So I am going to talk about it on here.
Depression has been described as a ‘black dog’ that follows you around. For me, it is a black pit that creeps in closer and higher around me, so that it is hard to see light, suffocating me, weighing down on my chest. I walk with my head bowed, following my feet along the pavement, and have to remind myself to stand tall, let the light in. I know when I am having a good day, it’s when I look at the horizon. When I walk along and smell the roses in the gardens as I walk past.
Depression is also a cold hand, clutching at your heart, making you feel worthless in every area of your life, even simple things that you once used to find funny. If you have a disaster when cooking dinner, that can be the end of your day, sending you to bed stressed to think over and over what you didn’t do on time to fluff up the meal. If you burn the toast, it can be the end of your day, before it has even begun. You feel that you are assaulted from every turn, if someone cuts you up when you are driving, it can make you weep.
Usually somnolent to the point of coma when I sleep overnight, now I am agitated, fidgety. When I go to sleep, I listen to audio books, I concentrate on the words, print them out in my mind, and so eventually drift off into fitful sleep. I also struggle to sit down and watch a TV programme, DVD or to read a book, so I choose the easiest, quickest, safest books on my shelf. The Darling Buds of May series, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series: both can be dipped into, and are worlds away from my own. I relish in the imagery of 1950s England and Botswana, removing myself from my life into theirs, albeit briefly, is such a relief.
But at the same time, I am reading books on how to get through this. Reminding myself that this is the present moment, that I am not at work, so I shouldn’t be thinking about it, as I am here, slowly learning and unlearning the habits of a lifetime. Practicing daily that I am ok, that I am full of worth, that I do count.
I didn’t want to take antidepressants, but if it gets me through the next few weeks or months so that I can function again as a normal human being, I will take them, and gladly. At the moment, they are still getting into my system, giving me a slight nauseous feeling and when I turn my head, my brain follows slightly afterwards for the first hour or so. I can’t say they are lifting my mood yet, I’ve only been on them a week. If when I go back to work, they help stop me from disintegrating into a puddle, then I will be happy they have done their job. If that is all they do for me, I will be happy.
It’s funny, I get messages from all over the world asking me how I am doing. But some of my family and friends don’t want to talk about it, it’s like it hasn’t happened. Or if they don’t talk about it, then they can pretend everything is ok for me. I don’t open every conversation with ‘Oh by the way, I am clinically depressed’ as what you think about just perpetuates and carries on and on and on. But you cannot pretend that it isn’t there. You cannot pretend that at the moment, I am not struggling with my life. You cannot expect me to walk into a room and light it up, although I am trying to be present. At the end of the day, people who are depressed need to know that they are safe with their friends and family. That they can sit there and be quiet; just be, is more important than anything else. I don’t need you to do anything for me, I need you just to be there for me when I show up either with a phone call, email or text, or in person. I also am looking out for number one at the moment, I am putting my oxygen mask on first. I have to fix this, no-one else can, but I need people to lean on every so often. To remind me of what route to take. To remind me to hold my head up. To make me laugh by saying ‘Remember when?’