Depression – why opening the curtains can cause more suffering, and other advice

I originally planned to reblog this post, but after typing out a long response, WordPress decided to keep my reblog in a never-ending publishing state, then eventually wiped the entire post.

Picture this. You’re trapped beneath a safety-blanket of duvets and pillows. The room is dark and silent. All you hear is your breathing; and sometimes you’re not quite sure if you’re really alive. It feels like you’re wrapped in a big, dark spider web; you know something bad is coming, but you don’t even want to struggle or escape. Days and nights pass in a blur of half-sleep and daydreams. Time ceases to mean anything. You can’t remember when you last brushed your teeth; and it doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to.

Suddenly, somebody comes stomping in, full of cheeriness and attempts to gee you up. They flounce over to the curtains and fling them open, pulling the nice, safe duvet from you and exposing you to the harsh, painful light. Your eyes sting. You haven’t seen real daylight in a while. You feel cold and naked; the act of stripping away a blanket is, to you, a cruel and unusual punishment. The whole world can see you now, and you’re scared.  Tired, anxious, weary and scared. You just want to be left alone.

This is why pointing out lovely weather is annoying and pointless.

Depression is a cruel illness. It strips you of your ability to care or relate to anything around you. It fills your mind with emptiness – a saying I never understood until I experienced chronic depression myself – and it’s all you can do to blink without giving up.

My mother has a habit of trying to force me outside, into the garden. When she thinks I’ve spent long enough hiding in my bedroom, she’ll waltz in (usually while I’m asleep), throw the curtains wide with as much clattering and muttering as possible, and proclaim that, “you’d feel much better if you got some sunshine!”.

I don’t doubt that weather has a huge impact on depression. I certainly feel much less able to cope in the winter; making excuses about the weather being too bad to leave the house or see friends. However, depression is a very complex illness, and you wouldn’t expect a bit of sun to magically fix a broken arm. It won’t cure depression either.

There is one aspect of depression I have never been able to manipulate or control via medication; the urge to shut myself away from the world. Friendships have fallen by the wayside because there’s only so  many times you can refuse an invitation before they stop asking. Being shut away is a natural response to being depressed; withdrawing from everything and everyone can sometimes feel like the only way to save yourself. Retreat to a place you feel comfortable and secure.

As well-meaning as it may be to try to force a depressive out of their comfort zone in an attempt to cure them, what you’re really doing is tearing the safety blanket away from a very vulnerable person. You may call it tough love, but to the person you’re trying to help, you’re being cruel and unreasonable. They already feel low enough without feeling their loved ones are turning against them as well.

Depression lies. When a friend offers you advice on ways to cope, sometimes the depressed brain will twist the words to sound like an accusation; particularly in cases of borderline personality disorder. I’ve been told that bipolar can feel the same. This imagined accusation sticks with the depressed person and, over time, morphs into a huge monster they can’t possibly hope to tackle.

Going outside has long been a big problem of mine. In the past four years (give or take a year) I’ve gone from somebody who goes on regular long walks and trips to town, to an almost-recluse, travelling by taxi so I don’t have to deal with the public and wearing nondescript clothes so as not to draw attention to myself. Part of  that is due to living with chronic pain, but I know depression is at the root of my reluctance to be seen in public.

You see, I worry that everybody knows my secret. That they can somehow tell from my face I’m “one of those crazy people”. I’ve sat in taxis, listening to the driver crack jokes about our local psychiatric unit, and prayed he wouldn’t look me in the eye and realise I’m totally incapable of existing without daily medication.

I accept that trying to help somebody with depression is like fighting a losing battle. The nature of depression is that it convinces the sufferer that getting well isn’t an option. The concept of recovery doesn’t even exist; depression hides it from you.

This is why sometimes the sufferer lashes out either verbally or physically when you try to help them. It’s why they may turn their back on you and not contact you for six months when you give out a few well-meaning hints. It’s not that they don’t appreciate the advice or care about you; it’s that they’re unable to feel those emotions properly. Depression has dampened everything down, placing the depressive in a near-soundproof room. They may be able to hear you, but their lack of reaction isn’t because they’re being spiteful and ignoring you; it’s due to depression smothering them with apathy.

It’s natural to want to help those who are suffering, and mental illnesses are no different. However, unless you’re a doctor you wouldn’t try to remove a tumour; in the same sense, unless you really know what you’re talking about, offering advice to somebody entrenched in misery probably won’t work.

I’m not saying to abandon those who have depression. Far from it; there are other ways to help than mentioning medications and therapies you’ve heard about.

So, how do you help someone with depression? I don’t have the answers to that. Everyone is different, and depression is a wide-ranging illness often encompassing other diagnoses such as psychosis, paranoia, anxiety disorder, BPD, PTSD and bipolar. What works for one person might not work for another. However, along with not  wantonly opening curtains, there are some things which might help.

  • The urge to drag a depressive out of bed is probably huge. However, it’s rarely the answer. When somebody retreats it’s through a need to be alone;  whether rational or not. In the depths of a depressive episode, you shrink into yourself and ignore phone calls. Emails go unanswered. Often, the sheer stress of having to communicate wears the sufferer down so much that they retreat entirely. Obviously if you’re concerned for their safety this advice doesn’t apply; but as long as they’re not hurting themselves… sometimes they just need to get through it on their own. Keep an eye on them; don’t let them be entirely alone, but don’t pressure them either. It can be a long process to climb out of the hole.
  • It’s hard to help someone when they throw accusations in your face. Paranoia often tags along with depression, and it’s very easy to become convinced that those trying to help you are actually out to damage you somehow. My personal experience of it is that it’s almost a form of psychosis; suddenly everything and everyone are against you, and even the people who claim to love you seem to be trying to ruin everything. It’s not something you can just get control over. It’s easy to imagine enemies everywhere when you feel entirely stripped bare.
  • I shouldn’t have to say this, but having depression doesn’t make you stupid or lazy. Sadly, these views still exist. Telling somebody to “just get out of bed and join the real world” isn’t the answer; it just serves to  make the sufferer feel even less of a person than they already do. Ask someone experiencing a depressive episode if they feel like a valuable member of society; they don’t. They’re at the lowest point it’s possible to reach, and suggesting in a roundabout  way that they’re taking up space and being lazy isn’t what we need to hear.
  • On a similar note, saying “my auntie was depressed for a week and she did more exercise and it went away” doesn’t help. It’s condescending and patronising. We know our illness; we live with it every day.
  • Telling somebody on anti-depressants that you don’t believe they’re safe or work properly will get you nowhere. Those with depression need support every step of the way, not putting down for their choices. Often, deciding to take medication is the last straw of a very painful life. It can be incredibly difficult to get up enough courage to go to the doctor and explain your failings so you can be given happy pills. If they work for somebody, what’s the problem?
  • You don’t know how they feel. Even if you have depression yourself, you can’t see or feel their exact emotions; or lack of. When  you’re trapped in the depression bubble, nobody has ever felt as wretched as you do. That feeling isn’t from an excess of ego; you really do feel like nobody could ever withstand the pain and emptiness. Tell them if you empathise or relate – communicating with other sufferers can help enormously – but don’t try to convince them you know how terrible everything is.
  • Invite your depressed friends and family to parties, but don’t be surprised or disappointed if they decline. It’s not because they don’t want to see you; it’s because they don’t want to see anybody. Telling them they’d “feel better if they had a few drinks” may be well-meant, but it won’t help. They won’t feel better. They’re sick, and sickness can’t be cured by a bit of fun. Let them know you’d like them to be there but that there’s no pressure. Pressure to socialise is a very painful part of depression.
  • Don’t tell them they look tired. Seriously. Nobody needs to hear that.
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131 Comments

  1. I understand wanting to shut yourself away, believe me, I do. I have found, though, that sometimes I just have to “fake it till I make it” so to speak. I have to make myself keep doing things that I don’t want to do because eventually I find joy in them. People don’t know about your depression unless you tell them. If you look rough while you’re out and about, they’re probably jealous that they didn’t think to dress more comfortably. Please realize that I’m saying on this on a good day, had I commented last week, my comment would probably be very different. It does get better, though. And you really do just have to fake it sometimes… and that sucks.

    • Usually, when I go out when I didn’t want to…I don’t end up having a good time or enjoying myself and I wonder why the hell I went out in the first place when I really didn’t want to.

      I’m an expert at faking it. Believe me, it’s how I get through the work day. I bet no one here would even suspect that I’m depressed and Borderline. But faking it…takes an emotional and physical toll. I get very very tired after faking it all day and that’s why I just want to go home and jump into bed.

      Friday night is the greatest time of the week. It’s the start of the weekend and I can sleep in on Saturday (if I dont have work). So I usually decline going out on a Friday because it’s my true ME time. and if I don’t get enough me time – i usually crack.

      • Faking it does take a huge toll; much bigger than some people can appreciate, I think. I’m also a master at faking it; it’s become nature for me, but it’s hard work. I have to be constantly on my guard so I don’t let the inner me slip out and ruin everything.

        Like you I don’t tend to enjoy myself if I force a party or meeting friends. If I’ve already decided I can’t cope with it, going along and pretending to enjoy myself doesn’t help at all, it just makes it worse.

        I love Friday nights too, for different reasons. I go to stay with my boyfriend and we spend the night playing computer games and watching films; no pressure, no faking it. I can be myself for the weekend before going back to pretending.

    • Oh, I’m a huge practitioner of faking it. And I do agree that sometimes you do have to grit your teeth and just get on with it, if the depression is going to lift. However, I don’t think being forced by somebody else helps… at least not in my experience. You have to make the decision yourself, if that makes sense.

      The last comment on the post was thrown in after my mum made a comment about how I looked tired; she has a habit of doing it, when she knows full well I’d rather not be told that. I suspect others have probably heard the same.

      And I hear you about commenting on a good day! Haha, my advice changes depending on how I’m feeling.

  2. Love from a sister depression-isolationist! Thanks for this thoughtful post. You raise many important issues — some I have been scared to talk about with family. I’ve done the blanket, and not brushing my teeth, or putting on clean clothes, so I hear from where you are coming. Again, thanks, and lots of love!

    • Thanks Judith; hope you’re having a great day. It’s another sunny one here, perhaps summer has finally made an effort ;)

      It’s hard to confess that you haven’t brushed your teeth for days, or changed your socks. Or even worn socks. I understand entirely how scary it can be to talk to those close to you about it. Heck, even S doesn’t get to know if I’ve spent the entire week in the same pair of pyjamas.

  3. Incredible piece of writing! I can’t put two simple thoughts together let alone a complete entry on how depression really feels. You have described my world (and many others I imagine) to perfection. Love your blogging. Hope to emulate, in some small degree, someday……DC

  4. Amazing post, you have covered so much and so well. My husband used to do the throwing open the shutters and telling me I’d feel better if only I’d go outside, it made me retreat further and added to how guilty I felt for hiding away. I think the first time he had a small insight was when we watched Melancholia.

  5. Struck home like a ball peen hammer; my partner often states the obvious to which I respond, “I can see it’s a beautiful day; but it’s just another beautiful day; and I’m quite sure there’ll be more; and cloudy ones, too; but I’m living, literally, a senseless existence.”

    • I know I’m incredibly lucky to have my boyfriend, who has experienced depression himself (although not to the extent I have) and so understands why I may just want to hide away under the covers. No relationship before has ever been like that; I’ve always felt forced to enjoy myself, forced to explain myself, forced to do things I just can’t cope with doing, just so I’m ‘normal’ to them.

      I do feel sorry for those trying to care for depressives. It must be hellish; I do have friends with depression, and even I have to back away sometimes because they drag me down too much or frustrate me. I can understand why people do these things to try and help… I just wish they could realise that sometimes they’re doing entirely the wrong thing.

  6. I’m glad you ended up writing your own post. You done an excellent and eloquent job of capturing the realities of depression. As someone who has suffered from chronic depression and periodic, long-term bouts of socially avoidant behavior most of my life, I don’t think I could have done half the justice you’ve done to conveying depressions effects on a person and the various reasons why even the most well-intentioned efforts to help the depressed are usually useless. Depression is a process and it generally needs to play itself out, like any illness from which we need time to heal, and premature attempts to “fix” or “cure” it are of little more help than a bandaid on a gaping wound. In fact, sometimes these abortive attempts to help, as you’ve stated do more harm than good. Better to be quietly present for and, if need be, offer compassionate and nonjudgmental listening to someone struggling with depression. Just “being there” does so mych more good than trying to solve an unsolvable problem. This is a wonderful piece. Great job and, most importantly, take care. I know so well how your feeling.

    • Thank you very, very much. Like you’ve I’ve suffered from chronic depression and avoidant behaviour for most of my life (it started at puberty), along with severe panic disorder… so I really understand what it’s like when somebody tries to force you to go outside when you’re not ready.

      I agree that depression needs time to play itself out. If someone had major damage to both their legs, making them walk before it’s healed would only cause further fractures and cracks; it’s the same with depression.

      I’ve realised that one of the main reasons why I love my boyfriend so much is because he never tries to push me. He rarely even brings depression up; he treats me like any other person, and I thank him hugely for that because it’s exactly what I need. If I’m low, he’ll just be there to chat to. Often he won’t offer advice, just give me a hug and tell me he loves me; which does more for healing than anything else.

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  8. Amazing post. You describe it so well. I know depression is different for everyone, but you really hit the nail on the head. I wish my blogging wasn’t anonymous and secret so I could show all the people close to me this. I really think this post will help people understand.
    Love HS xox

    • It’s almost 9am and I’m still in my pyjamas, trying to wake up… and your comment gave me my first real smile of the day; thanks HS! Sometimes it’s hard only writing from my perspective; I don’t want to act like the authority on anything (even though I could probably out-doctor many doctors!) and it’s good to hear that, for some at least, I’ve described their experiences too.

      • Good, glad I could make you smile :)
        I know what you mean though, sometimes it’s hard to put your point of view at risk of sounding to others like you are trying to be the authority, but the fact is, we live with depression, each in our own way, so why should we not write from experience? I don’t think we are as alone as we think. We are only human, and I’m sure a lot of our behaviour traits can be matched with other people.
        Hope the rest of your day is good!
        xox

        • Thanks HS, I hope the rest of your day is good too. I’m having a pretty spot-on one so far ;)

          I just worry sometimes that I’m sounding above my station. I know I live with depression and such, but I don’t have that magical certificate which some people choose to trust in rather than someone with experience. And I’m wary of implying to people that how I feel must be the way they feel.

    • YES. A million times yes. I’ve wondered if I’m the only one who feels this way, so it’s nice to have confirmation that you really do feel normal and okay during those times. I suspect it’s why I love sleeping so much; so I can have that half-awake/asleep time to just feel good with no distractions or unwanted thoughts.

  9. for those who read my blog you wouldn’t know I suffer from depression. I love to laugh, I love to joke, I see humour where ever I turn. I make fun of myself and my sillyness and to everyone else I am a ray of sunshine.

    But for 20 years I’ve had depression. For a long time I just plodded on, but after finding a good doctor who got me on the right meds, having a wife who loves me it keeps me strong.
    Theres good days, theres bad days, but as long as i’m laughing then my demon won’t get the better of me.

    • Like you, many people ‘in real life’ don’t realise I have depression. I make fun of myself, creating this persona as the clumsy, ineffective hermit… so people think I’m naturally a fun person, even if I don’t go out much. I find jokes in everything, and never show myself as taking things too seriously. It keeps everything on an even keel.

      I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the best-know comedians have suffered from depression. I show the other side of me here and try to leave the humour out to an extent; so I get a chance in life to be both people.

  10. Reblogged this on Beyond the Blue Fog-Bank – Daniel O Casey's Blog and commented:
    hey all, not critical, but this is one of the better posts on depression and what it’s like that I have read to date. Seeing as how I’ve been fighting this cyclical beast for something like seven years now (good times and bad, like I said, cyclical), I’ve read more than a fair share of these posts. Anyhow, it’s a long read but well worth it. Why not go take a look.

  11. Evening lass, I know it’s been said already but I do have to repeat that this is one of the better posts I’ve ever read on how depressives might be feeling in their own head. (yeah, my hand’s up as well). Thanks for sharing this. Dan.

  12. Depression is one of things that people are unsure to react to. I think it shows how disengaged we are from it. Although we have had many ground-breaking medical advancements, depression is still treated with the “oh cheer up” attitude.

    • It confuses me how depression seems to be shoved to the back of the medical miracles queue, as though it’s not important. It’s so common that everyone must know somebody with it, surely? It’s described as an illness in medical journals, so I’ve never understood why it doesn’t seem to get the same respect as other illnesses.

      I’m sick of being told to cheer up. It’s not like I chose to feel this way.

  13. Very well said.

    Another thing about parties & depression is that the last thing someone who’s depressed needs (on a physical/chemical level) is depressant substances like alcohol, as it’ll simply cancel out any positive effects their medication has had. My mother had a phase some years back of over-doing it at parties and the results were quite unpleasant. Time has passed and she’s improved and now knows to not drink quite so much, and her depression is not as severe as it was then, which supports what everyone else has said about time being required for healing.

    One thing I was discussing with my novice guardian on Sunday evening was depression and mental states (she knows I have emo tendencies and that’s all it is these days) and she was saying about her experiences of dealing with previous novices (some of who didn’t stay) and how one girl, whenever she had a bad day, always said it was depression, not just that she was having a bad day. I think it’s the people who don’t understand their own mental states, who aren’t able to look at themselves with any perspective, who can give the wrong impression about how you can “just get over” depression.

    Your comments about being rather a hermit – it’s actually ok to be introverted, to want to be by yourself. It’s obvious that quite a few of the sisters here prefer to be by themselves even though they live in community. The sisters who will take a newspaper into the refectory for afternoon tea, instead of joining the group in the community room, for example, or who will choose to disappear off on a space day to a quiet corner of the Priory where they won’t be found. Whether your desire to be alone is your personality or your health I guess is something only you can decide, and whichever it is, it’s ok.

    • I agree wholeheartedly about parties, alcohol and depression. I have a tendency to drink when I’m depressed, and I know it doesn’t help at all. I try not to smoke weed if I know I’m going through a depressive period because I know it’ll bring me down further. Luckily (I suppose) I can’t drink at all on these pain meds (I tried, and nearly threw up) so I won’t be able to reach for the wine when things get too difficult anymore. I get the feeling it’ll help with a lot.

      I’ve always believed that it’s okay to be introverted; I was an introvert as a child and why force myself to change if it’s how I feel comfortable? It’s me, it’s who I am, but for some reason a lot of other people seem to dislike it. It’s seen as unnatural; it’s a shame, because I think there are a lot of secret introverts out there who’d love to feel able to just return to their natural state and spend time alone and happy.

      I’ve often thought about perhaps spending time in a Buddhist retreat. As you know, I don’t really have a faith but Buddhist teaching do inspire me, and I think it’s a very peaceful, caring community. The idea of total silence and daily meditation and just getting away from the hustle and bustle of every day life… I think I will do it one day. I’m guessing your community is much the same?

      • The people who are introverted are the ones who are getting known for doing things like publishing research papers on medical issues, or theological texts, or studies on this, that and the other. Without the introverts, the world wouldn’t get its knowledge expanded! Of course, without extroverts, nothing would get done! So both are needed and both need to understand that being the other is ok.

        Here at OHP we’re a Benedictine community (this means based on the Rule of St Benedict, but we’re not an Order of St Benedict) which in real terms means we’re a “mixed” community in that we are both prayerful and contemplative and also out in the world working in the world. Here at the Priory, it’s more prayerful & contemplative, especially because people visit us to have retreats, but out at the branch houses it’s a bit more work-orientated, because that’s the point of the sisters being in those houses (eg the two sisters who are living in a house near Middlesborough, they are there because they’re working in two of the parishes in that area so they’re out most days being with the local people).

        Anyone can come to us for a retreat; the sisters are pretty open minded and really quite cool. If staying at the Priory is a bit scary, there’s the St Oswald’s Pastoral Centre (kind of in the middle of nowhere but so so beautiful) where there’s self-contained cottages for people to stay in, and the four sisters who are based there are brilliant.

          • A donation towards costs is appreciated. As we’re a charity we’re not actually allowed to charge. Website for the Priory is http://www.ohpwhitby.org.uk (that’s the new site) and there’s a few photos on there, plus an email address for getting in contact with the order. The pastoral centre, St Oswald’s, has a website too, which can be found by going through the main site. If you wanted to come with S, you could stay in the Lodge (it’s the gate house at the Priory and is a lovely little cottage) which is self-catering (which might be better suited to your needs anyway as the mealtimes at the Priory are kind of set in stone).

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  15. This is excellent. I can just feel that horror when the curtains get pulled, or the duvet… and you’re expected to be cured. It makes me cringe now, even years after the true horror. Thanks for posting this. I think it is something EVERYONE should read before going anywhere near a depressed person.

  16. I read this post and found myself agreeing much of it; so often I’m told to go outside and get some fresh air, but I know I feel just as unhappy and trapped at the park as I do in my house.

  17. Courage. Being scared out of your wits to step forward but doing it anyway. I can’t think of a better way to describe this post. I have bipolar disorder but have been through some serious and long depressive cycles – times when there is no faking it because I didn’t know how or what to fake. The bed, the duvet, the dark become sacred – safe and numb.- times when there are no feelings to dredge through, the darkest shadow has hidden them. I recently was hospitalized so I thank you for this. I blogged about my experience http://www.terrymcdermottwriting.com/1/post/2012/05/bi-me-polar-bare.html and I will reblog this.Much gratitude and peace.

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  19. This has made me cry. I thought I was the only one who suffered from those attitudes of people opening your window, taking away your blanket and locking you outside of the house so the sunshine would cure the depression. I had no idea this happened to other people too. I’m so sorry. Nobody should go through this. :'(
    I understand the ones who do those things have the best of intentions, so maybe everyone should read this blog post and other similar ones to unmask the myth that doing those things will help. It doesn’t. In fact, it just makes things worse.
    Thank you for posting this. It shall be reblogged.

    • Thank you so much for this comment <3 It means a lot to me.

      I never used to believe other people were treated the way I was. As you say, those people do have the best of intentions, but it's hard to see that when you feel so depressed. I used to think I was the only one who felt this way, and even when I started meeting others with the same problems… I still thought it was just me. Now, speaking to others on here… I've realised that so many people have the exact same experiences. It does give me hope that stigma can be beaten.

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  22. This is an amazing post! You nailed it right on the head!

    I definitely agree with the fact that know one has felt what you feel. Someone I love dearly deals with existential depression. Though I know what depression is capable of, and I know in my mind what’s she’s going through, I really don’t know how she feels personally. All I can do is be here for her. When she says something that I know about, then I can share with her how I handled the same situation. (Like how to set boundaries, for example.) But I don’t pretend to understand everything she goes through. I just let her know that I’m here, just as she has done the same for me.

  23. I’m new to your blog and have followed Lisa Ann’s reblog. This post is fabulous- I totally agree that when we are depressed we actually need to retreat from the world and this is our road to healing. The things you suggest to help the depressed person are fabulous and realistic.
    Rachel

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  25. This is exactly what I was looking for when I started blogging. I’m not saying I’m glad other people can relate to what I’m feeling (because that would be wishing horrible feelings on people I don’t know), I’m just saying I’m glad that I have this place to express what I feel with other people who feel similarly. The support makes it easier.
    Your suggestions to help people suffering with depression are pretty spot on if you ask me. My mom sounds a lot like your mom. “Let’s go do some gardening.” Sometimes she tries to buy me happiness and brings home lots of new make-up or nail polish. She doesn’t understand why I can’t just “let the past be the past because there is nothing you can do now.” Her only real form of help has been to tell me it isn’t my fault.
    I think more people should consider sharing this. Help the helpers help us.

    • Thank you so, so much <3 I'm so touched that people have actually chosen to read what is, essentially, one of the many rants I have in my head throughout the day. You're right, the support does make it easier; I've found so much advice and kindness from comments like yours, and because of them I know I've done something correct for once in my life. A million times, thank you <3

  26. Reblogged this on gouldiegirl and commented:
    I’ve already got a pingback from some of my earlier posts on this blog but I just read it again this morning and felt it needed to be repeated because so many people still don’t realise how it feels. I had a bad night last night and knew i couldn’t pinpoint exactly why I felt bad – i just knew I wanted to curl up and not really see/speak to anyone. People were telling me and I was telling myself you just need to go out more and cheer up but that just sets the circle turning again and i loop round and come back into the pit of depression even worse than before – so i thought i’d draw attention back to this again to make people realise how this is

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  28. Hello all. Well, I came accross this post/blog as I’m trying to learn more about depression and bi-polar.
    You see, my girlfriend has both with a little OCD thrown in as well. We’ve been together a year, known eachother since we were kids, I’m almost 38 and she is 32, and it turns out that I’m the only boyfriend she has told that she has this illness. She trusts me, she loves me and I love her unconditionally, and thats the hard part. (Sounds contradicting? I do, its hard :) ….) We should have gotten together years ago, on two other occasions but unfortunately circumstances weren’t right and we lived our seperate lives until both of us came back to the village we grew up in as kids. She’s experienced alot of violence in the past and also sexual abuse from when she was very young. Also she was taken advantage of when she was a teenager and was pregnant at 15. She never deserved any of it. Such a friendly loving character. It angers me but there’s nothing that can be said or done now. Anyway, I digress.

    Naturally in the beginning I noticed these varied mood swings and I was at a loss as to why I was being shouted at etc or that I had done something wrong. There were some occasions where she would want me gone, but the next day things would seem a little less problematic. And then one day she sat me down to explain the conditions she has. Since then I have been looking for all sorts of ways to try to help, all be it from an ignorant standpoint, but with the absolute best intentions but I would say I have said and done the wrong things. As time has gone by and through the little communication we do have about our situation, things have gradually improved. She explains that she says some hurtful things sometimes because she feels that I’m not happy and that she thinks she’s doing me a favour by pushing me away. She wants me to be happy. I still unintentially say or do things that might irritate. Sometimes I may try too hard and this is probably sticking out like a sore thumb. I’m certainly guilty of the curtain scenario in the past, or the sunshine in the garden. I’ve done so much reading in the last few months and understanding more and more. Needless to say (and touch wood) even the rocky situations are becoming less, but I understand as well that if things do take a downturn then I’m not dealing with her, more the illness.

    Sorry for the long intro and I hope I haven’t offended anyone or sounded too ignorant but I really wanted to say that although I understand in a way and am trying to adhere to certain ‘rules’, the blog has really opened my eyes to the finer points of the illness, depression, and I know that I can take this and apply it to our life together. I say OUR life because I’m not one thats going to walk away. She’s an amazing person, alot like how you all describe yourselves, funny, joking, caring……….

    I’m so glad I’ve come across this, I sincerely hope you don’t mind someone from my standpoint ‘looking in’ hijacking your blog and posting his thoughts.
    I guess I understand that it will never go away, and that there will be good times and bad times.
    I’m at a point now where she feels slightly better about things and is doing really well to even get and about, but quite often she’ll wait until I’m around to do things with her.
    I think the overiding factor is the weight gain and self image. And thats the first obstacle so far as I can see.

    As the partner dealing with this, my concerns are that I want to be there for her but perhaps I should give her more space and do stuff for myself which in fact she has eluded to. I worry about the alcolhol, although this is only a few times a week it could be a trigger. It seems to make her emotional and that combined with the monthly cycle can be a horrible experience which is when the hurtful things get said. This month has gone surprisingly well and has been getting better in recent months. It’s not like she is an alcoholic but I’m loath to keep saying that she needs to cut it out etc. I’m just worried that she is making things worse for herself, not being able to exercise etc. And I think that if she sees me looking a bit down then she will feel all the more worse.
    A cuddle and an I love you seems to give her a lift. And there’s alot of times where she is eager to get things done, start the diet that she wants to do but it lasts a day and she will stop.
    She says that she WANTS to do all these things but she needs to get herself right in the head to carry on with these things. She wants to see a therapist, CBT or hypnosis, and this is a good thing, that she WANTS to do this but I’m struggling to help her over that first hurdle.
    Sometimes I feel worthless, like I’m not able to help and that I’m doing alot of stuff around the house etc, initially this was an issue for me, but now I understand that it’s something that I can do to relieve the pressure and the mind racing, although I don’t want her to become so reliant on me.
    But the standards she has set herself mean that if she were to do the cleaning for example then she wouldn’t be able to reach those goals logistically at the minute, so she won’t start at all. On a physical side, well this has decreased dramatically in the last few months, and again initially I’m like hold on, where am I going wrong, but now am understanding that it’s not me, and she says this as well. Hard to believe at first but it’s getting easier as time goes by. I love her so so much, I’m not going to walk away, alot of people would I guess. I’m in it for the long run and she knows this but I think too that she is scared I’ll walk one day maybe. No chance. :)

    I hope some of this makes sense, I hope that maybe you can shed some light on my failings and also maybe help me understand where I can improve or try some things that help you guys feel that bit better.

    I’m thinking to myself now that I want to start a webpage to promote mental health illness awareness. It’s becoming something I strongly believe should be pushed to the fore.

    I admire you all for the difficulty you all face each day, I wish I had a cure. :)

    Thankyou for reading……

    • Firstly, never feel worthless. Dealing with a relationship like yours can be hard work, and it sounds like you’ve done a good job of supporting your girlfriend; it’s been my experience that many people simply don’t want to stay involved, so much kudos to you. I don’t have bipolar myself, but I’ve had a relationship with a guy who suffered from it; and it was hard. I don’t mean to offend anybody, but it was far more difficult than I ever expected it would be. He was very deeply affected by mood swings and delusions; your girlfriend sounds like she’s perhaps in some control, and seems to be trying to help herself. That’s always a positive. Sadly, it can be hard to take that step to therapy or things which will help.

      Really, there’s no ideal way of dealing with it. I know that having BPD makes me prone to messing up relationships, and I eventually found that what I wanted from a partner was somebody who would listen, but not judge. Offer advice, but not push it on me. Be ready for hugs, but understand if I want to be alone. Someone who kept an eye on me, but didn’t smother me with kindness. I know everyone’s needs are different, but my advice would be to carry on looking out for her. Reassure her you’ll be there, even if she panics or freaks out.

      Cuddles are great. Be playful. Don’t treat her like she’s different, but make small concessions for her. Look after her. Remember though, you’re her boyfriend, not her carer – you need to take care of yourself too. I think starting a page to promote awareness is a wonderful idea – the more people speaking out, the more awareness there will be, and there can never be too much :) Perhaps you could work on it together?

  29. Things I’d add to that list, send texts, with jokes or random things that you think they would appreciate, it gives them a way to communicate without much effort, shows that you care, and are thinking about them. It makes it easier to contact some one if they randomly text, for people like myself (worried about interrupting or disturbing people).

  30. When I have allowed myself to suffer through some of my most repressed memories, the pain is so intense, I do not feel I will make it, I come close to doing something stupid, but when i hold out and let it ache so bad in my heart for so long, then a STRONG sense of love comes, it takes much suffering first, but when I allow myself to hurt, eventually I feel immense love. We can not know joy without pain, It does not make it right, but somehow there is this great love we all have within ourselves, even if we have never been shown love, we can find it, its life and in our living being, even though many ignore it, selflessness brings us to love which brings us to healing and happiness, sometimes the darkness is so great but I know there is light… just takes a lot of suffering and allowing yourself to go thought it without hurting yourself to get there

  31. Wow. I’m sitting here in bed at gone midnight. Single mum of two, always the joker, that’s me, we’ll at work anyway.
    Now I’ve been inarelationship for 9 happy months but just these last two weeks I feel a cloud again. I never answer my phone, I hide away. How can you tell the person you love how you feel when you an rationalise it yourself. I want to run and hide away. I want to stop this relationship but for no good reason. Why? This is the first good thing that’s happened to me in ages.

  32. i am glad i stumbled across your blog because reading about depression from the outlook of a doctor or psychiatrist to me feels a little “cheer up you just have the flu if you do a,b,c you will get better”. Most of my teenage years ive never really been cheerful and i never really understood why, i tried to kill myself at 15 and i didnt really have an answer as to why, and everyone just brushed it off until i was 18 and i decided to get help. i get scolds of “live a normal life” ‘im tired of your moods” “you like to dwell in your sadness” ‘just get up and do something everyday, to a point where i feel like a waste of space… the whole just do something thing does not work for me, i do something everyday, ive been faking it, i go to gym, i go to school, i go out, drink my sorrows away, smoke my sorrows away and i still feel numb, apathetic, my mind still races. i could never really put my finger on it until now but i am paranoid, everytime i fall into an episode it feels lke either nobody gives a fuck or nobody wants me to deal with me. ive reached a point where now the only people i have is my family (i just got kicked out coz my mom cant deal anymore) and a boyfriend who thinks that i like being in this state and im holding him back. even with all of this thank you for reminding me that this is an illness not a character flaw, i am no less of a human than the next person, I’m just low on happy juice.

  33. Great, great, great blog. I have Bipolar. I’m also, for some reason, the caretaker for the rest of my mentally ill family. I took care of my sister for three years when she couldn’t care for herself. At the worst parts, she would just lay on the floor, broken and silent. So, I’d lie down next to her. I’d say, “Want to take a nice, warm shower?” “No.” “Okay.”
    You know why? Because sometimes you just have to be depressed. If you have a cold, you could probably force yourself to use 100% of your energy and end up with 30% productivity, but you’ll be sick for three weeks. If you went home and got in bed, you’d get 0%, but for only five days. Sometimes, you just have to let an illness run it’s course. As a caretaker, be there. Make sure they drink lots of fluids (it’s always a good idea to drink lots of fluids). Give gentle encouragement towards small goals. And back off, when rebuffed. As a patient, it’s okay to be sick. Well, it’s not “okay;” it sucks to high heaven. But it is okay to let yourself be sick. It’s okay to take the time you need to heal. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As a loved one, remember: Everybody is different. Every situation is different. Every pain is different. Don’t judge; you don’t know. Send an e-mail. Give a call. Do NOT just drop by. But say, “Hello. I was thinking about you. I hope you’re feeling better. Give me a call when you can. I miss you.” That’s all you have to do. It will take you less than a minute and it could, literally, save somebody’s life.
    That’s my unsolicited advice.
    Oh, yeah… everybody asks… my sister is doing well. She’s a stay-at-home mom now and is doing pretty darn good.

  34. it’s 7.47pm and this whole day i felt empty, just existing. this happens very often now, along with the feeling of feeling totally alone and misunderstood. thank you very much for writing this. it’s exactly how i feel. I’m not sure that if it’s depression that i have and i don’t know if i can even describe it to a doctor. whatever it is, this post has been comforting. THANK YOU, for taking the time to write your feelings.

    • I can identify with your feelings of emptiness and how days can pass in the blink of an eye. I’ve been diagnosed with Cyclothymia (a form of bipolar). Basically I fluctuate from being very active and enthusiastic (hypomanic) to sudden apathy and depressive mood. There are periods of ‘normal’ emotion but they don’t last very long. It makes life very ‘stop – start’ and can be very confusing (not just for me). I have days where I just stare out of the windows sometimes it lasts for weeks.

      It’s just a thought but maybe if you did some Googling of Cyclothymia you might recognise other symptoms?

  35. My now exgf is having a bout now last 4 months shes withdrawn from me. I tried to help obviously failed so have backed off, I know i cant understand her pain tho docent mean i want her to hurt. Do you suggest i give her time? I know she loves me deep deep down but everything now is on a very flat level. From someone loving someone with depression its hard not to do anything i feel rejected abandoned. I know its not about me i just dont want me girl hurting, shes my world.

  36. I have deppression bad,I find I don’t want get out of bed keep my blinds pulled,don’t want to see anyone,I have just started on new tablets ,taking awhile to work!i took dog for a walk today I didn’t want to and didn’t like the walk but the dog did that’s all.sad aye!,

  37. i want to share my great testimony on how i get my ex back in just 48 hours,after will have dated for good 8 years he left me and go for other for no reasons. i beg him i do all i can i to bring him back but he always refuse me, block me on fb and not picking my calls. i cry all day all night because of the love i have for him. i met DR kate love spell online and explain all my problem to him and he told me to believe him that after the casting of the return and love spell he must come begging so i have faith. after the casting of the spell in the next 48 hours my ex came back begging for forgiveness, again i must say a very big thank to Dr Kate love spell he is really a wonderful man reach him for help: katelovespell@hotmail.com

  38. Pingback: “The psyche is highly flammable material…. | I Dont Want To Talk About It

  39. I don’t if what I am saying in my website and blog is of interest but there is a quite simple explanation for most depression – that is straightforward and not wrapped up in either jargon or fear. Not only that, most depressions can be relieved quite quickly. This explanation is based on the Human Givens approach. Depressions is linked to excessive and exhausting dreaming. Feel free to check my website and blog and if you wish to know more or to feature this on your amazing blog, then let me know. i will understand if you do not as so many people are incredibly resistant to there being such a simple explanation. But of course you can imagine my frustration. I help people get over depressions every week of the year – so I really do know what I am talking about.

  40. Is it normal for a depressed person to shut down just with their significant other. My long time boyfriend lost his house to bankruptcy and suddenly I could do nothing right. I wasn’t there for him, I was selfish, everything I am not. Then he refused to talk to me at all, actually running out of his house one day when I confronted him and just asked to talk. He acted terrified. It has been 4 months now and he goes to work everyday and jokes with coworkers, he talks to my friends and his family (although he rarely sees them) and my friends say he seems fine, just a little sad. I am heartbroken and at a complete loss as to what happened. We had never had so much as cross word to each other before this. We would talk things out but this time he just went off and asked me to leave because I was being selfish and inconsiderate of his financials problems. I was so shocked I left thinking he would get over it but he just shut down completely. I don’t really know what to do. Anyone have a clue. I love him so much and I don’t want to give up on him just yet.

    • charlann Its normal for them just to turn against that one person, i like to think it because they care for u most they know we will see past the mask they wear to fool everyone else and want to fix them. I lost my girl the same way she shut down to me only, she don’t think shes depressed tho her cold and heartless actions the way she makes no sense to me and her look on us. She ran into the arm of another man he will expect her as she is as he will know any different. Shes now pregnant i honestly do not believe it. but i understand its always gonna be this will make me happy if not the next thing then the next. Shes lost trying to fill that emptiness i get her see her pain, but im locked out and shes done to much damage to me to ever return. He will act fine thats just because he dont want people to know his secret. Its not your fault his thoughts and emotions are distorted, you can only look after yourself until hes ready to get hep.

      • thank you for your response. It made me feel so much better to know that I am not to blame. Unfortunately, like you, my heart still hurts but you are right, until he is ready to get help I can’t do anything for him. At least he has just shut me out and not been ugly or turned to anyone else. His words to me were he is just going to have to accept that he will be lonely and miserable for the rest of his life. He does know he is depressed but he sees it as an evil part of him and he tried to tell me that there is a bad side to him that takes over sometimes. I didn’t realize it was depression he was talking about. I thought he just meant he gets moody. Again, that you for your response. It helps a lot.

          • Well he just started up a Facebook page. He never wanted one when we were dating. Of course we spent most of our free time together so he really didn’t have time. Most of his family and friends were also my friend and still are which make it awkward. Someone told me about his page so I looked for it and couldn’t find it. I found out that he blocked me. I was so hurt. The holidays are so hard. I just can’t get it through my head how someone would want to spend thanksgiving (which I know he did sitting home alone) and Christmas alone when the last two years we were together we had the best holidays. We cooked together and last Christmas we went to his family and he just loved that. His family said they had not seen him that happy in so long (he was married 20 years and his wife died 1 year before we reunited) He said the last 5 years of marriage were not good.

            We had dated 27 years ago in college and he got depressed then and broke up with me. I didn’t know then what happened. I was so hurt I just walked away. two years ago we ran into each other at a restaurant and he called the next day to ask me out and said breaking up was the worst mistake he ever made and explained that he had a lot going on and didn’t think he deserved me. He said he didn’t want to put me through all that with him. He actually told me he wasn’t a very nice person then and he had thought about me the last 27 years but was afraid to call me thinking I would hate him. Guess losing his house has set it off again. I just hope when he gets past it again he feels like he can call this time. I guess it is just hard for someone who doesn’t suffer from depression to understand what goes on in their heads. I am heading over to depression fallout as you suggested.

  41. i have never seen a blog so on point, and i have searched the web for ages.., for the last six mouths i have felt hopeless, and have never got out of bed, and time does not mean anything to me.. i tried going to my mums for help but she does not know how to handle it so we have just end up arguing even more, plus she lives with my stepdad that used to physically abuse me when i was younger and he just shouts at me to get the f*ck out of bed and stop being a lazy c*%t ..the more i try and talk about my problems and feelings the more they give up on me,,its a never ending cycle and even tho i know my mum is trying to help me she will not listen to what i am saying and just ends up getting frustrated at me,,i think deep down she blames herself for my childhood, i wish she would read this post but she refuses to read anything on the internet claiming that the people that right things on here are not doctors, and dismisses everything i show her, i just need help as i am going through everything you have explained in your blog, its been like this for six months now, ive tried taking meds but they do not seem to do anything

    the scary and sad thing for me is that my job was being a creator, i was good at it and come up all kinds of ideas.. i was a successful actor,writer and director, but very slowly the worked stopped coming in, i fell out with agent and my bestfreind moved away and i ended up getting in to a terrible relationship, so many up and downs which i think led me to this depressive state, i really feel like i am now losing my mind and will never be able to act again, i can not learn lines or even get back to emails and i am losing all my good friends by the day i still try and socialise every now and then but im faking it as you said and i end up feeling worse i have been given so much different advise by people i really don’t know what to do.. i just want my old life and my mind back.

    please tell me things will get better and there is hope for change.. or do you just have to live like this for the next 20 years?..im so confused right now

    thank you so much for sharing your stories on here though

  42. @LostMyMind. I have never had depression as you described it but my significant other is going through that right now. We have been together for 2+ years after reuniting after 27 years. He was losing his home to foreclosure but seemed to be handling it well. Then suddenly, I apparently said the wrong thing and he went off, then refused to talk to me for 4 days, then called to tell me he couldn’t deal with me anymore that I had caused him to go into a dark place and he didn’t think he could pull himself out. Needless to say I was crushed because this is exactly how we broke up 27 years ago but he said he wasn’t that person anymore. It took a lot of soul searching and tears before I realized it wasn’t me but it was his own issues and depression that brought him to that point. I was just the one closest to him and so I got the fallout. He had told me that we broke up the first time because it was all his fault and that he had become very depressed and broke up with me because I didn’t deserve to go through that with him. I guess history is repeating itself. I am hoping and praying that eventually he will come out of the depression and he will see how much I love him and want to help. This time I am trying to keep in touch at least through friends since he refuses to communicate with me in any way. I pray that you will pull yourself out of your depression as he did the first time. I think you can do it. His apparently only comes when things get very bad and he feels worthless. Otherwise he is a happy, funny, loving man who was my rock. For two years I never saw a sign of depression then suddenly it reared its ugly head. I think if you try and focus on the positive (I know this is coming from someone who doesn’t really understand what your feeling) but I think that is the only thing you can try to do other then medication (which my boyfriend can’t afford because he has no insurance). If it helps, I am sure you have people around you who care greatly for you and want to help but like me just don’t know how. I would do anything to help my boyfriend but he won’t let me. If you have people around you, please let them in and let them help you or at least be a friend to be there for you. Try to focus on the good things in your life and those who care. If you turn away from them it hurts them as much as it does you. I hope something I said has helped. Again, I can’t really understand what you feel but I can tell you from the other side that those who love you want to help and care deeply.

  43. Thank you so much for this post! This is honestly the best I’ve ever read, it made me feel so confortable to actually realise that there’s someone out there who actually feels the same as me, as I’m surrounded by people that have no idea what I’m going through but who love me and want to help. I’m a 21 year old brazilian girl and I’ve had depression for a loooong time, but it’s got pretty worse now and I’m going on meds again.
    Anyways, the best part about this post is that you managed to put down in words what many of us depressed can’t come to explain, and you did it very very well! I’ve sent it to my boyfriend and to my mom so they can understand more about it.

  44. Pingback: Why do I always fall for the impossible? | A Topsy Turvy World

  45. I have been diagnosed with many different mental illnesses since child hood, I am 59. In 96 I was given another diagnosis of bipolar with a homicidal rage disorder. I do not like going out. When I do it is before 9 am. I have friends who like to go out to eat, I have to be in the right frame and before noon. Even though, friends know this, they will insist that I go with them in mid afternoon. If I give in , I usually end up exploding. I do not like to be around a lot of people. I never feel better after I do go out. I feel agitated.

  46. My boyfriend left me a month ago and he was leaving with another woman who is 10 years older than him,i feel like my life is completely over. I read over the internet how a spell caster have help several people to get there love back. I have been dipresed for the past one month and what i need is to get him back and live with me so i decided to give it a try so i contacted the spell caster called Dr Kasee and explain my problems to him and he cast a spell for me which i use to get my boyfriend back and now my life is complete and i am throughly greatful to this man,his contact email is onimalovespell @yahoo. com Thank you very much and i am extremely greatful onimalovespell @yahoo. com

  47. Pingback: Depression – why opening the curtains can cause more suffering, and other advice | Taina Căsătoriei

  48. Pingback: Child abuse is a frustrating maze of complexities – Asheville Citizen-Times | Alternative Depression Treatments

  49. Gosh….Your blog took my breath away literally, after reading the last sentence I sat on the bed and weeped not because you had made me sad but you had put into words everything I feel it was as if you were in side my head reading my thoughts. I have sent this blog on to my devoted husband and parents so they too can understand a little better the life I have with depression. God bless you, you are an inspiration. Lots Of Love Lou x

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  52. my ex-boyfriend dumped me 8 months ago after I caught him of having an affair with someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don’t know what to do, so I visited the INTERNET for help and I saw a testimony on how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problems to him….. he cast a spell for me and assure me of 3 days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my peter came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you Dr Ohehen spell caster, you are truly talented and gifted contact his email:(ohehenemenspelltemple001@gmail.com}

  53. In marriage, life is so urgly without children, December 2010 I got married with my lovely husband. But no issue (children), I was so peace off because my husband did not show up even an atom of love to me anymore. On one faithful I was searching through the internet and I came across many testimonies, they were testified of this Great and Powerful Dr. utimate work he has done for them. Within me I summon courage to contact him through an E-mail I saw on the testimonies. As contacted him He told me no problem that every mountain in me that stand as an obstacle shall be crushed. Surprisingly, within a week I met this Dr. utimate, My hubby that has abandoned me for long come to me, so amazing I said this shouldn’t be through after then we come together. And as you can see now am Six Month Pregnant. I will tell the whole world about this great Dr. utimate. And anybody that needs his help can get him through his mailing address of utimatespellhome@gmail.com. or tell: +2347031362391

  54. This is exactly what I was looking for. My friend has seemed to shut everyone out, not coming online at all now for months. I wonder if she will ever come back or talk to me again. How long can it take for someone to pull themselves out from shutting out their friends?

  55. She had her birthday and didn’t even come online to see her friends birthday wishes. My letters go un answered, even though I’m not mad and forgive at her back talk and told her that. I have no idea if she even read my letters though.

  56. My name is Janet . I found a great spell caster online who helped me to get back my husband who has left me for pass 3 years. we where married for 8years without a child and my friend introduce me to a real spell caster which i never believe it exist but after the meeting of this spell caster my problem where solved and now i am with my husband who left me for pass three years my life and my entire family are now happy now i have three kids with the help of this great spell caster. Thanks Lord. Azeez on lordazeez1990@hotmail. com if you need any spell, you can email him, He will be in the best position to help you. I wish you good luck and success.

  57. I was married for 8years with out any child,because of this my husband start acting very strange at home,coming home late and not spending time with me any more.So i became very sad and lost in life because my doctor told me there is no way for me to get pregnant this really make life so hard for me and my family.my sister in law told me about Prophet Osaze from the Internet,how he has helped people with this similar problem that i am going through so i contacted him and explain to him.he cast a spell and it was a miracle three days later my husband can back to apologize for all he has done and told me he is fully ready to support me in any thing i want,few month later i got pregnant and gave birth to twins (girls) we are happy with ourselves. Thanks to Prophet Osaze for saving my relationship and for also saving others too. continue your good work, If you are interested to contact him and testify this blessings like me, the great spell caster email address:”spirituallove@hotmail. com”

  58. Pingback: ‘I was heartbroken’–What gets you down? | Alternative Depression Treatments

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