This is possibly the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written. It’s something exceptionally personal which means leaving part of my soul bare in the internet for all to see. So why write it? Well, for me, writing it is part of my medicine and I believe sharing can really, really help. It will not only help me but (I hope) it will help others too- help others know they’re not alone and help others understand the murky waters I swim every day.
I suffer with depression. I hate using the word ‘suffer’ as I feel like a victim every time I use it. But in truth it’s not just me that suffers- it’s everyone around me, from the dogs right up to my husband and friends.
Now this is a world away from my normal blog post but the words have been wriggling around in my brain for some time now. Today they have finally wriggled free, through my hand, into my pen and on to my page, then the iPad.
Despite the increase in media coverage, promises from government and more openness around the subject it remains somewhat taboo. Possibly this is because it is so personal or people feel ashamed. If I’m honest when a casual friend says “How are you?” I don’t tend to reply “I’m not good at the moment as my depression is bad”. Perhaps, one day, that will change. But for now I’ll hide behind a false smile, I’ll hide my tangled brain.
One of the biggest misunderstandings is that depression means you’re sad. Well, I’m not a doctor and this is very much my personal experience, but whilst there is sadness there is also anxiety, guilt, nervousness, panic attacks, insomnia and various related illnesses triggered but depression as a whole. At one point I had depression related anorexia and it’s only recently I’ve realised this. I simply couldn’t eat as my stomach was in nervous knots.
My biggy is anxiety and worry which culminates in panic attacks. I think and think and think until I’m exhausted. And it’s stupid stuff too like not forgetting to put tomatoes instead of cucumber in a packed lunch or worrying about the washing! All this grows and grows in me, silently until I either cry or shout or panic.
At the moment I worry about feeling resentful towards the kids and my husband. It’s a very common issue but I’m frustrated at not being able to do anything for myself. This is an exaggerated partial truth but it writhes around my head like a snake, hissing at me “it’s not fair- I don’t get to be me anymore.” I love my kids and my husband is amazingly supportive. This is the life I’ve chosen and it’s simply unfortunate that various circumstances have led to a culmination of disappointments. It’s no ones fault – just life.
My sick brain has turned this into something far greater and whilst I know I’m not the only mother to ever feel this way I also feel I’m doing this alone and no one can understand. For when I suffer a bout of depression I can’t see the sunshine. I am permanently under a big black cloud which forms and grows over my head and follows me around like a cartoon rain cloud. I feel like I am wading through treacle whilst navigating in fog. I can’t see the smiles on the beautiful faces in front of me and my focus is the distance because that’s where my worry lives. I can’t breathe despite gulping down lungfulls of fresh, clean air. I feel the panic race up my spine as I become overwhelmed and I have a panic attack. I simultaneously want to abandon everything and everyone and just run away whilst being too tired to move. It’s horrible and I hate it and I fight it. I fight everyday and at the moment the fight is hard. The treacle is thick and the fog dense.
Yet, if someone asks me how I am I smile my false smile and say “I’m ok.” I lie, everyday, to myself and others because the truth is just to hard to handle. Other mothers at playgroups don’t want to hear my problems, they have their own. I cry and cry a lot and if you ask what I need the answer is hugs and space. The hugs let me know you love me and the space lets me know I don’t have to worry about that missed phone call.
I do things to try and help. Crochet and singing are both proven to be helpful and therapeutic. (Follow the links to find out more). Some days, when I want to wallow in selfpity on the sofa, I have to force myself to pick up a crochet hook, even if I just do a row or two, I also do yoga and try to eat well and eat chocolate- I believe Professor Lupin was right on that score.
I was lucky enough to be brought up in a household that taught me to enjoy life and all it brings. I can’t thank my parents enough for that. Also, my husband is very understanding and forgiving of my irrational mood swings. Plus being given genuine love by three little people is so rewarding. So when my husband silently hands me chocolate, when my toddler smiles at me upon waking, when my kids run across the playground and nearly knock me over with a big squeezy hug I know it’s ok. The fog lifts a little and my smile is true. And I know that I am lucky for I am surrounded by love and the clouds part a little to let the sun shine through.