'You're not the same as you were before. You were much more...muchier. You've lost your muchness' ~ The Mad Hatter
Sometimes in life, shit happens. Relationships change, jobs come and go and kids grow up. That's just life, right? Ups and downs with no guarantee of what may be next. So what happens when the 'bad days' become something more serious?
What do you do when you realise that cracks are appearing in your own life? Do you plaster them up fast, stick your head in the sand and hope they go away? Or do you face facts and make changes? Recently, I learnt the hard way that just covering up the cracks is not an option. The real issue just comes back bigger and uglier and there's little you can do to control it anymore.
Over the past few months, depression has crept into my sunny world and been slowly kicking my arse. It started off subtly. Small signs such as being tired all the time, losing my appetite and feeling under pressure. Next came a few more obvious occasions. Sporadic, uncontrollable crying episodes and finding the little things so much more difficult to handle.
I lost all sense of fun, socialising was too much to handle and found no enjoyment in all the little things that I once took pleasure from. Making a family meal every night after work became effort along with the routine chores, bill paying and other joys of adulthood. I was snappy, tearful and stressed.
When asked what was wrong, I simply couldn't give an answer. I asked myself the same thing every day. I have a job, family, home, friends and a great relationship. What was wrong with me?! I just wasn't me anymore and I hated it. I felt like I was stuck in the mind of a complete stranger and was generally failing.
Of course, being the proud idiot that I am, I stuck a metaphorical plaster over these warning signs. 'I'm fine' became my catchphrase and I brushed off the mounting stress. My body was screaming at me yet I refused to listen. How can I possibly be ill? I have too much to do! I have responsibilities, I am tough! Nope, I am not depressed, not at all. Denial much Lisa?
As with most things that build up over time, I finally cracked. I came home from a long working day and shitty commute feeling much lower that usual. I cried in the car. I cried in the kitchen. I went to bed early with a heavy heart. I woke up that Friday morning on edge. The final catalyst? Having a melt down when I couldn't find a pound coin in my bag for the kids school non-uniform day. A pound coin had been the one thing that finally broke me. Wow...
My fiance recognised that all was not well and encouraged me to take some time out. To take myself away from everything to try and figure this demon out. I spoke my GP and was prescribed medication and rest. I felt relief yet defeated. Why me? I like my life! I enjoy seeing the positives and being happy/somewhat annoying. My confidence and self worth had taken a royal battering and my identity seemed unclear anymore.
One fun thing I came to learn is that mental illness, stress and depression are not exactly easy topics to discuss. People tend to run away awkwardly if you dare open up and broach the taboo. It seems that even though you're supposed to talk, the reality is a bit different. We're just not very well equipped at dealing with this kind of thing, are we? I kept it well from friends and family. The few people I did choose to confide in at my lowest point called me brave. I don't feel very brave. In fact, I feel ashamed, humiliated and highly embarrassed.
However, to use another one of my favourite analogies - do you sink or swim? With metaphorical armbands and a trusted hand holding me up, I am going to 'swim' (staying in the shallow end for a while - I am a wimp after all) I'm sure it will be a frustrating process but what else do you do, other than try? Plus, I really am a stubborn old son of bitch, which helps massively on these occasions.