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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

9. You have to learn…

“You have to learn to get up from the table, when love is no longer being served”.  Nina Simone

Ever have that feeling?

Well it’s not nice.

I have spent so long with one person, just to find years later that love didn’t live here any more.

Worse still, I began to question whether real love was there to start off with.

I looked so deep within myself, wanting to know when I lost my love for him, was it before or after that realisation?  I felt gutted, wounded and let down, each recollection of those words being said and memories of actions that didn’t quite match, only served as another blow to already cheek.

Each time I reeled back from the shockwaves, as I delved deeper into my psyche. Realisation kicked in, in a big way, I had to face the fact that I had been blinded by choice.  It was my choice, that all those niggles about our relationship, (or the things that I was unhappy with), had been pushed to one side.  I had carried on regardless. Boldly bowing down to my vows as a married woman, for richer for poorer, for better or worse, in sickness and in health etc, etc.

More fool me, when it dawned on me that instead of being loved and cared for, I had been ruthlessly taken for granted, manipulated, used, abused and abandoned.

I guess I always knew that something wasn’t quite right, it all seemed one-sided – I was doing all the giving, and he was doing all the taking.  But I had denied that fact to myself so long, that I almost didn’t believe it.

It was only when I started to look at the woman I had become, because of him, that the true damage became apparent… ‘I was running on empty’.  I felt completely stripped down to the bone, naked of even flesh.  I didn’t know who I was anymore.

I had been craving for the very things that he couldn’t or wouldn’t show or give to me.  I was indeed empty.  The ‘belief’ that he loved and appreciated me, had been based on the frequently used three words, that he used to keep me going.   However, there were seldom any ‘facts or acts’ to support them, they were quite simply just empty words.

The more I thought about it, the more my own true feelings toward him emerged. In my heart I had nothing left for him, and I had no idea when those feelings had left me.  But once again, I found myself in a very lonely place, it was hard justifying my reasons, to those who were also blinded by his charms.

Everything changed after that revelation.

I had woken up!

Finally I accepted that I wanted to start living ‘my’ life over again, but for ‘me’ this time.

Throughout all of this, I had blamed myself, I took on the responsibility, I think maybe because it was easier to deal with that way. After all had I not accepted and allowed his behaviour to continue?   So it was also down to me to stop it.

But all I want right now, is to find my smile and be happy again, because it’s way overdue!

 

Sharon Carter-Wray

(15thOctober 2014)

 

Note:

This was written a week before my Decree Absolute came through, unfortunately, I still had to spend another 6 months under the same roof as the waster I married! Sx J

 

 

 

Have faith

I have faith in myself

My words have set me free

Even if they sometimes feel

Like they are the very chains

Restraining me

I cannot throw

Caution to the wind

And write with abandon

My thoughts run deep

And are not at all random

The book of “My life story”

Has until now

Remained mostly unread

But now my story

Is something to share

And my words

Are something to spread

There is still

So much darkness within me

That surely needs

To see the light of day

I didn’t ask for this life

Or this history

It just happened that way

But by rooting round

Inside my agony

I keep finding the words

I need to say

Self-belief is hard to find

Even though

It’s just a state of mind

When I’ve been knocked down

And not thrown back

It’s been real hard

To get back up

But I’ve done it all the same

Hell yes!

I waited in the line

At the baggage reclaim

For my suitcase

Labeled ‘Lost Soul’

And when at last I opened it

All my hope

Came back home

 

Sharon Carter-Wray

(19thJune 2018)

 

7. All good things must come to an end…

All good things must come to an end…

For something better to begin!

Well. I guess I ought to give an explanation for my previous blog, ‘Journey through a painful body and a depressed mind’, the title says it all really, but that’s who I was, and still am to some degree.

The ‘painful body’ is all about an illness I suffer with called Fibromyalgia, which is a horrible condition to live with, as it entails being in chronic pain anywhere throughout your body.

Basically ‘Fibro” refers to the fibrous tissue surrounding joints and muscles, and ‘Myalgia’ relates to the pain.  But this is chronic pain, not just a few aches.

The severity, duration and locality of pain is different for each person, but things can be so bad, a person can be completely incapacitated or even bed ridden.  There is no cure for this condition, the only relief are strong pain killing drugs, which only dampen the pain down.

The problems are not in our heads, and it doesn’t just affect the physical body, it also grabs hold of your mind, emotions and daily activity.

Other ways it can affect a person:

Forgetfulness – being easily stressed – lacked concentration or focus –
confusion (Brain fog) – clumsiness – lack of sleep – being unsteady on your feet – muscles spasms – lack of sleep – reproduction – blood pressure – being easily tired or exhausted by the simplest of tasks – lack of sleep through constantly waking up – constantly being fatigued or drained of energy

This list could go on and on.

So, how does it affect me?  I suffer with symptoms from head to toe on a daily basis, even in my face, I don’t sleep well, 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 have no choice, I have to live with it just like everyone else, who suffers with this.

The last 6 years or so, have been the worse, I now understand that this is something I have probably had for most of my life, but something triggered it off and now it is full blown.  I only received a full diagnosis about two and a half years ago, at least it gave me a name for this monster.

What also doesn’t help me is that I also suffer with recurring Sciatica, I have spinal degeneration going on in my upper and lower back, and a whole host of other health problems.

But to look at me, I am the picture of perfect health!

As for the depression, that really took hold of me about 12 years ago, I literally skidded to a halt, then crashed and burned.  It is a strange sensation when you body takes over the decision making process, when your mind is still wanting to speed along.

I have often said:

“It was the best thing that could have happened to me’, as 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 everything, but nobody heard me. It was the start of ‘My incredible journey’, that helped me revisit my life, my present, my past, my past past, eventually leading me to look 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.

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 have stopped writing the other blog, because I decided that, that was not the person I wanted to be anymore, it’s not who I am now, I’m in a whole different place.
All good things must come to an end...

 

Sharon Carter-Wray

(29thSeptember 2014)

Note: Unfortunately, 5 weeks after writing this I was involved in a non-fault accident, which wrote my car off, and pulled the rug from under my feet and my life. Sx 🙂

 

3. Picking up the pieces

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

“Some people suffer differently, some will feel better after a couple of weeks, and for some it could take years”.

I remember thinking ‘it’s not going to take that long for me, I had things to do, I had a life to live, I had to work, I was going places…  How little I knew then, and here I am 9 years later, still 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.  However, these seemed to be brought on by people and their actions, rather than any self-based anxiety.

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.  This close scrutiny helped me to understand that I hadn’t only been depressed from the date of diagnosis, but instead had been depressed for most of my life.  And the shadow of that thought engulfed me for quite a while.Don't quit

It was a real revelation, recognising that it had sprung from my childhood, continued into my adolescence, and then my adult life, up to now.  Rekindled painful reminders of the things that had happened or been said to me, things I had tucked away, resurfaced.

My little demons, that I had hugged so closely, and carried around for so long, had one by one again presented themselves, for me to face, to overcome or deal with.  It took me a while to understand, but then I realised that unless I addressed each and every one of them, they would never go away, and would always crop up again at any point in my life.

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

Always listen to your heart...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 just another opportunity for them to have another go, and undermine my self-confidence.  They knew what they had done and it had been witnessed over and over by my colleagues.

And so though I felt physically weakened, my resolve grew stronger, I was not about to let them off the hook that easily. So after 12 months of this coming & going, I had my last meeting and walked away feeling a minor triumph.

That was indeed the last straw that finally broke my back.  But in all fairness, looking back I realised that all my previous employers were equally guilty.  As all of them had in one way or another, exploited my ambition, my skills, hardworking attitude, and had abused my good nature.

The trouble was, I always gave 110%, and they fed me with empty promises, which I Stop looking for the lightfoolishly kept on eating.

As I chipped away at myself, this anger was in turn also directed to people much closer to me, the one’s who should have noticed.  But that in itself, is another story…

Sharon Carter-Wray

 

(18thAugust 2011)

Note: Originally written for my previous blog “Journey through a painful body and a depressed mind”.  A blog I created as part of my healing process.  Sx 🙂

Just a thought

To find what you seek

You must first be sure

Of what it is

That you are really looking for…

 

Sharon Carter-Wray

(22nd October 2017)

I’ve lost my soul

I’ve lost my soul

Helping others to find themselves

And now that they are whole again

They have gone

Just when I found myself

They left at the best time

At the end of my steady decline

But now I am flying

Confident and alone

But leaving them behind

Wondering and asking

“Who’s this stranger before my eyes?”

 

I’ve lost my soul

In the wasted kindness

That I so freely bestowed

Upon the ungrateful ones

Whom I’ve gladly consoled

The one’s that don’t thank you

And give no further word

Up until now the return date

Of my kindness and it’s journey

Has still yet to be told

 

I’ve lost my soul

Fighting the useless battles

That I have fought

Wasted time thinking they were

Worthy causes meant to be saved

But I should have left them

Where I found them

Well and truly alone

After all not every battle

Is meant to be won

 

I’ve lost my soul

Trying to forget my past

The empty words of love

And broken dreams

By building new foundations

This time one’s meant to last

No more sand castles

That simply dissolve

But built to withstand

Rock steady and hard

 

I’ve lost my soul

Following my path

Picking up the loose pebbles

That needed a polish

Before being recast

A new road they will pave

Lined with flowers and weed free

No obstacles or hurdles

Laying in wait to trip me

 

I’ve lost my soul

Searching out my truth

Only to find that

It was never lost

It was still pure and proud

And within me all along

Why I searched for it

I do not know

Maybe some ‘friend’ I had

Had grounds to doubt me

But there it was, in full sight

Encircled by integrity

 

 

I’ve lost my soul

By bearing my all

With my simple honesty

Letting my words

Find listening ears

And reading eyes

From all corners

Of this globe

Ears and eyes that know of

And sense my nakedness

That most of my friends

Have not seen or heard

 

 

I’ve lost my soul

Seeking out a love that’s real

With no doubts or quashed hopes

Something that I can truly feel

Akin to my own values

And core beliefs

Only to establish

That it’s hard to find

All the while knowing

I am a good person

I am worth it, I am real

And ‘I’ am most definitely not

The ‘average’ kind

 

I lost my soul

In all these things

And yet she came back to me

With a heart full of hope

Of a life yet to be

Sharon Carter-Wray

 

(1stmay 2018)

 

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