How depression has affected my life

This is my last mental health awareness post on how depression has affected my life. I cannot and do not speak for others, this is just a personal account.

Depression has affected my life in many ways. Physically I have had very low energy levels and found getting out of bed or just going for a ten minute walk incredibly difficult. I have also been very tired whilst depressed and have tended to sleep about 12 hours a night.

I have found myself unable to function in a working environment or to study whilst depressed as I have lacked motivation and the ability to concentrate. Furthermore, I have found it difficult to function socially and have been uncommunicative and have felt the need to fake it whilst depressed.

For me one of the worst things about depression is anhedonia which is where you are unable to experience pleasure from things you used to enjoy. I have been so depressed that I didn’t get any pleasure from anything, even reading and going to see friends. I have often been bored by everything whilst being depressed as well as feeling numb.

Whilst being depressed I have had lots of negative thoughts such as the belief that I am a failure and that everything is pointless. This has been combined at times with suicidal thoughts.

I have found walks and swimming to be very helpful in lifting my depression as well as low-stress volunteering

I hope that by opening up about my experience I can raise awareness of depression as well as let others know that they are not alone.


How mania has affected my life

I have decided to write blogposts about how my mental illnesses have affected my life in order to try and raise awareness of mental illness. Now that I have written about ptsd I am going to write about bipolar disorder.

For me the state which has affected my life the most is my manic state as I completely lost control of myself and surrendered to my impulses and I struggled to concentrate. I didn’t want to sleep at all and for many days I was writing my novel at 4 or 5am in the morning and thus going to bed at dawn and sleeping much less than normal.

I wrote most of my poetry and my novel whilst being manic as I kept having bursts of creativity all the time. I was very irritable at times and caused arguments and annoyed people as I kept interrupting people and having silly arguments.

My anxiety was also incredibly high at times during my manic state and I was prone to obsessive thinking and worrying which resulted in me having to meditate a lot.

I also found everything hilarious and throughout my manic state I felt like I was on drugs as colours were very intense.

The main problem with my manic state even as it became more controlled when I started taking medication was that it severely impaired my concentration which meant that I was unable to do my tefl course and thus would be unable to study at university.

Although to start with when I was euphoric everything was great but as my manic state progressed it became more and more of a nuisance to me and something unpleasant and I still had suicidal thoughts and urges when I was in this state.

I also made some questionable decisions whilst manic and did some things that I would not have done normally.

Overall I would describe my experience with mania as unpleasant and destructive; it disrupted and changed my life and meant that I was unable to function in a working environment or study.


How sexual assault and ptsd have affected my life

I have been reading some of the articles and blogposts about whether Ched Evans should be allowed to go back to Sheffield United but little to no focus has been on the affects of his actions on the victim’s life.

As a survivor of multiple sexual assaults I understand how much it affects your life and cannot imagine how difficult it must be for his victim to be subjected to so much abuse and have to go into hiding on top of trying to get over the rape.

This summer when I started to accept what had happened to me was the hardest summer of my life. It was horrible having to come to terms with what exactly had happened and to accept that I had been assaulted.

Getting closure was made much more difficult as I have post traumatic stress disorder which meant I kept getting startled and emotionally triggered by any unexpected noise or action and at one point it was so bad that I ended up bursting into tears.

I have also had horrible nightmares and was so triggered by men touching my waist and hair in a nightclub that I have had to stop going out to avoid being triggered.

I also have issues trusting men still and at one point I had to purposefully change train carriage if I was on a carriage full of men.

I am also triggered and upset a lot by any rape jokes or trivialisation of sexual violence.

What I am trying to get across by sharing my own personal experience of sexual assault and ptsd is that rape or sexual assault seriously and severely alters the victim’s life. I think when discussing high profile rape and domestic violence cases we need to stop focusing on the life of the rapist and instead focus on the life of the victim.


Violence against women and male entitlement

The media coverage of Ched Evans has got me thinking about how men feel they are always entitled to women’s bodies and this reflects how sexual assault and rape is viewed.

I can give numerous examples of different circumstances where men have shown they felt entitled to touch me without my consent. When I was just fourteen years old a boy at our school disco tried to put his fingers up my skirt and when I was just fifteen a boy put his hand on my bottom when he was sitting next to me at a party without my consent.

I feel that from personal experience and the experiences of my friends as well that nightclubs are one of the worst environments where young men constantly touch girls hair or waists or even grope them without their consent. What strikes me as so shocking is that people feel that this is normal and do not make a fuss about it. Also, from personal experience I know I cannot trust bouncers to make assaulters leave as I have had bouncers grab me by the waist and touch my back.

Ched Evans is an example of this culture where men feel entitled to women’s bodies and women are expected to have to say no and stop any sexual violence rather than men being told to not commit the violence. I think that this sort of reasoning can cause victim blaming as women are told off for not obeying the rules and for not trying to stop violence committed against them.


Sexual assault and disbelief

I am very certain that one of the employees at my work purposefully touched my side or bottom as he walked past me and said he was leaving at work. What was very disheartening for me was that people at my work immediately disbelieved me and said that he is happily married and that they are sure that it was just a brush of the hand. I am certain that there was a hand touch as I know the difference and it really triggered me.

As a result I have been unable to go to work today and feel uncomfortable about this person.


Sexual violence is violence

I completely agree with this article explaining why Judy Finnegan’s comments are misguided:

Any non-consensual sexual activity is sexual violence. Just because someone was drunk and agreed to go to someone’s room does not mean they asked to be raped.

I have been seriously sexually assaulted on multiple occasions whilst drunk and this has completely changed my life forever. I prefer to sit away from men on the train, I am triggered by any sexual harassment and violence and I jump when I hear any unexpected noise. I have also had panic attacks and increased anxiety whenever I ran into one of the perpetrators and I have had to take a year out of university because I could not deal with being back there as half the assaults happened there.

I may not have been attacked violently most of the times I was assaulted but being violated is still an act of violence and it has really affected my life. I have post traumatic stress disorder as a result of my supposedly non-violent assaults.

Bipolar, Mental Health

Mental illness and stigmatising language

I have been trying my best to raise awareness of bipolar and PTSD through my blog and tweets as well as by telling friends and fellow volunteers but I find it hard to call people out when they use stigmatising language. It seems that people still think it is okay to call people “nuts” and describe mentally ill women as “suicide girls”.

When people were talking in a mean and stigmatising way about mentally ill people the other day I found that I froze and just sat there silently unable to say that as someone with mental health problems I found what they were saying very offensive.

I have been called a “lunatic” because I have mental health problems on Twitter and found this very offensive. I have also been called “crazy” even after my mental illness diagnosis. In both instances I did not stay silent and voiced my disapproval of those words to describe me as it was more hurtful and personal.

What I dislike even more though is when people are more subtle in the way they talk to you and they undermine what you are going through by saying that “everyone experiences ups and downs in life” and I have even had someone compare mania to circumstances after a divorce. I know most people mean well and are trying to understand but I really feel that bipolar is made to seem much less serious and impacting on life when people compare it to ‘normal’ ups and downs.