Thursday, 10 March 2016

My Battle with Depression

My battle with depression

Depression has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some people describe it as a black dog, shadowing their steps, but for me it's more like a big black vampire bat hovering over my shoulder, sucking away all the enjoyment and enthusiasm I have for any given situation.

It's not constant. Sometimes the bat is nowhere to be seen, at other times it's just an irritation - a gnat you have to wave away so you can get on with your day. Then there are the occasions when it's dark and looming. All encompassing.

Varney the Vampire
Varney the Vampire, 1847.

I grew up surrounded by depression. An accident turned my dad from a non-stop exercise junkie to a pain ridden recluse. My mum became his cash strapped carer.

At least they had a good reason to be depressed.

Mine came from nowhere, and it terrified me. It would get me one day, I knew, and I'd lose weeks, months, years even, to an illness most of the world still seemed to view as self-indulgent wallowing. That's how I explained it to a counsellor the NHS sent me to see, in a cold, drab little room, and she told me that filling every second of my day with activity wasn't the answer.

It might stop me from thinking about it in the here and now, but I'd only set myself up for a breakdown.

It did, of course.

Bela Lugosi as Dracula
Bela Lugosi as Dracula, 1931.

My last big depressive episode was a few years back. I was constantly ill and constantly tired. Exhausted, even. The best way I could explain how I felt was like one of the foolish heroines of a Victorian paperback; a silly girl who did too much, too fast, and ended up spent and useless, abed with nervous exhaustion. The doctor diagnosed me with CFS - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - very much the modern term for nervous exhaustion, and everything was so much effort I just wanted to give up on it all.

I didn't. I switched tablets, took things easy. It got better, I moved on, and the bat flapped off elsewhere.

But then it started to creep back. Over the last couple of months I've been well aware of it, sneaking closer and closer. I used to work for a depression charity, and in any case I've been there before. I recognised all of the symptoms.

Nosferatu
Nosferatu, 1922.

Still I couldn't stop it perching on my shoulder and turning my life upside down. The last few weeks have been awful. Intellectually I know that I'm not well, that it's just a phase and I need to get through it. Emotionally, it seems so obvious that the world would be a much better place if I was no longer a part of it.

I went back to stay with my parents for a week, which was nice on the one hand as they were helping out with Marianna and I didn't have the stress of the house on top of everything. On the other it was an admission of failure, that I can't cope doing the normal, everyday things that it feels like everyone else in the world manages without any problem.

It weighs me down, mentally and physically, and magnifies every issue a hundredfold. It colours my thinking, and leaves me apathetic and uninterested in the hobbies and the activities I normally pour my heart and soul into. It even impacts on the time I spend with Marianna, whispering that she deserves someone who isn't such a mess. Who is simply better.

I'm not going to let it beat me though, not this time. Not ever.

No matter how many times the vampire rises from the dead, I'll be ready for it.

Christopher Lee in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, 1966.




For more like this, check out:
 My Little Miracle - Birth Story





25 comments:

  1. I hope this episode goes away quickly. I suffered from depression for a long time. Yours is a vampire mine is the well in the movie Ring :) the more I try to crawl out the faster it would suck me in. I have been out off it for a while now. But recently an actual stress inducing event triggered it. I panicked, thought I would fall again and stop enjoying my life. I couldn't play with my kid. It was painful to smile. Then I learned it is sometimes normal to feel sad and that is not depression but of course once you had it you feel like it is coming back again. But in my case as least it didn't end up being permanent. In a few weeks it slowly backed out. I hope it would be the same for you. Just make sure you ask for help if you feel like you need it. I am glad you could go back home. It is not a failure go back. It means you have a family who loves you very much.

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    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment! I went to see the doctor about it this morning and I feel better for just doing something about it, and knowing I've made a start at sorting it out. I definitely know that feeling - I think I just didn't want to admit to myself that it wasn't just a blip.

      And, the Ring!! I knew there was a reason I was so terrified of that film!

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    2. Great, seeing a dr is always relieving. Just taking that step is important. I will be rooting for you :)

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  2. Thanks for putting yourself out there and sharing this, Jessica. I hope it helps you and others that may be facing the same issues.

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    1. Thank you, it was therapeutic to put it all down in writing.

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  3. Jessica thanks for sharing this with us, This is life & we all have to deal with depression issues any time in our life. Try to live an optimistic life & have faith in Almighty God. You will be relax easily!

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    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment! x

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  4. Thank you for sharing :) I hope that you feel a little better soon and I am so pleased that you find just a little strength inside to look to the future. I know the struggle well, although not in the same way as yourself. I have suffered from Bipolar Disorder for many years and had a few stints as an inpatient mental health unit. Just know you are not alone. Sending all my love :) #PicknMix

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    1. Thanks so much, Jodie. I'm feeling more positive now I'm making some steps to get out of it - I never want to admit to myself I'm sliding back into a black patch, even when I know I am, so it's a big step forward. x

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  5. I think it's wonderful that you are sharing your experiences with depression. It's really brave of you to write such an honest post. You have described it so well, I can imagine how difficult & upsetting it is when the vampire returns. You have a great attitude towards it & great that you have sought help. I'm glad to hear that seeing the doctor has helped a bit. #effitfriday x

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    1. Thank you! It really is like a vampire, I just feel so drained by it. I think it's important to talk about it though, just like any other illness. x

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  6. I am so sorry to read that the depression has reared it's ugly head again. Thank you for sharing such a personal and honest post of how you are feeling. I too find writing therapeutic for when I have low mood. And I used to be scared of asking for help - I have got better about this in the last couple of years. I really hope you are feeling better very soon. xx Kathy #PicknMix

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment! It has definitely helped me a lot. x

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  7. Such an honest and brave post to read. I suffer with bouts of depression and quite frankly it's just the pits! It's nice to see people opening up about it, it's too hidden away like it's something to hide but it isn't. #picknmix

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    1. Thank you! It sucks to be back there, but it's definitely helped me to talk (and write!) about it. x

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  8. Thanks for your honesty. The vampire bat metaphor is an apt one. It's the colour thief draining all the light from the world and from behind our eyes.

    I know what you mean about the intellectual knowledge of what it is being all but useless in the face of its own barbed logic.

    I thought I was handling my own experiences well but the only person I was fooling was myself.

    Hope you find the help and support that works for you.

    #PicknMix

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    1. I love that description of the colour thief - it really is! Thank you. x

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  9. Oh hun :( I'm sorry you have been having a tough time. I know exactly how you feel and how you describe how it affects your relationship with Marianna. I've always been told recognising when it is taking hold before it does is a good thing and I have got better at it over the years too. I hope you are feeling much brighter soon. Thanks for linking to #PickNMix

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    1. Thank you, hun! I've been feeling a lot better this week, but I'm trying not to push it too much x

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  10. You seem so strong, and you're recognising the symptoms of it coming on so I am sure you can beat it again.

    Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

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  11. I hope that this episode passes quickly for you and though it sounds strange, I love the way you describe depression. Your words are faultless in explaining on how something feels for those who might not recognise the signs in themselves until they read your words. This is such an important topic to talk about and keep talking about. Thank you for writing about it xx

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    1. Thank you so much for the lovely comment! x

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  12. Ugh, I've been there so many times! :( *hugs* I'm sorry I'm so behind on my blog reading and only just caught up with this... I've been sliding in that direction myself, and blog stuff was one thing that slipped with it. I hope things have already gotten a little brighter, a little easier... I am praying for you! Depression is truly awful, and I'm glad you can recognize it for what it is. Having that little part of your brain that is aware "I can get through this, this won't last, the depression is telling me lies" does help. Stay aware!! And let me know if you need reminders! You are an amazing writer and person, a fantastic and loving mother, and a caring friend even for people on the other side of the ocean. Your presence makes the world SO much better!! *cyber hugs*

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    1. Don't be sorry! I feel like I'm behind with everything at the moment, just gotta keep going and hopefully get back on top of things before too long. I definitely feel a lot better since going to the doctors' - I've had a few bad days, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      Thank you so much! :D


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