Depression leeches me. I am detached from life. I see through a dark window. I do not want to wake in the morning. Food has no taste, devoid of flavours. There is nothing but a paralysis of feeling.
Helpless, hopeless, lost.
The first symptom I understood, was not being able to read properly. I could still read words; recognise the vowel and consonant, but there was no meaning. No residual understanding. I kept having to go back to the start of the page or paragraph. I had read the words but the meaning was unconnected and so by the end of the page I had no recollection of the meanings which had brought me there.
Loneliness is a lack of companionship. No love. Being totally alone is like depression. Even distant memories of loved ones become a pervasive ache. Loneliness is the dying of memories. Without memories there is no self, for we are what we have become through those memories.
I am not sharing the darkest thoughts. There is hatred. There is pain. There is confusion. Planning to commit suicide. That is for another timeplace. Another post, at least.
Loneliness is like dying. The social interactions which give meaning to life have gone.
The people we share with are the breath of life. When we cannot share, our life loses its meaning and we lose our way… To walk through a busy town centre past hundreds of people. To stroll through a bustling market. Alone, untouched, frightened, a ghost.
When I am depressed and lonely, I am stopping living. I am a ghost. I am dead.
Next: The first dates
Have you tried a dating site to try to get some direction back in your life? After years of social exclusion — when it is a wrench to even leave your home and a challenge to speak to someone you don’t know… Could a dating website offer a way to make some positive changes in your life?
When most of your life is spent in hopelessness, can meeting new people help to build some self-esteem? When life is enriched by the questionable elation of having a clean toilet for the first time in six months, can searching for that special someone lift the spirits?
My Psychiatric Nurse advised I find some way to meet some people. Living on benefits I recoil from the chasm of financial insecurity caused by almost any plan to voluntarily spend money on anything, let alone meeting new people… Anxiety disorder turns normality into fear, turns hope into terror.
But after months of encouragement, I joined a dating website. Here I will share that experience with you, for what it was. I will try to explain how I engaged with some websites promising much, tried to protect my fragile confidence, tried to be as honest as I could and what happened.
Looking for a fresh start can be a dangerous thing. Expecting kindness is often foolish. Honesty is rare and much misunderstood. Often illusions are safer, and not just for people who suffer from mental illness.
I will start by explaining why after two years of involuntary separation from the woman I love did I eventually decide to look for a new love. Everything seems to be connected (or detached) in depression. When I first got ill at the start of 2009 I little thought that within a few years I would lose my marriage, soulmate, family, home, job, career, self-respect, confidence, happiness, well-being and health.
But it was still a shock to hear that my ex had got engaged to be married. That she and my son had spent Christmas Day with someone else in my home, after denying me any access to them for more than two years.
Finding myself thoroughly researching how to commit suicide without pain created no such shock, just deeper numbness. Enduring four months when society seemed determined to kill me by withholding all benefits became just a daily nightmare. Crying for hours every day was the new normality. Sleeping on average 15 hours a day, or not at all. No surprise.
I have accepted the black dog in my life and nurture my new pet. So why did I join a dating website? The truth is that I actually had nothing to lose. I entered the search expecting nothing, taking an empty glass into the desert. It is just another day and way of stopping living. Like Tuesday or this Saturday.
Next: is there life after loneliness?
Do-gooders. What use are they? They interfere where they can add absolutely nothing of value. They always have an agenda of self-promotion. They want to get credit for the “help” they impose on people who are desperate for some real help.
I know a sick person quite well. That’s because he’s me. I keep getting referred to something called “Gateway to Care.” It’s run by the local council and is supposed to ensure that needy locals get support, called “care.” The intention is to deliver this “care” to people in the community; to fit support to the individual etc. But is this what happens? Well, not really.
The first thing that happens is you are told that they look after a lot of ninety-something poor people who are desperate for “care” time and resource. Your problems must be seen in that context. Regardless of what your needs are — you are not as worthy as other people. That’s fitting care to the individual. You as an individual are not worthy.
If you ask for anything which could be equated to the cost of more than a piece of paper… expect to be given a leaflet explaining how you should already have done it for yourself. Let me give an example.
I was recently diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. This is the most minor of my health problems. A health trainer from “Gateway to Care” came out to see me and gave me no personal advice whatsoever. But there was a leaflet saying that diabetes was caused by poor diet and lifestyle. Basically, it’s my fault. So I deserve the leaflet I am prescribed.
There is no discussion or acknowledgement of how the diabetes has been caused by depression following three years of harassment by the Department of Work and Pensions. There’s no mention of the results of the DWP suspending benefits for four months. No acknowledgement this sanction could make a sick person sicker. No help with the newly-generated rent arrears. No help supporting my case with the DWP. The diabetes is my fault and anything other than my docile acceptance of this is more mental illness. This is something they cannot help with. Other than the judgemental delivery of yet another leaflet.
This additional noteworthy document is about thinking positive. It is as if depression, anxiety and panic attacks aren’t a real illness. I’m just not thinking right. After all, I’m not a ninety-something pauper…
I am exhorted to imagine the scene as the angelic Health Trainer visits the old dears in their homes. I am asked to feel the pain — not of the geriatric couple unable to pay their bills — but the pain of embarassment experienced by the angelic Do-Gooder, now positively glowing in my unworthy presence. I must share the pain, the embarassment of having to tell the truly worthy that times are hard and there is no money to help them. Those ne’er-do-well scroungers have had all the “care” and there is just none left to go around amongst the chosen
Do I not realise the Gateway to Care also helps children who have learning difficulties? What mercy can an unworthy wretch like me expect, when the innocents have to go without?
I ask which leaflets the angel gives to the ninety-somethings and the youngsters… And the Health Trainer asks: “Why are you so angry?”