Penguins and Manic Depression
I bet you never thought you’d see those two topics in one title, well now you have! I guess I should explain why. This is a very difficult subject for me as it concerns my last penguin charity campaign, it also might explain why I took so long to post the final blog….it was because I couldn’t bear to think about it anymore.
Many people seem to think that depression is simply being low, feeling like you’re at the bottom of a pit that you can’t get out of, not wanting to go places, to see anyone. But manic depression isn’t always like that, it can manifest itself very differently. You can feel as high as a kite and as if you can conquer the world too believe it or not. I know this because I’ve been like that.
My depression occurs naturally in that I’m extremely insecure and lack confidence in almost everything I undertake. The best way I can explain it is that when I’m down it seems like everything is wrong all the time. Nothing that I do is good enough, I lose my concentration, I get scared of doing everyday simple tasks, I want to sleep all the time and I think everyone dislikes me and that I am unlovable. Which is frankly rubbish. I know I’m ok, maybe I’m not amazing, but I’m ok. I can say that now because at the moment I’m doing alright. That’s one way depression pulls me in pieces at least.
Over the last few years I’ve had to take a lot of medication to get my Ulcerative Colitis under control; the most debilitating and effective drug has been Prednisolone which is a kind of steroid. Without it, I wonder if I’d even be here today, so it is amazing stuff really – but it does have side effects, one of which is mania. On high doses it can affect people an awful lot. This time, my natural predisposition to depression took on another form because of the steroids.
I honestly felt like my computer and I could take on the world! This was fabulous for me, I had so many bright ideas, so many plans, so many things I wanted to do. I chattered mindlessly to family and friends about my current Penguin Amnesty campaign and how I was going to do it, about how I planned to film the vlog, about contacts and fund raising and how much could be done so easily. My brain was a whirlwind. I just couldn’t understand why my mum always changed the subject and looked at me sideways every now and then.
It was only after I came off the steroids that I landed back on planet earth and thought quite literally ‘Oh my god, what have I done?’. I had a house full of penguins, parcels to send , a vlog to film, a lot of work to do…..and of course a house to run and a family to feed. Make no mistake, I panicked. In all truth, my sister and my mum started coming around to the house to help me keep everything together as without the steroids and my high anymore, I lost the will to move. The whole house descended into even more chaos than usual and I felt powerless to do anything about it. Without my supportive family and my very patient, understanding husband I don’t know what I would have done.
But, I decided that I had started so I would finish, that I was a woman of my word and I was going to finish this penguin malarkey, even if meant staying up nearly half the night parcelling the black and white birdies – which is quite literally what I did one evening/morning. I was not going to let people down. You had all been kind enough to listen to my insane penguin ramblings and you’d donated money, time and merchandise. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t completed the campaign. So I did, and it all worked out really quite well and I eventually found my feet and a stable none-manic way of thinking again. Phew.
So, if I’m not as enthusiastic about penguins as I was, and if I sound rather embarrassed when someone says something about it being a great project, it’s because it’s simply something I’d rather not remember – because, to be blunt, I was very slightly crackers at the time. I mean, I’m normally the type to go off at a tangent, it’s the way I work…..but that level of obsession is extreme even for me.
Writing this is basically a bit of therapy for me, hopefully I’ll never go back to either forms of depression, whether it be the manic type or the really fed up type. My current colitis meds are working really well and I hope I can avoid steroids in the future, but if I start banging on about penguins again, just give me a nudge will you?
Depression is a very strange thing, the human mind is so very complex and can screw up in such weird and wonderful ways. I say ‘wonderful’ with my tongue in my cheek, as the penguin campaign did actually turn out to be something that made people happy in the end, I hope at least.
Right, so that’s confession time over for me, I shall waddle off and make tea now. If anyone else has any experience of this sort of thing I’d love to hear from you, it’s not the sort of thing people talk about and it’s a shame. The more awareness the better. Thanks for letting me bend your ear and if the ups and downs of life drive you a bit mad sometimes, you’re not on your own.