I started reading through piles and piles of journals and diaries that I have brought with me from SA over this past weekend. They start at 1983 – when my twins were born – although I know that I had many more at one time, dating back to 1968 when I first emigrated from UK to SA. I must have chucked them away.
I have been trying to read through all entries I’ve made concerning my daughter and events in her life that could have brought about schizophrenia. I’ve found quite a few things that may have had a direct bearing, or could have even caused it.
However, that’s not what this post is about.
In reading through the journals I became increasingly aware that there was a continuous pattern in the entries related to how I felt about MY life and psychological state. It came as a bit of a shock when I realised that for perhaps the larger portion of my adult life I would appear to have been exhibiting the signs of someone who was (and maybe still is) clinically depressed. The diary entries (and there are thousands) speak for themselves (no, I'm not going to drive you all nuts posting excerpts) and the more I read them, the more depressed I became!
So I had a look on Google today to see what the professionally-observed signs of clinical depression actually are, to see if this is really what’s been going on in my head since oh, well 1969 or thereabouts. I went to the NHS website here. The list of symptoms is as per below and I’ve put my comment alongside in capitals (and seriously, I haven't exaggerated).
Psychological symptoms include:
- continuous low mood or sadness YES, VERY OFTEN
- feeling hopeless and helpless YES, VERY OFTEN
- having low self-esteem YES, ALL THE TIME
- feeling tearful YES, VERY OFTEN
- feeling guilt-ridden YES, VERY OFTEN
- feeling irritable and intolerant of others YES, VERY OFTEN
- having no motivation or interest in things NOT OFTEN, COMES AND GOS IN STAGES
- finding it difficult to make decisions SOMETIMES, DEPENDS ON THE SITUATION AND DECISION TO BE MADE. QUITE OFTEN
- not getting any enjoyment out of life OFTEN, YES
- feeling anxious or worried ALL THE TIME
- having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself I’VE HAD SUICIDAL THOUGHTS MANY TIMES – not self-harm though.
Physical symptoms include:
- moving or speaking more slowly than usual DON'T THINK SO.
- change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased) ALL THE TIME – my weight swings about like a yoyo
- constipation OCCASIONALLY.
- unexplained aches and pains QUITE FREQUENT.
- lack of energy or lack of interest in sex (loss of libido) BIG YES TO THAT
- changes to your menstrual cycle NOT APPLICABLE BUT WAS AN ISSUE AT ONE STAGE
- disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning) ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY.
Social symptoms include:
- not doing well at work NOT APPLICABLE – I don't believe this applies to me at all. If anything, it's the opposite.
- taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends VERY OFTEN, in fact let me rephrase that ALL THE TIME.
- neglecting your hobbies and interests SOMETIMES but not very often - they are, after all, the things that keep me 'sane'.
- having difficulties in your home and family life ONE LONG BATTLE basically from 1969 to 2012 (i.e. all the time I lived in SA)
So if you were a psychiatrist, what would you say? Am I clinically depressed? Should I go see someone? Then what? I’m not interested in going onto anti-depressants, specifically because I know I have had the above feelings for the better part of my adult life, which would mean that I would need to be on anti-depressants for the rest of it. Not interested in that. What’s the alternative? Carry on, don’t dwell on it? Get over yourself (as everyone always says). Am I a write off?