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.|
|I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell...|
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.