Adam Finn: Depression Take 3
I forgot. I forgot what it felt like. I forgot what you couldn’t feel. I forgot what you do. What you wanted to do, but your brain wouldn’t let you do. I forgot how bad it can be. I forgot how much you have to fight. I forgot the misery, the fear, the sadness, I could nearly say I forgot about depression. I remember now. I remember how tough it is. How much I hate it. How much it can tear my life apart. I remember now that I have to fight. I remember me. I see me most days, but I’m still quite not there yet.
I’m not quite sure where to start with this blog, but I know where it’s going. It’s going to a bad place. A place I never thought I’d be again. But it’s going other places, better places. It’s not over yet. The end is not in sight. The story has not ended yet, nor will it end here. That’s the reason I’m writing this blog. I’ve written about my mental health and depression before, but that’s in the past. There’s no point in being just happy with what I’ve written. I have to continue the talk about mental health, because if I don’t, I’m not sure if I will continue. If talking about mental health dies, then I may die. There’s one thing that I have to do, and that’s keep the conversation going. On a lighter note, and a phrase I’m ever so fond of, I have to ‘keep her lit’.
My mental health has been good, I’ve been content with it. I’m still aware of it. I try to take notice of it, see where I am, see where I’m headed. It can drift to the back of my mind. I don’t see a problem with that, it shouldn’t be my main focus in life, it shouldn’t be something I live in fear of, it’s something I should just check in every now and then. Just to be sure.
In a way, with my mental health, it can be similar to falling asleep. You notice yourself drifting slowly, and then it happens all at once, and you’re asleep. In my experience, that’s what falling back into depression feels like. You notice yourself slipping in small areas here and there, and if you don’t address them, then you can find yourself in a deep depression which you’ve no idea how to get out of.
I remember during one of the interviews for the Our Mental Health documentary, I spoke about mental health being like a sports injury. Think of someone who has pulled a hamstring. They have a match coming up that they don’t want to miss, so they say nothing. They dismiss the problem, and carry on. Soon enough, while you keep doing what you’re doing, your hamstring tears. Now you’re forced to deal with the issue which wouldn’t have been as bad if you spoke up about it earlier. You’re out of action, and you can’t do anything about it. For me, mental health is similar. If you don’t speak up about how you’re feeling when things start to go downhill, and try to carry on like normal, you can end up in an even worse place. And that is what happened to me.
Going back to college after a year on the SU was scary. I didn’t know what to expect. Into a new year with only knowing a few people. I feared walking into that very first lecture. Voices in my head imagined people muttering ‘Why is he in our class?’, ‘What’s he doing here?’. I honestly feared so much to walk into that lecture. It really hit me. I had no issue giving a speech to all the 4,000 first years that came into UCC last year. Ask me to MC an event, I’ll jump on stage and shout my heart out. Ask me to walk into a 3rd year commerce lecture, I couldn’t. Eventually one of the girls I was friends with said she’d go in with me. Was it everything I feared? Was it as bad as I made it out to be? Absolutely not, nobody cared. If anything, it was the complete opposite, Met some new people, who were as friendly as they could be, and saw some faces genuinely happy to see me in there class.
I sat down, and asked myself why. Why did I even think that. It was all nonsense, but I believed it. All it took was a friend to give me little push and support and it was all ok. The rest of the year went by in a flash. No real problems at all for me. Did the best I’d ever done in exams. The only issue I had was a small, yet constant feel of anxiety, So often I’d come home from college with my body tense, like it was going to snap like an elastic band under pressure, and a constant lump at the back of my throat. I’d been through far worse, I could deal with a bit of prolonged anxiety. I shut up, didn’t address the issue, and carried on with life.
During the first term of college I was looking forward to one thing and one thing only, the ski trip, There were points during the year where I wanted to self-harm, punch a wall, hit my head off something, points where I wanted to explode. The only thing that kept me from hurting myself was skiing, and not being injured for the trip. In a way it was good. Use whatever you can to stop yourself self-harming. Whatever reason or excuse you can conjure up, use it. Not self-harming is better than self-harming. The thing is, I never talked about it. I never told anyone what I wanted to do to myself, and in the end, I paid the price.
Admittedly I should have caught it earlier, I remember the same thought coming into my head on repeated occasions. I thought about the futility of life. I asked myself what’s the point. Yeah, I’ve skiing which I’m looking forward to loads, but what happens after that. Do I wait another year till I can look forward to something again. I saw no purpose in life, it all seemed irrelevant.
Once I got back from skiing, and a heavy week of drinking, back from surrounded by my friends everyday in such a fun environment, everything changed. I made it to my first lecture, and that was it. After that, I couldn’t go to them. I feared college, I feared lecture halls. I feared the people in my course. I couldn’t make it into college. The thought of getting on a bus overwhelmed me. The thought of waking up overwhelmed me. Making food. Showering. Getting dressed. It was all too much. The days I did make it into college, I couldn’t face going to lectures. There were days where I had to change clothes five times before going into college because I hated how I looked so much. There were days where I’d make it into college for twenty minutes and then have to leave.
Things got to their very worst in February. I hadn’t been seeing my friends. I was missing meetings in college. I stayed at home everyday. I stayed in bed for as long as possible. When I did venture from bed on the odd occurrence, I would be sat on the couch on my laptop until it was time to go bed again. My sleeping pattern flipped completely. It had gotten to the point where I would be going to bed at 7am and waking at 8pm. I didn’t see the people in my house, when I was awake I was alone. As hard as I tried to fix my sleeping pattern, I couldn’t.
My mind was fighting against me. I couldn’t feed myself. I could wake up starving but the thought of making a bowl of porridge or anything would overwhelm me and it felt like too much of a burden to do. If I did eat, it was either microwave popcorn or cold leftover dinners from the fridge. I could be incredibly dehydrated and reaching for a bottle of water on my bedside table, and the thought of reaching for it and drinking it would be too much for me. I’d just fall onto my back in my bed, and sigh in frustration. I was no longer functioning as a person.
With all this, and my mental health already being low, my thoughts started to turn even more negative. The frustration of not being able to do basics functions, the anger at myself for not being able to fix myself, the sadness of seeing myself fail or succumb to the most basic of tasks. It was all too much.
I hated myself. In my eyes I was a failure. Nothing was going right for me. My phone broke, my laptop broke, yet only small things, they added to the list of things that were going against me. I was 23, an age that I hated, I had not gotten placement, nor done any work about getting placed either, all I did was lie in bed all day and be sad. I didn’t do anything about ending this sadness, I felt I couldn’t. I began to believe that I was a failure in every sense of the word.
I was meant to be this person who talked about mental health, and helped others, and what does it say about me if I can’t look after my own mental health. How am I meant to give advice to people if I can’t even use the advice that I was giving. I believed all of the above. I believed I was a fraud. A joke. My perceived expectations that others hold of me kept on barraging into my mind. ‘You should walk into placement’, yet I had done nothing about it. ‘You’ve done great work around mental health’, yet I hadn’t been outside my house in weeks and resided in my bed hating myself. It killed me. Or it was about to.
The fact that I was depressed again was probably worse than the feeling of sadness or nothingness. I had a relapse before, which ended up with me in mental hospital, but this time it hurt more. It dented my confidence so much more that the last time. I had gotten older, I had come so far. I knew mental health was something that would be part of my life till I die, but I didn’t think it would be as serious as it once was. I was 23, I was back in college and doing well. There was finally direction in my life, I was looking forward to getting a good placement and actually progressing with my degree and developing as a person. This depression put a stop to everything. I thought what’s the point in fighting this. It takes so much to beat this depression, and I’ve only so much fighting in me. What’s the point in getting my life back on track if I know that my mental health is going to deteriorate and slam the breaks on my life over and over again. There was no point. I won’t be able to sustain a job down the road, I won’t be able to do what I want with my life. Poor mental health and depression is just going to override my life for as long as I know so I may as well give in.
I remember wanting to give up. I had enough of it. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for life. Maybe this is as far as I go. I had attempted suicide before. Maybe that was just a blip in the video that is my life. Maybe my inevitable death was just waiting to catch up on me. To take me. I wanted out. I wanted it to end. I remember lying in bed, on my mum’s iPad, putting it into incognito mode and search ‘ways to commit suicide’. As I hit search, I remember thinking there’s something very wrong here, this isn’t what my life should be coming to.
I changed my search to suicide, I saw all these sites come up, and clicked into HSE.ie. Reading all the advice I said to myself, this isn’t working for me. It’s not going to work for me. I laid in bed for hours with my mind racing, running through possible ways to end my life. I didn’t want to try and overdose, taking tablets can go wrong, and not kill you but seriously harm your brain. I knew if things went wrong, and I was stuck with brain damage then I’d have to live on and wouldn’t be able to end my life. I thought about exhaust fumes into a car, but I don’t drive so my family would know something’s up if I was in the car. I thought about hanging myself, but I had tried once before and any mention of hanging yourself, whether it’s in conversation or on tv send shivers down my spine and give me a shudder. I fell asleep and said that I’d think again tomorrow.
This thought process went on for days, I’d distract myself on my laptop for as long as possible, but once I tried to do something else or tried to sleep, thoughts of suicide entered my head. All I wanted to do is go back to mental hospital, because it fixed me before, and I’d be safe there. I thought it was my only option. There was one problem with all of this. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on in my head. That was a massive issue.
I remember my mum coming into my room one day. My family knew I wasn’t feeling great but had no idea that I was feeling as bad as I did. It was after two or three days of me not leaving bed at all. My mum asked in a genuine sense what was wrong. I looked over the edge of my quilt and said I’m not okay. I sat up, tears began to stream down my face, and I said ‘I want to commit suicide, I’d love to do it. There’s nothing more I want to do then commit suicide’.
I wanted so much to have an out. I wanted to be dead. To cease living. I couldn’t go on. All I wanted was to put an end to it all. I wanted to die, but I didn’t want to kill myself because of others. I’m lucky that I saw that. It doesn’t matter the reason. I doesn’t matter if it’s the seeing the series finale of some tv show in a few weeks, or not breaking the hearts of your family.
As much as I wanted to commit suicide, in the end I couldn’t do it. It was my family that came into my head when I was on the edge of dying two years prior, but it was a much different reason this time. And I still find it weird that it was probably the main reason, I’d seen the affects of suicide on my people first hand and it was awful. The pain may stop for the person, but it’s only made stronger and multiplied once you end your life. The reason that I didn’t want to commit suicide was my friends, and I didn’t want to hurt them.
Many of them I had drifted away from, that were once my best friends. Some were relatively new friends, some where practically strangers, and some were great friends that I may not cross paths with again in my life. I just didn’t want to hurt anybody. I think it was even the smallest of hurt or upset that hit me the most, and the one that sticks in my mind currently. I didn’t want to put my family, my friends at pain, to mess up their lives to damage them mentally and emotionally, but in a weird sense, those people who didn’t know me that well, I didn’t want to hurt them. It may not have even been a sense of hurt, all I thought of was people having a general conversation in college and saying ‘Did you hear Adam Finn died?’, and for that one moment, for a person who doesn’t really know me to be like ‘Shit. That’s terrible news.’ Even the ski reps that I made friends with this year that there’s a good chance I won’t see again, small things like them hearing the news and a coworker seeing their reaction and asking what’s wrong, and them having to say I died.
It seems kind of selfish, but it’s just one reason that resonates with me a lot and pops into my mind when I think back on where I was a month ago. Obviously I don’t want to put my family through losing me, and the heartbreak that would come with me. I don’t want them to have to think what could I have done, why wasn’t I there, why didn’t I see it coming. They couldn’t have. I didn’t want my friends to be down a member, to have their life flipped upside down because I took my life. They couldn’t have know. I didn’t tell them.
At the end of the day, any reason that can stop you, or any reasons, cling onto them. I joked to some of my friends when I told them what I was going through that I was ‘too popular’ to commit suicide. Not in an arrogant sense, but a sense that it would affect a lot of people, in a range of ways, some more intensely than others. Take whatever you can, and as many as you can. I didn’t want to ruin the mental health documentary. I felt that if I had committed suicide then everything I said during filming was a lie. I didn’t want the few people who have read my story and felt some sense of hope to feel that depression ultimately wins. If I died, and someone saw my story before and felt they can beat it, would it all be worthless to them now. My secondary school motto popped into my head repeatedly. Not that I took much notice of it during my school days. It goes ‘Certa Bonum Certamen’, which translates to ‘fight the good fight’. And if there’s a fight worth fighting for, then it’s for my happiness. For my life.
And that’s the whole reason I wrote this. You have to talk. You have to tell someone how you’re feeling. Once my mum brought me to my GP, I told him exactly what was going on with me. He was close to sending me straight to the psychiatric unit in CUH. I promised him I wouldn’t commit suicide. He would only give me a one week supply of antidepressant so I wouldn’t try and overdose, and he told my parents to keep under 24 hour watch and not to let me leave the house. The thing that sticks with me a lot is that, once I went to the doctor, told him how I was feeling and he put me back on antidepressants, everything seemed to look up for me. My life was coming back together in a sense. I had a purpose. If I didn’t talk, I don’t know where I’d be.
I went back to my psychiatrist told her what was going on. She put me on anti anxiety medication to help with my racing mind. I went back to CBT(clinical behavioural therapy) to help deal with my thoughts, and challenging what I thought, and getting my life back in order. I was back talking about how I felt, and it helped me hugely. I got the help needed, and I told people how I was feeling and it helped me get back on my feet and out of the depressive hole that I was in. I’m not perfect, I’m not 100%, but I’m feeling a hell of a lot better.
I was slower than usual to tell my friends what was going this time, but they checked in on me since I wasn’t around or communicating with them and I told them everything that was going on. The response was more than I could have asked for. It was all well wishes and hoping I’m okay and asking to hang out. And that’s what you need sometimes, there were days where declined an invitation to hang out with the lads, and my friend said he was getting collecting me from my house anyway. He did, and I had the best night I had in ages. We didn’t do much, just drank cups of tea and had a laugh, but it was the first sight of normality and socialising I had in a good period of time. I forgot about all my problems, and I had fun.
As I broke the news to more of my friend group, it was nothing but support and well wishes. Every time I told one of my group, it was met with nothing but concern, interest in how I was doing and wanting to support me. My WhatsApp group were incredible, they got me back on my feet and got me living my life again.
I’m doing a lot better now, I’m back to myself most of the time. The sadness that plagued me has begun to drift away from my mind. I’m feeling happiness again. I’m feeling like me again. I’m back on my feet and fighting, and so far I have the upper hand. I’ve a lot to go in regards to my mental health, but the difference between this month and last month is insurmountable. Last month feels like a blur, and this month feels like real life again.
I suppose the whole point of above it telling your friends is a good thing. Never forget that they’re your friends. They’re there to support you. They care about you. They want to help, because if you came to them with some problem, you’d want to help them. We undermine how much friendship means and how good people really are. Don’t be afraid to tell a friend, they may not be able to solve all your problems but a helping hand along the way can help more than you know. To the friends that have helped and are helping me through my current episode of depression I can’t thank you enough, and they can be sure that any time they have an issue they can come to me.
This blog has probably been the hardest I’ve had to write. My medication completely takes it out of me. I’m constantly exhausted and dehydrated. My mind won’t concentrate and writing this frustrated me an incredible amount, with my brain not conjuring up the thoughts I wanted to think, and my mind blanking midway through sentences. I’ve sat here for hours writing this, but I think it’s important to write this. I’m not saying everyone should get medicated, because medication isn’t the answer for everyone, or that one trip to the GP will fix your mental health, but talking and telling people how you’re feeling may save you, or at least help you along the way.
As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Stay safe, stay talking,