Last week I posted a blog concerning how depressing it was to write a blog all about your depression only to have a handful of people read it. One of the people who ‘liked’ it, upon visiting their blog and reading some of their posts made me realise that whilst my depression might be all encompassing to me, viewed impartially, and most especially in comparison to their experience, I’m fortunate.
Judging by what they write, they have no family they feel they can speak to, and having no support network of friends only compounds the sense of isolation. They feel totally alone – aside from the thoughts in their head and that I suppose is part of the problem. If one is alone or feels there is no one to talk to about things, then thoughts of suicide can necessarily grow and develop, eventually becoming quite rational if no one is there to challenge your assumptions.
No I’m not fortunate to have had a severe brain injury and neither was I fortunate to be in a medically induced coma for a month. Nor was I fortunate to wake up from the coma especially, as the me I woke up to was not the me I remembered myself to be. I don’t claim this to be anything unique, I suppose that this is a common feeling experienced by many who undergo a sudden reversal of fortune.
However the reason I say I’m fortunate – and I posted a comment to this effect on the bloggers website – is that I have two extraordinary loyal friends who are seemingly indefatigable in the energy they expend on my behalf. One of them, Old Blue Eyes, who lives in the same house as me, has gone not so much the extra mile for me but has run a marathon in record time. Mind you she does think that broccoli ice cream is an idea worth perusing, so her judgment is questionable. Likewise Avril. I’ve known her for longer than she’d care to remember, quite literally in fact, as she says the day she met me was the worst day of her life! It is she who has schlepped across London almost every night since my diagnosis with Bells Palsy – in November – to ensure that my eye is properly lubricated (why I can’t do this myself can be found here) thereby negating any serious damage. Mind you, she thinks that UB40 were a great band, so….
I was reminded yet again as to my incalculable good fortune when last week I had an assessment from someone from the local mental health hospital to gauge whether I was a suitable case for therapy. Because of my infirmity this was a home visit. Knowing that I had to present a case in a manner that would be both appealing and demonstrate some awareness of my behaviours and how they might effect any treatment they might offer, I decided to engage in strategic honesty. Understandably this might confuse you, this notion of ‘strategic honesty’ if, unlike me, you have a policy of telling the truth most, if not all, of the time. Some years ago when a friend asked me about my flexible attitude to truth. I suggested to her that she thought that truth was a valuable thing, and as I expected she agreed it was indeed valuable. So I continued. She’d readily agreed with the assertion that truth is a precious thing, naturally wanting to be well thought of. So therefore, I suggested, if indeed truth is so valuable and precious one should use it sparingly, if at all.
Strategic honesty is whereby you are truthful in pursuit of a goal, which in this instance was securing treatment and necessitated by the person carrying out the assessment stating that I would only have twelve one hour sessions to start with. This rather helped focus the mind on what was of real and immediate concern to me – and not one of the many demons in my past. I’ve had psychotherapy before and it was suggested that my depression was either a direct cause of the brain injury, me trying to come to terms with the effect of it, or possibly a combination of the two. Being strategically honest, I pointed out at this assessment that the failure for the previous therapy not having the desired effect fell squarely on my shoulders. This demonstrated that I was aware of the barriers I put up then, but was willing to properly engage with the process now. I was only telling her something she may already known, if she had read the previous psychotherapists notes (they work for the same NHS Trust). Because, as I pointed out, the attitudes and behaviors that had served me so well in the past were no longer suitable to my present circumstances.
For many years I was able to compartmentalize feelings, able to lock them away as they were not helpful at the time I was feeling them. This was born out of childhood necessity and became second nature for most of my adult life. But yet when I wrote I had functioning and not debilitating depression upon reading the bloggers posts I mentioned above, I realised that being able to differentiate between your depressions meant that I was in a markedly different place to them. I have two good friends to speak to. The fact that I sometimes choose not to burden them with my darker thoughts is neither here nor there; the fact is I could if I wanted to. But if that option wasn’t open to me I shudder to think what I’d be doing now. This isn’t meant to be a sombre post, rather it is me indicating that I’m aware just how lucky and how thankful I am that I have two such good friends in my life. And when I write ‘in my life’, that is exactly what I mean.
Because without them I doubt you’d be reading this.
On a wholly unrelated point, if anyone reading this could enlighten me as to whether there’s a search function on WordPress and more importantly, how to use it – or if there isn’t, how does one find posts? I ask, because for the last two of my posts, bloggers have ‘liked’ them, and I’ve no idea how they found them.
Next time..Sports ‘news’ may well be an oxymoron, but it does at least offer a simple to understand alternative to actual news…