19. Time… Changes everything

Eleven years ago, in Aug 2003 I had my breakdown.  It is only now that I actually call it that.  I never really had a word for it before, but it was the biggest turning point in my life.

And a break down it was, a complete and utter break down of everything.

I had seen it coming.  I had felt the vibes in me.  I knew something wasn’t right within my soul.  So, it came as no great surprise that Monday morning, as I walked towards my office with the usual sense of foreboding, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, heavy breath, and anxiety… to find myself 30 minutes later in a heap.

Having sat down at my desk, I knew I had to see my doctor urgently, and within minutes of making that call, I was struggling with life itself.  I remember the day so clearly, from the panic around me, to the fact that my team leader drove me home, rather than call the ambulance that I so desperately needed at the time.  It had felt like they just wanted to hurry me off the premises, to no longer be their responsibility. Truth is

After a few weeks of being completed drugged out, Occupational health stepped in, and organized 6 weeks of counselling with a local practice.  That woman did more damage than good!  She opened up a whole can of worms that should have been left well alone, as she could not deal with the contents.  She spent more time talking at me, than to me, telling me what I should do, and so on and so on.  I couldn’t wait to finish the 6 weeks with her.  It felt like unfinished business, and I had had no trust in her to truly open up.  But at least one thing I did learn was that I was indeed depressed.  Just as my doctor had told me.  Initially, the very idea of depression, was something I had been bemused by, but it soon dawned on me that I was suffering, and as time went by, I realised just how bad I had it and for how long.

I was appointed a psychiatrist, who I still see, and went on to attend other types of counselling.  But I didn’t really have the same issues as some of my peers, so I never felt that I got anything out of it, except understanding the different degrees or levels at which people can suffer.  More importantly, I learnt that depression can last for years and years, and some people don’t ever really get over it. 

The darkness i know so well

Being myself, I had thought I would recover in a few months, that all I needed was just a break, and here I am eleven years later, still not out of the woods yet!

I have always very open about my illness.  Many people have thanked me for my candidness, and for being willing to talk about it. I described depression like falling a series of steps; and acknowledged that we all suffer from it at some time in our lives, but for most it will last for a very short period of time i.e. falling down to the first step.

But, for the unfortunate ones, they fall a lot further down, maybe even hitting the floor hard.  And that’s when the true problems can arise, that’s when we need the help of medication, to pull us out of it and up again.  I placed myself somewhere near rock bottom, but not quite.

It is after all a chemical reaction within our brain and body, there is nothing that we can do to help ourselves, so there should be no shame or stigma just because of people’s ignorance.  I became quite good at seeing it in other people, and my honesty was always welcomed and appreciated, because I understood.

A doctor once said to me, that he best cures for depression are:

  1. Sunshine
  2. Exercise
  3. Laughter

Three things guaranteed to boost your mood, and help make you feel better…  If only it were that simple.  Depression usually means that you have been robbed of the ability to enjoy doing things, or you no longer feel pleasure in anything, because you feel so flat and so low.  So how do you summon up the energy to get yourself motivated?  When it takes all the “feel good” emotions away from you?

Don't depend too much on anyoneMany people were shocked in the way I had changed, I was no longer chatty or humorous, I was very, very quiet and withdrawn.  Basically, I became a shell, the complete opposite of the person I usually was.

People questioned how I could be depressed, with having the nice house, a good job and a lovely husband to boot, (all the material things that allegedly make people happy), because they simply could not understand how it could happen to me.  After all, if I could get knocked down by it, so could they.  I came to recognise who my real friends were, and undertook a major housekeeping exercise, ridding myself of negative forces around me.  Cutting off people who thought they always knew what my problem was, and had a cure for me, in fact it pretty much affected anyone that didn’t listen to me.

About 18 months into my breakdown, I was assigned a Psycho-Therapist, and this was the first step towards my recovery, and me getting my life back.  This amazing woman named Margaret, held the keys to so many of my internal locks, and bit by bit she encouraged me to match each key to a lock, to discover what was hiding behind.  It was then that realisation finally took control.

I began to accept just how broken I was, but I always had it in my mind that one day I would be healed again.  Even though I knew it would take time for that to happen, that thought kept a positive light burning inside of me; in spite of feeling like I was surrounded by darkness.

I am so proud of myself, because I never lost my free spirit, I have maintained my focus throughout this illness, and I have emerged so much stronger than ever before.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(2nd December 2014)

Update:

It’s hard to be believe that was me 4 years ago.  What I didn’t know then, was that I was on the brink of a major transitional period, that would once again rip my life inside out.

I am fully aware and accepting of the fact that depression will always be a companion of mine, whether she lurks in the shadows or walks by my side.  I am also fully accepting of the fact that I will always be on medication for it, in spite of being discharged from my psychiatric service.  But in truth, I never really believed that I got the support or the service I should have received from them; because there were so many important issues that were left undiscussed.  So, a lot of the time I felt very much alone and like I was left to flounder.

But in the end, over the last 4 years I have addressed the main factors that had brought me to that place, and at least now feel like I’m holding the steering wheel and I’m back in the control seat of my life.  I had very few people I could confide in, who had some knowledge and understanding of what I was going through.  So silently, I got on with the task of picking myself back up, dusting myself down and getting on with the process of properly mending and healing.   Stop looking for the light

I keep that beast inside“, came out of this transitional phase, when I wrote it not only did I feel angry, I knew I had every right to be.  My creativity and my written words, have empowered and driven me so much, I no longer seek validation from people close to me, who seem quite happy to disregard or ignore my talents.

But, this matters no more as my confidence and self-belief are growing daily, and I feel truly blessed by that.  Sx ❤️

(Saturday 16th February 2019)

 

 

 

 

 

 

18. Oh give me a break!

Don’t really mean to have a rant, but have you ever had a time, when you felt your brain was just so addled, you felt completely lost within yourself?

Or felt enveloped by some thick fibrous tissue of someone’s life, that you felt like you were suffocating in them?

Well, that’s been me, these last few weeks!45148043_10160875251795005_2443880444903555072_n

I feel utterly exhausted by the stress, caused by someone else’s agony and frustrations.  I cause no real stress to myself, it is always someone else’s.

They bring it to my door like bunches of flowers, down the phone line, by internet, and in the case of my ex-husband – from very close quarters within the home.

But I don’t want to hear it!  I just simply don’t want to hear it… anymore.

I keep myself away.  Quiet and unnoticed.  Just calmly trying to deal with crap that’s already in my life, my health and again ex-husband, but that’s not enough.  Doesn’t matter how many times or ways I try to say ‘enough‘, the words, fall, on deaf ears.  I can never get my head round that!

They can see I am mentally drained, and so, so tired.  But it would seem that I’m the ONLY one to know the solutions to their problems.  As always.

They don’t have to think, why should they?  They have me, at the drop of a hat, first person to call.  I never proclaimed myself to be the Oracle, and neither do I want to be, it sounds like a bloody hard job.

37671334_2145716445665726_381903269280088064_n 37987924_817059122018685_2662990348992643072_nI just wish that just every now and then, they could come to their senses, and for a change just stand on their own two feet for a while. Just try it out.  See how it feels, and get used to the idea!  I know it would be a huge relief for me, because right now I feel like I’m being crushed, struggling to breathe.

Just a breath of fresh air, a breath of sweet, quiet harmony, would be enough to recharge my batteries, so that I can sparkle again!

Sharon Carter-Wray

(26th November 2014)

Update

At the time when I wrote this, my divorce had been finalised, but I still had to live under the same roof as my ex-husband.  It was not the happiest of times, as he demonstrated how vengeful and vindictive, he could be on a daily basis.  Sometimes in ways, that I cannot fathom why he would choose to behave in such a manner.

I guess he was hurting because he knew he had already lost something, that he’d finally recognised the value of… and there was no chance of ever getting it back.

I am not making excuses for him, but I suppose as the time has passed, I had more time to reflect on it.

In those few months before our house sold, he made my life absolutely miserable, in any way he could.  To the point that I anticipated his actions, and most times they backfired on him.

During this period of my life, I had little support from anyone.   There were many, who thought I was wrong for doing what I did, many who criticised me.  And there were many more who simply could or would not believe, that he was anything but this mild mannered, chilled out guy.  He’d never dream of hurting me, because he knew I was more than his match.  He dare not lay a finger on me.  It was one of those things that I’d always warned him about, because even I don’t know how I’d react if someone ever struck me.  But I know I would be worried, I don’t take to that kind of thing kindly.

People knew little or nothing about what was really happening.  He took full advantage of tainting my name and good nature, whilst I said nothing.  Whether those that listened believed him or not, I don’t know, but their eyes can’t deceive them, or deny what a ‘better’ man he’d become, because of me.  But I never heard another word from any of his family of his shared friends.  So, may be they did.

Little did they know, how in an instant he could transform from a gentle being into a raging lunatic.  Throwing things, kicking things, causing damage, (in particular to my belongings), shouting at the top his voice, like he was some caged animal.  They didn’t know this side.

Or the guy who would also be broke, never have a penny to spend on anything, had fallen behind on all his financial responsibilities, but like magic could come up with cash to disappear for a week to go sailing.  Knowing that he’d not paid the mortgage, or put money on the electric meter to last his absence, and never once checking to make sure I had money.  They didn’t know this side.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter what other people may think and feel, it wasn’t their life, and they have no inkling of the real issues I had to deal with.   All I knew is that I had to leave and be as far away from him, as I could.37987924_817059122018685_2662990348992643072_n

In truth, as with many things, I didn’t do it for them, I did it for me.

And thank goodness I had the sense to do what I did, when I did.  I had to save myself… simple as that.

Sharon

(Monday 4th February 2019)

 

 

17. All good things must come to an end…

For something else better to begin!

Well. I guess I ought to give an explanation for where the entries in this section “Straight from the heart” come from.

I had previously created a blog entitled:  ‘Journey through a painful body and a depressed mind‘, and I used this forum to write about my on-going battle with various health problems.  The title says it all really, but I have to clearly state that that, is who I was (and still am to some degree), but I have travelled far since then.

In the end, about 4 years ago, I decided that it was time to close to door on that chapter of my life.  Not because I was better, but because I recognised that virtually every single word I wrote, was bleak and gloomy.  It was all about the darkness.  Even though at the time, it was very beneficial for me to write this way, I realised that it wasn’t really who I was anymore. And I certainly didn’t need reminding of having felt that way.  This all being at a time, when I was both at my lowest and my strength was coming back, when my marriage was ending and I needed to feel hope in my heart.

The blog was very important to me, it helped me to survive and win through a very onerous period of my life.  I therefore, believe it was a necessity that my entries from it be included here, as the foundation of where it all began.  It was the beginning of my healing process, and allowed me to speak openly about the frustrations and anger that crippled me.  So, all good things must come to an end… blade-of-grass

Journey through a painful body and a depressed mind:

The ‘painful body’ is due to 4 conditions that I suffer with, Fibromyalgia, Allodynia Sciatica and Spinal degeneration in my upper and lower back.  Fibromyalgia, is the condition that I struggle with most, as I have it severely from top to toe.  It is horrible disorder to live with, as for me it entails being in chronic pain anywhere throughout your body.  Basically ‘Fibro” refers to the fibrous tissue surrounding joints and muscles, and ‘Myalgia’ refers to pain.  This can also be referred to a chronic pain syndrome, so it’s not just a few minor aches.

The severity, duration and locality of pain is different for each and every person, and I am now classed as being ‘End stage – severe’.  The pain from this can be so bad, a person can be completely incapacitated or even bed ridden by it, and I am very thankful, I have not reached that point yet).

There is no cure for this condition.

The best I can do for me, is to look after myself, by keeping my body as mobile as possible.  For that, I do a lot of stretching and yoga postures, and anything else that helps to keep me standing on my own two feet.  The only relief I can sometimes get, is by using strong pain killing drugs, which only dampen the pain down, and in turn create other problems for me.

Fibromyalgia: Is not a problem inside my head.  It is very real.  It is very painful. It is debilitating.  It is the silent burglar.

And it doesn’t just affect the physical body, it also grabs hold of your mind, and controls daily activity.

These are just some examples of how I am affected by Fibromyalgia:You think you know her
Forgetfulness, easily stressed, lack of concentration or focus, confusion, being clumsy, being unsteady just standing up, easily tired through constant lack of or disturbed sleep, eternal fatigue, terrible balance, being drained of energy, sensitivity to light, sound, smell and taste.

This list could go on and on.

I suffer with symptoms quite literally from head to toe on a daily basis.  I am always in pain, FULL STOP. I am always worn out, it takes me forever to do things, and it has robbed me of many simple joys in life.  But I, like everyone else, don’t have a choice, I have to live with it.

The Fibro, has also brought on a condition called Allodynia, which makes me incredibly sensitive to the slightest touch.  The severity of this, varies around different parts of my body, and in some cases I am now 23% more sensitive to pain than the average person.  What that means is that what might feel like a light touch to you, could feel like a punch to me.  Something as simple as stubbing my toe, could end up with me being in absolute agony for weeks.  So, I am always very cautious and somewhat scared of how people may touch me, be it a hug or an accidental brush.  My senses are on such high alert for this, and no one would know just by looking at me, that something was wrong. But my body automatically tenses up, in preparation of being hurt unintentionally in this way.

It has made my life unbearable at times, and I now understand that I have had it for most of my life, but something triggered it off for it to become full blown.  It took nearly 4 years of being left untreated and being in agony before I received a full diagnosis, that finally gave me a name for this monster.  By having MRI scans, it also showed that I had degeneration going on in my upper and lower back, and not before long, Sciatica was added to my repertoire of illnesses.

6ca44-required1As for the depression, that really took hold of me about 16 years ago, I literally skidded, then crashed and burned.  Again, with the help of hindsight, I recognise that this too was something that stemmed back from my childhood.  However, this time I really was a train wreck.

It is something I know will never entirely leave me, but now, I can’t help think that with everything on my plate, depression is/was a natural gravy.  Today, I use the strength I have gained through recovery to be open and frank with others who are suffering – whether they know it or not.

It is a strange sensation when your mind is still wanting to speed along but your body takes over the decision-making process.  Not being in control of my own frame of mind, left me feeling powerless, hopeless and defeated.  I have often said,

‘It was the best thing that could have happened to me’. 

Because had I carried on with my life the way it was, then things would have truly ended up being a lot worse.

In just a short space of time, my life changed forever, I was plunged into the darkness of a sound proofed arena, where I could hear and observe everything, but nobody heard or saw me.

It was the start of my ‘incredible journey’.

A mordacious opportunity, that helped me revisit my life.  My past, my ‘past’ past, my present, eventually leading me to look forward at my new future.   I’ve had decisions to make, and many other issues to deal with along the way, but one thing was for sure, changes had to be made.Sometimes it hurts

So here I am, this is where I’m at, now aged 49, about to embark on possibly the most exciting time of my life…starting over again. I am not out of the woods yet, but I can clearly see a bright light ahead of me.

I stopped writing the other blog, because I know I am not that person anymore.  All my physical health problems, as expected have naturally and progressively gotten worse, and deep depression is still a regular visitor.  But now, I see it for what it is, a ‘visitor’, something ‘temporary’.

I’m in a whole different place.

I have created a new book, with many blank pages.

I’ve rewritten, what was my then future.

I refuse to allow it to drag me too far, back into the abyss, it is not a place I want to spend time.

I see now, why back then, it was so crucial for me to have retained my positive outlook on my recovery and life.

Sharon carter-Wray

(Originally written 29/09/2014)

(Updated: 9th January 2019)

 

15. And so the story continues.

I hope, I haven’t made this whole thing about depression and healing myself sound as if it were easy.   It was far from it.  What a lot of people don’t understand about depression is that there no magic cure, it is not about “picking yourself up”, or “getting over it” or “popping pills” in your mouth.  There is so much more to it than that.

People with real depression only wish that they could do, just that.  But it’s not a choice that we have.  People who ask “What have you got to be depressed about?”, or  say things like “I’ve got a friend (etc), with the same problem and they did this”, or “You need to be getting out more and enjoying yourself”, etc, etc, etc.

The darkness i know so well
Know this feelilng well!

These people, who can voice such incredible words of thoughtlessness, and insensitivity, have absolutely no idea what they are saying to a depressed mind, or in fact to the person they are saying it to.

In my life, they were people who knew me, until I realised they knew nothing about me or my life.  They merely saw the material things I had gathered, the confidence I held in myself, the way I would always be the one to speak up, and who also always got the job done.  They didn’t bear or even consider the pressure I was under, or notice my gradual decline.  They didn’t see what was coming.  Neither did I.  But one day I was stopped.

1badf-when2bthe2bheart2bis2bcutNot by choice.  I had nothing to do with it.  My body had literally decided it couldn’t take anymore, it was burnt out, exhausted, and it was crying out for rest and quiet.

And for a while, in such a weakened state I had tried to defend myself against these people and their words.  But, no matter how many times I tried to explain, why this had happened to me, it fell on deaf ears.  And eventually I stopped trying to explain, and became almost silent.

All they wanted to do was find something else to blame it on:

  • Buying a new house
  • Building work that was going on,
  • Even my recent marriage.

Never did anyone, not even any of my family acknowledge, the stress they’d put me under, or the demands they made of me. And my employers seemed to think it was okay for me to do the job of 4 people, whilst studying and doing staff training on their behalf.  Never, did anyone think that they could be held even remotely responsible.

And that’s when I knew, that for my own sanity, I had to remove these people from my life.  Mentally, emotionally and physically.  They were causing me more damage and more pain than I needed or could cope with, and they completely zapped my energy.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(First written 5thMarch 2012)

I began calling my depression, my own personal journey, because that is exactly what it is, both personal and a journey.  But I am fortunate enough to be able to voice what’s in my head, and record my own thoughts. I can’t always be poetic about my feelings, so at times what I write may come across as being very raw, but it is honest.

I guess that’s why I feel that depression is such a very solitary thing.

People think they understand and have all the answers, as though it were as simple as going to the gym, or getting your hair cut.  But unless they have experienced it themselves, they really have no inkling of what really goes on in our minds.

00177-10462841_673987222689399_3467623837117453863_nSome of us may be lucky to find things that gives us some release, with me it’s my creativity and writing, but it can be a battle in itself to start that process.  For others, they may remain completely trapped, unreachable almost, being lost in their own world, where they see or feel no joy.

Because of the nature of all the illnesses I suffer with I am still depressed, it would strange if I weren’t.  Nobody can put up with constant pain, fatigue and a host off other issues, with a smile permanently on their face!  And I know I will be on medication for the rest of my life, there is no getting away from that, and I accept that.  Just as I have come to accept many things…

But one thing I do know for sure is:

It takes an almighty person, with the right set of keys to unlock the darkness inside someone’s mind and release the light.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(Updated Wednesday 5thDecember 2018)

 

14. Why oh why?

Why is it that sometimes the people who are closest to you and should care about you, are the ones that actually don’t understand or give a shit?
I am almost lost for words to speak, but I think I have the ability to voice my utter disbelief and anger on these pages.

  • What is it about some people, that as soon as you open your mouth to express something, they are straight down your throat biting and spitting venom, before the words or sounds are even formed?
  • Why are they always on the attack, and so defensive first?   Why can’t they give it a moments thought that you may have something important or earnest to say?
  • Why do they always think that they are about to be blamed for something, or they’ve done something wrong, and are therefore protecting themselves just in case.

It kills me some times, when I think that I have spent 15 years of my life with someone that is so selfish and conceited, who is only happy when we are talking about him, his interests, his hobbies, his work, his problems, his family issues and his hang-ups of which there were many.  And of course I am indeed speaking about my husband in this particular situation. 650e5-how2bdid2byou2bget2bso2bempty

He is content with his selfish existence, because he can mock or block whatever or whomever he feels is not important or worthwhile at any moment in time.  Which is usually me.  As usual, I will just pick up the pieces, and repair them once again, or I will make anew and ensure that each time it is stronger. Sometimes I wonder why I do this, does it make me happy, feel more secure, feel cared for or loved, something special, or listened to?  The answer is no, because, all I do is wait for the next time, and wonder if next time, will be my last time.

Why does he only remember at the last minute, that if it were not for me he would not have the very things that he enjoys so much, and yet can be so selfish about.  Why does he take for granted, the one thing he should hold closest to his heart and nurture, because I am the only person who believes in him, no matter what?  He gives me no real thanks or recognition, there is no appreciation, there are always only words, and more words that essentially mean nothing or even less ,than the first time they were spoken with sincerity.  The poison is spat with such anger, but no thought – that will come later when he realises what he is possibly or most likely sacrificing.  Why does he not understand that by then it’s too late?

Words cannot be unspoken, unkindness and not be replaced and no soothing words will ever heal the damage that has just been caused.

All he has done is confirm what I already knew and believed, as I see in his actions, behaviour and his mood every day.  That will never change, as he lacks the respect within himself, to look into the mirror and see who he is really is, and what he has become.  It has been a long time since he really took a proper look, perhaps, it’s time for him to do it again, before he causes long term, irreparable pain.

556c6-dear2bexIt is the same blood that courses through his veins, as the other people that constantly torment and abuse him, but no matter what – it will always be my fault.  It’s always my fault because I can see the answers that he cannot.  I can also see the damaged soul that he carries with him, and I can put in the words what he is too weak to speak for himself.  But, most of all I know the man he hides behind and pretends to be, even though he will never admit that evento himself.

It is always my fault, which is why it is easier for him, to do battle with me, someone he feels is week, vulnerable and accepting of more abuse – even though he knows the real truth.  It is easier for him to feel some sense of triumph, to beat his chest and parade his fantastic feathers, because he believes he has conquered me– ‘the good side of him’ which enables him to do this in the first place.  But, the things is, I gave him the chest to swell with pride, I repaired the wings for him to fly again, and I bandaged his wounds so he could heal, so how I can I be at fault?  How, can I be wrong again?

So what do I do next?  Do I let him off the hook again, and pretend that all is as it was, and he can carry on with his ‘happy’ life?

Or do I stand up yet again, and prove to him that he has no right to do war with me, because I am his saviour and not his problem? 00177-10462841_673987222689399_3467623837117453863_n

Or do I add it to the list of unforgivable things that he has done or said in the past, which is making my armour and readiness to do battle with him even stronger?

You tell me.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(5thMarch 2012)

 

I know I was in a really bad place when I first wrote this, and I think it was the start of the deterioration of my marriage. It took until 2 years ago to finally admit to myself and label what had been going on, as mental abuse.  It had been a continual pattern throughout our entire relationship, but marriage somehow reinforced it.  I still carry emotional and mental fears, scars & wounds from that period of my life, but thankfully now I can say it is very much behind me.

I was able to walk away with my dignity intact, but it has made me very vigilant about who I have in my life.

(Updated 26thNovember 2018)

 

 

13. Keeping pace with pain support group

Yesterday, I attended a Keeping Pace with pain group at St Andrews Church in Southampton.  It had been suggested by my key worker, that I might find it beneficial in some way.

So I trundled along not really knowing what to expect, and I am really pleased that I did.  I was made to feel so welcome, and they were all very friendly people.

This session had a speaker- Fran Hodgson, who is a chair bound yoga teacher.  Fran, herself is very inspirational and has a very happy disposition.  At first I thought we would be doing stretching exercises, but instead we were chanting.  But these chants were sung rather than spoken, fortunately I found my voice and was quite tuneful!

It was a real eye-opener!  The whole experience was so uplifting, and I felt really good afterwards. 

They only meet once a month, and each session they do something different.  Every person there suffers from chronic pain in one way or another, but the time was not spent talking about it, which was really refreshing.

I will definitely go again!

Sharon Carter-wray

(16th September 2011)

I continued to attend this group, and others that subsequently grew from it, and I still find it uplifting, especially the art group that also meets once a month on a Tuesday.  This group is completely free to attend, and is run purely on donations.  Unfortunately due to ill health I have been unable to attend this year, but hope to start again in January.

If you have any local support groups like this in your area, that may give you social interaction, it’s worthwhile checking it out, if it’s available.  Sx 🙂

(Updated Tuesday 20th November 2018)

12. Retracing my steps

Finally understanding what being ‘burnt out’ hit home, it made me look at my career to date.  I was always after self-betterment, I had always wanted a ladder to climb to achieve things.  But now, I know all my employers had seen that trait in me, and wanted to make the most of me, while they had me.

At the age of 24, I had literally packed a suitcase, and began a new job that took me off on new adventures.  I spent 10 years of my life travelling the length and breadth of this country, doing store openings for Homebase, B&Q & MFI to name a couple of companies.  Each time, staying away from home for months at a time, until the contract was completed, the store was opened or re-opened to the public for the first time; before we could finally return home or go onto the next job.  It was not an easy job by any means, it was very demanding, each contract was 24 hours a day, seven days a week, living in some hotel or B&B.

After a few jobs, I was no longer doing the ground work, I was managing a team of up to 35 people.  I was responsible for making sure that the job was done well and done right on which ever shift I was working on.  I and my colleague who covered the other shift, were accountable if things went wrong.ff44d-humans2bare2bfragile

After a few years I became an account manager, having direct with the clients I began to run the jobs, organising my teams, sorting transport, accommodation, interviewing & recruiting new staff. All this whilst still travelling to do site visits, which was always rife with some complaint or other, which I had to deal with. When I was not in the office, I would be in my car, it became a very lonely job.  The toll that all these hours behind the wheel of a car would eventually manifest itself later in my life.

With a team of core people, plus locally employed general assistants, we worked hard and played hard.

I used to say, it took a strange breed of fish to do the job, either people were running away from something; or they were trying to find something.

I am not sure which category I fell into, but eventually the need arose for me to find a permanent place, where I could finally hang my hat, and empty my suitcase. bad09-i2bcan2band2bi2bwill

This sadly coincided with the death of my brother, who had been very ill for many years.  It was at that point, that I knew that I had to move on.  I had always said to myself, that by the age of 30, I wanted my first home, and real independence, and a month short of my 30th birthday, I finally managed to achieve just that.

It was a huge turning point in my life, and something I was so proud I was able to achieve on my own.  It meant I finally had a home, a space that I could call my very own.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(9thSeptember 2011)

(Updated Wednesday 14th November 2018)

11. Picking up the pieces

When my doctor signed me off for two weeks with depression, his words of advice were:

“People suffer differently. Some will feel better after a couple of weeks or months and for some it could take years or never”.

I remember thinking ‘it’s not going to take that long for me to get over this, I had things to do, I had to work!  How little I knew then.  And here I am 9 years later, still very much depressed, still on pills, but somehow life is better.

Within the second week, I experienced another panic attack, though not as bad as the first, it was enough to frighten me.  Things that I would have been willing to do before, now scared me, and over the years I experienced many more attacks.

Over the next few months, I took a long hard look at myself, and my life to date.  During my silent years, I began the healing process.  I was still very angry, very anxious and very fragile.  It also helped me to understand that I wasn’t depressed from the date of diagnosis, but instead had been depressed for most of my life.

This was a real revelation, as it was from growing up, during my adolescence, and into my adult life, up to now.  And I was reminded of all the things that had been said, done or happened to me.If you aren't true...

My little demons, that I had hugged so closely, and carried around for so long, had one by one re-presented themselves to me, to face, to overcome or to deal with.  It took me a while to understand what I had to do, but then I realised that unless I addressed each and every one of them, they would never go away.

I had been so angry with my ex employers for the way they treated me, in spite of my real tears, and cries for help they overloaded me, and just expected me to cope.  They had continually allowed me to work under extreme pressure, still meeting my deadlines, still producing the goods for them and being the honest spokesperson.

But what they had not expected was that I would fight back.

The lies they told, and the ignorance they hid behind to protect themselves, astounded me.  Each time they called me in for a “back to work” chat, was an opportunity for them to try and knock me back or have another go.  And though I felt physically weakened, my resolve grew stronger, I was not about to let them off the hook that easily. So eventually, after 12 months, I had my last meeting and walked away feeling a minor triumph.

That was the last straw that broke my back.  But in all fairness, I now know that all my previous employers were equally guilty.  As all of them had in one way or another, exploited my skills and hardworking attitude, and abused my good nature.  The trouble was, I always gave 110%, and they fed me with empty promises – that I kept on eating.

Of course, I have my regrets now for being such a conscientious employee, because I am still paying the price for my commitment to them.  But, in truth I can’t change my attitude towards how I approach doing anything, I will naturally give everything my best shot and more, whether the situation demands it or not.  But I do wonder sometimes wonder how different things might have been for me, if my employers had really used my full potential rather than abusing it…

Sharon Carter-Wray

(18thAugust 2011)

Updated: Tues 13thNovember 2018

 

10. What happened next..

I remember it all so clearly.  That morning, as I walked down that long corridor to the office where I worked, I could feel the tension and anxiety building up in me.  I was physically unstable, my heart was pounding, I was short of breath and I knew my blood pressure was sky high, but I also knew something was desperately wrong.

By the time I sat at my desk, I felt exhausted, I couldn’t think straight, and at that point I knew I had to see my doctor.  So, I told to my team leader, that I wasn’t feeling too good and needed to go to the doctors.  I got an appointment for an hour later.  However, as soon as I put the phone down, the panic attack kicked in.  I found myself gasping for air, burning up, with shooting pains in my chest.  I was terrified of what was happening to me.You have everything in you

But my team leader, didn’t get me an first aider, didn’t take me to my doctors, or call an ambulance, she drove me home!  It was then down to my husband to take me to the doctors.

I was in such a bad state, so as soon as we arrived at my surgery, I was wired up and attached to various machines, which thankfully confirmed that I wasn’t suffering from a heart attack.  But it did show that my blood pressure was a dangerous level.

After about an hour, I finally calmed down enough to see my doctor, who diagnosed depression, gave me some strong tranquilisers and signed me off for 2 weeks.

During that time, I got to know my sofa very well.  I hardly spoke to anyone or did anything else for that matter.  I never did get back to work.

That one day changed the rest of my life, and even now when I think about it, it still hurts.  It was a very scary & painful event, but I also have to admit that it was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to me.  As it made me slow right down and take a good long hard look at my life.  For the moment, I was no longer that strong, confident, straight talking woman instead I was a delicate and very fragile being.

After a few weeks of being off, the local authority that I worked for referred me to Occupational Health and also appointed a Counsellor for me to see.  Now, I have completed a Counselling course, and I know the rules about the client/Counsellor relationship.  But my God, that woman they sent me to see broke every single one of them.  She didn’t listen to me, but instead talked too much, she was opinionated and tried to offer advice.  She opened up a whole can of worms and had no idea how to deal with the contents.  I was so glad when the six weeks were finally up and that I hadn’t fully opened up with her.

It took me a couple of years before I before I really started to talk again, I had become so quiet and withdrawn, I hardly recognised myself.  I gave into the idea that if no one actually listened to me, then I had nothing to say.  And the so called do-gooders, who always thought they knew the answer to my illness, was one by one struck off the list of people I cared for or cared for me.

Crying is how your heart speaks...
Only someone who’s felt real pain could have written this!

I didn’t know it at the time, but later learned that depression makes you lose your confidence, and restricts the ability to do simple things like food shopping, driving a car, getting on a train, feeling comfortable with lots of people just to name a few things.  It can also stay with a person for years, can affect anyone young or old, can be caused by a variety of issues, and most importantly takes away your joy and desire to do anything or enjoy anything.

It is like walking around with your own personal black cloud constantly over your head, everything loses its colour and just turns grey.

I hope that maybe some of my fellow sufferers, who may be reading this, will agree with this description, because the list is extensive and this is just a brief overview.  I have often described it as being at the top of a series of steps.  Most people will suffer from some sort of depression at some time in their life, and will only fall down to the first step; so it’s pretty easy to get back up to the top.

When you are clinically depressed, you fall down many steps, maybe even down to the very bottom.  Then it’s a real struggle to get back up, yet alone climb up the first step.  Again, I can really only comment on my experience, but somehow, I believe that others like me are nodding their heads.

Chronic depression is a real illness caused by a chemical imbalance, and so it is important to understand, that when you are suffering, you cannot get over it on your own.  You need to have medical intervention, you need all the help you can get.Be like the blade of grass..

Depression is too common for there still to be stigma attached to it.

And if you do find yourself on medication, don’t be deterred by non-believers, or those who don’t want you popping pills but at the same time have no viable alternatives to offer.

Depression is very much a personal story, so treat yourself like an individual.

Sharon Carter-Wray

(27thJuly 2011)

 

(Updated Friday 9thNovember 2018)

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