*** Trigger warning, this is a sensitive topic ***
For me feeling in control is having the ability to make decisions for myself. Being able to decide how I feel and react to certain situations and how I carry myself on a daily basis. Unfortunately for those that suffer with mental health issues, being in control, is a luxury.
There will be times when I will plan out my entire day, I will know exactly what tasks I need to complete, who I need to see, where I need to go. I will have the determination to complete what needs to be done and prepare for the next task. But some days my depression will creep in and inevitably take over.
Depression is sort of like a tornado, that encompasses everything in its path and takes hold without a second thought, holding you hostage. There’s nothing you can do but surrender to the prison cell that depression is. This is where you have to come to terms with losing control.
You will no longer be in charge of how you feel, or what you do, or what you want. This is when depression will make your decisions for you, as if it’s the puppet master and you the ever so obedient puppet – answering to every command.
It’s even harder when you have pre-planned commitments made with people, especially those who don’t necessarily understand your situation, you make these plans at moments where you are stable and in control of your mental health, and your mind tricks you into thinking that you are always going to feel this way. But when the morning or the week of that commitment comes and you are held hostage by your depression again, all you can do is succumb and wait for it to pass, just as you would do with bad weather.
For those who are lucky to have people in their lives who understand their struggle with depression it isn’t so bad, they can send a simple text and the other person will understand. But when it’s somebody who you haven’t opened up to or somebody who fails to understand or respect your condition, it gets difficult. Sometimes you can’t just sit at home and wait for the storm to pass, you have to go out and face it head on.
The feeling of having no control is simply crippling. Throughout your childhood you are reminded that you are in control of your life, and you are in charge of the decisions that you make and the way that you feel. But these rules don’t apply to depression. It’s superior to everything that you know.
A vast measure that I would often resort to so that I would feel some sort of control when I was having a depressive episode, would often be self-harm. It was the only thing that would allow me to have some sort of hold on the way that I felt, and I could visibly see that there was a reaction from my actions, and it reminded me that in some way I was still in control of myself.
For a while that was the only thing that kept me from doing anything worse, sometimes these episodes of depression where I lost control would last for weeks or even months. The only thing that would provide me some sort of relief during those periods would be self-harm, which at the time felt so rational to me.
The physical act of causing myself of pain was an addiction at that point, and it brought me immense comfort.
But looking back on it now, I can see that I fooled myself into thinking that by self-harming I was indeed in control. But in reality, it was once again the depression taking hold which caused me the need to self-harm in the first place.
A prominent misconception people have of self-harm is that it is done for attention. I can tell you now that was the last thing on my mind when I was self-harming, it was a very private and personal thing for me. And I never intended on it being shared with anyone let alone getting attention for it.
Writing about my self-harm is absolutely terrifying and is something I am very ashamed of but I’m more petrified by what other people will think of me. It has taken me a long-time to come to terms with it, but I know that self-harm is something that needs to be openly talked about to stop it being such a taboo subject in society.
My self-harm journey is mine, I will talk about it at what length and to who I want when I feel comfortable and when I’m ready. I feel that I am in a place where opening up will help me recover and move on. I may feel differently tomorrow or next week, if so, I can take this down, and that is how I will take control.
Now when I feel like another episode of depression is coming on, I take a step back and allow the depression to take hold. I accept the feelings of sadness and despair that come with depression, and I give myself the time to take them in and to just be sad.
I’ve tried to push it away, forcing myself to go out and meet up with friends, trying my best to distract myself from what is actually happening inside my head and forcing myself to be happy. But this always makes it worse.
So instead I will let the people close to me know that I need space for a while, turn my phone onto ‘do not disturb’ mode, turn the lights off, get into bed and watch an episode of ‘Friends’. I won’t feel anything, I will be numb and allow the depression to do what it needs to do.
I know there are better methods out there to deal with how I feel, but for the moment this is what works for me. And I don’t cause myself any harm, which is the main priority. Sometimes allowing yourself to be sad and experiencing the opposite of what you are used to, causes you to become more appreciative of the good times that you have in your life.