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?