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.
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.
Not 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.
(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.
Some 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.
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.
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.
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.