Category: Depression

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

The way you see it…

When you live with depression & anxiety it’s hard to find the real you.

Amid the multitude of drugs available for treating dysfunctional emotional health symptoms, there doesn’t seem to be anything that leaves us emotionally “in tact”.  The feeling that we are somehow disconnected from our “true” self can have us believing the treatment is worse than the illness.

For some, the distress caused by the treatment is enough to reject it for a life of manic emotional swings, unpredictability and dangerous behaviours.  For others, it’s just that nagging feeling that we’re not quite ‘present’.  That somehow there’s a part of us that’s missing.  But, in a lesser of two evils approach, for me, part of us missing is small price to pay.

I have to confess to feeling a bit disconnected myself recently.  I’ve struggled to write even the briefest of pieces.  I’ve chosen to isolate myself further from the rest of the world and I’m riding an emotional merry-go-round that because of it’s predictability, is entirely boring and unfulfilling.

On top of this, my medication is known to cause weight gain because of it’s (side)effect on whatever part of me processes sugars.  My taste buds have difficulty determining what I’m eating and I am in a state of perpetual tiredness.  In-fact, it’s only the guilt I have over my inability to earn an income, that keeps me from sleeping my life away and dedicated to perfect housewifely behaviour.

And amid all this, I’ve had no significant improvement in my illness.  I’m still stuck!

Mr Me is gracious in his understanding.  He’s tolerant and (mostly) gentle.  (I don’t know how much more gentle he could be!)  And, while his expectations of me sometimes feel unkind, they’re not unreasonable.   After all, who wouldn’t expect an award winning business-person to get up and go to work.   It’s not like I’ve lost my capacity to think!

But here’s the thing, I appear to have lost the ability to feel confident.  In the absence of praise, I automatically default to failure, and by extension, I withdraw.

Now, I can hear you all thinking “how silly”.  Just because no-one tells you, you did a good job, doesn’t mean you’ve done a bad job.  However, from somewhere within my illness, a voice of disbelief is broadcast.   Sometimes it’s so shrill that no other sound can be heard above it and at other times, it’s like rain on a tin roof, a constant drone beneath all other noise.  It’s message, clear and constant, is only to remind me of my ineptness.  My inability to be anything more than my self-perception allows.

This arousal of dissonance, between my cognitive desire to be worthy, acceptable and of value and my cognitive belief that I am a disappointment, seeks a resolution.  Without any external evidence to support the belief that I’ve attained my desires, I must conclude that I am what I believe myself to be.

Of course, we could debate my self-perception for hours on the basis of whether it’s a pre-set biological outcome as a result of the DNA responsible for my being (like Blue Eyes).  Or, perhaps it’s the result of the way I was nurtured (like an Attachment Disorder).  Or perhaps, I’ve acquired a chemical imbalance as a result of increased chemical production due to a life-threatening trauma (as in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  It could even be the result of an autoimmune type condition, where my body’s own defences kill off any feel good chemicals before I am able to use them (like Type 1 Diabetes).

But for now, it’s not the question of why that drives me to seek a solution.  It’s the how and when that keeps me striving to find a treatment that will allow me move forward.  After all, I was not created for a life of despair.

From Anais Nin:  It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.  

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.  

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay.  If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

All the lost children…

On and off throughout my life I have been known to keep a diary of my struggles with depression and anxiety one of which I published as the book, Diary of Secrets.

So I’m no stranger to laying my life out as an example of what living with depression and anxiety (and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociative Personality Disorder) is like and how I cope or not cope as the case may be.

Interestingly, I write because I feel I’m lead to do so. I have a heart for those who believe a diagnosis of an emotional health illness means that they are in some way less worthy than those who do not.  And, I also write for the large number of people, both men and women who have been subjected to sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

These survivors who often struggle with the legacy the abuse has left, not just in a diagnosable emotional illness, but with the shame and humiliation of being unable to protect themselves from the unwelcome and often illegal attentions of others. The feelings that they have somehow ‘submitted’ to unwanted sexual activity and cannot cleanse themselves of the cacophony of emotional responses that cannot, once introduced, be silenced.

In the shadow of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse there is the lingering and much broader issue of ANY Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Whilst we willingly and rightly so investigate the abhorrent behaviour of institutions charged with the care of the most vulnerable members of our communities, we forget that sexual abuse and violence against children in their own home appears far more prevalent.  And we are yet to establish an ‘enquiry’ or other vehicle to improve our culture’s attitude and response to domestic violence; our sentencing and parole provisions for sex offenders; or our general attitude to sex and sexuality.

To me it seems an easy (I use the term easy quite loosely) task to point the finger at institutions, tell them they acted unconscionably, and hold them in some way accountable.   The current ease of this task is due almost entirely to the victims who would not remain silent on the abuse that occurred and it’s enduring effects.   Those people will be without doubt the heros in any positive outcome this Royal Commission may effect.

It seems a little sad to me, that we have forgotten that the precept of family is the care and nurture of each other. Forgotten that our sexuality is a gift for the giving and receiving of pleasure. Forgotten that the human spirit requires attention. Forgotten that the love we desire is for the benefit of others. And, that we are no more or less feeble than our ability to stay strong in the midst of adversity.

For me, my sexual assault at the age of 9 was the result of a stranger coming to the door of my home where I was home alone. This is possibly the most rare type of sexual assault. An unknown (later known and arrested) offender.

Sexual offenders of children are more often family or friends of family. They’re the people we should be able to trust to respect the sanctity of family. They’re the people it’s the most difficult unveil. They’re the people who are able to use the trust and vulnerability of others to select their victims.  They’re the people who have the ability to coerce and manipulate their victims because they understand what will motivate and silence their victim. They know what the victim will lose as a result of the crime’s exposure.

Sadly I became a victim of sexual assault a second time during my early teens at the hand of a family friend more than 10 years my senior. I was told during many repeated assaults, “you enjoyed it”; “you want it”; “no one will believe you”; “you’ll be in trouble”; “you asked for it”; And, in my naivety I was unable to refute these assertions. (Not the least of which was my seeming ability to attract sexual attention.) After all, this was a person I loved and respected. I didn’t want to expose him because I genuinely liked him. I was prepared to keep his secret because I was fearful of being exposed as the perpetrator. I didn’t want him to get into trouble. And, if anyone had tried to intervene (as happened infrequently and with greater naivety than my own) I could not admit that it was happening.

Enough about me.

How many children are currently at risk or held captive in abusive situations because they are convinced they will be one found guilty? How many children are reluctantly accepting sexual abuse because they are scared of how disclosure will affect the people they love? And most of all, how can we, as a society respond appropriately and meaningfully to an abhorrent crime that seems to be unstoppable.

I think, like the survivors of institutional abuse, perhaps it’s time for the silent majority of sexual abuse victims to unite in a cause that will assist in defining how our society responds to the coming generations who, without change, will endure the same silent fate as those who went before them.

Today, from the scriptwriters for the movie Fried Green Tomatoes: “A heart can be broken, but it will keep beating just the same.”

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. .

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

It’s a hard rain…

Where have you been my darling young one?

When you live with depression and anxiety you go places others dare not travel.

I’ve never wanted to write a song more than when I read the lyrics of Bob Dylan. The more I read them (and sing them in my head) the more I feel connected to my inner self. Which, interestingly enough isn’t a place with which I’m unfamiliar.

Living with depression and anxiety, often pulls us into an introspective assessment of our value to the world. The ongoing questioning of our worth and the meaning of our life beyond the obvious contributions are all called to account and often found lacking. We’re known to question our negative attributes (everyone has them) highlighting them as the cornerstones of our personality. Our positive offerings are assessed as being good luck and timing rather than anything positive in our nature. In fact, I’ve been known to find it easier to believe it’s the gullibility of others that makes me successful rather than anything I have achieved through hard work and determination.

Mr Wonderful is often frustrated by my ability to see negative things in myself that are so small and insignificant that only my most intimate friends would know they exist. He’s frustrated by my willingness to believe stuff about myself that cannot be substantiated by known facts. And he hates that I live with an illness that’s dominant symptom is an overwhelming desire to believe nothing but the worst of myself.

Of course that’s what a ‘significant other’ is supposed to think. Only a person who loves you will overlook all your ‘crap’ and seek out only what’s good. Or is it?

Relationships can be tricky things for the able-bodied but when you factor in a debilitating illness (any debilitating illness) there can be a dynamic shift that isn’t always helpful. For anyone.

Depression, anxiety and other emotional illness are steeped in misunderstanding and negativity. They’re often thought to be created by incorrect belief systems and thinking. And, we seem happy as a community to accept this as fact and believe that a healthy dose of ‘perspective’ will make us better. Understandably, in a relationship it’s possible that this belief creates an irreconcilable conflict over who’s not ‘trying to get better’.

Sadly, it’s also possible to form a style of co-dependence that relies on one party being sick and the other being strong. When it’s more important for the strong one to be strong than the un-well one to be well, you have to wonder about how this influences the individuals within the relationship.

In respect of depression and anxiety there are a number of factors at play. It’s a known fact that I’ve relied on Mr Wonderful’s strength to keep me grounded at ‘peak’ times.   And it’s because of his relentless desire for me to be well that I self monitor and independently seek out improved treatment. Together we understand that I have a treatable illness and that the success of our relationship is based on our ability to care for one and other. Not the ability of one to care for the other.

There’s no complete answer to where we go when we’re living with depression and anxiety. The things we see and do when we’re seeking out answers can be difficult to understand. However, there’s no doubt, it’s a hard rain that’s gonna fall.

Hard to resist from BOB Dylan:   Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son?  Who did you meet, my darling young one? I met a young child beside a dead pony, I met a white man who walked a black dog, I met a young woman whose body was burning, I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow, I met one man who was wounded in love, I met another man who was wounded in hatred,  And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Where have all the flowers gone…

When you live with depression and anxiety things seem to disappear without notice.

It’s true that I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how I ended up in the emotional places I have. I’ve tried to work out why I’m like ‘this’ and what, on earth, I’ve done to deserve ‘this’!

When we’ve sunk to the bottom of the pit and we’re starting to move our furniture in, it’s easy to think that perhaps we’re being punished for some outrageous thought or action. Then as if to compound our distress, we are convinced that we’re a ‘bad’ person. Capable of nothing more than making trouble and being a burden on others.

I know I’m not the only person in the world who deals with depression and anxiety, yet I’ve never felt so alone as when I’m so ‘low’ I simply can’t explain what’s happening. When my body is so heavy, I can’t lift it out of bed. When my thoughts are so confused and unhelpful my head feels as if it might explode. And the tears. The tears that appear from nowhere and do nothing but create a continuous stream of regret down my face. They come from nowhere and they go to nowhere.

I know I’m useless. I know I have nothing to offer the world. I know I’m the worst wife, mother, grandmother, business woman, writer and well, in fact, I’m the most useless person alive! I am so deeply entrenched in the misfiring of my body, my mind becomes a playground for the darkest of ghouls and I’m powerless to move them on.

Without this experience, it’s easy to believe we’re feeling sorry for ourselves. We’re simply ruminating on negative life events that all of us, at one time or another, have experienced. Things that most people seem to manage their way through with nothing more than determination and ‘grit’. But then we, aren’t most people!

I’ve worked for years to make sense of my inability to do life like so many others. A life without bottomless pits of gloom and peaks of extreme fear. I’ve been a perpetual scholar in my own biology and the biology of others. And, I’ve attempted prayerfully to exorcise whatever demon might have invaded my peace and made a playground of my mind. And still, I have no answers to satisfy my own yearning or the yearning of others for freedom.

In the pit of my irrationality when my fears are beyond cogent thought, I’m easily convinced (by my own neurosis) that I’m worthless and my ability to live a life of value has been slaked by an inexplicable obsession with my own pitiable circumstances.

However, at the bottom of all other thoughts that travel unchecked up and down the snakes and ladders in my mind, is the lowest rung on the ladder. The thought that no matter where I’ve slipped to on this emotional ride, the only way to get up is to start at the bottom. It’s the lowest rung on the ladder where, for a time, I’m fully and inexplicably aware, that this place is not my reality. This is not how my life will play out.

When you live with depression and anxiety it’s easy to believe you’re at the end of a journey. In those times however, amidst all the things you believe are impossible, are the tantalising traces of who you really are. The person you can be. The person you will be.

It won’t happen overnight….

From Tori Amos: Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Forgive me if I scream too much!

When you live with depression and anxiety you have a tendency to think deeply about life.

It saddened me when I heard that the infamous Adrian Bailey had been convicted of other sex crimes not related to his violation and killing of Jill Meagher. And, it saddened me to know that a 17-year-old school girl could not walk safely in her own neighbourhood. But what saddens me more is to think that thousands of women around the country are living in fear of the one person who has vowed to honour and protect her.

Oh, that’s right, we don’t make those vows in our society any more. We find the idea of one person appearing to be stronger than another repulsive to our politically correct ears. We find the idea of making promises to love and cherish too much of a burden. And, we think that as long as we’re open minded and modern about life that all the expense and hoo-ha that needs to go on simply to register your union with the correct authority seems a little, well, um, expensive and over the top.

It’s a good thing that we’ve taken the opportunity to ‘liberate’ women and release them from a life of servitude. To allow them to become independent and recognised for their unique and substantial contribution to the world. We’ve been provided the right to equal pay for equal work! We’ve been provided the opportunity to enter the echelons of our once patriarchal society! We’ve been provided the opportunity to be recognised for our back-seat intelligence and moved to sit up front with the driver! And, we’ve been given the right to make choices for ourselves without deferring to our male ‘owner’!

It’s a good life we women should be having in the wake of the original suffragettes.

Sadly in our euphoria about being able to secure a bank mortgage in our own name we have forgotten that nestled inside the original fight was the right of women to not be physically ‘disciplined’ by their ‘husband’.   To be treated with respect and care in relation to our physical and emotional needs.

Yes I’m sad about the fact that two women have lost their lives at the hands of a total strangers. But I’m more sad about the fact that such rare crimes seem to be the most newsworthy. These two women worthily appear as innocent victims, however the lack of newsworthiness about woman who are killed by their own ‘husband’, appears to suggest they are somewhat complicit in their own death. Even we women are known to question the willingness of a woman beaten by her husband, to remain in the relationship. And we are wrong to do so.

Women, on the whole, do not choose to be beaten and killed by the man they love. Nor do they deserve it. Often these relationships are so emotionally complicated that it’s impossible to determine how best to proceed.   When we fail to grasp the complexity of human relationships we are subjected to live in the ignorance that simply by applying rational thought we will provide a breakthrough.   Telling a man that it’s inappropriate to beat his wife and listing a range of negative physical, financial, social and emotional consequences will likely not turn him into a docile life partner.

Likewise, serving his favourite meal, on time, at the correct temperature, with the correct condiments and in the outfit he says makes you look fabulous will not save you from another hit.

Violence is generally not generated by a series of logical and rational thoughts and when we see or hear of women inside violent relationships, our first question should not be about why she chooses to stay. Our first question should be about how we are to respond to such an epidemic in our community.

Today from Hebrews 13:3:  Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Underneath your illness.

When you live with depression & anxiety it’s too easy to let it define you.

I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. At times it’s left me incapacitated and suicidal. At other times it’s been my defining persona; the thing that defines me amid my many affectations. But, for the most part, it’s simply a big scary, unpredictable and bottomless pit that exists on the edge of my consciousness.

And, in a life consisting of a growing number of decades, to be honest, I’ve been well, more than I’ve been unwell. I’ve been treatable and treated. I’ve been willing (for the most part) to accept the illness I have and get on with living out what I’ve been created for. (Whatever that is?!)

Like any sufferer of a poorly understood illness, I’ve been the victim of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge. I’ve dealt with symptoms that are common among sufferers while at the same time being specific to me.   I’ve been discouraged and encouraged. Pathetic and strong. Happy and sad. But interestingly, in all of those states, I’ve always been me.

So it’s possibly not a surprise to hear that in a recent cruise through Facebook, I was somewhat concerned by the number of people who appear to define themselves by their ‘problem’. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not condemning anyone for what they choose to share on social media. I am not the ruler of the world!  However, I wonder how difficult it becomes to move beyond your affectation and into a purposeful life when you’ve been defining yourself in a particular way.

I understand that I appear to be dealing in eyebrow lifting irony as I clearly and publicly define myself as a sufferer of an illness. So, by way of explanation, I do this in order to highlight that my illness does not stop me from ‘sucking it up’ and getting on with my life (when I can) and to encourage others dealing with similar circumstances.  Fundamentally, I work from the knowledge that God has not forgotten you.

I don’t (or a least try hard not to) make my writing an opportunity to lament about how difficult my life is and how much I expect the people around me to pander to my sensitivities. And, if you’d had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall during some particularly difficult moments between Mr Wonderful and myself, you’d find that the difficulty exists within my need to be indulged for my illness and his need to remind me that underneath my illness I am still the person I was created to be.

I’d have to say it’s extremely important to avoid becoming a victim of chronic illness and allow it to rob you of your ability to get on with living. My illness, along with a cartload of other symptoms, includes fatigue, fear and an inability to look forward to or enjoy any activity and participate in ‘normal’ life. However, I am capable of understanding that those symptoms need to be worked through in order for me to be what I was created to be. The confident, capable, fun loving, thoughtful, etc, etc etc… me!

Sure, I get tired, so if I have to do things while I’m tired that’s what I’ll do. If I have to do things that engender fear, I need to learn to do them afraid. If I have to do things I can’t rustle up enthusiasm for, I have to find a way to make it happen. If I had a broken leg and needed to pee, I’d have to find a way. I might need to find someone to help me but there would be a way.

Fortunately, I live in a time that has at least basic treatment for my illness. It’s not perfect and it won’t cure me but it helps me to manage. And, as long as I hold on to the precept that I was created not for immobility and apathy but for progress and productivity, I will continue to seek out ways to make it happen.

If you think that progress and productivity are isolated to those who are smart, creative, have money or the right parents blah, blah… then you’ve misunderstood me. Progress and success is the ability to pursue who you are; underneath your illness.

This week from Stevie Wills who lives with Cerebral Palsy: “I can’t do everything I want to do, but I can do everything I was created to do.” I hope I’ve remembered it correctly.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Success. It’s personal.

When you live with depression and anxiety it seems there’s no point to living.

A long time ago in my battle with depression, I arrived at that place where I was convinced life wasn’t worth the trouble.  In my failure to successfully navigate the nuances of day-to-day living I was ready to give up and allow death to be my only goal.

I spent hours in secret, planning and practicing how I might actually manage to kill myself without hurting anyone in the process.  The conflict churning away inside me fluctuated between fixated determination and incapacitating helplessness.  My inability to actually carry out my own death only confirmed my belief that I was useless and left me without hope that the suffering would ever end.

It’s a tough place to be.  It’s littered with self-fulfilling ideation about failure and lack of worth.  And, no matter how hard you try to explain what’s going on inside yourself, the conversation always ends up being the same.  A discourse on the pro’s and con’s of your existence relative to whomever you’ve managed to confide in.

And confide we do!  We want people to know that we’re suffering in the hope that we’ll find someone, anyone who can rescue us from where we are.  To liberate us from an emotional agony that can’t be described in the English language and so, seems alien and unnerving.

Mr. Me spends a lot of time telling me how good I am.  He provides a spoken list of my successes in an attempt to keep me grounded and aware.  But, from where I sit, all I see is someone trying to make me feel better about myself.

For me, my failures are real.   My inability to achieve perfection is like a scab that I can’t help but pick at.  I scrape at the surface, picking the edges so I can remind myself that I’ve failed.  When I finally manage to remove the entire crust I continue to poke at it like it’s the only part of me that matters.  Regardless of how much healthy skin I’ve produced, I am focused only on that one piece.   It alone is what defines me.

No matter how many times Mr. Me tells me how good I am, I can point to that one (or maybe two or three) open and inflamed sores and say “see, my failure is real”.    It frustrates him.  He rolls his eyes and shakes his head.  He’s already pointed out (and I’m aware of them) that amid my many successes the occasional failure is meaningless and I agree.

But, I’m so invested in success that death seems preferable to failure.  Because having failed (no matter my degree of culpability in that failure) I’m left to manage the internal conflict between my ability to both succeed and fail.

I’m smart enough to have the talk with myself.  To attempt to convince myself (just like Wonderful does) that life, is life.   That success and failure are both to be expected in a life lived to fulfilment.  But, in my search for meaning I’m challenged by my inability to trust myself.  And, without trust I’m left to consider if life is worth living, if I can only perceive it to be the sum total of the wounds inflicted.

So I’m left picking at scabs while Mr Me reminds me that success or failure are not the measure of a life well lived.  And, I’m stirred to wonder if I know what success really is.

David Frost once said: Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.

 If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.  

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay.  If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Please read my mind…

If you’ve ever wondered what anxiety and depression looks like it’s not hard to find it.   Scrunched up tissues will be littering a path to its core.

Anxiety and depression are insidious purveyors of deceit.  They preach a whispered gospel of self-loathing that blocks rational thought and makes a “normal” life almost impossible.

A big part of my life has been spent learning to control the outward expression of my illness.  Muting the sound of my internal dissent so that I can function in a world of logic and measurement.  I’ve mentioned before that I can appear detached and aloof to avoid stuff and that’s the muted me a lot of people know.

When I’m warring with anxiety and depression I rely on Mr Me to be my voice of reason.  Without his wise counsel, I’m unarmed against an adversary that ensures I alienate anyone who might come to my aid.   And just this week, along with everyone else, he took a direct hit during the conflict!

Unfortunately for Mr Me, he’d been caught unaware by the enemy’s stealth.

His carelessness, possibly prompted by modern medicine and my practiced ability to war in silence, earned him days of virtual silence and detachment as I fought clumsily for days to land gently after a major melt down.

Sadly for him, he’s well practiced at taking hits.  But I’m sure he must get confused.  I don’t like to tell him how I feel because I don’t want him to worry.  I need him to be calm and take control.  I want him to know that I need him without telling him.  He should be able to read my mind; shouldn’t he?

I often write when I’m looking to land.  I wait for Mr Me to snore and then, pen in hand, I frantically journal the stuff no-one will ever read.  Sometimes it works to rid myself of excessive thoughts and calms me, but at other times it’s a wicked liturgy of self-loathing.

Maybe I should accept my illness.  Maybe I should stop fighting against it.  Maybe I should accept my diagnosis take my medicine and relax.  But to what end.  I’m still locked in a despairing uncertainty that not only makes small tasks virtually impossible, it makes the insurmountable errr… insurmountable.

I want to tell myself it’s okay.  But my negativity neurons are buzzing like a beehive in honey season.  Every time I disturb them they swarm and sting until my “logic anaphylaxis” has paralysed me.  Again.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself this week.  I’m attempting to take my own medicine and enjoy being who I am.  But it’s harder than it seems…

From an unknown person today  “One of the biggest forms of flattery is knowing that just by being your normal, wonderful self… you make someone fall in love with you.”

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.  If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

A difficult pill to swallow…

When you live with depression and anxiety change can be difficult to swallow. This week I’ve been introduced to new medication for my depression & anxiety and it’s a little bit scary.

When I was first diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I strenuously rejected taking medication until my doctor insisted.  After all, I was sure I could tough it out.

However, because of my nature (and the information now available on the internet) whenever I’m prescribed anything I undertake to find out as much as I can about it.  Not because the doctor hasn’t told me but because I always like to know more.  It’s the way I am.

When depression or anxiety symptoms start they’re almost innocuous.  Anyone you choose to share with (including your doctor) will most likely tell you the symptoms will pass.  They’ll put it down to stress, tell you to take time out for yourself and try some relaxation therapy.  They might even tell you to get a new job.

You have no idea how many aromatherapy baths I’ve taken.  Candles I lit.  Positive self talk I err…  talked.  Mantras I rehearsed and encouraging bible verses I read.

When my symptoms had become so debilitating I could no longer work, one doctor told me I had over committed myself financially and this was the price I would pay!!    That doctor’s words still haunt me today when my symptoms flare up and I need time out.

My greatest fear with medication is that it will turn me into someone I’m not.  You see, I kind of like the softer side of me.  In fact I like a lot of things about me that emerge when my mood starts to ebb.  It’s a time when I’m more creative and thoughtful.  But I like the stronger me too.  The risk taking giant me, who can succeed in places where no-one else would try.   I don’t want to be neutral and nothing.  I want to be me.

It’s a complex problem that requires a complex solution.  And the problem, if I might be so bold, is that the solution isn’t always a palatable option.  Who wants to be playing with their neurotransmitters?

When I scanned my way through the online depression and anxiety forums I found a lot of discussion about different medications and their effects.   But what I found concerning was that there seemed to be a lot of “bagging” about other people’s medications going on.

Frankly, when people start telling you that your medication is bad for you it seems a good idea to move on.   There’s always a fuller more inclusive picture behind why your doctor would prescribe medication in a particular way.  If you doubt your doctor, choose another doctor.

I’m quite sure that my medication could be bad for me.  In fact I already know that it will make it difficult to lose or maintain my weight.   Which, for an already obese person, makes it a (pardon the pun) difficult pill to swallow!  But, there are some conditions I can control.  Like what I put in my mouth.

But, the inability I have to moderate my “outlook” is terrifying, debilitating and life threatening.   It’s not a condition I can live with and blossom.  I’m not even sure if it’s a condition I can survive!!

So I accept that I have a doctor who understands the illness I have and who will prescribe the appropriate medication. In time, I expect a remission, but for now I’ll do what I can and if that means taking my medication and being kind, (to myself and others) that’s what I’ll do!

This week from Margaret Mead:  Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else!

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.  To contact Deb click here.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.  If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

We are who we are…

When you live with depression and anxiety you can’t be just anyone.

This week Mr. Wonderful and I were eating dinner in our local Chinese restaurant and discussing a new medication I’d been prescribed. It’s been almost a 12 month journey while my doctor mixes and matches medications to work out exactly what will work to control my symptoms. So the topic of medication is always on the agenda.

Frankly, I’ve not been coping with the newest medication. It makes me restless and irritable beyond what anyone should endure. Along with the usual side effects, it makes every task twice as difficult to complete and every thought twice as hard to think.

The disappointment of another medication that doesn’t make any difference to my symptoms isn’t just disappointing but, in many ways, is quite distressing. I just want to feel well. To stop struggling, not just with my illness but with the side effects of medication that promises something it can’t deliver to me.

As I lamented about another failure, apologising to Mr. Wonderful for being a burden, I told him I just wanted to be normal. I want to be like everyone else. Like you Mr. Wonderful. I want to be like you!

Interestingly, Mr. Wonderful’s expression didn’t change as he made two pertinent observations. In his calmest tone he told me he thought I should rethink the concept of normal. “This is your normal,” he said. Then he said, “you can’t be me or anyone one else and you need be you.”

I’ve said before that depression is not about happy or sad. It’s about the inability to see ourselves the way others see us. This is where it’s impossible not to address the apparent suicide of Robin Williams. A man who provided so much enjoyment and happiness to the world (evidenced by the tributes flooding in) and who yet, felt his life wasn’t worth living.

In Australia (approx.) 2500 people commit suicide every year. 2500 people who can’t reconcile how other people see them and how they see themselves. To this end I’ve made a deal with Mr. Wonderful. The deal is; I will not kill myself without telling him first. Of course I know that it seems ridiculous and that he’d not let me kill myself if he knew I was going to do it. But I know I have a deadly illness that works insidiously by convincing me my life is not worth living.

The symptoms are obvious; fatigue, feeling sick and ‘run down’, headaches and muscle pains, nausea, sleep problems, loss or change of appetite, significant weight loss or gain, tearfulness, guilt and indecisiveness just to name a few. They culminate in the sense that everyone would be much better off if I was dead, but the reality is that no-one want’s me to die (no matter how much I upset them).

No-one wanted Robin Williams to die, yet potentially he felt it was the only way to resolve the internal conflict between who he was and who he thought he was. The illness overwhelmed him.

I’ll get used to being me eventually and like many others I’ll cope with my symptoms but I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the fact that others see me much differently to how I see myself. But I’m grateful for it.

From Robin Williams: No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg Diary of Secrets Depression and Anxiety

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor. 

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)