The Passing of Storms

The UK has been bombarded with heavy storms the last week or so with high winds and record breaking rainfall. Lives have been lost and billions of pounds of damage has been done. The clean up will go on for months.

That’s not the storms I am speaking of, though the analogy is powerful. I’m talking about the internal emotional storms that can flare up when you suffer with mental health issues like depression.

Depression and her cousin Stress have become over used words in recent years, and it’s not surprising that people are confused about what they actually mean. Depression is more than being a bit fed up or sad. Look up a medical definition if you like but when you do, you will see that quite often people are using the term quite loosely and with scant regard for accuracy. Depression, that is true clinical depression is an illness. You can’t pull yourself together over it, you can’t will yourself out of it any more than you can will yourself out of diabetes.

I’ve been suffering off and on since I was six years old. That sounds dramatic but it isn’t really. Spells of depression can pass without treatment; the brain can right itself and its internal chemistry without intervention. Some people have one episode and that’s it. Some, like me, get those episodes recurring at intervals. Some times I am fine for a few years at a time, with or without medication and then at other times I’m in a deep pit for many months.

This sounds bearable and in some ways it is. But the trouble is that crisis points occur that are analogous to storms. The crisis points can be triggered by external events, or maybe that’s purely coincidence and they would have occurred anyway.

I experienced a pretty severe storm at the weekend. I am feeling much better now, but the damage that these storms do to me and to my closest family and friends is devastating. I feel guilty for the pain it causes those closest to me. I feel relief that the powerful urges to harm myself were not given in to, and terror that one day I may(as I have done in the past) do more serious harm to myself.

Just as in the wake of any storm, be it literal or metaphorical, I am going through the clean up process and also asking WHY. Why does this happen? What is actually going on in my brain? What is going on in my soul and spirit? And how can I try and stop it happening again.

The air is always clean and fresh after a storm, the deadwood blown down and the streams running strongly again. Are storms as neccessary to my mental health as they are in nature?

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6 thoughts on “The Passing of Storms

  1. I totally agree that the terms “depression” and “stress” have become over used. I have days of darkness but not to the extent you have described nor have I ever been diagnosed or had any kind of medication for the dark moods, other than St John’s Wort or 5-HTP which is over the counter.
    I am so happy that your “storm” has passed and it was so nice to hear it in your voice. Please don’t feel guilty for the pain it causes your family, that pain is not caused by you. As you said it is an illness that you can’t just will yourself out of.
    I hope that the air remains clean and fresh for a long long time now but if another one arrives I volunteer to ride it out with you.

    With love and hugs

  2. Viv,

    Your description of clinical depression as a “storm” is an apt and powerful one. It is difficult for those who have not suffered it to appreciate what it’s like. That adds a sense of isolation to it all and even those who care the most can sometimes try almost too hard in trying to talk you into being otherwise.

    This psycho-physical illness, called by one author the “Noonday demon,” comes when it comes, and, available medications notwithstanding, nothing is right or the same until the “storm” passes. I think those who suffer so also come to very deeply appreciate the light, simple touch, beauty, peace, the sun, the sea, and all things inspiring. They develop a keen sense of the miracle of the small and the special moments others might take for granted.

    You mentioned all the rain in the UK which I hadn’t heard about. The gloom and wind and dark days also affect certain people who have clinical depression significantly. I have advised some of those I know who have this challenge to invest in a full spectrum light box and they have reported good results.

    In any event, as the storms come, I send you my best wishes and warm thoughts of brighter days and the Sun that knows no evening.

    Be well.

    • MAny thanks.
      I have and use such a lightbox and have for about four years; it takes the edge off the gloom. My father bought me and my husband one each a few years ago; his is at the office, mine is here by the screen.
      The rain has been record breaking; over a foot of rain in one night for some areas of Cumbria. the resulting floods have killed one as a bridge collapsed and all of the 100+ bridges are under investigation in the worst hit areas. Horrible.

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