Confiding in people – part 1: family and before I left home

June 9, 2013

(Trigger warning: rape)

I have a psychiatrist appointment on Tuesday. When I was younger, I used to prepare for psychiatrist appointments. I wanted to get the most out of them. That petered out years ago. I often think to myself between appointments “oh, I should say that” but then I spend a lot of my time sort of daydreaming that I’m talking to a random nameless person. Part of that is because I ‘ruminate‘ like a motherfucker, getting more and more stuck in the habit, partly because I am lonely and partly because I don’t confide in anyone these days. By ‘confide in’, I mean talk about the worst of my mental health symptoms in particular suicidal thoughts and the things I am ashamed about in my life.

I’ve rarely been able to confide in my family. I remember telling my mother the first time that I was having problems. I was 15 and I’d been a disaster area for years: I was badly bullied at school from about 7-15 and didn’t have any friends; my first (sort-of?) suicide attempt was when I was 12; I’d had disordered eating/eating disorder from the ages of 13-14; I’d replaced the eating problems with self-injury because I’d found that worked a lot better and had been self-injuring from the ages of 14-15 being very dependant on it in the last year and doing it every day; and I’d been having suicidal thoughts and depression symptoms off and on that whole time. I told my mother a very shortened version of this and didn’t mention the suicide attempt or thoughts or the eating problems. I lived in an isolated rural area where everyone knew each other and the only GP was a family friend. My mother took me to a locum GP who was a woman. I lied and lied when she asked me questions. I was frightened and finally felt in control by holding back my private information. My symptoms got worse, surprise-fucking-surprise. So a few months later my mother took me back to the usual GP, Dr I,  and I told him the truth. I was desperate by this time. He was very kind to me and it makes me cry to even think of it. I was exceptionally lucky in how he dealt with my self-injury. He never shamed me for it and made it make sense to me. He said that I did it because I felt so bad and didn’t have “the words” to say it in any other way. He gave me steri-strips and dressings and I took care of my wounds myself, like I wanted. It made me feel good to take care of my wounds and it was the only way I’d ever deliberately taken care of myself. I felt safe. He explained that what I feeling and thinking was this illness called ‘depression’. I remember feeling so relieved. Oh god, I was so relieved. It was like some tight painful part of me unclenched. He treated me for the depression with fluoxetine (this was around the time that Prozac first became famous/notorious in the media) and weekly counselling with him. He asked me if I wanted to go to the psychiatric hospital and I said no because the idea freaked me out and I knew that everyone where I lived would know. I think perhaps that was the wrong decision and I should have gone and had some formal psychotherapy. It might have stopped some of the things that happened to me later. I saw the consultant psychiatrist twice I think and I felt at the time that was mainly to reassure Dr I and I didn’t get much out of it. Maybe validation that my symptoms was actually real enough to ‘deserve’ seeing a psychiatrist? Dr I asked me I wanted to see the psychiatrist again and I said no. I didn’t think it would help and he respected my decision. I kept getting better and felt calmer and steadier. I made friends at school – started smoking and made friends with the smokers. But they felt like genuine friends and I felt like I fitted in. I freaked out a bit around the time of my Higher exams when I was 17 and I think that was when he increased the dose of the fluoxetine. I remember him talking to me quite seriously about how the exams wouldn’t go away and I had to do them or I’d regret it. I did the exams and got the five As I wanted. My symptoms went away again and I got my first boyfriend, R, who loved me and was kind and gentle. By the time I was about to leave home I was doing well and didn’t have much anything other than ‘normal’ stresses that I wanted to talk about. Ah, now I read that back, I realise it wasn’t true: I was raped a few months after I started the relationship with R and when I told him about it, he acted like I had cheated on him and was very hurt. It wasn’t a violent rape and I was very confused by what had happened and thought it was all my own fault. I still kind of think that though I know (sort-of) that it was rape because I hadn’t wanted to have sex with that man, didn’t even realise that was what he was making happen until he started, had tried to say no and he did it anyway. I didn’t mention the rape, or “that thing” as I thought about it, to anyone else.

When I started confiding in Dr I. I didn’t over-think it and just did it. Once I started it got easier though I can remember him having to encourage me and reassure me a lot (sometime about “making the most of this time where you can say whatever you want and no one else will ever hear it”). Then when I got better I didn’t really need him anymore. I don’t remember ‘officially’ ending the counselling. I think it just can of came to some kind of natural end which I was happy and content with. Same with the fluoxetine. I pretty much decided I didn’t want to take it anymore and didn’t need it. Dr I had wanted me to take it for at least a certain number of months after I’d got better (I think it was 18 months) and I’d done most of that but didn’t want to wait any longer.

I don’t think it even occurred to me to confide in my mother anymore once I started confiding in Dr I. It hadn’t really occurred to me to confide in her in the first place. I’d basically had a nervous breakdown (stopped functioning) when I was 15 and had told some of my problems to a teacher at school who insisted that I told my mother. When I was raped when I was 17, it didn’t occur to me to tell anyone possibly because I didn’t call it ‘rape’ until years later. I’m still uncomfortable calling it rape. But with any of the problems, it didn’t occur to me to talk to my mother. And I definitely didn’t want to tell my father. I didn’t want him to know about the diagnosis of depression, that I was taking an antidepressant and definitely in no way know about the self-injury. Since then I’ve told both of them small bits and pieces about my mental illness. Usually it’s about what medication I am taking and I tell them when I go into hospital. My sister, L, is three years younger than me and I actively tried to protect her from knowing any of this for years up until her early twenties. I can’t even remember how she found out about it in the first place but I don’t think it was from me. We both live in the same city except for two years when I lived in another city. When I came back here, I had split up with my ex-boyfriend and I was badly ill. I gave her keys to my flat in case I got locked out and in case I went into hospital and needed someone to look after my pet rats. I gave keys to two other people as well. I probably didn’t handle it well and just gave her the keys rather than asking. But she really, really hurt my feelings by being very cold and saying that she didn’t want to get involved in my mental illness or in any way end up as my ‘carer’. I don’t think she used the word carer. I think it was my mother who used the word carer when she brought it up with me a while afterwards after she’d talked to my sister about it. I think the first year I came back here, I made an effort to see my sister and keep in contact. She often didn’t reply to messages though that’s the norm in my family as we’re not close and I do that too. I remember being in her car after going somewhere and saying to her that I could really do with some company. I think was in a bad way with suicidal thoughts though hadn’t directly mentioned the suicidal thoughts. She said she was too busy and again, it really hurt my feelings. After that first year or so, I’ve considered my sister as off-limits and I keep away. In this last year, she’s asked if there was anything she could do to help a couple of times. It’s seemed like she wanted to spend more time with me. At the moment, I only see her when our mother visits which is 3-4 times a year. I’ve not made much effort other than a couple of times too. I don’t know, it’s a strange relationship I think. I am far, far too ashamed to talk to her directly about any of this. I can’t even imagine being able to say any of this in front of her without being in hysterical tears. It’s very painful. That’s a bit like my relationship with my mother too. Though my mother has been clearer that she’d like to be closer with me. But I’m much more wary of my mother and there are a lot of things I don’t trust her with. My father is often kind to me and asks if there is anything he can do to help. When I had nowhere to live after I split up with my ex-boyfriend, he offered to try to find me somewhere to live but never mentioned it again after that. I feel like he offers to help to make himself feel better rather than actually wanting to get involved. When I talk to him on the phone (not that often), he tells me that he loves me though and that he’d like to see me. He really upsets my sister by not making more of an effort with her. So I don’t take my father’s behaviour personally.

Through all this, I’ve not been a very good daughter or sister. I don’t think I know how to be a good daughter and I don’t think I’ve really thought about it until now. That’s kind of weird. I’ve done some things for my mother and father but probably much less than most people. I know I’ve not been a very good sister and I’ve thought about that a lot before. In particular, I’ve not been around much for any of the bad things that have happened in my sister’s life like her bad experience with a surgeon or her problems with work. I was about to type “when she got married last year, I didn’t do much to help” but I did do something and they even thanked me in their speech. It’s only just occurred to me now that it was probably strange for my sister when I moved to another city for those two years as I had been reasonably in contact with her before and then pretty much disappeared for two years. She came up to visit and stayed with me once and we both went, with my ex-boyfriend J, to stay with my mother for a week. I’m not sure I saw her other than that. So perhaps it was pretty jarring and unreasonable of me to disappear for two years and then come back and just expect things to be like before I left. Since I can’t imagine talking to her about this, I’ve considered emailing her instead but… I don’t know, I’m afraid of making things worse or just looking like an idiot. She has her own life that I’m not really involved in, that really hit home to me when I was at her wedding because I didn’t know many of her friends at all, so I don’t even know if I want to ask her to make room for me especially since I’m such a fucking nightmare with the mental illness, no job, no relationship, etc, etc.

Part 2 of this post is here.

My old About page from 2009

June 8, 2013

I am a 30 year old(1) Scottish woman. I have bipolar I disorder(2) and bulima that merges into binge eating disorder(3). I’m fat and I’m trying like fuck to believe in fat acceptance. I am a gamer and play a lot of WoW where I am an officer in a casual raiding guild(4). I love rats and have two girls who I am devoted to(5). I like taking photos especially of my rats and the sea. I am an atheist. I’m a big fan of reading and particularly love science fiction, dark comedy, historical drama and a lot of non-fiction and even instruction manuals. I like listening to music and used to play a lot when I was younger but it is often too overwhelming these days(6). I try hard to be what some fuckwits(7) call politically correct but what I call polite. I spend a lot of time, in fact the majority of my time awake, trying to deal with my thoughts and feelings of which I seem to have an excess due to my mental illnesses and that is why I do not have a job. This is a personal blog and so I will post about any of these subjects and probably random other things too.

1. Fuck, I’m getting old. Still not done anything with my life and still shite at dealing with my mood.

2. I’ve always called it “manic depression” to myself so bollocks to translating it to “bipolar I disorder” for other people anymore.

3. Holy crap, recovered a fair bit from the eating disorder. Most behaviours gone though most of the thoughts remain. It kind of threatens to relapse sometimes. How many fucking posts did I do about weight and eating?! It’s even boring me. I’ve re-categorised them as ‘eating disorder’.

4. Left WoW and come back to it again since then. Also: left that guild, joined another more progressed one, that guild died so I went to another MMO, joined a new raiding guild, did a decent amount of progression, became an officer again, took on more responsibility, did more progression, got burnt out (in retrospect), left that MMO and came back to WoW, keep thinking about joining another guild but haven’t got the courage/motivation yet.

5. I miss them and still talk to them.

6. That’s improved and I’m now playing the guitar and singing along fairly regularly.

7. Name-calling. Not helping my point.

The Little Book of Abuse

December 4, 2011

‘The Little Book of Abuse” by Jasmine Birtles published by Boxtree in 2000.

“Look at him. Living proof that Care in the Community doesn’t work.”

“Uh oh. A couple of clowns short of the full circus, aren’t we?”

“Now do you see what happens when cousins marry?”

“Your intellect is rivalled only by gardening tools.”

“Not the brightest crayon in the box, are we?”

“I can hardly contain my indifference.”

“I’m not taking advice from you. You can’t count to twenty-one unless you’re naked.”

“When they made you they broke the mould… but some of it grew back. “

“If I want to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet, I’ll put shoes on my cat.”

“As an outsider, you do you view the human race?”

“You look familiar. Didn’t I dissect you in biology?”

“When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”

“Have a drink with you? I’d rather suture my own boils.”

“Make yourself at home! Clean my kitchen.”

“Do I look like a people person?”

“You! Off my planet!”

“I like children too. Let’s swap recipes.”

“Did the aliens forget to remove your anal probe.”

“Why don’t you go home and tell our mother she wants you?”

“And your cry-baby, snotty-nosed opinion would be…?”

“I’m not mad, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for thirty years.”

“Do they ever shut up on your planet?”

“Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.”

“Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.”

“Are those your eyeballs? I found them in my cleavage.”

“I’m not your type. I’m not inflatable.”

“I’m trying to imagine you with a personality.”

“Back off! You’re standing in my aura.”

“Don’t worry, I forgot your name too.”

“How many times do I have to flush before you go away?”

“I just want revenge. Is that so wrong?”

“You say I’m a bitch like it’s a bad thing.”

“I never forget a face and I can remember both of yours.”

“Macho Law forbids me from admitting I’m wrong.”

“Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?”

“Too many freaks, not enough circuses.”

“Just smile and way: ‘Yes, Mistress’.”

“Chaos, panic and disorder – my work here is done.”

“Mummy, I want to grow up to be a neurotic bitch just like you.”

“Everyone thinks I’m psychotic, except for my friends deep inside the earth.”

“Did I mention the kick in the groin you’ll be receiving if you touch me?”

“You look like shit. Is that the style now?”

“Is it time for your medication or mine?”

“And which dwarf are you?”

“How do I set a laser pointer to stun?”

“If I said anything to offend it was purely intentional.”

“Do you know, I went through the bargain bin and didn’t see that one.”

“Have you got a minute? Tell me everything you know.”

“Earth is full. Go home.”

“Gene police! Get out of the pool!”

“That’s a fun outfit – it’s fancy dress, right?”

“Men have feelings too. But hey, who cares?”

“Nice dress. Are you hoping to slim into it?”

“Don’t piss me off! I’m running out of places to hide the bodies.”

“What a pretty maternity dress… you’re not… oh well.”

“Next mood swing: six minutes.”

“I don’t believe in miracles. I rely on them.”

“He is so ugly they printed his face on airline sick bags.”

“I’m busy. You’re ugly. Have a nice day.”

“Speak up! You’re entitled to your own stupid opinion.”

“I hate everybody, and you’re next.”

“And your completely irrelevant point is…?”

“I used to be schizophrenic, but we’re okay now.”

“Warning: I have an attitude and I know how to use it.”

“Of course I don’t look busy, I did it right the first time.”

“Why do people with closed minds always open their mouths?”

“I’m multi-talented: I can talk and piss you off at the same time.”

“Do not start with me. You will not win.”

“How can I miss you if you won’t go away.”

“All stressed out and no one to choke.”

“You’re one of those bad things that happen to good people.”

“You have the right to remain silent, so please SHUT UP.”

“If we are what we eat, you’re fast, cheap and easy.”

“You, David Mellor, Michael Winner – in an ugly competition who’d win?”

“I heard you had a thought once but died of loneliness.”

“I’m so happy I could kill.”

“Sorry if I looked interested. I’m not.”

“Well, this day was a total waste of make-up.”

“I’m not your type. I have a pulse.”

“I don’t know what  your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.”

“What would I do without you – apart from be happy.”

“You’ve got all the personality of a wet wick on bonfire night.”

“Please, keep talking. I need the sleep.”

“Yes, it looks like a willy, but smaller.”

“I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.”

“Go out with you? How about never? Is never good for you?”

“I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.”

“I’m really easy to get along with once you learn to worship me.”

“I’m out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.”

“It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”

“I can see your point, but I still think you’re full of shit.”

“I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.”

“You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.”

“I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don’t give a damn.”

“I’m already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.”

“I will always cherish the inital misconceptions I had about you.”

“Thank you. We’re all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view. NOW GET OUT!”

“The fact that no one understands you doesn’t mean you’re an artist.”

“Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.”

“What am I? Flypaper for freaks?”

“I’m not being rude. You’re just insignificant.”

“You sound reasonable… time to increase the medication.”

“Does your train of thought have a dining car?”

“Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.”

“See, you should never drink on an empty head.”

“He’d be out of his depth in a car park puddle.”

“He’s not so much of a has-been as a definitely won’t be.”

“You have delusions of adequacy.”

“She has the wisdom of youth and the energy of old age.”

“You’re depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation wouldn’t cure.”

“Nice girl. If she had tow more legs she could star in a Western.”

“I’d like to say something nice about you but you haven’t paid me enough.”

“He’s a man of few words –  but not few enough.”

“Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?”

“So I’m slow. You’re ugly, but do I ever mention it?”

“Are you usually this stupid or are you just having a blond moment?”

“I may not be the best-looking guy here, but I’m the only one talking to you.”

“Just because you smell like an ape it doesn’t mean you’re Tarzan.”

“Nice girl – has a face like a cobbler’s thumb.”

“Is that your face or are you trying it out for an ugly sister.”

“It must be a thrill for you to know someone who wears underwear.”

“Wow, you’ve been hit really hard with the ugly stick.”

“You’re like a empire – flash, empty and a disappointment to millions.”

“Is that a goatee or has a bird just crapped on your chin?”

“Nice hair. Was it that shape when you bought it.”

“I just don’t hate myself enough to go out with you.”

“Please don’t try and kiss me – I’ll only laugh.”

“You’re so dull you couldn’t entertain a doubt.”

“You’ve got the personality of a dial tone.”

“You’re not paranoid. Everyone does hate you.”

“She has the face of a saint – a St Bernard.”

“His nose is so big he can smell the future.”

“Is that your nose or are you growing a third arm?”

“I like you – but then I’ve never had any taste.”

“She’s got a face like a smacked arse.

“He doesn’t act stupid, it’s the real thing.”

“One more facelift and you’ll have a beard.”

“Go on, I know you like me – I can see your tail wagging.”

“I’m fond of him, but not as much as he is.”

“The less I see you the more I like you.”

“Use your brain. It’s the little things that count.”

“If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t you happy?”

“He won’t bore you with a long speech – he can do it with a short one.”

“I’ve never seen anything as ugly as  you without paying admission.”

“You’ll never be as old as you look.”

“Taste? I’ve seen crab dressed better.”

“He’s not himself today, thankfully.”

“Oh, please save your breath to blow up your girlfriend tonight.”

“You’ll never make Who’s Who but you might get into What’s That.”

“Her face bears the imprint of the last man who sat on it.”

“Would you mind standing downwind?”

“Be reasonable. Do it my way.”

“Since I gave up hope I feel much better.”

“I’ve had a lot to drink, and you’re beginning to look human.”

“If you don’t go away and leave me alone I’ll find someone who will.”

“I never forget a face but in your case I’m willing to make an exception.”

Fuck, I was bored.

Last appointment with Dr E the psychiatrist

October 12, 2011

The psychiatrist I’ve had for the last year and a half is moving to another job. I had my last appointment with her yesterday. I’ve had a bristly relationship with her and yesterday was probably the best appointment I’ve had with her in terms of rapport and getting myself to speak with more openly without self-censoring and second guessing everything.

This last year and a half isn’t the first time I’ve seen Dr E. Several years ago, she was the consultant in charge of my area’s particular version of the crisis team and I saw her a few times then. I also saw her once when my own psychiatrist was on holiday and he arranged for me to see her. I can’t really remember much about those appointments and I don’t think there was anything remarkable about them. What stuck from that time was that her then registrar diagnosed me with emotionallly unstable personality disorder the one and only time I saw her but that only appeared on one GP letter and was never mentioned again. It was not even mentioned to me and I only found out about it a couple of years later when I read my notes. I was pretty fucking pissed off about it, but that’s another rant.

The most bizarre thing about Dr E was that she used to be my ex-boyfriend’s psychiatrist. That was about ten years ago and predates any of my appointments with her. Still, it always seemed kind of weird to me: a bit of a strange overlap. The really weird thing is that she intensely reminds me of my ex-boyfriend’s mother. Same accent and voice and similar appearance. I didn’t get on very well with my ex-boyfriend’s mother, neither did he, and that my new psychiatrist was her doppelganger gave me some easy jokes. Really it was all pointless posturing from me.

I had some bad experiences with psychiatric services a couple of years ago and I went from “well of course you should trust your doctor, why wouldn’t you?” to “why on Earth would I trust this random stranger I have just met?”. I don’t want to trust them, I want to keep away from them. I think? But I’m frightened too. I’m conflicted ;-) I’m really questioning that now after the last few appointments with Dr E. But it seems like I can only go very slowly in my thinking and like I’m very unsteady in coming to any conclusions.

So, lucky Dr E had me paraphrase the above in my first appointment with her eighteen months ago. I think I was distant with her. I didn’t really volunteer things and I didn’t expect her to make any good difference to my life and I made that clear I think. God, I sound like a bitch when I put it like that. I think I said to her that it wasn’t personal that I had a problem with psychiatric services now but I suppose it was always going to be at least a little bit personal. But she did try with me. I really feel that she tried with me and put in effort. Writing that makes me feel tearful, I don’t know why. Like “wow, someone put in effort with me”. I wasn’t easy and I described myself as “petulant and annoying” to her. I was a bit taken aback when she agreed with me about the petulance. I can be immature and I think I was passive aggressivly blank and withdrawn at her a lot. Fuck, it sounds so pointless now but for those first appointments I couldn’t even start to see myself thawing towards a psychiatrist or saying anything to them that I hadn’t analysed and checked first.

I think she started to win me over a few months ago by saying that she realised that “time was marching on” and that “you don’t ask for much”, “you have talents and intellect” and “you could do something [worthwhile]”.

I feel sad now. Like I didn’t make the most of this psychiatrist and that I should have done more. That maybe the next one will be bad and I’ll really regret it. The next one is a man. I don’t think I like that. Maybe he’ll be fat though. That would be great and I think would make me feel more comfortable. Not that a fat person is necessarily fat-friendly or fat-neutral but I feel like there is more chance of it and at least they are more likely to listen if I talk about what it’s like for me to be fat.

How deep is your depression?

October 12, 2011

This is the last bit that I wanted to record from Overcoming Depression by Dean Juniper before I finally give it to a charity shop.

How Deep Is Your Depression

Though depressions come in varying degrees of depth and length, they are often longstanding, moderately troubling, states which make life seem pointless or trivial. If you agree with the majority of the following statements about yourself, then you are probably suffering from mild to moderate depression.

  • Secretly you are sorry you were ever born.
  • When you look back on you life it seems a succession of crises and struggles.
  • You are easily hurt.
  • There is always some relationship or other coming apart.
  • There is always a huge gap between what you want and what you are.
  • There is always something to depress or worry you.
  • You deny you are guilty, but your thoughts and actions reflect little else.
  • You find the prospect of death a little thrilling or, at least, a kind of solution.
  • Most common life-satisfactions seem to you overrated, but you cannot do without them.
  • Secretly, you despise everybody, yourself included.

You are also probably still within reach of the type of self-managed help that this book offers and, if you let yourself work within its systematic betterment programmes, there should be sustained benefits for you.

But depressions can be significantly deeper than mild to moderate. They can reduce mental and physical efficiency to levels of virtual half-functioning. If you agree with the majority of the following statements, then you ahve moved into the severest category of depression.

  • You often feel tempted to stay in bed all day. There seems no point in getting up and dressed.
  • Eating meals has become a chore, and you know you are undernourished.
  • You find it hard to concentrate for more than a short period. Conversations fade in and out.
  • If feels a huge effort just to walk about. As for going to work, this is almost impossible (or is impossible).
  • Starting conversations is extremely difficult. It feels as if your lips are frozen. It is an effort to speak.
  • The nagging need to escape to the safety of your bed asserts itself in work or in social events.
  • Feelings of contentment or pleasure (if they occur at all) are very short-lived and are soon blanketed by moods of despair or bitterness.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion are with you continuously, even at the moment of waking. Sleep is difficult to attain and maintain.
  • Often you weep but usually only when you are alone.
  • Irritation with other people increases. You make angry asides under your breath.

If you have agreed with most of the above statements, this book can certainly help you, but not on its own. Your safest, most reliable, but not necessarily easiest course is to seek professional aid. You have a legal right to ask your doctor to refer you to a clinical psychologist for a diagnosis and a therapeutic recommendation. This may be difficult. Your doctor may not want to refer you. Insist on it; if necessary change your doctor or see another partner, but make sure you get professional help.

Uh, brain damage?

July 21, 2011

I was skimming over a book that I am planning to give to a charity shop. It’s a self-help book about depression. It has a quiz in it called “The Pleasure Test” to help you work out what you like to do. I suppose the fact that I read that and immediately thought “oh, I’d like to know that” is also proof that my brain doesn’t work properly in the first place but moving on…

So I jump to the quiz – looks pretty easy – six sets of six questions arranged in panels A-F. Here it is:

First two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

First two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

Second two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

Second two pages of "The Pleasure Test" from 'Overcoming Depression' by Dean Juniper

I didn’t bother to read the instructions first and doodled down my answers on a little square of white paper. When I got to the instructions I realised that I’d answered 6 as “most pleasurable” and 1 as “least pleasurable” instead of the other way around. Plus adding up the scores seemed to depend on the answers being in columns rather than rows. I was getting confused and frustrated. I tried to work out my score from my little square of white paper and couldn’t do it. Really couldn’t do it. Frustration was increasing and getting into that tight, unpleasant feeling. So I took another little square of white paper and rearranged my answers into vertical columns and the correct numbers. It was hard to hold in my head which box across was which box down and then also ‘translate’ the number but I did it eventually. Then I tried to add up my scores and still … couldn’t work out how to do it. I went to another window and started typing in some stuff from another book in an attempt to cool down a bit (impressing myself by this more mature response rather than a tantrum). I came back to my little squares of white paper and looked at them again. With total fucking shock, I realised that I had seriously screwed up rearranging my answers. The first row didn’t go have the number 1-6 but several were repeated. I tried to correct it. I looked at the other rows and realised they were all like that – I’d thought I’d done it right at the time. I’d genuinely thought I’d done it right and it was so utterly wrong. Here are my little squares of white paper:

First attempt at answering quiz

First attempt at answering quiz

Second attempt at answering quiz

Second attempt at answering quiz

It was only as I was writing this post and working out how the hell to upload images, etc, that I realised that the answers were in fucking columns in the second attempt (that being part of the point of doing it again). I hadn’t down it wrong – though the first row was now wrong after my panicky rehashing. But I believed it had been wrong. I was convinced I had done it wrong. I couldn’t see how I’d done it wrong but yet, there it was: wrong wrong wrong. Part of me was even a bit impressed that is was so wrong.

It’s taken my two hours to do all this – work this out and work out how to put this stuff in a post. All in the safety and calm of my sitting room and in my nightie (oh yeah, showering …). I can’t even imagine me doing any of this in public. The humiliation and embarrassment? And it’s a big assumption that I would get to that public place. And guess what, I’m kind of upset just now too (you can tell by the excessive conjuctions). And I’ve still not got the fucking answers to the goddamn fucking quiz.

There’s something wrong with my thinking. I don’t feel like anyone believes me. I don’t often believe it either. So that’s the point of this post: a little bit of proof for the future.

Overcoming Depression by Dean Juniper

July 21, 2011

How many self-help books are called “Overcoming…”? Is that the only way of looking at mental illness or something? Certainly was for me and that didn’t end very well.

Anyway, I was given this book by my ex-boyfriend. I think he told me that he thought it was “good” or “useful” or something similar. He had a mild depression after we split up and I wonder if this book helped him with that and he thought it would then help me. Mild depression, as in the subtypes of depressive illness used by ICD10 and DSMIV, is an actual geniune illness and the “mild” at the beginning of the name trivialises and demeans a pretty fucking unpleasant experience. But that is another rant. However, mild-to-moderate depression and severe depression are not the same experience and it pisses me the hell of when they are all treated as one and the same thing.

Very little of this book was useful to me. Most of it was very proscriptive and frankly patronising. For example, according to the book, to cope with depression requires that people:

“‘Have aims and hopes that are adjusted to their personal realities.

Maintain a steady, other-blame, credit balance on their personal responsibility account.

Keep up regular programmes of anticipated and realised pleasures.

Sift and select what they read, view and hear so as to exclude the demoralising or the morbid.

Sustain a faith in something or some person outside themselves.

Establish and nourish at least one confising relationship.

Have hobbies, activities , interests and manageable responsibilities.

Preserve healthy rhythms of sleeping, eating, etc.

Stay sensitive to they own mood-changes and are quick to react to them with rest, relaxation, recreation or variation.

Do no carry the sins of the world on their shoulders.

Are orientated to the present and future, and do not dwell on the past.”

Now, there are parts of that quote that I do agree with and can see the sense behind. But there are just so many unspoken unassumptions and priviledges in it. Who says what “healthy rhythms of […] eating” count? Is everyone equally able to “sift and select […] to exclude the demoralising or the morbid” and what is meant by “demoralising” and “morbid”?  I bet there’s quite of range of opinions there. Still, I find it interesting to read as it shows another way of looking at life and living. I do at least realise that my way is rubbish.