I never knew that depression could cause so much damage. It’s become a thing that’s banded about and never taken quite seriously enough. My depression was a life changer; for good eventually and bad at the time. It took me to dark places I never knew existed and held me hostage in a limbo of destructive thoughts where my perception was wild and oh so off. I was eaten up with anger and resentment that pervaded my every thought and led me to a paranoia of huge proportions. The confident and outgoing version of me had been replaced by a person I didn’t recognise consumed by negative thoughts, crazy ideas and no idea of what was actually going on.
I managed to drag myself through each day, just. On the surface things may have looked ok but looking closer there were massive cracks. Although when I spoke to people on the road out of depression they were quick to say ‘oh you didn’t seem yourself’ or ‘I knew there was something wrong, you weren’t yourself’. So folks a wee suggestion, if you ever see someone who doesn’t seem right, it’s OK and very much appreciated if you ask if something’s wrong and sometimes even better if you tell us.
It’s a curious thing because we’re told to talk about how we feel. I was angry. Always angry. I didn’t feel particularly sad or down. I felt like a mad woman and I’m sure I looked quite mad too muttering under my breath, hurrying everywhere, mumbling and head down avoiding eye contact. When you’re in the middle of madness it doesn’t feel part of you, for me, it was out there, with them, not me. If I didn’t have a problem, how could I talk about it? I had no idea I was experiencing anxiety and depression, it took a stranger to point that out. She was a counsellor so pretty qualified at making that judgement but I was a mental health professional who couldn’t see what was happening to her; I was living it but didn’t know it.
The day that changed everything for me was the day I sat in the bedroom crying silently thinking that if I walked out the door and never came back, no-one would notice. My kids wouldn’t even care because they didn’t care whether I was there or not. I don’t know if I was really contemplating walking out or whether it was a fleeting thought because it was interrupted by my baby crying. As I lifted her up from her cot and my tears fell from my cheek on to hers, it was then I realised I didn’t want to be like this anymore. To feel like this. To be this mum. I wanted to be the mum that I used to be, the mum that I knew I could be and that my girls deserved.
I cuddled her in close to me and made a silent promise to my daughters and to myself that I was going to get back to me, to find myself again because I didn’t want to live like this anymore.
Depression has cost me many things including friendships with those who couldn’t see past my crazy ass behaviour and understand it as part of the illness. I’m very lucky and grateful to have a partner and family who have stood beside me and with me to support me through all of the batshit crazy stuff. It’s brought me closer to certain people and much more ready to talk about the difficult stuff, even though I might screw my face up at the thought.
The one thing that I do regret is that my eldest daughter has seen some things I wish she didn’t and those days are etched in her memory. There’s a broken trust that’s hard to rebuild but that I work at every day. Depression robbed me of good times with my daughters and provided us with pain and fear. It stole away my confidence and my health as I ate and drank too much in an attempt to drown out those thoughts and fears. My weight is the 3-year hangover I’m still trying to shift.
Of course, I have to tell you the journey made good and I found my silver lining (I don’t want to leave you all in despair). The most life-changing, scary and thrilling lesson for me has been that is that we can master our thoughts to absolutely create the life that we want. Whether that turns out to be good or bad is ultimately up to us and having that much power scares me. It means we choose our own destiny, the good the bad and the ugly. We are the creators and that my friend is power and a whole lot of good, should you let it in.
If there’s one thing I would like you to take away from this, OK two; it’s that speaking to someone is a must. Talking to my GP was right for me. It was like a ton of elephants had been lifted off my shoulders when she told me what was going on. A flood of relief in realising ‘so I’m not going nuts, there is something wrong…oh yeah; I’m nuts’ (I can describe my experience as I see fit, PC or not).
The second thing is that there is light after the dark, keep taking a step at a time and you’ll find it. It’s hard, it’s scary, your mind will play tricks on you and try to keep you stuck in the dark believing that’s all there is. Don’t listen to it. It’s lying to you. Listen to your heart and you’ll eventually find your way out.
I’ve wondered whether to or how to mention Scott Hutchison partly because I don’t feel like I have a right to. I’m a stranger to him and his music. His words and departure have brought me and a lot of others together in sadness and in love; for him. I’ve been stopped in my tracks unable to breathe thinking of someone being so much in pain. Depression is the loneliest place in the world to be even when you’re surrounded by love.
Scott’s words have impacted on me; I’m just one of many. Hug your loved ones is now my every day and ‘I love you’ is the last thing I say to my daughters any time we part. It’s important they hear that. Scott’s made me look long and hard at what I need to do to be and stay well and of how I can help others do the same; a door I’ve been too scared to open through fear of slipping back into the dark.
I believe that depression is underrated. It’s ugly and cruel but it can be conquered. We can and must do something pretty amazing, different and fun – yes fun, to pour light all over the darkness of depression. For making me see all of this, I thank you, Scott, but thank you just doesn’t seem enough.
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