Hello, I’m Violet, I’m on income support for incapacity for long term depression, and I’d like to invite you to spend a day being me.

I wake up. My brain instantly regards this as a bad move, and does its best to put it off for as long as possible, hibernation being an instinctive self-defense mechanism against depression. Unfortunately it’s counterproductive so eventually I manage to make myself get up.

Coffee. My eyes glaze over to avoid the horror of the piles of dishes waiting to be washed, and I clean a mug as fast as possible before the panic sets in. Coffee in hand I escape to the computer and check my email. I spend some time connecting with friends and the world, and then I make a mental list of the things I absolutely have to do today because they cannot be avoided any longer, like buying some food for the next few days.

Town is a 20 minute walk away. Exercise is good, when I am up to it, but 40 minutes of walking (half with heavy shopping bags) and the time spent dealing with other people is not good for my thought processes. Sometimes I’ve been able to drive into town, but it’s almost impossible to afford to keep a car running on nothing but income support.

I prefer to go to small shops, and exchange some friendly words with local shopkeepers who know my face, but sometimes I can’t avoid the supermarket, and the crush of “normal” people inevitably sends the negative feelings spiraling out of control. I feel different, isolated, cut off, tearful, I have to concentrate on my breathing to keep down the panic.

I escape home. If I’ve walked, by now I’m exhausted for the day. Even if I’ve driven the emotional expenditure often calls for a crash to recover for the afternoon. I unplug the phone, because it’s awful jangling noise makes me want to bury myself in a hole for the next ten years, and I can’t cope with any more people right now. I remember I’ve got a pile of unopened bills to deal with. I panic about the cost of heating over the winter. I realize I still have to face the dishes, oh, and I need to put some laundry on if I’m going to have any clean underwear. I want to crawl back in bed and pull the covers over my head but if I fall asleep now I’ll have dreadful nightmares due to side effects of my medication. Half the time I fall asleep anyway. The other half, I calm myself by telling myself not to worry, if it ever gets too bad it’s never too late for suicide. (Out of proportion? Yes, that’s what depression does to you.)

Evening creeps over the world. I have probably only eaten a couple of pieces of toast, so it’s time to put some food together, which involves tackling some washing up, and its attendant feelings of uselessness, worthlessness, and self-hatred. I am pathetic. Any normal person does not get so overwhelmed by simple housework that they live on toast for a week. I’m so pathetic I should just stab myself in the throat and get it all over with. Fuck, it’s not as if the powers that be want me to stay alive. Just die already, you stupid whining fool. Save us all the effort of listening to your pointless, self-pitying blabber.

Then I might cheer myself up by researching suicide methods on the internet, and working out which is the most accessible and least painful. I’ll also connect with friends and support forums, and maybe I’ll feel a bit better, maybe I won’t. When I’m seriously suicidal I become so weak I can barely move, my limbs feel full of lead, I’m incapable of taking any action on my suicidal thoughts. That is undoubtably why I’m still alive.

Some days are better than others. Maybe I made a nice meal full of fresh vegetables and delicious spices earlier. Maybe I remembered to plug the phone back in and had a nice chat with a friend. Perhaps I watched a movie with my boyfriend. When I’m in an “up” phase I do some voluntary work, and spend time supporting other people on depression forums.

On the other hand, some days are worse. The oven breaks down and how am I possibly going to afford to replace it? I get a letter from the benefits people and have to spend all day dwelling on my miserable state and writing it all down and filling in all the same boxes as last year and feel like I don’t fit into a box and people are chopping my limbs off in order to force me in to one. Perhaps I’ve had such a shit week I can’t get out of bed and get up at 5 pm and half watch random crap on BBC iPlayer and fantasize about cutting myself to make the hours go by.

Inevitably the day ends with me going to bed and lying awake tossing and turning for a couple of hours waiting for my brain to just shut the fuck up with all its bullshit already and let me sink into the world of my dreams for the best hours of my life, even when the meds mean they’re mostly nightmares.

Welcome to a day in my life. I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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