I have previously written about my struggle with depression. The condition is such a wide ranging mental health issue with each case being different. It’s not like a broken bone that can only be broken in a set number of ways and treated with similar methods for a fix. Recovery is long, painful and at times isolating. It’s been 6 years since my diagnosis and I am still not ‘cured’
The depression is like a little gremlin inside of your mind that feeds off negativity and anxiety. The more it gobbles up the bigger it gets, the bigger it gets the more negativity you see and the more anxiety you can feel. It’s a self-sustaining thing feeding and producing at the same time until your head is so full that the pressure inside is quite intense that you feel you may implode. For me it can cause headaches and my body will ache all over, it’s not a truly physical battle but it can tire you out as if you’ve just been to the gym.
I briefly touched on the inner voice in my previous article on this subject. Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s most important work was around speech and language development, he looked at the internalising of speech, in basic terms if you are reading this in your head you are using your inner voice, these thoughts have an internal sound to it. The sound your external voice has, as if you were reading aloud.
When we worry and ruminate, we often do it with words and our inner speech may contribute to anxiety and depression by these thoughts remaining in our head, thoughts that would be better of discarded. Strange though it may sound but with my depression I am not fully in control of my inner voice, it’s gone rogue. It’s still my voice, it’s almost as if I’m having a conversation in my head between myself, however if I am in a low mood and the gremlin is feeding and producing more negativity to feed on, this rogue inner voice assists the negative spiral.
I can only describe it as like being on trial, you are stood in the witness box and opposite you, is the prosecuting barrister who is also yourself just dressed in the wig and gown. A negative thing happens, for example a friend cancels on you and the barrister will then bring forward evidence of reasons why you are at fault for these actions. You stand there and listen trying to block it out but the barrister, who is you remember, gets louder and louder, more aggressive and brings out more ‘evidence’ to challenge you with. “Well they aren’t the first to cancel on you are they? Let’s bring out more evidence,” for example. You feel so overwhelmed with this character assassination that you tend to agree with the prosecution. You try and cry out in defence of yourself but the prosecution continues on hardly pausing for breath and when you think you have made a good point the prosecution can shoot you down with more evidence. At this point the prosecution would then bring in evidence relating to other negative things that have happened to you and challenge you on this. You feel so worthless and alone that you feel nothing can comfort you.
This thought pattern, this worrying and ruminating used to keep me up at night. For as long as I can remember it used to take me an hour maybe two before my brain would allow me to get fall asleep. A couple of years ago in one of these sleepless nights I found myself drifting off whilst watching a stand-up comedy DVD. This was a quick process. So I started listening to these on my ipod when I was going to bed. I found that it distracted my brain so much that I would be asleep in around 15 minutes. Strange as it may sound but this helped with the worrying induced insomnia. It’s something I still use to this day. I have even expanded this method. If I walk to work or around town and I’m on my own I will play music on my ipod. Normal enough you may think but I found that it keeps the prosecutorial inner voice at bay. It by no means gets rid of the inner voice, it’s still there and negativity can still come through but it’s not as severe. It’s manageable and when you have suffered for as long as I have with depression managing is the goal, not necessarily curing but managing and coping with the depression and the anxiety. Through my cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) I am exploring ways to cope and manage, who knows I may develop an inner voice defence barrister to help me in my defence for future cases within my mind.