Is depression the worst mental illness?

  • I have to agree with Andi that depression is one of those “invisible illnesses” , because it is unlike other mental illness/conditions.

    I have a major problem with the after effects of childhood epilepsy and a freak re-occurrence between 1999 and 2007, to which we never got to the bottom of its appearance both infanthood, other than my body went in to (clinical) shock easily, and that included rapid changes in body temperature

    As an example I had to “get in” to a swimming pool as opposed to dive in, and indeed I did not learn to swim until I was about 10 years old, which in the UK is considered “a late starter”. Most children can swim at least a width of a 24 Metre Pool by the age, some times earlier. (Then again the UK is an island and surrounded by water -:) ) .Humour aside, I had to be careful because since as I mention above, sudden changes in my body could trigger an epileptic fit, which obviously in water is an extremely dangerous.

    My epilepsy suddenly reappeared without warning when I was 35, and had events for about 9 years. The odd thing about it was that we have never come down to a cause or reason for it. The seisures were not frequent and only had 12 in that 9 years; indeed we never found a common link, one being large sugar differences, but they were a year apart, and although the other extremes (Shortage and Overload), thankfully I tested negative for diabetes; just as well as I am petrified of surgical needles. The odd blood test is enough to make we squirm -:)

    The only other explanation for the first one was stress created by my then new boss and the very severe pressure he placed on me and constantly finding fault with my work; often unjustified and setting silly, unrealistic targets. I

    ndeed that first one nearly killed me since I rolled my tongue in what went on to be a 20 minuet, convulsive seizure. The tongue blocking my airway, I would have suffocated were not for the quick actions of another member of staff (not officially the company First Aider.

    Actually we didn’t have one, which a company over 10 staff should have.

    The second one followed that a month to the day (which I took at home) and was admitted to hospital by a friend who was with me at the time and I took the fit.

    The remaining 5 we have never really got to the bottom to their link as they have all had different triggers and no common denominator. I am on strong medication to control it but it is working, which is the main thing.

    The other thing that people do not understand about mental illness is that it affects people differently and certainly, in the case of a friend of mine who suffers from depression, which people really don’t understand. Unlike epilepsy it is an “invisible” condition, and therefore unless you know then it doesn’t display itself, as everyone has different reactions. In the case of my friend he has bouts where he may become very hard to enthuse him and on rare occasions can become tearful for no apparent reason. He can also become aggressive and you can see the frustration about the fact that he doesn’t want to be but just can’t help.

    At the other extreme his sister has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and it is not obvious how it affect people, unless it is explained to you. In her case it is not quite dual personality disorder, but she can be happy and cheerful, almost like a child one day; the next very grown up, or there can be “silly moments” where she will behave almost like a 5–7 year old; then a few minuets later be totally rational and serious to hold down a conversation.

    The OCD side of it is display when you see her car, which is so clean you would think it is just out of he show room. When you go to her house, you could almost eat you dinner off the floor. or kitchen work-top it is that clean. Everything is very ordered, in the way the room is laid out and the way she records things. Although unlike autism where some are also very ordered and even down to the way they start their day, like their meals at a specific time; know what they are going to have for dinner as they planned it the day before.

    Break out of that sequence without giving them a warning, and BOY, can things blow up! More so in younger children than adults; but when adults do display that element you REALLY know it !Those who display Asperger’s syndrome can have similar if not worse reactions if they are forced to break out of their system, without warning.

    It is sad, if not annoying that more isn’t communicated to the wider public the effects of nervous disorders and mental health as a genre since there are a lot more people who display different forms, but as above display it in different ways.

    One of the side effects of my epilepsy, is that my short term memory is very badly damaged (I have lost my car – forgotten where I have parked it- on a number of occasions, indeed on one occasion had to get a friend to help me find it. In a town I don’t know I have to write down the name of the road where it is parked so if I do get lost (literally) I can find my way back to the road it is parked in.

    Needless to say Sat. Nav. is the best thing that ever happened in my eyes since if I take the machine with me, and set the name of the town and road on it, if I do get lost, I can programme the name of the road in and then once the route has been created follow that to find the car. The issue with both short-term memory loss and, to what is effectively co-ordination, issues is something very misunderstood by employer and other people who expect you to learn their computing suites or just be shown once how to do something and you remember it immediately.

    Again I have to take quite detailed notes and flow-diagrams so that I can repeat the process, even if I have only just been shown it. What throws a lot of people is that my short-term memory is shattered, by my long term memory is actually quite good, indeed better than some others who have a good general memory. Most peoples’ memories decay unless regularly used, but I can remember things like Court Trial out comes and points of law in Statute and other issues, including case law that go back decades.

    However I can do that, but won’t remember what I had for breakfast, or indeed where I was sitting in an office which I only worked in that morning and come back after lunch and forget where I was either in the building, indeed where I was sitting in the room.

    This is something that people cannot deal with, and I have been labelled as incompetent because I can’t learn a client’s computing suite. so the attitude to those with mental health issues is something that badly needs to be reviewed and most certainly employers educated more about people with these invisible condition but equally debilitating.

    More needs to be taught to employers about those with issues relating to “invisible” disabilities, e,g, what depression does to people, the effects of short-term memory loss, what it is like to be (genuinely) nervous i.e. jumpy and easily scared when some one creeps up and drops there hand on your should think that making people “jump” is funny. As one young lad who had just started in the firm I was working for, found out when he crept up behind me when my self and a few others in the department were having a few drinks (and had been warned about my nervous disposition), dropping his hands on my shoulders and shouting.

    I did indeed jump, as I didn’t know he was there and genuinely thought I was being attacked, did a self-defence elbow jolt just below his chest and hit been any higher I could have killed him. Then he got stroppy and squealed about me “over-reacting”, to which the department supervisor who had seen the events building up from a distance and coming over, told the boy: “we did warn you that Chris has a severe nervous disposition to events he has experienced in the past”.

    I don’t know what the boy had been told and I thought it just wiser to leave the room and go home.

    It is odd that people find these sorts of actions funny but until you have been subject to an attack by somebody with a weapon and had to defend yourself, it does affect you for life.

    I have been attacked twice, once during the course of my work as then a Collections Representative. The other was when I was coming home from school, (I would have been about 12) and jumped on to my back to steal my sports bag (I don’t know what he thought a 12 year old would carry that was valuable but… ) and that really scared me.

    Along with the incident as a Collections Representative where the person pulled a gun on me as I was dealing with the repossession (which I held a Court Order for, and he was fully aware of), and threatened to kill me. I had also seen that he had a knife in his pocket, so even if I could have disarmed him, he still had this second weapon. As I was trained, I just walked away from the man making sure I wasn’t pinned in a corner and walked away backwards leaving the Warrant and Levy on the goods.

    The Police were notified and he was arrested and charged with carrying weapons with the intention to endanger life.

    Chris R- London

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