Tread Carefully In Mind


Where does depression start – where does it end?
(A personal story).

How much of my mental state is affected by chemical imbalance, how much by past experience?  How much by circumstance and environment – how much by belief and perception?  The immeasurably of these factors is cause for confusion about labeling conditions of the mind.

A diagnosis of depression, anxiety disorder and other ‘mental illnesses’ can certainly help make sense of things and provide a guide for treatment and medication.  Giving it significance beyond that can further darken the world of someone suffering.  It can make you feel like something is wrong with you.  Spotlight weaknesses and flaws.  Exposes an entry point into the isolation of social stigma – the burden of shame.  Can fragment identity.


(Art Harley Manifold, original in colour).


Personally, separating the diagnosis from the ‘self’ is part of the therapy and management of conditions of mind.  What remains are feelings, experiences.    Behaviours and reactions.  The unrelenting critical head talk.  Dominant dark thoughts.  The cocktail of emotions at extremes.  Sometimes unbearably intense – other times, blunted.  Anger and rage.  Sadness.  Feeling nothing.  Crippling self doubt.  Panic without a cause.  Sensitivity or intolerance to light, noise, stress – people.  Places I can no longer go.



The paranoia that can play out in the head as rewinds of past moments, dramas about what’s going to happen next; unrelenting ‘what will people think?’ thoughts – insomnia.  All of this I escaped in alcohol, food and impulsiveness – they transported me far from my troubled mind.  Unlike prescription drugs, this socially acceptable cocktail didn’t rattle my conscience, didn’t formalise there was a problem.

I’ve been confronted many times by the seriousness of leaving this condition of my mind untreated, under-medicated and masked by denial.  Prescribed medication enables me to implement and maintain change in my life.  It restrains the voice in my head – frees me from the insomnia that distorts my world.

Having a trusted person who you can talk to and knows your situation is vital.  Someone who can watch for the ‘signs’ of you slipping away into a dark space – because sometimes it’s hard to recognise ourselves.

Seeking support from a counsellor, despite the stigma or perception of weakness this often carries.  What can help is to think of getting support as …

… talking to someone who knows some ways to sort things out when things aren’t right- rather than the mindset that seeking help means there is something ‘wrong’ with us.

Rather than putting up a fight against the dark times, sometimes accepting that depressive cycles, the containment of past experiences and the managing of big feelings take up space – require an environment that supports co-existence.  Sometimes when you feel yourself on a downward slide it helps to stop, surrender – rather than pushing yourself beyond what you may be able to tolerate at that particular time.

It’s ok to STOP.   It’s ok to surrender for a while.   It’s ok not to feel ok.   It’s ok to take time to sort things out.    It’s okay to put your hand up for help.  It’s okay to retreat for a while.   It’s ok to be you and not everyone else.  

It’s ok to create and take the time and space to slow down and be really mindful about what’s going on in your head and life.

Do some quiet, achievable things that make you feel good.  Which can be majorly difficult.  Just getting out of the house can feel impossible.  But pushing through that builds strength and resilience for the next time you may find yourself back where you feel you started.

And that’s not failure.  It’s part of the cycle of things.  Things come and go and continue to come and go.  And things also pass.  And they come back.  And we pass through them again.   The notion of endlessness can be strangely consoling because it’s the opposite to being stuck.  There’s movement and change in endlessness and cycles.  A forming of a sense of trust and hope of coming through and out the other side each time.

See Links page for additional support.


See also Dear Me,   Dark Times Story. 

A Different Way To Tread