Like J.K.Rowling, I am proud to have survived from the vile illness that we call Depression. And I too have never felt ashamed.  Unlike J.K Rowling, I haven’t written a series of amazing books that have gone on to become possibly the best franchise of all time.  Not yet.  For now and until the inspiration comes to write the next biggest book with the best characters of all time (not sure if anything can beat the Harry Potter characters) I’ll continue to channel my writing energy into my blog.

Interesting Harry Potter Fact:  J.K Rowling has revealed that the inspiration for Dementors came from her bout with severe depression before her phenomenal success.  She describes the feeling as an “absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again.   The absence of hope.  That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad.”

The other day, whilst tidying up a kitchen shelf which has become a dumping ground for paperwork that doesn’t really belong in just one place, I came across a notebook that I kept when I was ill with depression between April and June 2016.  I knew the time would come when I would sit down with a cup of coffee and read back through my note-taking whilst I was ill.  And so I did, and the writing was both bittersweet and insightful of how the days were for me at this difficult time.  The one thing that struck me throughout, was the glimmer of hope on most of the entries, even on my most difficult days.  It was comforting to see hope was ingrained in me somewhere, as I know when I was ‘in it’ I didn’t feel very hopeful at all.

i-am-a-writer

The reason why I kept notes when I was ill was not so I could look back at them 6 months later to gain information of how things were for me  – although I must say this was a gift in it’s own right.  The reason why I kept notes through this time was a ‘coping crutch’; I found that writing was something that I could still actually do, at a time where my concentration and ability was compromised.  I could sit down at the kitchen table of a morning and I could put pen to paper.  It was still a difficult activity and some days I’d sit down with my notebook and get nowhere.  But some days, the ink just flowed!  

 “Journaling allows you to dialogue with parts of your psyche that you are not consciously aware of.   Keeping a journal is a good way to start coping with depression.  It’s not aggressive, it’s something you can do by yourself, and it gives you the chance to see your feelings in black and white

Writing at this time didn’t bring me joy as it usually does, but it did bring temporary respite from the pain of the illness.  Respite is so important with this illness, without it the pain is relentless and in time can take you to a dangerous place.  I know that place, and I’m not ashamed to tell you I’ve hovered very close to that line that you don’t want to cross.  Also I’d like to add, people ill with depression that do cross that line with suicide – it’s not because they want to end their lives, it’s because they want to end their pain.  They don’t know how to live with the pain anymore.  

I started keeping notes from the beginning of April.  The writing content for the first two weeks of April was structured – I was using a CBT tool called ‘Behavioural Activation’. From Mid April my health deteriorated and from Thursday 21st April my writing talks through the desperation of the days up until my recovery in late June 2016.  I’d like to share my writing with you and because the writing changed when my health deteriorated I’m going to document it in two parts:  

  • Journal of My Depression Part 1:  First two weeks of April 2016 – Moderate Depression
  • Journal of My Depression Part 2:  Thursday 21st April to June 2016 – Severe Depression and recovery back to Good Health

Depression is an illness as physical as other illnesses – and like other mid to long term illnesses,  there is a process throughout.  When I was very poorly, I was given a document handout which explained the cycle of Depression.

D cycle

When I received this document I was on the lowest loop displayed.  I can remember the pain I felt at this time – indescribable and vile!  For those that have known the illness there are no words needed.

I’m going to sign off for now in the style of Adrian Mole, and I hope to share Journal of My Depression Part 1 with you within the next few days.

Donna Chan

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