**Warning** This is a) a really really really long post (sorry!) possibly the longest I've written, if you stick with it, thank you, but also b) it might have some triggers for people with depression/anxiety/self harm. Just wanted to flag that up now
It's hard to explain depression to people who don't have it. I don't really talk about it much, even to those closest to me. It's like something that's just locked up inside my head and it's hard to put into actual meaningful words, because doing that means thinking about it all and that's kind of painful. And also, humiliating.
I've alluded to my depression and anxiety a fair few times on this blog and toyed with doing " a day in the life" type post. But when I'm having a bad day, the last thing I want to do it write about it. But when sad sad things like Robin Williams' suicide happen, I realise that I have a voice - and a mouth piece in this blog - and the more that people with depression are able to open up about it, the less lonely those who don't talk about it feel and the easier it is for those to understand who don't have it. (wow that was a long sentence...)
For a long time I didn't realise I had depression or the way I felt was different from everyone else. I mean yes I'd been to the GP a few times over the years but I just couldn't face talking about some of the things I thought about. The way I hated myself so much it was just built into my psyche, I couldn't imagine not feeling that way. How I didn't so much want to die or commit suicide so much as just simply not exist. Because it was just too hard.
How I'd lie in bed after husbando had gone to work and cry. Except that would imply I was actively doing something, when in fact tears just rolled out of my eyes uncontrollably, whilst I lay there, shaking, waiting for the storm to pass so that I could get dressed, go to work and pretend none of this was happening.
For me, depression was - and is - like walking along the edge of an abyss, one wrong move and you never know when you might tumble in. And once you're in, it's like a choking blackness in my head. I just felt like I was in a leaden dull fog all the time, a thick grey blanket of nothingness. I'm quite an excitable person, but once I was inside my grey blanket of crap, nothing was exciting. Except on the outside it was - no one really knew what was going on or how I felt.
A lot of the stuff I see about depression talks about calling people when you're feeling shitty. But I physically couldn't do that. Even when I was inches away from self harming, I couldn't. I mean, what do you say. Most of the time I couldn't talk - I was just mute and shut down. Not crying, just waiting for the shitty feeling to go so that I could carry on with making dinner, or laundry, or applying eyeliner. And also, it was just too humiliating because nothing anyone else did or said would make a difference. I didn't want to be told how lovely I was, or to cheer up or to go to the GP. I just wanted to NOT EXIST. Which wasn't really possible.
God it's scary writing this down. It's a big leap of faith to hope that in some way, this will help someone else because this is one of the toughest things I've ever written. And one day Baby45 might read this and be able to confirm that yes, his mother is a nutjob :P
But I should add, even though I never called anyone, it helped a lot to know that I could've. That was enough, to know that people cared. The rest I could work through on my own. Besides, panic attacks aren't pretty (did I mention I have severe anxiety, it's real sexy) and most of the time you're on the toilet, thinking you're dying or trying not to sh*t yourself you're so scared. I think only husbando and my sister have seen me having a panic attack. Aside from some serious drugs, there's nothing to be done once you're in one, except ride it out.
For most of my adult life and teenage years, I had at least one panic attack a week, if not daily. At one point, a real low point I had 4 in 24 hours. It was exhausting. But I still didn't realise other people didn't live like this. And that the only way to feel remotely calm was to picture self harming yourself - or just going right ahead and doing it.
It's not something I'm proud of. But it was the only way I could cope. I only self harmed for real a handful of times, but I pictured it many, many times, as a way to calm myself down. Seriously, who really wants to go and tell a GP - most of the time a relative stranger - any of this, when they can't even tell their partner or their mum.
So where am I now? Why am I using the past tense? I guess because it seems like my depression has been, for want of a better word, in remission for a couple of years. I had a lot of decent psychiatric support when I was pregnant - and for that I am utterly grateful. Without it, Baby45 would have a much shittier mother. I have been up and down over the last couple of years - but for a few weeks at a time, not months of utter despair and blackness.
I won't lie, I struggled with my anxiety when Baby45 was born. He spent a few days in SCBU and they were, without doubt, the worst days of my life. In hindsight I know he was actually fine, but at the time, a few days postnatal, I was about ready to jump off a building. Quite literally :( But since then, things have gotten better.
I don't really know why to be honest. It sounds trite to say that Baby45 gives me a reason to get up in the morning (and by reason, I mean screaming "MUMMYYYYYYYYY BOOBIESSSSSSS" in the baby monitor) but there's nothing like his little sleepy face - and then his request for Daddy "Go 'way mummy, where daddy?..... :P
My life is calmer - I drink less, I go out less, I have less - if more immediate demands on my time. My life is calmer and simpler - and so it seems, my head is a bit calmer. So far, it's aaaaaaaaaallll gravy.
I know this is all sounding very happy ending. But that's the thing, I just don't know when depression is going to come and bite me on the ass again - it could be 3 hours from now, it could be next week, it could be in 10 years. So I'm enjoying life the way you normal people have it, as much as I can, because I've fought every day for over a decade for this.
To anyone else who is fighting, this one's for you - it's such a hard battle, but you've got people you don't even know about rooting for you.
Thank you and good night,
Stupidgirl has left the building
PS If you just read this whole post, wow, thank you, I'm sending you some virtual cake.