While doing the rounds, reading recent blog posts that I follow I stumbled up a post by Jess over at Fat Bottom Gal called “The worst part of depression is…”. This post in particular struck a chord with me. Jess likened depression to an abusive partner. Constant emotional, psychological abuse which drags you down whenever you start to pull yourself back up. She says “If you do manage to get away from it you always fear that it’ll find you again, that the happiness won’t last”. I have felt this way many times before. I have suffered with clinical depression since 2004. I used to be ashamed of the fact that I wasn’t coping without medication. I hated that counselling didn’t seem to be helping at all, and I slowly let my depressive state become part of my personality. I stopped noticing how negative I was being. Stopped enjoying things which had previously made me happy. I’d convince myself I was happy, because I should be happy.
I would bounce between being medicated, and then suddenly stop as I (quite wrongly) believed that I was ok. I was being silly and that I could snap out of it. This cycle continued for YEARS. My employer grew increasingly frustrated with my constant sick days, but when I did make it to work, I was good at my job. I was just becoming increasingly unreliable. I worked in a hospital as an administrator, and in a way, their sick policy only encouraged me to not seek proper help for my illness. I thought that all I needed was to sleep, and have some time to unwind and I would be ok, but each time I had to return to work, my anxiety would increase. I found answering the phone while I was off sick a near impossibility as the fear that it would be my manager asking the dreaded question. “Will you be back at work soon?”. That question sent me running back into my dark place. Why couldn’t the world just leave me alone!!!!
As you can imagine, this way of life was not a pleasant environment for my ever supportive husband, nor my poor children. I would fly off the handle for the smallest thing, and although not physically violent, I am in no doubt that my outbursts and behaviour was scary to them. They seemed to just deal with it, as they knew nothing else. That realisation makes me incredibly sad. It’s heart breaking to know that I can’t go back and take back the horrible words I said, or the times I sent them to their room when they were just being children. To admit this hurts so much, but I know that I am not that person anymore.
Starting university in 2011 saw the start of a change in me. I’d given up my job as I just couldn’t continue in the cycle I was in. Something had to give. The change in environment, being busy and excited seemed to keep the dreaded depressive me at bay. I was able to FAKE being a normal person for a little while, until the stress of dealing with deadlines and home life just became too much and I cracked. BIG TIME! I didn’t see it coming. I couldn’t pretend anymore. I couldn’t function day to day. I wasn’t sleeping, eating, talking at all. I was just numb. Almost catatonic. This time I had to be taken to the doctor and thankfully my husband has always understood my illness. He understands the anxiety and the false smiles and has always been my rock, so for him to be worried was a big deal. I had to admit that medication was my future now. It had to be. I had to get better. For my husband, for my children, but most of all for ME.
I managed to finish university and beamed with genuine joy at my graduation. At the birth of my youngest daughter almost a year ago, and at my older children whenever they do something to make me proud. That can be as simple as helping each other, or not fighting. I still have the fear that I will become THAT person again, but that’s ok. I worry that I will one day get tired of running from the darkness that is my depression and somedays I feel it’s cold breath on the back of my neck for sure. Not every day is peachy, but 9 out of 10 days are, and for that I am grateful. I know that I am for now one of the lucky ones. I’m winning!