** PRE-BLOG DISCLAIMER **
Mum, if you’re going to read this one, there is some swearing. I’m in my forties now and you need to accept that your baby girl uses sentence enhancers like an ANZAC. Otherwise don’t read this one.
To those people who think depression is the same as PMT/PMS you may as well stop reading right now. You are wrong. And if you really think depression is just a trendy way to say ‘sad’, then your intellect won’t extend far enough to learn anything from this post. Stop reading now.
For the rest? Let’s carry on.
I’m currently coming out of a three day bout of depression. It was a bit worse than my ‘normal’ and I ended up cancelling clients, plans and life and stayed in bed. Normally I can disguise or postpone my bawling until it is more socially acceptable but this time it just took a big hairy hold on me altogether. Sometimes it’s triggered by an event or a build up of constant overwhelm which just detonates but every now and then it just happens! And yes, I get it medically and therapeutically managed. And if you’re one of those ‘depression = PMT people who decided to read? I take the medical drugs and I’m not ashamed. Narrow minded fuckers.
My kids have seen me cry a lot over the years. A. LOT. I’ve lived with depression my whole life and in this day and age- when our teens are sad, depressed or anxious and are openly able to get help I figure if they see me bawling and unable to function, they’ll understand a whole lot more than when I was growing up. So when I cry a lot, they hug me a lot. It’s quite beautiful. My teenage years were in years of ‘stiff upper lipped denial’ when it came to mental illness, when society just didn’t want to accept or understand that because you couldn’t put a bandage on it, or see the sutures, there was still something to heal. These days are better but we still have a long way to go. I’m grateful my children are open minded enough to accept my depression and offer me help in any way they can- because it’s just the way mum is.
There are 5 aspects of a bout of depression I’d like to share with you. This is IN MY EXPERIENCE anyway. You ARE allowed to laugh at me……
1- Decisions, decisions.
You know when you get out of bed in the morning and you decide to put on your slippers and go to the loo? Yeah, well when the bleakness descends on you, the simplest of decisions are pain staking.
Do I put on the woollen socks or the Ugg boots? Do I go to the loo BEFORE I wake the kids up or after? Do I really NEED to go to the loo or can I wait a little longer? It’s a frickin hard decision and I don’t want to bloody stuff it up. I’m overwhelmed enough and if I get this wrong too, I reckon I’ll just tip right over. Here come the tears…..and in a depression free world, the Uggies would have been absolutely fine wouldn’t they?
Decisions as simple as drive or walk, leggings or jeans, hair up or down, are all I need to realise that my brain function is hindered and hopeless. But at the time, I DON’T realise. I don’t think clearly at all.
2- Looks and Life.
I start off OK. I put on the daily mascara and brush my hair and I think that if I LOOK like I have all my ducks in a row then I might osmotically FEEL like they’re all quacking happily. But truth be told, it doesn’t actually work that way. Where you can tell someone to eat if they’re hungry, you can NOT tell me to ‘think positive’ and the depression will go away. If it was that easy, I like to think I’m sassy enough to follow through and step up to that podium.
So, in the middle of a round, I’ve given up on the mascara. Even Kevin Aucoin’s waterproof doesn’t cut it. My eyes are puffy from crying, my hair looks like something is living in it and I might be wearing half pyjamas, half something my 13 year old son found in lost property. I think I shower enough. It depends if I make a decision or not somewhere around the time I try and decide when to go to the loo. I can’t decide if I smell enough to warrant a shower anyway.
I get to the point I look like something the cat dragged in, after it played with it and coughed it up with a fur ball. But I don’t care. I find it too hard to decide to care so I’ve just learnt to roll with it.
Needless to say, when I get depressed I get to a point where I want to give up on participating in life. Not ultimately. Although I have been pretty close to the brink in the past. No, I just DON’T WANT TO smile, laugh, talk, watch cute puppy vids on YouTube, ‘think of how lucky I am’ , listen to you try and fix the problem for me or catch up for gin or coffee. I certainly don’t want you to relate my depression to yourself, or your mother’s brother’s aunty’s dog and tell me how THEY deal with it. I’m pretty practiced now at going through the motions. I know it will pass. I know it feels hopeless. I know it’s shit.
Believe this seasoned ‘depressionist’, if I could think my way out of this right here right now, don’t you think I would? It ain’t that easy Bubba!
What DO I want to do when depression hits? When I cry and cry. When I can’t help it. When I need to wait for it to pass and accept the feelings for just a bit, a day, a week.
I want to lay in bed, in the dark, with my puffy eyes, my cavewoman hair, my snotty tissues, my dogs (who know) and my dismissal of the world. I want to undulate between sobbing, sleeping, trembling, patting the dogs, blanking out responsibilities and weeping. I want the world to forget about me for a bit. It can certainly do without me in this condition. I don’t even know what the fuck day it is. I can’t even decide if I need to shower.
I know it will pass. I know I’m lucky. I know I have a great life. I know it could be worse. I know I have first world problems.
When I get depressed, my mentality becomes a pendulum. It swings between that of a forty something year old with overwhelm and that of a two year old who lives through tantrums and self cut fringes. You can roll the dice but you don’t know what you’ll get from one hour to the next baby.
My ‘normal’ overthinking gear shifts into over drive- with turbo. Why me? Who needs me for anything? Who’d even miss me? What’s my purpose? What am I even good at anyway? What’s the point? The fuck day IS it?
I make the Himalayas out of molehills….
One minute I’m unable to stay still, possibly shaking, with 50 gazillion thoughts clouding my mind, my judgement and my ability to cope with anything more complicated than a peanut.
Nek minnit, I’m a two year old whose toast didn’t get cut into even triangles, bawling and blaming the world at the same time. What’s more- I’m wearing ONE Ugg boot and ONE woollen sock with a bird living in my hair! I probably stink too.
Better to leave me alone until this passes…..
4- Sleep, no sleep.
Again, let’s get the pendulum out.
Depression is ABSOLUTELY EXHAUSTING. Swinging between wanting to sleep for a week of 8 days and not being ABLE to get to sleep because my head is chokkas makes for a washed out tiredness that wears me out. Not to mention the bawling. And the bawling oscillates between a quiet little ladylike grizzle to the all out screw your face up, try and take a breath sobbing. I kinda feel kinda stupid. But it doesn’t matter, because I’ve shut the world out anyway.
So I take the opportunity to sleep when I can. It will pass. And I know one day soon I’ll put the mascara back on.
5- Coping Mechanisms.
Being a seasoned depressionist, I know the drill. I know what can help to pull me out of the big, deep and lonely hole when the tears start to dissipate and the light returns.
It’s a comfort to know which friends are there for me. I know who’s waiting at the top of the well with a smile of acceptance, a hug, maybe a dirty joke and a G and T at the ready. It’s also a crazy comfort to know who’s NOT there. Who’s NOT reliable, open minded, non judgemental and understanding. I no longer have unmet expectations with these people and I don’t send them cards at Christmas. They suck.
I get off the social media which is bloody hard for me. I figure though that one less thing to cloud my mind is a good thing. A time to re-set and rest. It eventually reminds me what I’m REALLY made of. It eventually reminds me that my worth does NOT depend on numbers and emojis. Only ONE person realised I’d left the platforms this time and asked after me. Reality bites.
I talk about having depression now. Albeit you’ll only hear if you listen. I think we NEED to talk about it. Mental illness is out there and it’s rampant. It’s affecting our children. Until we acknowledge it as a real thing nothing is going to change. I’m not ashamed of it any more. I’m too tired for that. Although this round was my first one I openly relayed as the reason for cancelling clients and to be honest, I was overwhelmed with the acceptance and understanding. Thank youz all.
I meditate most days. How could you not feel better after you have someone like Deepak saying ‘I’ll mind the time’ while you drift off into calmness (it’s good to have a plan anyhoo). Some days I’ll just sit and listen to sounds of a rainforest. Obviously there are some days I struggle with meditation but practice makes perfect.
I wait until it passes. It always does. It might be two days. It might be a week. But I know I’ll make it back in to the world of the living and I know who’ll be there to greet me.
I hang with the animals. Like I would normally. But when I’m down they know! So added to the Ugg boot, woollen sock, lost property clothes and birds nest hair, I am generally covered in animal snot and licked ‘clean’. Dog or horse, it doesn’t matter.
I’m just about ‘back’ now. Another round. Another tantrum. Another shower. And another conversation we need to have. Depression is real and I live with it.