The D Word

“It’s like you’re drowning, but everyone around you is breathing.”


Obviously talking about this I can only really talk about myself with any real authority. People can be depressed for any number of reasons, or no reason at all. People can be depressed as a result of a million different stresses and strains, or from just one thing that breaks them. I’ve read stories and anecdotes where people talk about a slow disintegration, a creeping descent where they don’t realise until they’re already there. For me personally it was slightly different, in that I can pinpoint the exact moment I realised things weren’t right.

I’m not really sure what triggered it, if anything. About 6 years ago I was walking down the High Street of my hometown, when I felt an odd feeling in my chest, a sort of tightening. I sat on a bench and just started crying, right there, completely unbidden. I was hit with an incredible feeling of isolation and despair, and I realised that it had been a long while since I could remember feeling “happy.” I went home, and my sister was there, and she hugged me me, all confused. I didn’t really know what to say, so I settled for “I think I’m depressed” in between sobbing.

I went to a GP the following morning, and had a long and frustrating talk with them. No, I wasn’t abused, my childhood was wonderful, and deaths in the family had not adversely affected me. Yeah, I was bullied a little at school but almost everyone is at some stage or other, I think. Eventually they took blood samples and I had to wait 2 more weeks.

On my return, I was informed that I had zero vitamin D inside me, which is apparently significant, and the GP also told me that my brain might not be properly utilising serotonin.

Imagine Your brain is a bathtub. When you run the taps, serotonin comes out, and fills the tub. Once it’s nearly full, wiggle the plug so it’s not quite in the hole right. The serotonin slowly drains out, into your body. The bathtub drains, but you can replenish it by running taps as it does so. This is how your brain should work. Imagine this setup, but the plug is two sizes too small. The serotonin runs out much faster than it can fill the tub…

My GP, showing great aptitude with metaphorical description

So essentially my brain uses serotonin faster than it can make it, apparently.

Except it doesn’t really feel like that to me. It’s more similar to the quote at the start of this post. It feels like I’m standing on a beach at night. I can see the sea, and I KNOW the tide will come in, but it’s way off in the distance, and no man alive can stop the ocean, so I don’t think about it. I’ll look away, distracted by something elsewhere, something that isn’t the beach or the sea, and when I look back, the water is around my knees, and I still won’t think about it because hey, I’m already wet so who cares. Soon I’m treading water, and suddenly everything’s not okay, because I’m not a good swimmer in this metaphor. The people nearby might see me, possibly on boats or inflatables, but don’t see that I’m struggling to stay afloat, so I have to survive until the tide goes back out again, and I’m standing on the beach, and the water is miles away, and so not worth thinking about…

The worst bit is probably knowing it’s cyclical and feeling trapped regardless. Thank god my friends and family stop me drowning.

Published by artandsadness

A three-way mix of paintings, talking about mental health and anonymous anecdotes from my job

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