I’ve not been feeling so good recently. There is tension stretching across my shoulders, a sickness in my stomach and fuzz in my head creating a dulling of my brain. The muscles around my mouth are, by the gravity of sadness, being pulled into a downward turn. My shoulders slump into an awkward old person position and my movement is laborious as I deliberate the hurt in my heart created by action. Everyday loves, the children, my husband, my home and my creativity have been transformed into irritating, anxiety heightening torture devices. The exhaustion of living, breathing just being here makes days excruciatingly endless. As the days stretch into eternity I have begun to wonder what is the point of it all. Have you guessed who’s come to stay? Yes my friend depression.
He arrives uninvited and will not say when he’s leaving. To be honest he would come more often but I find ways of distracting him and sending him away, but on this occasion he’s cracked my defences, tunnelled through the barriers and smug as anything set up camp. I blame myself, and oh how he likes that, I didn’t heed the distance sound of his footsteps approaching. Spurred on by my improved self esteem gifted from giving up alcohol and new blogging adventures I branded myself indestructible. How foolish one might say but really one has to have dreams, belief that my friend will tire of battling the fortifications I ardently build and move along. It’s been a while since he’s stayed so long and I am frankly bored of his company now but my plan for expelling depression takes time.
My depression is caused by emotional overloading, when my head can’t work out how to heal the pain in my heart it eventually closes shop. Created some years back by an enormous pain that I errantly tried to hide, much like concealing an elephant under my jumper, the eventual weight of this burden caused my body and mind to go on strike. Shutting me down forced the avoidance of these emotions to stop. Everything stopped. In a bleak and blank space which only my elephant and I shared, I was forced to address his presence. And so it goes for ever more, too much going on not enough time to think, down tools. It sends me into a dark space where I’m incapable of achieving the simplest of things. The super mum with a hint of creative genius ruling the day as glamour personified no longer exist. In her place you will find a mess, a disgusting repulsive snivelling mess. Obviously by the nature of this illness I loathe this “me” and I hate most fervently the intrusion of the visitor who creates her. It makes me so very angry, and at first when I thud heavily to the base of the pit, I want to scream, could murder those who decide that depression would be my thing.
My depression has a name, meet Mr “Not Good Enough”, he likes to drum his name against the inside of my head continuously.
“Sarah, you are not out of bed yet, it’s not good enough”
“Sarah, you haven’t hoover the hallway, cleaned the bathroom, ironed the school shirts, cooked the tea, it’s not good enough”
“Sarah, you can’t catch the escaped guinea pig and your son is very upset, it’s not good enough”
“Sarah, you reacted badly to your son’s behaviour, it’s not good enough”
“Sarah why don’t you know how to get your complex ASD and attachment challenged child to school? It’s not good enough”
“Sarah, you’re crying again, it’s not good enough”
“Sarah what do mean you can’t cope? IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH”
Fear not however I am a seasoned fighter, I refuse to remain its victim for long and I have many tricks up my sleeve. Operation recovery is the small achievement plan. Firstly I don blinkers, I am no longer able to see the piles of washing, the mould growing in the shower or the dirt ingrained carpet, it will all still be there when I am fully recovered. I set myself a small project, getting out of bed, having a shower, getting dressed and reward myself plentifully for my success “Well Done Sarah, you did it”. And so it goes. Tiny steps with plenty of rewards. Nothing too stressful or demanding because as soon as there is a sniff of none achievement the drumming inside my head beats again. The unavoidable responsibility of children sometimes requires assistance from a loving husband or great deal of recovery time after pushing through a sickeningly difficult task, breakfast and the school run. Depression doesn’t like exercise, can’t handle the happy hormones which it awakens, so I try my best to irritate with a walk or a run. Sleep and rest are also met with disapproval as they refresh and empower the mind, respite before school pick up is essential. When I’m kind to myself I slowly begin to nourish my soul and replenish me. In feeding me I starve him. Simple.
I say simple but reality does not always hand out concessions to depressives. A £800 bill to fix the car, a son who threatens to hit a dinner lady and a much stressed blaspheming husband can always push you back into decline. Holding on tightly as the thrust subsides onwards and upwards I continue to go. So today has been a vast improvement on yesterday, I haven’t cried once and I left the house twice. Some days progress is diminutive on others its leaps and bounds, the important thing is to read my capability and not surpass it. This plan is a good one that works well for me, however I know that I am fortunate enough to have a work at home husband who can take the reins on occasions when required and I’m not in full time employment with an inflexible boss. Having suffered with depression for almost half my life and being diagnosed for over ten, this situation is not luck or accident it’s what we do to manage the illness. I understand that I would find working full time in a very rigid job alongside providing the complete care my family requires an almost certain impossibility. This sometimes makes me feel very sad.
My friend has started to pack his bags and will soon be hitting the road; of this I am now more certain than I was yesterday. I’m sure I will see him again but hopefully not for a long time. However I will regard him from a distance and track his activities with interest. My fortifications will be strengthened and my determination resolute, no more uninvited visitors.