Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 12:21 pm
There's a room.

It's a familiar room. Comfortable. Cosy, even, for certain values of cosy. It's a room I inhabit every day; it feels like home. There are lace curtains on the windows, allowing me to see out but no one to see in. There's a bed, with a comfortable mattress and a duvet. I'm happy there.

Round the walls are shelves full of books. Those books contain my life; everything I have ever done, my achievements, my contributions to society, the things I'm proud of. I can see them all, and they're very reassuring. I have an absolute conviction that there will never be another one written.

The room has a door. If I go outside that door, I may meet someone, I may have to interact with the world. The world doesn't know who I am; it knows who I was. The world has read the books of my achievements, and doesn't know that no further sequels will appear. That from now on, my life will be full of empty pages or, worse, pages detailing what I'm doing wrong and how I'm taking from society. I don't want to disappoint the world, so if I go outside the door, I'll have to pretend. I might even have to do a few things to keep up the pretence that I'm still the person they've read about. Pretending is hard. Better to stay inside the room, on the easy side of the door.

Getting out of bed will be a step towards the door. Better to stay in bed. Better, in fact, not to move at all. Then I won't be tempted.

I'm happy in the room. It feels safe. I can cry for hours, and no-one will ask me why.

I'm not alone in the room. I have my counsellors with me, offering advice. One tells me all the ways that I could get myself out of the room, if I could only leave the bed. He does this in the full knowledge that I won't leave the bed; his advice is for the person I'm not, but know I could be if only I had a bit more inner strength. He gauges his advice carefully, that counsellor, so that the exit is always tantalisingly out of reach.

Another counsellor repeatedly lists all the ways I could die. Some of the deaths are by my own hands, others are happy accidents. A meteorite strike through the window is a favorite today, for some reason. He patiently explains that to die now would make better financial sense than after I've frittered away all my redundancy money, otherwise how will my funeral be paid for? He's logical and persuasive.

Another counsellor reminds me how lucky I am. What a fine room I live in: such comfortable furnishings, such a fine view through the lace curtains, such stimulating books to read. Why, he asks, did I get the luck? Did I deserve it, or was it simply something I inherited? And have I truly done everything I could have done with it, or have I wasted most of it? After all, with my luck, the books of my life make pretty meagre reading; surely they should be packed with five times the content? If I let anyone else into the room, surely they'll see this in an instant.

And that's why I can't let anyone else into the room.

This is what depression feels like to me at the moment. How about you?

[Note: this is distilled, concentrated, and almost certainly sounds worse than it it. And I feel a lot better for writing it. I really just wanted to share, because I'm interested if it rings any bells for anyone else.]
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 12:41 pm (UTC)
I've never thought about it in this way, with the room and the books, just described the actual feelings exactly as they are, but that's how it felt (feels?) to me.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
*nods* yes, I was in much the same physical situation until about a year ago. Fortunately, I'm in a somewhat better place now, but I do know what you mean.

*hugs*, if they're wanted.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's pretty much what it felt like, what it feels like when it comes back.

The thing that carries me through the worst times is four, simple, monosyllabic words: "This Too Shall Pass".
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
can you get some Bunnys into your room? They could start making pictures in the empty pages of the books (they might have to start by making some new books with whatever paper they can find an some sewing but they are Bunnys and they can do that.)And they could like bite the people giving silly advice and stare at the ones giving advice that is for not-you till they shut up and actually looked at you. They might even grab the meteorite and add bits with string and shiny paper and make it into a rescue-ship. Or just scare the overly talkative people away and let you rest in the bed for a bit till you find the door gets less scary. And the bunnys have shiny friends outside the door
(Anonymous)
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
There's a half-decent 720P HD documentary about cuttlefish communication on the new box if you want.

I recognise some of the above, I recognise the desire to not interact or to keep interaction simple, I recognise the doubt that one has worth, but my depression has other key signs I know and watch for and still seem to be unable (when depressed) to do anything about, because do anything about them presupposes that I'm capable of doing something other than fritter my time on nothings.

I know how best to deal with my depression, like getting decent sleep and getting outside and getting exercise, but I don't know how to avoid the depression stopping me from doing those things.

So above all else, I recognise the frustration.

-- Giles.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
As I was reading the metaphor wasn't really resonating with me, and then I got to the line:

If I let anyone else into the room, surely they'll see this in an instant.

And then suddenly it all clicked into place.

I'm so sorry you're feeling like this. I have so much admiration and affection for you, and it's not about what you've done, but who you are.

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
it's not a way i've thought about it before (i mostly go for more simple images like "drowning in grey cotton wool" which got me into an argument with a psychatirst who said you'd smother not drown) bit it makes a lot of sense./
The one real diffrence for me is that when depressed i tend to get more whiney about my lack of luck though i still do the beating myself up about wrongly made choices and missed chances thing.

It's a good metaphor and very nicely written but i'm very sorry that you are feeling like this
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
Oh this resonates so hard. Everyone I have ever hurt or embarrassed or humiliated is up there in my head, and I will myself to learn from it, but of course I always find a new way of hurting the people I love.

* hug *

You're a good man, David. I wish I could reach to hug you and tell you that in person, but right now I'm a bit far away. But next time we meet, yes?
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Hugs are rarely unnecessary, but I know what you mean. They don't change anything in the moment, and sometimes knowing that I am loved makes me feel worse because I feel so unworthy of that love. I feel like I am cheating people by letting them care about me.

Of course I could just be making elaborate excuses because I want to have the opportunity to grope your bum [/inappropriate lechery]
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
Those books, the ones with the bad decisions that still haunt you? Shred them. Really. For me it was a blackboard with everything written on it, and one day in my mind's eye I took an eraser and rubbed them all out, and the difference it made was huge.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
Maybe you can tell your subconscious to stop wasting good paper on books you've already read and let you use it for newer, better ones instead :-)
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
(Here via Jennie.)

I have to agree with all of this. Its a very good analogy- I've no idea if its clinical, but certainly when I'm depressed I get the "wouldn't it be nice if you were dead" man. That and the fact that the books are either so slim as to be unnoticable, or the room is piled high with everything I've done wrong.
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
every bad decision I've ever made, every embarrassing thing I've ever said or thought, and every time I've hurt a friend. Some of those go back to when I was four.

That resonates a lot.

He patiently explains that to die now would make better financial sense than after I've frittered away all my redundancy money

So does this.

Mine is also a room, but it's dark, dirty, cluttered, and uncomfortable. When it lifts, it feels like someone came into the room, opened the curtains, dusted, and took away all the unnecessary furniture.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, this rings very jangly bells indeed. Thank you for expressing it so much more articulately than I ever have.

(Especially this bit:
Another counsellor repeatedly lists all the ways I could die. Some of the deaths are by my own hands, others are happy accidents.
and this bit:
...with my luck, the books of my life make pretty meagre reading; surely they should be packed with five times the content? If I let anyone else into the room, surely they'll see this in an instant.)
Someone close told me recently they wished their achievements didn't all come with a note saying "You did very well, considering..." - sometimes I wish I had a "considering..." to explain how little I've managed to achieve.

FWIW, I love spending time with you even when that time is silent - that's not about what you've done, it's about you being you, fragilities and all.

*sends lots of love*
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
I meant also to say that I survive those times by knowing in some small part of my brain that I've recovered before, and by thinking of the hassle it would cause for those around me, when I can't quite bring myself to believe I'd be missed.

Thanks again for being willing to write about this.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
No, I've never experienced anything like this ever - the imagery made me want to cry (no apology needed) cos I think you've expressed the awfulness in a very clear way.

Interesting and useful post, thank you for making it.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
You have it exactly - except that when I open the books on my shelves, and for all their alluring titles there aren't many of them, their pages are empty too.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
This is what depression feels like to me at the moment. How about you?

Mercifully, I'm not depressed at the moment, so although there are spine-chilling resonances, it doesn't feel like that to me at the moment.

A bit of my depressed-ness is firmly of the opinion that it's not like that for me, and my depression is Special and Different. Which it both is and isn't.

In my mind I'm writing a little card and slipping it under the door - it says something like 'Thinking lots of you and wishing you well.'
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 11:20 am (UTC)
Isolation creates a more easily controlled environment. It’s safer. A cocoon but one where not only am I trapping myself inside, but the bad thoughts too.

Focussing on past achievements, feeling like you are past your best.
Feeling like a fraud, that I’m not worth the time and attention people pay to me. That if they really knew who I was, how worthless I was, they wouldn’t actually want to know me because deep down, I know I’m not worth it. Everything I do hides that fact from them. Without something to focus on I have to face it too. If I hide, I won’t have to face it with them watching me.

I set myself impossible targets. Full of “ifs” and “shoulds”. If I just did this. I should be better. I should know what to do. If I just put a bit more effort in.
Torturing myself.

Death seems an easier option. It makes sense that if I’m worthless, death is the next step. Death means I don’t have to face any of this. I don’t have to fight.

Worthlessness sneaks in again but this time through guilt. Guilt that I haven’t done enough, that I must do more, that I should do more. Not because anything anyone else tells me, but because I know, deep down, that I am worthless and I must constantly prove my worth.

It doesn’t answer me when I ask why I should do more. It doesn’t mention that the little things I do, like smiling at someone or not causing someone more pain by killing myself – that these, these are just as worthy. It leaves me with blind spots which I can only spot in moments when I am outside of the cocoon.

I repeat to myself that death is such a big step though when no-one expects me to be perfect. Thoughts of death do not make me pathetic, but that I’m simply trying to cope and work through things, that this is temporary. That whilst the room might be a place I need right now, it won’t be forever. There are things other than death to be tried first. I lose nothing by trying because if I fail, I will can simply die later. So I keep going and keep trying. All the while, reminding myself that I would not treat another as harshly as I treat myself. It is not logical that I would be patient with others and not myself. It is not logical that I don’t expect others to be perfect whilst telling myself I should be.