Throughout our lives I am pretty sure that at some point each of us will find moments where we feel low, anxious, in despair. Hopefully for most of you these feelings will disperse and, once the situation that has made you feel this way has been resolved, you will return to your normal self. But what if these feelings just never seem to go away. Yes, there may be days that are better than others, there may be days when you feel true happiness but these are rare days and most of the time daily life is an uphill struggle and you often feel the sensation of drowning in your own negative thoughts. No matter what the reason may be for you to feel like this what we all need to realise is that depression is not a simple illness, it does not affect each of us in the same way and we need so desperately to stop feeling embarrassed about being at a loss and talk more openly about it in order to be able to help one another.
There are so many examples of depression that I could go on about today and being a page about parenting you may have assumed that I would talk about Post Natal Depression. But truth be told I know very little about PND and quite surprisingly I didn’t suffer from this – you will see in a moment why I said surprisingly. There are so many amazing bloggers out there discussing this topic and if you are suffering or have done in the past I will leave it to those who truly understand what happens to you during this dark time. Please do turn to pages by The Baby Bible, Surviving Motherhood, Budding Smiles and Pink Pear Bear who have all openly discussed their battle with PND through their blog posts. They are all lovely ladies and I am sure they would be happy to receive any messages if you feel you need to talk.
My personal story with depression began with the loss of my Mum. I grew up with her fighting Cancer but you never truly believe that one day it will all end badly. The mentality of ‘those things happen to other people, not us’ was embedded in my brain and even when we were told she didn’t have much longer left I still couldn’t get my head around it. Grief is a very funny emotion and I am not sure that anyone ever fully recovers… I know I won’t. Please don’t see that as a negative I see it as a positive as I am aware of my feelings and that my missing her will always haunt me.
The first stage of grief for me was actually relief. When you watch somebody you love suffer for so long and slowly becoming bed bound, weakening before your eyes you become awash with a huge sense of relief once they finally pass; relief that they are out of pain, that they are finally at peace and relief that it didn’t have to go on any longer. I drew strength from this for a few weeks which allowed me to plan the funeral and take control of new situations arising (I was 21 and had to take on the tenancy of our flat and be responsible for my 17-year-old sister). Once the final goodbye happened at the funeral my mood began to shift. I would feel massive highs from going out and drinking with friends which would then be followed by the lowest of the lows. My days were filled with sadness and feeling lost, my work suffered and I had to be signed off. It was after a regular night out when I finally hit rock bottom. I had already been prescribed anti-depressants to help cope with the loss but for me, these did not even touch the pain. I came home one night and simply lost my mind. My grief erupted into anger, immense pain and a loss I could not physically cope with. After throwing a few things around and shouting at my then boyfriend down the phone I quickly took it upon myself that I could no longer go on and subsequently swallowed a mixture of anti-depressants, Anadin and Paracetamol. Luckily my boyfriend had sense and he came over. He called my Dad immediately to get me to hospital. The low point was then met with hysteria – possibly the concoction of alcohol, anti-depressants and pain killers! I sat in A&E giggling my head off, being extremely loud and falling off my chair. I wasn’t considered a high risk as I, luckily, hadn’t taken enough to have any type of effect, other than complete stupidity setting in. Once I had come down from my bizarre overdose high I was allowed home and I went off feeling very sorry for myself. It was a moment that made me realise precisely how a mental illness can take over your entire life and even control your actions to a point that you may not normally reach. There are gonna be times where we think we could all just go to sleep and never wake up, but most people move on from here and begin to think sensibly again. With depression, that idea can just build and evolve and consume your mind. You act irrationally and without any thought for others because at that moment in time all you can think is ‘make this pain stop!’
Over the years I have learnt to cope much better and am aware of warning signs that I may be starting to head into a darker period again. I won’t lie, there have been some very dark moments through my 20’s and holding issues in has also led to bouts of anxiety. I am extremely lucky to have a strong family unit around me and my husband has learnt to understand how grief can affect someone; how it can especially make me angry even now, almost 13 years on. One of my saving graces has been in the form of my little boy – this is where I am surprised about my mental health. I was very aware of the condition PND and as somebody who does suffer from depression, I just assumed that I would be at a higher risk of developing this type of depression. I was almost prepared for it which is probably the sensible way of thinking as it brought all my previous experience to the forefront of my mind so if there was a problem I knew I could speak about it. However, the opposite seemed to happen, I was incredibly happy. My son had brought about a change for me, he gave me something to look forward to and a reason to live. I hadn’t had suicidal thoughts for years but it could have always be something that is a part of me… not anymore. My Mum didn’t have a choice about leaving her children and it was the last thing she ever wanted to happen. I will never choose to leave my child either. I would never want him to go through the pain and low points that I have had to endure.
The depression has crept back in more recently but this time it has taken a new angle. I’ve gone from relief to anger to highs and lows back to anger many times and a lot of sadness, but right now, due to Jake, I feel like I miss her like I could never miss anybody. I have no Mum to speak to about being a Mother myself. I have no one to answer my questions. He doesn’t have his Nanny who he would adore and she is missing out on this crazy bundle of a Grandchild. Memories none of us can make or cherish together. This is why my depression can never leave because she can never come back to us all. The low points can now be controlled by myself through taking some time and space, talking to my husband and pushing through that need to shut the entire world out. I refuse to take any tablets to combat these feelings. I need to learn to move on with each new event and milestone that my life goes through and with each turn I hope that I can leave the deepest, darkest thoughts far behind.
Whatever the reason for your depression or mental state never, ever feel that it isn’t a valid one. We all cope with situations in different ways and sometimes a breakdown is the sign that you have just been far too strong for too long. You are not alone. Speak up, talk to anyone that you feel comfortable with, this may be somebody you don’t know very well or a very close family member, it all depends on how far you feel you have gone. And no matter how far you feel you have drifted inside your own thoughts, leaving the real world behind, there is always a chance for you to turn it around and pull yourself back up to the surface and breathe happy again. Don’t let darkness consume you, there are people out there who love and care for you and they want and need you around…. it may even be a little person who is yet to be written into your future. Don’t let depression ruin your life that could possibly be so good that it could be amazing!