Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Feeling the Burn with Trisha

Trisha Goddard, who could kick the sorry arse of Jeremy Kyle any day, mind, is known to have suffered from depression.  She says that exercise has been of great benefit to her in her recovery.  This is something that is well known, people with depression hear about it all the time.  Exercise makes the body release endorphins, which are the body's very own version of smack.  This helps to regulate the mood, and subsequently the neurotransmitters in the brain that cause the depression.

This is all well and good, but what if you can't actually get out of bed in the first place?  Exercise definitely has it's place in the treatment of depression, but do not overestimate it.  I'm sure most people with depression have been to the GP at some point and have been seen by someone that looks about 15, fresh out of medical school.  Mention antidepressants and they recoil in horror.  Once they regain their composure they usually say something like 'Have you tried yoga?'.  I am usually a hysterical teary mess when visiting the GP in the bad times, but how I wish I wasn't and I could gather my faculties together to scream something like "I'VE SPENT A WEEK TRYING NOT TO PUT MY HEAD IN THE OVEN AND YOU SUGGEST YOGA!!......" (The dots at the end represent a string of expletives and downright insults).

I must say though, throughout The Winter of Discontent, I joined a gym.  I mainly joined because it was at the end of my road.  Normal people need motivation to get their arses to the gym, depressed people need even more.  Personally, I am pretty much unable to go to any gym that is more than five minutes away.  But, I had always been aware of the benefits of exercise for depressed people (I'd read an article by Trisha), and I was willing to try ANYTHING to get me out of my own head for a bit.  So, I boldly went where I'd never been before, to the gym.  I have to tell you, it works.  It's not a miracle cure, but it definitely helps.  You can release a bit of aggression doing exercise, one friend of mine always exercises in a crisis, she says it is the only thing that keeps her sane.  It is her medicine.  There were times during the winter that if I hadn't been running on the treadmill, I would have been screaming.

It is good for me to collect an arsenal of weapons to use against the black dog when he is misbehaving, and exercise is definitely a powerful one.  Unlike most dogs, this one does not want you to take him for a walk, he would rather you stayed in bed.  By doing exercise sometimes, you can bring him to heel a little bit.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Incredibly Optimistic and Depressed

During last winter, which was dark and cold in the mind of Liquorice Lady, and may henceforth be called The Winter of Discontent, I was trying to work out what was wrong with me.  I was doing a little voyage of self discovery, trying to reprogramme my brain with a bit of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), trying to work out where my negative thoughts came from and how I could beat them off with a fanciful shitty stick, or such like.  Being that it was winter at the time, along came Christmas, or as it will be known from now on, Bastard Christmas.  My friend bought me a gift, which was a Mensa Personality Testing Kit.  I happily worked my way through the tests, it was a good way to distract the dog.  What I discovered was that I was EXTREMELY optimistic and motivated.
  Being very optimistic and motivated is not something that is usually associated with people who have depression.  I think this is why people are so shocked when I tell them about it, it seems at odds with my personality.  This is an important point to note about depression.  It can strike ANYONE.  You don't have to have a certain type of personality, there isn't a type of person that is more susceptible to it.  Being optimistic and motivated is definitely a help when I am trying to claw my way out of a dark episode, but not everyone has those personality traits.  It's only by chance that I have, just like it is only incidental that I got my own black dog.

How Things Are Now

This is just a little bit of what's going on now, a bit of background information about me and my dog.

What CAUSED My Depression?

Who knows?  Can you pinpoint a moment where it all began?  Some people can, I might be able to but what would be the point?  This is discussed in the book How To Heal Depression by Dr Harold H. Bloomfield and Peter McWilliams (which is a good book by the way).  In summary, there is no point trying to work out where the black dog came from, who gave him to you, and what made him come.  He's here now, so you'd better work out how to get him to behave.

Am I better now?

Better, yes, but not cured.  I accept that I will never be cured.  Happily, at the moment I am feeling pretty good, but I have just come through one of the darkest winters of my life.

Is she on drugs, though?

Here we go, lets make this clear once and for all.


I write this in capitals, because I am fed up of the stigma and controversy that surrounds antidepressants, especially the one I am on, paroxetine, which has been hung drawn and quartered by the British media.  Did you know that it causes KIDS TO COMMIT SUICIDE!!!  According to a very biased and unrepresentative episode of the BBC's Panorama, and obviously the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.  I am not here to preach about Paroxetine, but it works for me.
  The stigma of being on antidepressants appears to have lessened, but this could be because I tell less people about being on them nowadays.  When I was first on them, I was very brave and young and thought, rightly, that I had nothing to be ashamed of, so I'd happily tell all and sundry and then tolerate them telling me:-
 "You're no better than a junky, just cos your smack is legal doesn't mean you're not an addict"
 "Oh, you don't need them, just use alcohol, that's what I do" - good advice there.
 "What!  You're well fucked up!  I feel guilty about sleeping with you now" - my personal favourite.
Now I am a little older I don't feel the need to tell so many people my personal business.  Also, the people I am telling are not usually complete dicks, as I seem to surround myself with less knobs nowadays, which is a good thing, obviously.

What this is, and what this is not

What This Is

I call this site 'My Black Dog', because Winston Churchill, known to suffer from depression, referred to his illness as his 'black dog'.  Subsequently, this has become a well known metaphor for depression, and this blog is going to be about my own black dog, or my own experiences with depression.  

What This Is Not

This blog will not be:-

1.  A catalogue of shit things that have happened to me
     I will sometimes discuss shit things that have happened to me, being that they obviously have a bearing on    how I am feeling and have an influence on my experience with the black dog, but I'm not intending this blog to be like one of those 'Tragic life stories' you see in disturbing quantities in any book shop nowadays.

2.  A place where I can moan and feel sorry for myself
     I already have many unfortunate friends who have to listen to that shit, I don't need to go on about it on here as well.

3.  A step by step guide on how to cure depression
     To quote one of my favourite geniuses, Leonard Cohen, 'There ain't no cure for love'.  There ain't no cure for depression either.  That's not to say that you can't feel better, get better or recover, but there isn't an out and out cure that works for everyone.  We all know that.  In no way am I gonna condemn or preach about any type of therapy or treatment that is available either, whether it is natural or 'unnatural', legal or illegal, whatever it is.  Who am I to judge or say something works or not?

So this is my idea of what it's gonna be about so far...