Why Can’t I Ask For Help?

Why can’t I ask for help? Sometimes, I can’t see how talking would help me – so I blog & talk to myself. It feels pointless. Sometimes I feel low and sad and I can’t see how having a chat would fix that. I have tried medications and therapies in the past and not found any of them to be very helpful – still, to this day I am medicated but I’m having a blip.

There are a lot of different treatment options available for depression. Everyone is different, so different treatments will work best for different people. If a few things haven’t worked, it doesn’t mean that the next thing I try won’t work. It can take a bit of trial and error to get things right. I have been hoping/waiting for seventeen years.

AS A DEPRESSING DEPRESSION SUFFERER I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY

It can be hard to know what to say when asking for help. It’s as if it’s the first time I’ve ever asked for help, I often struggle to find the words I need to describe how I’m feeling. When I’ve had help before, or having ongoing help like now (in a limited way), I struggle to explain how I’m currently feeling. It could be different to how I’ve been feeling in the past and it can be hard to get that across. It can feel as though I am repeating the same words time after time. It can be hard to explain any changes in my mood to those around us. We can say ‘I feel low’, but it might feel different to the ‘I feel low’ that we felt that week before. The real pit of your stomach, sick of the site of your eyes self loathing low or something that is quite bad.

Yes, there are resources out there to help me find the words I need to ask for help. If I’m struggling to talk, I could write it down, draw it, or find quotes or song lyrics that explain what we can’t. I don’t need to have the right words, we just need to start a conversation. Like I am doing here.

I WORRY ABOUT HOW PEOPLE WILL REACT

If I had never spoken to someone about how I’m feeling before, I would worry about how they would react. I worry about them being angry, upset, or lost for words. I worry that they will feel unable to cope. I worry about the consequences of speaking to someone. I worry about whether they will tell anyone else. All except my Brother who just tells me how many poos he has done that day (good diet).

I can’t know exactly how a person will react until I tell them. I don’t have to tell them everything in one go? I could start with the things I find a little easier to talk about and go from there. Whoever I speak to is likely to be someone I trust – either a friend or family member I know well, or a professional. They will want what’s best for me. So whatever they say, or do, it will be because they care for me and want me to get the help that I need. However, each admission of this weakness is a leap in to the unknown.

I FEEL GUILTY

I feel guilty for using up people’s time. It could be a friend listening to us on an evening after work who ‘would rather be at home in their PJs’. It could be a family member who ‘could be getting on with their jobs around the house’. It could be a health professional who ‘could be seeing someone else in the time they’re seeing us’. I feel guilty and undeserving of their time and attention.

I should feel as deserving of time, care, and attention, as anyone else. In writing this, I am trying to convince myself that depression is lying when it tells that me I am less worthy, or less deserving than others. Depression is an illness which nobody deserves to have. People suffering from depression deserve help and support. There is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about except the guilt itself – but that is crushing.

AM I A BURDEN???

I struggle to tell people how I am feeling because I don’t want to burden them. I don’t want them to worry about me. I don’t want them to feel as though they have to do anything to help me. I don’t want them to go out of their way for me. I don’t want them to have to spend time listening to me with my silly, whispering, high pitched voice. I don’t want my mental health to weigh them down.

By and large though my loved ones say they would much prefer I let in them in, rather than struggle on alone. If I don’t feel able to open up to the people I’m close to. However, I can speak to a doctor, nurse or a counsellor – but then I am just a drain on the NHS. No! sharing my worries with professionals will not burden them. They are here to help. They have support systems in place. They would never see me as a burden.

I FEEL LIKE A FAILURE

Asking for help can sometimes feel like a failure. A weakness. I feel as though I should be able to cope with everything alone. I feel as though I am weak for needing help that other people might not need. Now I have been receiving help for a while (seventeen years), it can feel as though I am not recovering ‘fast enough’. Sometimes, I might have been in recovery for a while, and then begin to struggle again. By struggling again, it can feel like we are failing those who have helped us in the past.

Asking for help is not a failure. It is one of the strongest and bravest things any of us can ever do. There is no such thing as recovering ‘fast enough’ or ‘too slowly’. Different things will influence each person’s recovery. F*ck – I’ve been in services my entire adult life. Struggling after a period of recovery isn’t a failure, either. Sometimes, life just happens and there’s not a lot we can do to stop it. All I can do is to keep reaching out. I don’t need to suffer in silence.

HAVE I USED UP MY SYMPATHY QUOTA???

When I’ve been unwell for a while, it can feel like I’ve had enough time and support from people to last me a lifetime. I feel as though I’ve used up enough of their time, and enough of their sympathy, and that we should be better by now. I feel as though people will be getting sick of me and fed up with me.

There isn’t a set limit to the amount of support we need and deserve. It’s not capped at a certain number of hours. There isn’t a sympathy quota. It might feel like friends or family are fed up with me at times, but it’s much more likely that they’re fed up with my illness than with us – robbing them of a fun-time brother/son/husband/drinking-buddy. Everyone’s recovery will look different, and will take different lengths of time.

I THINK I SHOULD BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT ALONE

Sometimes I don’t ask for help because I feel like depression is something I should be able to deal with alone. I may see my problems as silly or inconsequential. I think I should be able to ‘pull myself together’ and ‘snap out of it’. My illness tells me I deserve to suffer alone (quite vocally – I am psychotic too).

But that’s simply not the case. Every single one of us is worthy of help, and even the strongest people need support. If I had a physical illness I wouldn’t hesitate in getting help from other people. Depression is no different. We can’t heal ourselves by denying its existence. I don’t need to handle it alone.

I’M REALLY TIRED

I’m so tired of fighting. All of my energy is going into just surviving. I don’t have any energy left to explain everything to someone. It’s hard enough just managing minute by minute, without having to try and find the words needed to explain what’s going on inside our heads. Sleep can feel like a more appealing option. That or a big, permanent sleep.

Trying to find the words can feel like a lot of hard work. But sometimes it can be the first step towards getting the help I need to become less tired of everything. Unfortunately, it can sometimes become harder before it becomes easier. But, dammit, I deserve the help and support I need to get me back to my usual self.

I WORRY ABOUT BEING LET DOWN

I worry that if I speak to people, they might offer to do something and then not follow through with it. We are often aware that there can be long waiting lists for certain types of support through the NHS. We would rather have no help at all than inconsistent help or promised help that doesn’t materialise.

I can’t be sure that we will never be let down. That is beyond the remit of the powers invested in me. Waiting times can be frustrating. Having to repeat our story to different people can be difficult and anxiety-provoking.

The fear around being let down is horrible. But until I ask for help, I won’t even get a chance of getting the support that I need. So, in the morning, if I ever sleep, I will be moving my appointment forward with the GP and requesting to see a Psychiatric Hit-Squad (Community Mental Health Team – CMHT).

Reaching out for help – by getting professional support, or by talking to loved ones – is a vital step in escaping the isolation of my illness. As the saying goes, “A problem shared is a problem halved.”


Now then, this is the first time I have written at length about how my illness affects me – I am unsure how it will be received; apologies if I have stepped on any toes with this blog article. That was not my intention. I only use this blog to vent frustration and at the best of times there are only three visitors a day who all try to offer SEO services in the comments section.

I admit I have trawled websites and self help literature to find the words to flesh out what I am trying to say – I figure that if I posted a post that only contained the colour black it would not convey the same sentiment expressed herein.

If you are feeling of a similar ilk – please do not give up. When you find yourself in Hell keep going – it can only get better. Even though it seems there is no way out.

Sunday Of Muchness

I never really shook myself out of the last dip in health – I seem to have a bad sleep pattern. Still – that is all that is really affecting me; I have learned to live with the rest of my Malaria-Type symptoms. That in itself is quite a biggy.

I woke up at 11:58pm on Sunday evening.

That in itself should be cause for alarm – but I just have to ride it out with the rest of the summer time wamminess.

I did manage to record an excellent radio show the other day – On Sunday, at around 5am I was busy whispering in to my microphone and recorded another edition of The Parish News. Here it is:

Much of a sameness in the above – I tried to speak between the tracks but made a bit of a menace of myself with the pronunciation of an Ethiopian track. Still – all fun and games.

I also had my first contact for a new venture.

I have recently started a service that offers cheap mastering for DJ mixes. Mastering.WTF is the name of it and it can be found on www.mastering.wtf – a fun thing that should help keep my ear to current trends in DJ Mixing.

The site is one I built – a simple HTML build using The Personal Page template by Weightshift. The contact I received was by Matt da Conga – a local DJ and very close friend.

Matt did a hyper-eclectic mix of music for our mutual friend Helen A to play French Horn all over at a charity gig for British Heart Foundation. Hopefully I will be able to get some tickets to that … both parties seem to love the mastering I did for the mix. I will post a link to the mix in the comments section below as soon as I have word that Matt has uploaded it. This is what Helen had to say about it –

Ijo Pona On The Dol Scale

In the 1940s, a group of doctors at the University of Cornell set out – in one of the most terrifying experiments I have heard of – to create a unit of pain intensity. Using the “dol” as a unit, the physicians created a 21-point quantitative scale, but through unusual means – testing pain reactions on medical students and women in labor between contractions. They did this by burning their subjects. Ow.

The “dol” never quite caught on as a unit of pain measurement, but the story of its development gives us a window into just how far people were willing to go back in the day, for the sake of knowledge.

Top image: Big Stock Photo

The value of a dol

In 1940’s Studies on Pain: A new method for measuring pain threshold, researchers inflicted pain upon subjects using by applying heat to their foreheads for three seconds at a time. Only four subjects took place in the first study, but each subject took part in over 100 pain-inflicting experiments, with the intensity of pain increasing as researchers increased the heat in each experiment.

Harvey’s group had a noble goal: creating an objective measure of human pain. They devised a unit for the intensity of pain, which they named the dol, with the name coming from the Latin word for pain, dolor. Ideally, the measurement would be applicable regardless of the type of pain.

Hardy and colleagues refined measurements on the dol scaled to a 21 interval series in the paper Discrimination of differences in intensity of a pain stimulus as a basis of a scale of pain intensity, with a single dol divided into two “just discernible changes in pain”.

Through thousands of measurements, researchers created a 0 to 10.5 dol scale, with the heat intensity necessary to register any pain above 10.5 dols deemed indiscernible by the subject. At 8 dols, a level often reached in the experiments, the device left second degree burns on the subject’s forehead. Needless to say, moving a grant application for this type of research through your local University’s Institutional Review Board would be extremely difficult in the 21st Century.

Does 4 dols = 2 dols + 2 dols?
Through the experiments, Hardy and colleagues made an arithmetic conclusion concerning the dol scale – one difficult to wrap the mind around. The study’s authors concluded that 8 dols of pain equaled four successive two dol experiences. This arithmetic aspect of the dol contrasted existing beliefs of the subjective nature of pain.

This controversial result of the study used data from 70 medical students who carried out the experiments on each other. Medical students made for an accessible and pliable study group, as Hardy also concluded that fatigue felt by the students (with students tending to stay awake for 30 hours straight) played no role in measures of pain intensity.

Burning women in between contractions

In the 1948 paper, Studies on Pain: Measurements of Pain Intensity in Childbirth, Hardy subjected 13 women to heat-radiated pain in between labor contractions, in order to use the dol scale to quantify the intensity of labor pains.

After marking each woman’s hand in four places, researchers subjected her to multiple heat pulses immediately after she experienced a contraction. Researchers tried to select some heat pulses just below the assumed pain level of the contraction and some above, with the hopes of pin-pointing where her latest contraction measured, in dols.

Researchers chose four places on each hand as the heat-initiated pain data had to be gathered quickly, before another contraction arrived. Four choices allowed the researchers an ability to attain multiple readings without allowing one area to become desensitized.

The researchers achieved a modicum of success in these experiments. One of the women in labor registered a contraction measured at 10.5 dols through administered heat, the maximum value for the dol scale. As the heat blistered her hand, the subject helped established a value of pain intensity encumbered during child birth — a pain that can meet or exceed the perceived human threshold for pain.

From these data points, Hardy quantified the pain experiences in the stages of labor in dols, with the first stage corresponding to 2 dols, a value of 10.5 dols reached as the child crowns, and pain subsiding from 3 dols to baseline in the two hours after birth.

Due to the inability of patients to separate the intensity of pain from the type of pain, and problems with the subjective experience of pain, the dol never found its way into common use. Physicians and nurse practitioners continue to use the less analytical scales that Hardy had set out to replace.

The original papers are available for free online, and make for grim reading. The authors did a spectacular job of explaining their motives, writing in an easy-to-understand style, and the authors often interject a large amount of personal opinion into the reactions of individual subjects. The reading is one part horrifying, one part jaw-dropping, and one part astonishing as it reveals how far research regulations have come in 70 years. Having been diagnosed with Tonsillitis this morning, I am easily averaging like 100 dol.

The Greatest Weight (Thoughts About My Depression)

“The greatest weight.– What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”

Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus?… Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?”

― Friedrich NietzscheThe Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs

This is what I have been battling with – and it is called Nietzsche’s Greatest Weight. Fair enough, it could be seen as a thought experiment. However, with my mental ill health this could be seen as how my depression manifests. Continue reading →