Sleep & Depression
Today has been strange, difficult and depressing all rolled in to one. I’ve been caught out by what I’ve been feeling today which I think has made it worse.
Jack and Lucy had a sleepover at my mom and dads last night which meant a very rare night of unbroken sleep for Nina and I. The only plan scheduled for today was to build an IKEA chest of drawers. We had planned on meeting up with friends but I had to ask that we rearrange because I’m just not up to socialising, even just with a couple of close friends. Crap I know.
The really unfair thing about this whole situation is that the unbroken sleep actually made me feel worse. Seriously, what the fuck is that about? If I was reading this now I’d stop and do something else because I couldn’t be doing with reading about somebody moaning about having a full nights sleep. I’m boring myself with all of these tales of woe. I seriously wasn’t going to write this because it’s annoying me to be writing the same old whining stuff. When I started the blog though I said I’d always be honest and it’s not right to just stop writing when I have a cob on.
On an average night I don’t sleep deeply enough to get to the stage of REM sleep. It’s during this REM sleep that the most vivid dreams occur. Because I’m up and down with Jack and stir when Lucy wakes I’m never that deep asleep. So when I did sleep deeply that was when the disturbing dreams kicked in. These dreams are a known side affect of the anti-depressants I’m on but I don’t get them very often.It might be because of the lack of deep sleep. To me though it feels that my brain lapses in to it’s anxious and depressed state once the clock strikes midnight, it’s my pumpkin time.
I woke throughout the night feeling a bit distressed due to the dreams and then it took me a while to get back to sleep each time. In these moments I know for certain that I’m going to feel low the next day, it’s 100% guaranteed. That’s what I mean about the midnight thing, it’s like once my eyes close to go to sleep my brain decides that it’s going to have a mare and start messing with me. When I woke this morning I felt drowsy. Then I slowly remembered the unsettled night and I was almost waiting for that crappy feeling. As soon as I got up I felt dizzy and almost drunk, but not in a fun binge drinking way.
My First Real Taste of Depression?
I wrote the above part of this blog on Saturday night, so that I could record the feelings I’d experienced accurately. The problem was that I felt so rough that I just couldn’t finish it. I tried again on Sunday but again I just wan’t up to writing. Since starting my blog I’ve never felt disengaged with it. Writing has always been a release but this time it felt like a chore just like everything else. I wanted to finish the article now that I feel a bit better, so from now on the article is written with more retrospect.
It feels like Saturday was my first real experience of depression. I hadn’t felt that way before and it wasn’t anxiety. After being up for an hour I remember googling “feeling sick & depression”. I felt sick and hadn’t eaten anything, it wasn’t food related. On top of that I was drowsy, dizzy and and just absent. When Jack and Lucy got back Jack was excited and wanted to play in the garden. It was the last thing I wanted to do. My plan was to put the chest of drawers up at my own pace, hiding in the bedroom. This is where mental health becomes so, so hard for me. There’s no way I can say no to playing in the garden with Jack, I just can’t. So we played on the swing, we played football and we ran around in the garden. The weird feelings continued. I was enjoying seeing Jack so happy and I appreciated the quality time. At the same time I just wanted to stop and I was conscious all the time of how weird and uncomfortable I was feeling. The fact that the joy of playing with my son was tarnished in itself made me feel depressed. The feelings of drowsiness and dizziness reminded me of the time I foolishly decided to come off my meds cold turkey. After a few days the withdrawal hit me and I was spaced out.
All the IKEA and no Idea
The rest of the day is a bit hazy now – which is why I tried to write this article Saturday. I finished putting the IKEA furniture up it was in a million pieces – standard. It took me most of the day but it was best that I was on my own anyway because I doubt I would have been great company. The last half an hour was spent looking for five of those little round metal tightening things, you know the ones that you put in to the pre-cut wholes and then turn to tighten the screws? Never did find them so how long the drawers will stay intact is anyones guess. Oh and I also had to hack the skirting boards off from two walls of the recess so that the chest of drawers would fit in.
Here is a picture of the work in progress, I took it myself. I have no idea why I’m holding that piece of wood with such a ridiculous grip and I’d like to point out that the bed was made until the kids messed it up.
Surviving the Weekend
Later that evening my two nieces and little nephew came around for tea and then a sleepover. The house resembled a scene out of 90s kids programme Finders Keepers hosted by the legendary Neil Buchanan. It was a difficult evening because with so many people in the house it was impossible to get away and hide. As usual, Nina tried her best to give me time and space. She was quite happy to do all of the running around with the kids but even with an accomplice it’s still impossible to outrun five kids! The best part of the day was watching the beautiful Anthony Joshua box an outrageously tough Cameroonian Carlos Takam on Sky Sports Box Office. Takam had a head like a breeze block, how he took those punches and didn’t curl up in a ball and cry like I would have I do not know.
Sunday was a similar story I’m afraid. I didn’t have the disturbing dreams this time but I did still wake up the next morning feeling crap. I had hoped I’d feel better but I really didn’t. The depression had really taken hold and I had to give up my ticket for the Blues vs Villa derby. That is unheard of, a real sign of how bad it had got. The thought of all the people, the noise, the tension, it just left me cold. In the past I’ve not gone to games because of anxiety. It was different this time though, I wasn’t anxious about going – I just didn’t want to, I had no desire.
We’d arranged to go to a bonfire and fireworks display on the evening with my best friend and his family. We’ve done it for the past few years and it’ always a good night. I text and sent my apologies at about 4 o’clock, we were due to go at 6 o’clock. I really couldn’t face it. It wasn’t a problem, he half expected it. Jack and Lucy hadn’t mentioned the bonfire all day, thought they’d forgotten about it. At 5:45 Jack was in tears asking me why we couldn’t go to the bonfire. What am I supposed to say? I did try and say it had been cancelled but he was so upset. We went to the bonfire and we had a really good time. The kids enjoyed it and so did I. The people we went with were all friends and people I feel comfortable around.
It’s easy for people to say that you have to put your interests first and only do what you’re comfortable with. It’s true in a world devoid of families and feelings but I don’t live in a world like that and nor would I want to. Nina and I live to make our kids happy. That’s our primary focus and everything else comes second. I’m fine missing out myself because of my condition – the football being a case in point but I’ll do everything I can to limit the impact it has on the family.
It’s upsetting when depression dulls the senses to the extreme that things you’ve always enjoyed and looked forward to just don’t resonate anymore. Instead of enjoying the weekend I survived it.
The Reality of Mental Health Illnesses
All weekend I almost felt like a fraudster that had been found out. I’ve spoken openly and in depth about my anxiety and I feel that I understand the condition pretty well. However I’ve also spoken about suffering with mild depression – I clearly didn’t have a full understanding of what this was like at all. This weekend I felt like I hadn’t felt before and it was really uncomfortable. I still have a lot of understanding to do, a lot of discovering and learning. The weekend was upsetting and a little bit scary if I’m honest. With the support of friends and family I know I’ll be fine but it’s hard to make your brain understand that in periods of depression.
Oh by the way, buy my Well-Being Notebook please – I’ve just poured my heart out, it really is the least you could do: