Sunday, 9 December 2012

Depression and self-discipline

**Trigger warning - this post discusses attempted suicide and suicidal feelings**

As I have mentioned before, I went through an extremely severe episode of depression this year. It started around the end of January after a period of very erratic mood swings, was at its worse throughout the Spring and eventually started to lift at the end of Summer. I have experienced depression many times from early childhood, but this was by far the most severe and prolonged episode.

Depression takes many forms, even for the same person at different times. My main symptoms during this period were complete anhedonia (I couldn't feel anything good at all); I had no interest in or enthusiasm for anything; I felt utterly hopeless - I couldn't imagine feeling better, my entire life seemed pointless, meaningless. I couldn't stand being awake, I was desperate each day just to make it through to bedtime when I could take a sleeping tablet and be unconcious for as long as possible. I spent most of my time thinking about suicide, at the end of February I wote a suicide note and took a combination of roughly sixty pills which I thought would kill me (I did research online), a friend who was staying with me at the time found me unconcious and called an ambulance. I regained conciousness the next day and was discharged from hospital after an appointment to see my psychiatrist was brought forward.

During this time I was in what I would call 'survival mode', I tried to take each moment as it came and did what I could to just get through. I read when I could concentrate, I watched a lot of TV as that is good for swallowing up 'chunks' of time. I found a little satisfaction in doing crossword puzzles, particulary if I got friends involved by texting clues to them. Of course I had no energy and no motivation to go out and I was in too bad a state to push myself. I allowed myself to eat what I wanted (I was certainly not concerned about my physical health at this point). I had also been put onto anti-psychotic medication which had increased my appetite and unfortunately, when I'm miserable, I have a habit of comfort eating anyway.

My mood is now considerably improved on what is was, although I would still not say I'm back to 'normal'. But I can now have fun, be interested in things and I don't feel hopeless about the future. However my physical symptoms are still the same, I have no motivation to do anything physical, I am lethargic and have no energy. I have put on roughly two stone (28 lbs) although I'm actually too scared to weigh myself.

It feels like I have developed some bad habits due to being in 'survival mode' for so long. In order to care for my mental health I have neglected my physical health. Unlike a lot of you fine people, I actually find it quite easy to be self-indulgent although after a while I feel disappointed in myself and this leads to lower mood. I need to break the cycle and start pushing myself, the motivation may not be there naturally so I'm going to have to find some self-discipline. Unfortunately, this is not my strong point, but I accept that now that I have finally emerged from the hell of my depression I have to take responsibilty for as much of my recovery as I can. I guess it's time to make some New Year's resolutions..

The whole issue has made me think about how you know that you just need to take care of yourself and get through each day and when do you know it's time to grit your teeth and do things that don't come easily. Does anyone have any thoughts on this based on their own experience?


  1. When u say u are not back to feeling "normal", do u really know what normal feels like? I also have BPD and when asked how I feel, I don't know how to respond. I don't know what "normal" is. I know I feel anxiety, hurt, down, and not present all the time. I don't have anything to compare that feels close to normal.

    1. Hi Veronica, thank you very much for your response.

      I guess when I say 'normal' I mean slightly hypomanic, still very prone to mood swings but on the whole happy and interested in the world. That is what seems to be my regular state when I'm not depressed. Severe swings in mood are usually due to stress. Depression, as I described above, is just hell.

      I wonder if you don't feel you have a 'normal' because of a lack of self-identity? Is that something that you struggle with? (That of course is not a judgement, just a major factor with BPD.) I definitely do have identity problems but not as severely as a lot of those with BPD seem to. I have a strong personality but it seems to be built on very fragile foundations if that makes sense? I know who I am but it can easily be undermined.

      Identity is something I've been working on a lot, I'd be interested in your thoughts. I'm sure we could help each other!

      Best wishes, Clare

  2. What Veronica says can also apply word for word to me! I completely understand about being in survival mode. And I too am always VERY comfortable with self-soothing.

    I find I struggle most with balance. I'm great at going on an extreme diet and exercising for two hours daily, but after three or four days of this, I crash, and go back to self-soothing 24/7.

    So, I set myself "balanced" tasks/goals. For example, I aim to eat one nutritional meal per day, have one planned activity per day, and do some sort of exercise for 30 mins a day. The rest can then fall on either side of being too "good" or too "bad" and I'm not allowed to judge myself on it, positively OR negatively. As in, I try to avoid thinking "that half-hour walk was great but I should have gone to the gym for two hours" as well as avoid "why be bothered with a walk when I'm eating cake icing all day". I more try to work towards goals and be fulfilled when I reach them or treat myself with compassion when I don't.

    Sorry if that doesn't help, but I know what you mean about the struggle between looking after yourself and staying happy versus well I need to do SOME unpleasant things as I am an adult etc etc.

    Good luck Clare Bare, loved the post! xoxox

    1. Hello Bunny, thank you for your comment =)

      I am so pleased to hear that you are very comfortable with self-soothing - I thought I was the only one! I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about balance, it seeme that is something those of us with BPD really struggle with, we live life at such extremes and a great deal of the time that is not healthy.

      I'm really impressed with your strategy to cope with the extremes and bring some balance into your life, particularly your resistance to judging yourself, that is a really big step for someone with BPD and I think a very crucial one. My ideas for creating a healthier lifestyle are very similar to what you are doing. Focusing on balance and self-compassion. I am actually considering creating a page on the site to explore healthy habits for those with BPD or depression and invitng people to join in. Let me know if you're interested =)

      You have helped a lot and it is wonderful to know that we are dealing (successfully) with similar challenges!

      Best wishes, Clare

  3. A good thing you can make is a list of good things that you have in your life