13 Aug 2014

Outing myself - Mental Health 101

**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.

When the Dust Settles

10 comments:

  1. Beautifully written.
    I sat there nodding away to myself throughout this post. I really was.
    You're an awesome human being; it makes sense what you were saying about not being able to call people when you're low - what do you say? "Hi, how are you, how are the kids? OK good. So, listen, I'm standing on a bridge about to jump off.. Silly, really. Yeah I know! Anyway what's for dinner?"
    How do you broach the subject with someone? The last time I tried to reach out to my parents last week, the first thing dad said when he answered was - are you calling on Viber? He lives abroad but with a UK number, so obviously didn't want to pay for the call. That was the one time I've reached out to him in working hours, and that was his response. Hubby is great in every way he can, but even he finds limitations. If we talk about a topic he's not sure about, he changes the subject. When I press him on WHY he changed the subject, he changes it again. No wonder I don't reach out to many people.
    Anyway, epic comment. More like a blog post in its own right, eh?
    Today I had to complete one of those questionnaires at the GP, and the one section I could truly score 0 on was whether I felt like self-harming or that I wanted to die. I don't want to die anymore; my life is no longer my own, it belongs to L, and I'm his mother, his best friend, his interpreter, his guardian, his everything. He.Needs.Me. And I need him.
    Lots of love to you.

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    1. Thanks so much Suzzy, your response is so appreciated. I know exactly what you mean. There's never really a right time until it's too late and you're stuck in the shit. L is lucky to have you as his mummy xxx

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  2. I think you are so brave, thank you so much for sharing this!
    All my love, Sara xxxx

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    1. Thanks lovely, you're a sweetheart, hopefully see you in person later this year! xx

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  3. Hello, lovely post. I always describe it as having a,black umbrella over my head that I can't put down. I never really talk to anyone about it. I just ride the storm and eventually, eventually it lifts until the next time. As you mention, keeping life simple helps a lot. X

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    1. Thanks for your comment - a black umbrella is great description! x

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  4. Wish you'd told me more, sooner, baby girl :-( You've described it perfectly and I'm too moved to write an more except to say how sorry I am that you suffer from this debilitating crappy illness, same as me and your sister. We have to support one another somehow, you know. Bad days will go away it's just as you say, we don't know how long it will take to feel better nor when the pit opens up again. So glad you didn't use the term black dog. Dogs are one way to help me through depression which is why I miss having one now. Be well darling. All my love Mummymummy xxxxx

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  5. Thank you for my virtual cake. 😊 This is beautifully written post. You describe the indescribable brilliantly. It is so hard to discuss that emptiness and the knowledge that doing something as drastic as self-harm will make you feel better and replace the mental and emotional pain with physical. Which is much easier to cope with. This is such a brave post and I am sending you so much love for writing it. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

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  6. Thank you for showing the bravery to write this post.

    Depression is such an all encompassing vice like grip when it is in full effect that you just want to hide from it, tricky when it is inside you. I, like you, would try to hide in my bed, just lying there with the tears streaming, unable to stop them and it is such a hard thing to deal with.But there is hope for us (you have shown it here, and thankfully I have not had a period for a long while now), these messages WILL help someone, one day :)

    Thanks for linking up with my mental health linky, I really appreciate it, and hope it helps others.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. It took strength & courage to do so... I relate to your entire post, however, I particularly appreciate you sharing your experience with self-harm. Luckily it's been quite a while for me, but I'll likely have the battle scars for life. I haven't seen many people sharing their experiences with it. Sharing helps others to know that they're (I'm, you're) not alone. And when we're in the midst of it that makes a huge difference. I'm so happy you're healthy & happy now. Thank you for bravely sharing this post. And thanks for the virtual cake =-)
    -krista

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