Yesterday, I attended a one-day course at the Recovery College, “Understanding a Diagnosis of Depression”. I have been living with depression for many years. But, like my diagnosis of BPD, I know very little other than raw experience.
It’s quite odd, it’s been a while since I’ve felt as depressed as I did while driving home after class last night. The course material and presentation was not the best, but neither was it bad. Maybe some participants talked too much about nothing, which must have had an impact on the time left to the Trainer for sharing the course content. But, I don’t think this is what made me feel depressed.
There were two Trainers. As each person shared some of their own personal experience of depression, the most senior Trainer would shout out bullet points for the other Trainer to write on a whiteboard. He was shouting above the students mid-flow testimony, so it was one of my top ten most inappropriate and bizarre moments. But, I don’t think this is what depressed me.
One of the participants was nice enough to bring a box of chocolates left over from Christmas and everyone (except me) noisily rummaged through the box before scrunching open handfuls of sweetie wrappers, some groaning in pleasurable delight as they sucked and slurped until every last one was eaten. But, this didn’t depress me either.
I had never met this young man who had brought the sweets. His story of past violence, drugs and lengthy prison sentences didn’t sit too well with me. It’s not that I am judgemental of his way of life, quite the opposite, actually. But I couldn’t help worry about those lovely wrapped sweets being contaminated with drugs or poison. I know that probably does sound judgemental, but there is a reason why I am so mistrustful, perhaps this is what depressed me.
Twenty years ago, I was the victim of a horrific movie-style attempted murder. My assailant is a well-known multiple psychotic murderer, who had only just been released from prison on a legal technicality. It was a miracle I survived, but something was on my side that day.
When something dreadful like this happens, people expect you to get over it. Part of you does, another part can never move on. That basic trust we have for our fellow humans is lost forever. I might pretend to trust, but the majority of my senses cannot fully let anyone in.
My assailant spiked my drink with drugs. How can I ever allow someone to make me coffee or offer me sweets? I trusted my assailant. He was calm, plausible and extremely friendly, a master at winning over unsuspecting victims. How can I be sure something like this will never happen again?
Trust is a necessity for us to function. When it is lost, fear takes its place. It may well be twenty years ago, but sometimes it feels like only yesterday.