Depression: beat the bully in your brain

Dealing with depression has taught me – among many other things – to try not to take things personally. But there’s one thing I really do take personally, and that’s depression itself.

Depression is a cruel, malicious bully, and its most devastating weapon is that it knows you better than you know yourself. It knows how to hurt you. It is merciless and relentless.

Bullies can cause terrible damage to your mental health, and their words and actions can stay festering in your head for years. Depression is a particularly effective and nasty bully because it’s inside your head, pulling the strings. There is no escape from it. It attacks you with your own thoughts.

It’s not just a mental bully. It gets physical too – headaches, nausea and all manner of other ailments that add up to more things to worry about and cope with.

What I really resent about depression, though, is how it can affect your relationships with those closest to you. When you’ve been used to carrying on and dealing with everything that life throws at you, it’s a mean twist that you can feel like a burden to the people who love you.

That feeling of helplessness breeds further frustration and anger, making you irritable. This irritability is blended with a feeling of deadening detachment, an intolerance of noise, an inability to concentrate, hopelessness and drowsiness – a toxic blend that turns you into a drifting, zombie-like presence in your own home, sleepwalking through each day and staring at the ceiling at night.

And, to add guilt to the mix, you’re not the only one having to deal with what’s going on in your head. Your black cloud rains on your loved ones too – and depression makes sure you’re painfully aware of how hard it is for them. You’re used to being the strong person who’s always there for your partner (my wonderful wife, Jane, in my case) and children, then suddenly there’s a grinding, long-lasting problem for them to deal with every day. And not only can you not help them with it; you know that the problem is you.

Jolly stuff, eh?

There is some good news. Depression doesn’t have to win. You can beat it, and one way you can do that is to treat it like a bully and expose it. Bullies – and depression – lose some of their power if their oppressive, intimidating, secretive tactics are brought out into the open. Tell someone about it.

I’ve found counselling invaluable in driving my depression out into the daylight. Now I see each bit of progress I have made, am making, and will make as a satisfying kick in depression’s nether regions.

Don’t get mad – get even. Many of us have been through this soul-destroying illness. The more of us who talk about it, the more we can learn from each other and the more we can kick depression where it hurts.

I hate depression, but instead of dwelling on that hate and being led by it, I am now able – with the support of family, friends and anyone who reads my blog – to tackle it head on, and give myself the best possible chance of leaving it fully behind me. Forever.

30 Comments on “Depression: beat the bully in your brain”

  1. I’d like to believe it can be completely left behind but I’m not sure. The way you describe being a burden and the anger that brings really rings true with me. I admire your courage in fighting the fight.

  2. Minimonster says:

    I agree with Paul. From my experience it’s about recognition, acceptance and learning how to live with Depression. That doesn’t mean suffering in silence and accepting the burden but facing up to it, talking about it, maybe medication to help get started but overall being kinder to yourself. When suffering from depression/anxiety the condition is made worse by the guilt it carries, guilty for feeling depressed and the effect it has on those around you and in turn we mentally punish ourselves – a vicious circle! My mum has suffered from depression for all the time I remember. As a result my sisters and I had a turbulent upbringing but came out of it reasonably unscathed!! Unfortunately though by genetics – my mums mum also suffered from depression – my sisters and I have inherited this condition on different levels and different times in our lives. Were as my mum did not have the help and support she needed when she was younger to understand her depression, my sisters and I have helped each other through the years during the highs and lows in our lives. We’ve talked, we’ve been prescribed anti- depressants, put on weight, lost weight, had good times and bad times, but as Paul said its about facing ‘the bully’ and fighting back. Yes you might never leave it behind but you can learn to live with it and gain some sort of control, enabling you to enjoy the highs of life as well as dealing with the lows.

  3. Paul Winkler says:

    That was one kick-arse blog post, Paul! Brilliant.

  4. Shawn says:

    can one talk it out of existence?
    the presence is so constant and the scars lasting and real
    but maybe one can at least talk it back into a corner?
    dilute the affect it has on one’s world and self view
    if one can even figure out a reasonable way to articulate it –
    I think you have done very well in that above,
    and I am glad for all those who have folks
    with strength and patience enough to process alongside them;
    (it is a difficult monologue to hear – the despair of one you love)
    bless those who listen.

  5. peasoupblogger says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve commented on a separate post but this blog needed a quick thank you for being so eloquently written and superbly accurate.

  6. Andrew Hook says:

    Thanks for this piece, I can relate to all of what you’ve said. Depression to me is like being hit by a sledgehammer, a black pit of despair. The inability to be able to speak or move, the deadening dis-attachment to everything and everyone. The pain, the awful pain, the feelings of impending and actual doom. I don’t fight my depression, I accept it. It has less power over me that way and the periods of depression whilst remaining intense are mostly shorter in duration, lasting a matter of days rather than weeks & months (used to be years). All is not bad, much is good, much better than I could have reasonably expected even a few short years ago.

  7. meg says:

    This was really helpful to read…thanks for sharing your experience.

  8. Sonia says:

    Hi Paul, it’s Sonia from the media volunteer training last weekend. Loved this post and sent it to my husband to make him understand how my illness can affect our relationship. I could see myself in this piece! Makes me see things more clearly… Sonia

  9. Anna Wagg says:

    I have lived with depression most of my adult life , some years have been better then some. i have a wonderful hubby who is supportive but i have found doctors and family less supportive. This is the first time i have heard someone describe depression as a bully in your head and that is what it feels like to me . i have found that keeping my self busy and pushing myself to do things like just leaving the house helps with the depression but the littlest things can send me back in to a dark place. I don’t know where to turn for help with my depression as i have a hard time talking about my feeling and when the doctors have gave my meds they stop them once i start feeling a little better. i wish people would understand depression can ruin someone live and is not someone feeling a bit sad one day. thank you for sharing and putting some light on this subject

    • paulbrook76 says:

      Hi Anna. Thanks for your kind words. Glad my blog helped.
      Are you able to try speaking to a different doctor? Your local Mind might be able to help too. Also, I really rate the Blurt Foundation’s email mentoring service, which I’ve used myself.
      But you also have to find what works for you, and it sounds like you’ve made some progress there. Show the bully who’s boss!
      Take care

  10. […] is a cowardly bully that skulks in the shadows and messes up your head – and it thrives on the shame and stigma that […]

  11. […] Depression: beat the bully in your brain – Dippyman – […]

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  13. Thefirstwife says:

    I’ve lived with 3 in my marriage for many years. My husbands mistress is depression, an evil twisted b1tc4 who resents my presence. She bends his mind, she tears him away from me and the kids. She’s damn near won him a few times as he rejects us all. If she was a real woman I’d have kicked her out of our lives by now,but this one has her talons in deep. Some days I wonder why I cling onto him so much if he wants her so much, but he was mine first and I’m not a quitter. I can’t quit, if I do she wins, and she will destroy him. My biggest frustration rises when I’m being yelled at, or ignored. When the kids are blanked, and our plans once again are left in tatters. And yet people only talk about those who have depression. I’m so glad you acknowledge Jane and your kids. I live with depression most days, and yet there nothing I can do unless he chooses to. You’re right depression is a bully, as the wife of a husband who has depression I suffer from the bully, I suffer from the illness … But people tell me I have to take his thoughts into account, they tell me how to support him, how it’s not his fault, I know it’s not. But someways I need to be hugged too, I need to be told everything will be ok. But there’s no one who can do that for me. I hate depression so much.

    • paulbrook76 says:

      Thanks for your comment. Depression is like an extra person – an unwanted guest that outstays its welcome. It’s tough on everyone who has to deal with it, either inside their own head or those closest to them.
      I do hope things change for the better and you and your family can banish the unwelcome guest.
      Best wishes

  14. […] have experienced depression, or are going through it right now. Let’s share our problems; let’s expose the bully that haunts us in the shadows. Sometimes it will get the upper hand and we’ll feel like we’re […]

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