Thursday, 18 December 2014

Scary Movie

     A few weeks ago, I had to face up to something that I’d had been doing my utter best to avoid confronting. The Black Dog had returned. The fucker.

     All the signs had been there. Not sleeping. Not eating. No motivation. Moodswings. Getting poisonously furious over trifling upsets. But what finally bounded out of the mist, smacked me over, and savaged my throat were the intrusive thoughts.

     This is always the worst part. Naturally cynical and pessimistic as a default, when the Black Dog takes over, my mind is set to catastrophe mode. It’s not so much that I expect the worst, I suspect it, I imagine it, I believe it to be happening. So I behave as if it is. Even when the wafer thin mint of sanity that remains tries to reason with me.

     It’s like when you’re five years old, and your elder siblings force you to watch a horror film rated 18. The quiet, quiet… BANG of a horrible jolting thought. You squeeze your eyes closed, turn your head away, hands gripping the sides of your chair, your face a rictus of trepidation and fear. It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s just a film, it’s not real, that’s just tomato ketchup, after this scene was filmed they all went and had lunch together, it’s not real, if I open my eyes, it’ll be a different scene that isn’t scary, I’m not scared, I’m not, I’m going to look again now… Your face twisted in a grimace, head not facing the telly, risk opening one eye a teeny tiny bit and OH MY GOD LOOK AT THE PEOPLE BEING KILLED FOR REAL

     For this reason, I never watch scary films. The effect lingers on a bit too long. But obviously, that’s fine. I can just not watch scary films. But life… can’t be avoided, although I’ve done my best at times. And when the intrusive thoughts start up, it becomes very difficult to shut up the voice in my head that makes me suspicious and doubtful.

     It’s horrible. Just URGH. The worst interpretation is applied to everything. If someone puts an inappropriate wink in a message, I become instantly paranoid. If someone says they’ll do something and doesn’t do it, I know they’re trying to hurt me. If someone says they won’t do something, and they do, I know they are deliberately fucking with my head. Messages that I don’t get an answer to? I’m being deliberately ignored.

      And it’s not just interacting with others. It’s the potential for things to go wrong. If Alistair’s out longer than I expected him to be, I think ‘Hmm. Hope he’s ok.’ And then WHAM that’s it. My head merrily projects a horror film of a twisted lump of metal that was our car, his mangled body, the knock on the door from two Policemen, me having to tell The Blondies, the funeral (would I be capable of delivering the eulogy? What would I say? Could I write it, but ask someone else to deliver it? Who would carry the coffin in?) grief, loss, me, a single mum raising two fatherless children, birthdays, Christmas, important life events, facing all of them alone. Would I meet someone else eventually? Or stay faithful to his memory? How the Blondies turn out, growing up without a father? If I became a grandmother, how sad would I feel, knowing that Alistair would never meet his grandchildren? Would a grandson have Alistair’s name?... Yes.   An entire alternative reality, delivered in as much time as it takes for me to wonder why he’s later than normal. And all because the queue to get out of Sainsbury’s car park was a bit longer than usual.

     There’s no reason for it. None at all. But it’s there. Like an infection. Brain wanker.

      And it’s horrible, because you never know where it’s going to come from. Life is all fine, happy happy joy joy, then OOF. A thought hits you and you can’t shift it. Believe me, if I could, I would. It’s not pleasant to feel you’re teetering on the brink of disaster. And what is most damaging is that you can’t anticipate. Some thoughts… meh. Shrug. Something relatively minor comes along and that’s it. Your mind cracks in half, and you’re left reeling, angry, hurt, paranoid.

      Happily, there is something I can do about it. I can (eventually) get my unwilling arse to the GP, get a temporary upgrade in anti-depressants, wait for them to kick in, and smooth over the rumpled sheets of my brain’s misfiring chemicals. It’s not burying anything. It’s not refusing to deal with life. It’s not a placebo. It’s me fixing the faulty wiring of my mind. It’s me not letting the Black Dog pull too hard on the lead.

     It’s me getting up, turning off the telly, and forgetting about the scary film. It’s me not having nightmares.

EDIT: I really ought to explain that I wrote this several weeks ago, but knew I wasn't ready to blog it. The fact that I have means I'm feeling a whole lot better. The Black Dog has disappeared.


Wry Mummy said...

This is a very moving description of an acute attack of the big beastie - glad the Black Dog has disappeared now and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Lucy Benedict said...

Thank you, that's really kind of you to say. I hope you have a fab Christmas too x

Anonymous said...

So well articulated. ..

Lucy Benedict said...

Thank you, I hope it helps people to understand how it can feel when you're depressed.

Anonymous said...

My husband has finally had his official bipolar II diagnosis after years and years of battling it and medical profession being unwilling to officially diagnose for various reasons. He's actually just gone to bed early as the mood stabilisers are taking a bit of getting used to. Anyway, what I wanted to say was what a vivid picture you've painted. And very similar to how it manifests itself in my husband - I can see him just 'go'. His mood dropping is tangible, I can tell just by looking at his face how he's feeling. HE knows it won't last forever but I imagine at the time it feels as if it will be like this forever.

Anonymous said...

That is an amazing piece. I have 2 very close people who suffer with depression and I think and hope it has made me understand a tiny bit better what they're going through. Thank you x

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing and sharing this. It's been a wake up call to me. I'm so low but I've been low for a very long time and I've been living with the catastrophising (sp?) for so long that I thought it was normal. Just part of my naturally pessimistic self. You've woken me up to the fact that it's not normal to feel like that. I can't tell you how many times I've had vivid imaginings of my son aged 18 dying in a horrific car crash, going through the whole scenario as you've described for your husband being late. Thing is my son's only 9!

Time to go back on the anti-ds I think. Thank you for your post.

Anonymous said...

I suffered briefly with mild depression and never knew that it can be accompanied by paranoia. Relationships really suffered as a result. Thank you for trying to explain so vividly the effects.

Anonymous said...

I bloody knew it. So glad you beat the Black Dog this time round. Keep on keeping on and keep writing it down because everything you've said here resonates with me too.

Spookily I feel exactly the same about scary movies and for much the same reasons. Images you can't delete from the brain. But they are just images xxx

Undeterred said...

I too have been diagnosed with the same condition after battling for years with antidepressants which make the condition worse . The mood stabilisers do take a while to kick in , if they don't work there are plenty other combinations to try. I now feel like a new person after 30 years of highs and lows . It must have been awful for both of you . Keep strong there is now light at the end of the tunnel . Have a good 2015 .x