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.
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.
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:
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?
Many 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.
(2nd December 2014)
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.
“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)