who also have/have had depression and they all experienced a little differently from me. Sometimes I’ll read a post and identify with it almost completely and other times I’ll understand what they mean, but it’s not exactly what I’m going through.

I’ve had depression since I was about ten years old. At thirteen I started self-harming. At fourteen I told my mother about this, she told me not to be such a drama queen and to grow up. At fifteen I got called to the school counselor’s office because my grades had dropped and some of my teachers were worried about me, my mother told me never to speak to them again because CPS would take me away and that would kill her. At seventeen I finally manage to convince my mother that this was serious for me to need professional help. At seventeen I tried to kill myself. At nineteen I left the country and discovered a lot about myself. At twenty-one, after a year and a half away and nearly two years of not self harming, I returned home. At twenty-one I started cutting again. At twenty-one I want to kill myself again. At twenty-one no one in my family wants to acknowledge this. At twenty-one I am alone.

My depression centers around my family and my upbringing. I have something called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) from growing up in an abusive, highly stressful environment. My stress levels are at a constant high, which means when something stressful happens, instead of going into High Stress Mode, like a normal person would, I peak into Panic Mode. I’m on anti-depressants which help a little and I have been seeing a psychologist, which has helped a lot.

I’ve had depression for nearly 12 years now, more than half my life. But I’m not used to it. I don’t think it’s possible to get used to it. It’s like living with a little, sad creature all the time. Every time you’re feeling good the creature pokes its nose onto your shoulder and weighs you down. When you’re already feeling down it crawls onto your lap and holds you there. Whenever someone says something the little creature scrambles their words, putting a negative spin on it. “They’re just saying that because they feel sorry for you.” “They don’t really mean it.” And sometimes when you’re just coasting along it tells you other things. “I bet if you killed yourself no one would care. How long do you think it would take anyone to even notice if you were dead? No one would cry at your funeral. No one would even go.” And then something bad happens. “See? You’re worthless. This was all your fault. You did this. Why do you even bother? You’re such a failure.” When I was thirteen I discovered that by cutting myself the little creature wouldn’t talk for a while. The more I cut, the less it talked. “If you want me to go away, you know what to do.” And after I realised that, I realised there was one way to make it go away forever. “Swallow the pills. Step in front of the train. Cut a little deeper. We’ll both be better off for it.”

This little creature is something that I deal with every day, but it’s also something that I can’t get a handle of. It seems like every time I do it evolves and changes. Becomes something new and trickier.

Depression is difficult.

Depression is painful.

Depression is exhausting.

It’s even harder alone. Depression is hard to talk about. People don’t want to hear that I want to kill myself. They don’t want to see the cuts on my arms. It’s confronting and awkward. But that makes it a taboo. If we don’t want to talk about it, it just becomes harder and harder to get help. We need to be able to be open about it, to accept that mental illness is a real thing that real people suffer from and that by opening up about it, it will make the fight easier. For everyone.