The Reality of Depression

I have not really written in quite a while. I was in two minds whether to write this post or wait until  I felt better, but I’m  going to write it anyway. I think, as my readers, you appreciate the honesty whether it makes you laugh  or makes  you cry, and I cannot be anything other than myself,  despite often wishing I was anyone but me. I am hoping that sharing my story will help me in some way, writing is therapeutic to me. I am able to type things that I cannot easily verbalise.

I know a lot of you, or someone you love, live in the silent nightmare of depression and anxiety, so I owe it to you to be a voice in the darkness, to let you know that you are definitely not alone, and definitely not crazy.

I go through cycles of depression. Sometimes I have weeks where I feel strong enough to walk through the day without letting the black cloud grip me. I feel loved, I have patience, I feel ok, then wham bam it gets me. Right in the heart. Sometimes totally out of the blue.

Other times I feel the big black cloud creeping upon me, those days I dread waking the next morning because I know a day of torture awaits me.

The last few weeks have felt particularly rough for me, for so many reasons, but mainly reasons unknown to me. I feel absolutely nothing, but feel everything all at once. I need someone with me all of the time, but I want to be alone. I feel like I can’t breath. I don’t want to stay home, but the thought of going out grips my throat. I feel worthless. I know without a doubt my husband and my family love me, but I feel unlovable. I often feel like they shouldn’t love me. They deserve so much more than me.

I have fought this monster for 21 years, I’m weary, and the cracks are showing. I want to be strong, and who my family need me to be. I paint on a façade, a face, but I’m also painfully aware that it’s a transparent exterior to my family. I am not pretending too well anymore. I want to be the fun momma who does crafts, and makes fun memories, and whilst I still do that I am scared my yelling will erase the happiness.

I feel more snappy, less patient. The additional needs of my children overwhelm me, and scare me. It’s a new world to me, and it is so hard. I try my best but I am terrified of not being a good enough parent to them. I am scared they will feel how I have been left feeling. I just want them to feel loved. I desperately want to be good enough for them but this big back cloud robs me of that.

Do you know how tiring it is to constantly tell yourself that the world would be better without you? Depression tortures your brain and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You cannot snap out of it. I feel ashamed of it, but I refuse to keep it secret. I need to know others feel the same too. Loneliness is a killer.

I know it sounds almost crazy to talk about not wanting to be here, but that is the reality of depression. This is how it makes you feel. It makes your heart weary. I want to be honest. I need to be honest.

When you find yourself in this big black cloud tell someone, anyone. Do not let depression silence you. Do not let anxieties keep you quiet. There is freedom in talking, texting, messaging. Fight every urge you have to end things. Do not give up. Depression is a liar, a big fat stinking liar, but a very convincing one.

Depression doesn’t make you a bad parent, despite it telling you otherwise, it’s an illness. An invisible illness. That’s what makes it so difficult to admit to, but there is no shame in speaking about it, which is why I am sharing my journey with you.

Some days I feel way below par on this motherhood journey. It’s way too hard. I long for things to be different. I don’t want to waste my precious days with my kids feeling like this, but I have to plod on through those days. I worry if people knew the true extent of this monster that they would think I am not up to the task of being a momma. I think I need to work on my self esteem.

Please know that you are not crazy, and you are not alone, I am right here in this fight with you, and despite every feeling I have I vow to stick around to win this fight. I owe it to my babies. I owe it to myself, one day I will believe this too.

You owe it to yourself too, be honest, be you. Keep fighting.

A Letter to a Depressed Me, Myself, & I

Dear Me, Myself, & I

I am writing this letter to myself, to me, to you, in the hopes that you will read it on the day when depression rears its ugly head. When depression strikes and covers you in a black fog your brain has a funny way of forgetting everything you know, so this letter is here to remind you of all the things that you may forget.

The black fog takes away your inner light, you feel nothing, yet feel everything, and although you feel like you will always feel this way please know that you will not. The cloud will go! It may take a day, a week, a few months, but it will give you respite at some point if you just see it through.

The black fog makes you lose your appetite, and the less you eat the less energy you have to fight this monster. On the days when the thought of even making a drink makes your tummy turn please do it anyway. I promise it will make a difference. The black fog covers your hunger, but your brain still knows you have not eaten, and even more fatigue will set in. Make this a rule. Do not trust your feelings, they are very unreliable.

The black fog will take your self esteem and wrap it in chains, but you still have the key to those chains. Do not let yourself have time to sit and wallow. I know you have no energy, no umph, no motivation, no anything, but do not sit down and think things through. Depression is a toxic beast and it poisons every single thought you have if you let it. Keep busy, very, very busy. I know you just want to be alone and hide in bed, but don’t. It will not help you.

The black fog will tell you to stay home, and every inch of you will accept that so easily, but please do not give in and stay home. Go for a walk, anything, something, just do not ever agree with the monster, he does not have your best interests at heart, you deserve so much more than this.

The black fog will remind you of every single flaw you have, it will magnify them until you only see your flaws. You are not just your flaws. You are so much more than flaws. You are amazing, brave, courageous, you just don’t know it yet. I promise the fog shall pass, keep going, plod on, head down. You can do it. I promise you can.

Have a shower, get dressed. The black fog zaps your energy, but force yourself to shower and get dressed. That will be one batte down with the fog. Do it, every single time, do it.

Tell someone how you feel. Stop letting this black fog keep you trapped in the chains of shame. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Ask for a hug, tell someone to send good vibes, or say a prayer. Tell someone it is hard right now and you need their stregnth too. Do not battle a bad day, week, month, year, alone. Find someone and tell them. You will feel strengthened by breaking the silnce. The black fog works better under circumstances of shame, so kick its ass and set some of yourself free. Never suffer in silence, never. Being strong does not mean being silent, please remember this.

The black fog will tell you that you are better off not around, but it’s a lie. You’ll often think about how life would play out if you weren’t here. I’ll tell you now how it would turn out if you ended it all – crap! It would be absolute crap for your family and friends. They are most definitely not better off without you. This world needs you. That black fog is a liar. Depression is a big fat stinking liar. That is not the answer, ever, no matter how much you feel it is, it is not. Not now, not ever. You are needed, and you are more than able to fight this monster.

I know you’re tired of fighting, I know you feel the black fog approach and it shakes you to the core, but you are strong enough to send it running time and time again. I cannot tell you that one day it will be completely gone, because I just don’t know. What I do know is that you have held on for this long, and have kicked it’s butt more than it’s gripped your life, for that you should be proud.

On the days when you are tired of fighting read this letter, this letter is just for you, for me, myself. A reminder of all that gets lost in the black fog. There is a light, and it never goes out, it just gets lost in the fog. You are loved, you are wanted, you are worthwhile, and you are more than a conqueror!

Lots of love

Me, Myself, & I x

To The Husband With A Depressed Wife

Depression is a killer. Depression tortures countless victims by the second on a daily basis. It sucks the joy out of everything good, and it feeds on misery and self-loathing. It is a silent killer.  A disease that likes to stay undetected.

During your lifetime you will either suffer from depression or encounter somebody who is depressed, but believe me when I tell you this I hope you are never the one who falls victim to it. I would not wish depression upon my worst enemy.

I have previously written a few posts about my own experiences with depression, and although I would rather keep my struggle private I simply cannot justify doing so. It takes everything within me to get personal, but I have a duty to share my journey. I want to shed a bit of light (on this awful monster) to the family and friends that also suffer seeing a loved one plagued with depression.

My husband is my biggest cheerleader, and he has stood by my side during the dark times and has certainly celebrated with me on the mountain tops too. I have opened up to him in ways I could never share with anybody else, and for that I am truly thankful. I know there has been countless time though when he has not had a clue what was going on, times he desperately wanted to help but couldn’t, times when he probably felt rejected, times when he thought I possibly didn’t care, and times when I took my frustration out on him. Yet he is still here. I feel I owe it to him, and to all of the partners and family members like him out there, to explain the reality of depression.

Don’t get me wrong, I am scared as hell writing this post, my life made public, but I cannot keep my story secret. I want it to help other people. I need it to help other people. Even just one person. Life matters. Life is worth living, even on days when you wish to breathe your last. There is hope, there is always, always hope. I hope this post helps you, whoever you are.

I am not even sure how to set out this post; bullet points? A letter? A list?

I am going to choose a letter, a letter to my own husband, a letter you can share with your own partners, sisters, mothers, children, colleagues. An insight into the chaotic and irrational thought processes that accompany depression.

Here goes.

Dear Husband,

I love you dearly, more than anything in this whole world, I think you already know this. I know you love me too, I just forget sometimes. Depression clouds my mind, it fills me with horrid thoughts about how unlovable I am, and how worthless I am. Sometimes I believe you, sometimes I believe depression. 

I know you prefer the good days when I am happy and not anxious or snappy, and I wish I could have these days everyday, but I can’t. I feel the cloud approaching, and it petrifies me. Sometimes I tell you, and sometimes I don’t. Please if you notice the cloud before I tell you just hug me tight and tell me we will fight the cloud together. Please don’t ask me if I am OK, my automatic answer will be yes when in reality it is a big NO. Depression makes you feel ashamed you see.

I know sometimes I overreact to the smallest thing and get angry, but please be patient with me. Forgetting the bread will not be the real reason, feeling like I am losing control over my mind will be the reason. Depression is very clever you see – it builds up a wall of anger piece by piece, and you never notice it until it’s so big it begins to topple over. I am sorry you get the brunt of my anger on cloudy days. Please forgive me. Please. Just tell me you love me and leave me to calm down.

I know it is hard to help somebody through depression if you have  never experienced it yourself. I understand. I totally get it. Just love me through it, listen to me, ask about the cloudy days. I can’t just bring it up in conversation. Depression clouds your mind. I need you to break the silence. 

There will be lots of times when I feel like you would be better off without me, that my children deserve a better momma. Sometimes I will tell you. Most of the time I will not. Sometimes I can go for months without those thoughts crossing my mind, and other times I think about them every second of every day for weeks. That is the scary truth. It’s the first thought that runs through my head a lot. Depression is vile, a vile nasty monster. Please always keep an eye on me, but also know that no matter how many times you tell me I am worth it I probably won’t believe it on cloudy days – but please never stop telling me. Ever.

I love our children more than anything, but sometimes I feel like a failure. I feel like a rubbish momma. My mind nags me and tells me other mommas do things better, and love better than me. I feel like I always fall short. Please tell me I love them enough. I find it so hard being a momma on cloudy days, but I try so hard to not let them notice the clouds. I hope you know I try.

I haven’t self harmed since February 2010, but the urge often consumes me. When the black cloud is here it consumes my mind. I fight it so hard, I fight for myself, my children, and for you. I know it’s hard to understand why I crave it, I can’t explain it myself if I am totally honest. It’s like an old addiction that comes to hurt me when it smells the dark cloud. One day I hope it won’t ever cross my mind again.

I know I am a nightmare not letting you cuddle me when I am upset, or feeling bombarded by the darkness, but cuddle me anyway, I need it. I pretend to be strong, but you know I am not. Cuddle me again.

I know I don’t talk about these black clouds often, but I want to. I hate the silence it forces me to keep. There is a certain freedom when it comes to talking openly about the monster. Help me find that freedom.

I know sometimes I tell you I don’t want to leave the house. I know you can’t understand but thank you for being understanding. The black cloud blinds my view. It makes simple tasks scary. It invites its friend Mr Anxiety over, and makes my everyday life a worrying place. It makes my heart pound and throat dry. It makes me feel crazy. It’s like the front door has this invisible forcefield around it. Please know I try. I really do try.

Depression makes me feel tired, exhausted tired. Sometimes the fatigue is so bad I just want to cry. Every bone hurts. This sounds crazy I know, but that’s the reality of it. On tired days please know it’s the monster, not just me feeling tired. 

Often I cry, mainly in private. I don’t like letting people see me in a vulnerable state. If I look like I’ve cried just hug me and tell me things will be OK. Don’t ask me the reason, depression is the reason.

Sometimes the clouds take away everything good. Sometimes I don’t want to wash my hair. Bizarre I know, but I know my fellow sufferers will understand the lack of motivation that often consumes us. Tell me to wash my hair!

Sometimes I lay awake at night and worry about things that won’t even happen, squeeze my hand tight if you’re awake too. 

Sometimes it takes every bit of motivation to even get up in the morning, but I never let you in on this. A new day often scares me. I wonder will I cope? Will the sky be blue or black? Is the weather nice? The weather really effects my feelings and I do not know why! Every single morning is hard, but seeing you makes it easier.

I want to publicly thank you for loving me and supporting me. You are the best. 

Yours forever x

There! I wrote it. I hope this helps someone out there, it’s helped me. There is freedom in the truth.

Keep fighting!

 

Dear Depression

Dear Depression,

Emotions are a bizarre thing as you surely know. One minute a person can feel on top of the world, the next they question their very existence. You are solely to blame.

Sometimes we see you on your way – a little speck in the distance. We run in the opposite direction. You approach slowly, the silent hurricane. You try to creep in quietly yet the chaos you bring with you is there for all to see.

Sometimes you pounce without warning – this is when I despise you the most. You pounce, then you hold on tight, and nobody knows how long your ride will last. You are an intruder. You press down on my shoulders harder and harder until I am on knees. Little did I know, on my knees is the best place to be. If you can’t walk, crawl. Never stand still, never give in.

Your grip smothers my vision, my soul, my heart, my feelings, and every breath that I take. You invite your other friends to gatecrash with you; loneliness, low self-esteem, fatigue, hopelessness. One by one they jump on board and engulf.

You linger like a big black cloud. Nothing blows you away – you run on your own time. I hate that.

Nobody can understand unless they’ve met you too. You have a way of convincing people it’s a simple case of mood swings, and sadness, a sadness that will pass. But, you don’t pass. You are here for the duration.  You are a very good liar.

It must be terribly boring always draining the life out of people. Do your arms not get tired from trying to strangle the very life out of so many people, especially the fighters. Do the fighters not bother you? I think they do. They have you running scared, so you tighten your grip – sometimes you succeed, many more times you don’t.

I’m a fighter. A forever fighter. I’m battle tired, sometimes weary, sometimes lying low, but never, ever defeated. I’ll ride every single storm and black cloud, I’ll even drag myself through if needs be, but I’ll always wait for the sunshine because the sunshine always comes!

I’m tired of your lies, your taunts, your negativity. They have no place in my life, you can keep them.

Black clouds you are not welcome. My children deserve sunshine. You will never block the path to the sun in our lives. My hope is brighter than the dullest night you have offered me.

I do not do bargains with such hideous creatures. I am not for the taking. My heart, my rules.

Yours (not so) faithfully

A tired momma

The Black Clouds Called Depression

It’s possible to go weeks, months, even years without the black clouds heading your way, yet regardless of the length of their departure you always know when they’re on the way back.

It’s pretty impossible to describe the feeling to someone who hasn’t experienced them. It’s like your emotions go into lock down and a new emotional system kicks in.

You feel nothing. You feel everything. You want to sleep forever. You can’t sleep. Your appetite is non-existent. You eat your feelings. A little ball of rage consumes you, with unknown triggers. You feel out of control. Irritable. Your own breathing makes you annoyed. Your partner annoys you, for no reason. You have no patience with your children. You feel worthless. You listen to your own words and wonder why you cannot prevent them. You feel numb. Locked away. Silently drowning. Too scared to speak out.

Every cloud filled day leaves you questioning your existence. You beg the clouds to move. They never listen.

You see yourself lashing out at your loved ones as if your watching from afar.

You’ve just got to plod on. Keep going through the black cloud towards the sunshine. Bask in the sunshine, nobody knows how long it’s here for.

Speak out. Do not struggle in silence. Ever. You are not crazy, you have a chemical flaw NOT a flaw in character!

The Silent Struggle Of Depression

This post is one of the hardest things I will ever write, not because I don’t have the words, but because I am not sure I have the courage. Chances are, if you’re reading this then I braved it!

For years I have struggled with my emotions; up until age 13 I’m not really sure I had any to be quite honest, my heart was locked away. Life had not been ideal to say the least. I was a very broken girl, desperate to feel good enough. (This will be a blog post one day in the future when I’m feeling mightily courageous.)

When I look back now I think the cloud I call depression set in very early on in my childhood. I just didn’t know it. It crept up very slowly, and as more and more baggage got hurled onto my shoulders I let the cloud consume my every breath. I was ashamed of how I felt. I was confused by how I felt. Feeling everything all at once yet being so numb and feeling nothing is a very bizarre, limbo-type state of mind.

As the years went by I learnt how to deal with my cloud in various ways. Self-harm was one of the routes I frequented daily, sometimes it was a quick hello, other times it was more, way more. I won’t go into detail here, as I have already said I’m sure my life will be a blog post one day, but just to give you the jist.

My childhood meant I didn’t know how to deal with emotions or problems. I only knew secrets, shame, and aggression. This has made life so difficult, sometimes unbearable, but I am through the other side now, there is a light, you just got to keep on walking, or crawling!

To cut a very, very long story short, my cloud and it’s friends followed me through my every waking moment all the way into my late twenties, when one day a little miracle awoke my sad, self destructive soul; I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were over the moon. On that day, 27th February 2010, I vowed to never self harm again. This was over four years ago – I’ve never broken that promise. It’s been four long years but I did it! I am not saying I haven’t been tempted because I have. I can go months without giving it a second thought, then along comes a speed bump and bam, it’s all I can think about for days. I have cried in desperation sometimes for the few seconds of relief it will give me, but I have remained steadfast. Some days are hard, some are not, but ALL are doable!

This post, though, isn’t meant to be about my struggle with destructive behaviours, it’s about the silent struggle so many people face; depression.

When I became pregnant, and instantaneously gave up self harm, ( I’d tried since the age of nine, so it was definitely miraculous 16 years later) I assumed my cloud would be going too, how wrong I was. It’s taken me a long time, 28 years in fact, to admit out loud that I suffer with depression. It’s hard to grasp that depression is a chemistry flaw NOT a character flaw. There is so much stigma attached to mental illness. You’re told to pull your socks up, that it will pass, and made to feel weak, when in fact this is so far from the actual reality of this illness. Depression is an illness, a decaying, nasty, debilitating one, I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.

Some days are good, some months are good, and then sure enough the big black cloud rears it’s ugly, unwanted head and lands on your shoulders. Sometimes it takes you out, total wipeout, other times you have to just plod on through the cloud and cling on to the hope that it will pass.

Since having my children my cloud has reached new heights, some due to sleep deprivation, some due to a post-natal cloud. I’ve experienced enough, and researched enough over the last 21 years to self-diagnose my cloud. I believe medication for mental illnesses is a marvellous thing, and advise anyone suffering to go and seek medical advice, however I have chosen to take a non-medicinal route at this time. There are lots of reasons for this, both sensible and not so sensible, but I’m a very stubborn girl, ask my husband!

Sometimes the cloud is away for months; life’s peaceful, enjoyable, I savour every moment. Sometimes the cloud arrives for a week; I wake up wishing I hadn’t, I cry, I feel numb, nothing is enjoyable, I hate myself, I feel a terrible mother, I can’t sleep, I don’t want to eat, I push my husband away. When the cloud arrives you feel so alone, ashamed even, but do you know what? – that’s far from the truth! So many people will relate to you. Depression doesn’t make you any less of a person, it’s taken me a long time to grasp this, and I’m all for smashing the stigmas of mental health! Don’t fight your battle alone. People will not think you’re crazy, your children would not be better off somewhere else, and your friends won’t dessert you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Self-stigma is the worst! Go chat to someone, they won’t have a cure, but the weight of your secret struggle will be lightened. Being a momma is hard enough without a secret battle.

I personally have had a very good five months cloud wise, but only because I’ve learnt the art of plodding on. Of course there’s been bad days, horrendous days in fact (the kind where you hope you don’t wake up tomorrow etc), but I’ve chatted them through with my husband, and the secret shame is lifted, then I’ve put my head down and focussed on getting through the day; plodding on regardless. Yes it’s hard. Life is.

I could go on for days about my own experiences and feelings, but I won’t bore you. I just want people to know they’re not alone. You’re not hopeless, and you’re most definitely not crazy!

Here’s to cloudless days!