I've been noticing something in the air recently. Something a little dark. And it seems to be affecting women like me.
Women, who whilst using the word 'together' might be a bit of a stretch, do seem to have pretty decent lives. A nice home, 2.4 kids, good jobs, great friends, food on the table, money in the bank and a man who loves them.
And the thing is, we all seem afraid to talk about this 'something in the air' that's affecting us. As though it's a big dirty secret.
I'm talking about depression.
Like everyone else, I've had bouts of the blues in the past. I've lost people I've loved, I've not got that job I really wanted, I've been unsettled and unsure of myself, but yanno, mostly I've been pretty darned happy with the odd little blip on my emotional landscape.
However, a little while a go, a little bit of the blues grew into a full-blown emotional breakdown. The kind you see in films or read about in Sylvia Plath. It shook me to the core of myself and it's testament to amazing support from the NHS (something I never thought I'd say), friends and family and my employer that I've come out the other side...unscathed isn't the right word. I want to say stronger too but that isn't quite right. Although in some respects I am. But there's a little part of me that feels very vulnerable and I don't see that going anywhere for the forseeable.
What is interesting though, is that I don't seem to be alone. In my day today life there's more than a few friends, family, colleagues being treated for depression, taking anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication or attending counselling in some format.
Well no, I'm seeing and hearing women I work with, good friends and aquaintances, family members, all whispering about depression and mental health issues. And I mean, whispering, as though it's shameful and something to hide.
For the record, it catagorically isn't.
What I don't understand is why depression is sweeping the nation.
Going back to these women who've 'kinda got it together' I mentioned earlier. In his hierarchy of needs for human motivation, a wise old fellow called Maslow says that us humans need five key areas satisfied to achieve emotional fulfilment. And the nice home, good job, great social circle, food on the table, money in the bank and a man who loves them checks off 4/5 of these needs. On paper, we're on the road to being pretty flipping happy.
I recently read a book called Affluenza, which cites all sorts of frightening stats about depression and anxiety in Western, consumer led countries. And conversely, countries where the citizens lead simpler lives without the latest gadgets and gizmos and keeping up with the Joneses', there's higher levels of personal fulfilment, stronger communities and less cases of depression. Perhaps the Affluenza virus is responsible for the recent spike in depression, breakdowns and unhappiness?
Having strived for years to go to uni, get a good job, raise the kids and bring home the bacon...I do think that it boils down we do it so that to so we can buy happiness, own material, worthless things and consume. And since my little meltdown, it's come as quite a shock to me that all I want to do is throw away my iphone, turn off the internet, don a pinafore, spend my days baking apple pies and being a stay-at-home mum.