Thursday, 7 February 2013

Just smile & get over it.

And then I got all serious...

There is nothing funny about depression. You won't be laughing with this story.

Some of you will feel uncomfortable. Some of you may not like what I am about to write. Some of you were there from the beginning. Some of you have gone through it with me. I write this so you will understand my story, not to feel sorry for me or worry about me. Just to understand. Too many of us go through this, and no story is exactly the same. This is mine.

I haven't been feeling too well lately. In the head, that is. I know it will pass, as it usually does. I am now able to tell myself that.

Only a few years ago, telling myself that a bad moment was only a temporary setback did not happen. It was a hell of a lot easier to succumb to the negativity that began to eat away all the good stuff in my life. People have asked me why I couldn't just cheer up, think happy thoughts, smile, get over it. For far too long, I did just that. To some extent, I still do.

It takes a lot of energy to combat the negativity that can enter your head, and without experiencing it first hand it can be difficult to fully comprehend just how tough it can be. Depression is not just a sadness. It can manifest in so many different ways in everyone. 'Sad' people don't necessarily have depression. There is no 'one-size-fits-all', which is a shame, coz if it did maybe I could have dodged that bullet. But depression doesn't seem to give a rat's fat arse if you are fat or skinny, male or female, black, white or from Mars, blonde, brunette, tall, short, high achiever or full of stupid. 

With me, I get anxious, angry and physically unwell. Easily. The world becomes a heavy, dark, scary and confusing place. 

Geez, this is not my usual happy and sarcastic blog. 

I think I now recognise some of the thought processes that go through my head when I'm becoming overwhelmed by 'it'. I thought, for your enjoyment, you'd like to come visit me in my mind and look around. Stay for a wine. Mind the wet paint.
I've had depression for a good 13 and a half years. I've been on antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety pills, pills to make me sleep and relax, pills to make me get up and go. I've missed out on enjoying my babies. I've missed out on enjoying my marriage. I've missed out on enjoying my life. Damn you, Depression.

Being such an invisible illness, I have bluffed my way through much of the past 13 years, until I decided recently that I will not let this define me. I will treat it like any other illness that needs management.

Having said that... 

At this very moment, all of what I said above is total bullshit. Depression found me again and is trying it's hardest to fuck me over. It could be the interaction with the Duramine I have started taking to become the sexy bitch I'd like to be, or it could just be that my kids share a brain between them and I am struggling to keep my shiz together. Either way, it is sending me back to Crazyville.

In this mood, I want help with everything, but I don't want help. In this mood, whatever you say to me will be taken as a punch, even the nicest sincerest thing may be taken completely out of context and be implying I am a failure. Don't talk to me, and I will see it as avoidance. Look at me, and I will become self conscious. I know it's a confusing place for me, but I also know how confusing and frustrating it is for you. Really, I do know.

It was first suspected I may have depression when Campbell was about 2 months old. I was breastfeeding. All the other mums in my mother's group were breastfeeding. I hated breastfeeding. It hurt, and my baby was never satisfied. I would cry every time he woke up knowing I would have to go through this torture again. I began rocking in a corner of the spare room. I always thought that the image of a nutbag rocking in foetal position was made up just for movies. It's actually not. My Maternal and Child Health nurse insisted that breast milk is best for my baby and that I should keep doing it for at least another year. Some mums breastfeed for two years. I told her how I cried. I told her how it hurt. I was told "Welcome to motherhood".

That was the day I decided would be Campbell and my last day.

I drove in the rain, Campbell screaming for a boob. I would drive straight at the next bend. The next bend. The next bend. I chickened out and turned the car around. I didn't want to come back to the house, but I did. In my eyes, I had failed again. 
The next day, I took Campbell to the doctor's as he had a sniffle. I was at the doctor's every couple of days. Campbell's wee was a funny colour. His poo smelled funny. He squinted his eyes too much. He slept for eight hours straight. If it were not for this visit to the GP on this particular day, at this particular moment in my time...well, I owe this doctor a huge amount of gratitude. My frequent visits to her office had her ask, "Are you ok?" I told her I hated my baby because he wanted breast milk. She simply said, "Then stop." While being in a two month state as the living dead, I had no idea there were other options. Wouldn't I be a bad mum though? Her answer: No such thing as a bad mum, but a happy mum is essential. She put me on antidepressants. That was 13 and a half years ago.

Things went from shit to fucked again when I was pregnant with Ella. I was so certain I was destroying Campbell with my lack of parenting skills, I decided I couldn't bring another child into this family. I got a towel and my sewing scissors and lay down behind my bed. I was determined to cut this thing out of me. As I lay there holding the point to my tummy, I thought I couldn't do this. How could I even think this? My scissors would get blunt and I would get blood all over our new carpet. Laying there, realising the stupidity of my reasons why I couldn't do it, I laughed hysterically and cried until I fell asleep.

When Ella was born, I could see and smell things. They were very real and I told nobody. I thought everyone else could see and smell them, too. I would often hunt around in the middle of the night sniffing power outlets convinced something was smouldering away inside the wall and we would all burn alive.  My eyes and mind played tricks on me. I watched Campbell hover above me in bed and then run through the closed door. Ella stared at me with judging baby eyes. People looked at me oddly, like they knew some hilarious secret about me or that I was dressed wrongly. I would glance in the windows of shops to see if I had my clothes on backwards or I had forgotten to put on my pants, but I couldn't see me in the reflection. I wasn't there. Odd tall thin grey men were looking back at me instead. Their faces like those theatre masks. Contorted. Smiling with their own secrets about me. Everyone would know I was a fraud.
I drew this when I wasn't too well.
These odd tall grey men often wafted up from the tiles in the kitchen towards the end of the day. At first, they just lingered, following me about while I prepared dinner. Soon, they began to whisper to each other, then whisper to me, on top of each other, until I couldn't hear anything else happening in the house. They would tell me things. Truths. Ella was sent to kill me. Look at her eyes. Campbell will help her. Ella is the devil and Campbell was an alien. Ella's eyes were wrong. They were piercing. They were knowing. I could no longer look people in the eyes. Eyes were terrifying. Mirrors reflected confusion.
I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell...
After my new Maternal and Child Health nurse came to visit and discovered a display home of apparent artificial control, and after learning I had spent the night prior to her visit cleaning the inside of the toaster and hand cleaning the toothbrushes to their former glory, she said she thought I needed some help. Hospital help. I don't remember how, but suddenly I was in the kitchen with my suitcase packed waiting for my mum to come and watch my children. I remember Campbell, now 20 months old, peeling a banana and dropping the skin on the floor. I cried. I cried with fear and a profound sadness I cannot explain. Years later, I learnt from his therapist that Campbell believed I cried because of that banana skin he let fall. I had hurt my boy. 

Ella and I were 'voluntary' guests of the Mother Baby Unit for five weeks. I met wonderful mums, one of whom became a great friend. I was improving until I watched the breaking news of New York's World Trade Centre being attacked. I cried believing if I were there, I could have replaced a life lost. My stay in the hospital became longer. I had learnt to cheat the staff there, too. I had them believe I was perfectly well. I didn't tell them I could smell smoke. I didn't tell them that I believed another mum on the ward was sent from the odd tall thin grey men to watch me. I was sad few people came to visit me. I don't blame them. I was sad that my mum had to see me this way, and that Tim, struggling with sudden 'single' parenthood and a new job, was sad that he couldn't help me. I was sad I had to eventually come home to 'normality' eventually.

I will not hide from this past. I will not let this define me.

But I'm finding this single moment a hard hard moment.

I still smell smoke. I still have problems with eyes and mirrors. My reflection is still all wrong. But I am here, with five beautiful children who drive me to the edge of insanity and back, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

In a way, I'm glad I've experienced these things. Experiencing these things. 

Gotta go. The microwave is talking to me.


  1. Lisa, I had no idea... I can't imagine what you're going through but I commend your perseverance.. And here you are asking me if I'm okay?!! Seriously wish I could wrap real arms around you, but these virtual ones will have to do! *hugs*

    1. I'll take those virtual hugs, thank you very much! Like I said, it's just a moment. It comes and goes, like the tide, but I know now how to surf them! You looked like you needed the hugs the other day. x

  2. You beautiful, brave girl! Duromine is nasty stuff! If you aren't up to seeing the light in your life at the moment, then it sounds like from where I'm sitting that it's buggering up the balance you had.

    Although I haven't battled with depression to the same degree as you have, the black hairy dog is always just behind me nudging at my leg with his big, slobbery nose (eew!)

    My battles with depression and weight feel like they will never end. It's exhausting always being vigilant so as not to let that dog jump up and get me. Lord only knows I understand the lengths we'll go to to be well and healthy and lose weight. I could give you a laundry list of diets and things I've tried over the years. I've been sliced and diced, not once but twice in the name of weight loss, and look where it's gotten me so far. Pah!

    Seriously Lis, the Duromine is just not worth it. It is truly nasty stuff. The last couple of years I've been doing a lot of reading and research into health and wellness - the answers seem to lie in sugar, grains and seed oil. Have a read of Big Fat Lies by David Gillespie and also for starters. I started with reducing sugar in my diet, and instantly felt loads better - in a happy brain kind of way. The weight loss will come, but for now I am focussed on overall wellness. Happy to take you on this journey with me...

    Big love. You are loved in a big way.

    "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."
    Thich Nhat Hanh

    1. Thanks A. I was warned about Duramine & Zoloft dodgy relationship. I'm actually liking the Duramine - I have to remind myself to eat! I'm a week now off Pepsi & other softies (OMG how hard was that?) and feel physically ok with it, apart from some lurgy I have at the moment. I was feeling a bit blue before starting it, so I don't know if I should blame the Duramine. I just get like this sometimes, and then it passes. I just thought people might like to go in my head for a couple of minutes. x

    2. Okay, just promise me that you won't hesitate to check in with your doc and get off the Duromine if you're feeling any more blue than you do now, or are not feeling any better when you would normally expect to. Love you. xoxo

  3. Love you Lisa - i'm here if you want to talk anytime. "A" has some great wisdom there, & some good advice about the Duromine...I've actually been wondering whether my Mirena is interacting badly with my anxiety (or my Lexapro perhaps) for a few months on & off now & I've made that promise above to go see a doctor if it gets worse - it's so hard to judge in the moments themselves though - probably best just to talk it through with doctor & see what they think xox

    1. Thanks Lovely. I'm fine, really I am. Having a good day today. Every day is different. Keeps me on my toes! I know now when things aren't good. I couldn't before. But now it's like having a bad knee - it flares up now and then & you just have to modify things around it, but it goes. Love you too. xx

  4. I have no personal comprehension of depression - just the view of watching Sean dealing with it - the ups, the downs, the crippling anxiety, the inability to answer the phone, go out to the letterbox in case someone was looking...the complete belief that he was never "good enough"... how day to day living, even getting out of bed took a monumental effort. For those people who say "Cheer Up" or "Go for a Walk - You'll be Fine" - I say try viewing depression as a physical illness - like an amputation - and then you may have some inkling as to why the answer is never a simple one. Big BIG BIG Hugs Lisa... and as for those creepy crappy grey guys?? Give them a kick where it hurts from me... really hard! :-)

  5. thank you for your insight and discussion, I too have depression, treated with antidepressants, but PMT plays havoc with me, i have to be careful that i dont become overwhelmed with stuff, and then angry when kids/husband dont do what is expected of them, last month i was tired as well and i went off my trolley about something(cant remember what) and hubby had to have a chat about overreacting.
    The more depressed i become,the more i try and control others, and then get upset when they dont do as told ( because if they do as i say then their life will be better) 16 years and still learning

  6. You are so brave for sharing this, so many people live without seeking help. Please know I will always listen :) Thanks for hooking up to the Hump Day Hook Up