Depression Denied

You'd think I would've known I've been depressed most of my life!

It’s been a while…

…since I’ve last written. The life I lived at the time I last wrote seems like that of someone else’s. I now live alone. My work has changed, as has my focus. Life has a new meaning.

I am alive. I am happy. One day at a time.

Advertisements

Angry…

…and behaving badly.

Blaming partner.

Controlling partner.

Feeling ashamed.

Why do I do it?

How do I stop.

An open letter to …

I saw marriage and kids in our future, so I moved to be with you.  I didn’t hide this from you.  You knew this to be the case.  You told me you saw it too.

I miss my friends, my family.  I have new friends, but it’s not the same.  It was the choice I made to be with you, to have the future I saw with you.

Nearly 2 years have passed and we’re no closer to where we were then, no further from where we were then. 

I’m building a business that I chose because it could give me a part-time income that would be suitable as a supplement to your income, while I raised our kids. 

It’s not a business that will make me lots of money. There’s no point in trying another career option if we’re having kids, as by the time I make any progress in it, I’ll need to take time out immediately and won’t want to go back, never-mind being able to afford the childcare.  I’m not a young woman anymore. It’s one or the other: career or kids.  I don’t see the point in starting a career that will earn me good money if I need to quit it in a year or two. I’d rather build something that can be there part-time, supplementing your earnings and giving me some element of life outside of motherhood.  Starting it now so it will already be there when I need it.  But are you seeing any of this? 

If we’re not having kids I need to make a different choice.   If we’re not becoming an “us” I need to find something more stable, more full-time, with more income.  Something for “me”.  If you are not willing for there to be an “us”.  You talk of “us” but you don’t live it.  It’s all “you” and “me”.  But then you’ve never really experienced an “us”, have you?  You’ve never been a part of a team that works together for a greater goal and shares the good and bad.

You play your cards so close to your chest.  It’s all “maybe” and “some day” and “I’m not ruling it out”.  This is my fucking life!! I’m making my decisions based on what’s happening with us! I need you to let me know what the fuck you want!  If you don’t want kids, fine!  I’ll go from there, but at the moment I’m pinning my entire future on the concept that you’ll be the main provider and I’ll be the main carer and building a structure for that.  But it’s pointless, useless and leaves me financially vulnerable if we’re not really going anywhere. 

This puts me under enormous stress.  I am putting my financial future in your hands by working towards having a career that will be part-time to suit raising a family.  Working towards a life in which I support your business and help you when I can, which is more often than you give me credit for.   And you’re working for “you” to have money while our relationship falters.  I have no emotional support from you as you’re never here, and no financial support either, because you work hard to earn for “you” and I earn for “me”.  There is no “us”.   

It hurts that you say I helped get you where you are, but still see it as “your” success. I know I’ve helped. I know I’ve given you advice, reassurance, confidence, direction to go for what you want and need and you’ve been succeeding.  You’ve been more successful in these 2 years than ever before.  Yet the rewards are “yours”, not “ours”.  You still don’t see it.

I can’t support myself with what I’m earning.  I need to make a different choice.  Which means leaving.  Going back, to where I can support myself.  Leaving you behind, so I won’t be relying on you.  You won’t let me rely on you.  You don’t want to support me.  

Why am I making decisions as though we’re a team, when we’re not.  Planning my life, directing my future, based on you wanting me to be mother of your kids. Supporting and advising “your” business under the mistaken notion that it will benefit “us”. Based on the notion that you would be willing to financially provide for “us”, not loan me money when I’m short, while making notes of how much I owe you, or how much you owe me; how much I spent on the gas bill, how much you spent on water bill, but see it as “our” money, for “our” life that “we” live together.  

You don’t even know what I mean.  You have no clue.  Growing up in a post-feminist-movement world I always thought I should have a career, owed it to woman-kind to use my brain for “me”, not in the background to support “us”.  But I want family and don’t think I can do both.  At least not do them both well.  

Am I crazy to want this?  I can barely manage myself at the moment.  I can barely get out of bed in the morning.  Would being a mother give me that focus that I’ve lacked for so long? Give me the purpose to my life that has so far escaped me? Give life meaning and sparkle again?

Or have I completely lost my mind…

Pointless Pondering and Postulations

Right. I’ve got to get it out somehow, so here it is (some of it at least)…

At a meeting tonight I realised something…that boyfriend that I broke up with when I was 19 – that one that wouldn’t take any crap from me – I didn’t do it because he sat at the same bar stool 3 nights a week.  I didn’t do it because at 29 years of age he was hiding being sexually active from his mother (who he lived with). I didn’t do it because he was so set in his ways or because he saw fit to have a relationship with me, but scoffed at the idea of his friends spending time with mine…

Okay, maybe I did break up with him for those reasons, BUT…

The final straw came when he was embarrassed by me.  Not because I was young, but because I was drunk.  Not because I was merry, but because I was obnoxious, rude, aggressive, disruptive. He was embarrassed by his girlfriend acting in an embarrassing way and how dare he??  So I broke up with him.

Had I not had a drink problem things may have been different.  Had I not sought solace from our troubles at the bottom of a glass of vodka (ok: several doubles), we may have worked things out. I did. We didn’t. I left and never looked back (except I did…often).

4 years later we discussed another chance at us. Discussed at length, over several months. But he was less than honest about his relationship status, in a time long before facebook would have revealed such things.  Actually, I never thought to ask, and he didn’t volunteer any information. He handled it badly. I had no compassion. I walked away and he married his “sex on a Saturday night” girl after she (intentionally) became pregnant.

Roll on 7 years and I was at his funeral. His son wandering around with a confused look in his beautiful brown eyes. We had so much “stuff” unresolved.  He was married so I would probably have never gotten a resolve anyway, (I was staying clear of that situation), but to be robbed of ever having the chance… Of ever saying: you hurt me.

I told him he treated her appallingly. I never told him: You treated ME appallingly.  I never told him that I could have fallen so easily for him again, (those eyes!) had he just been honest. Had he not been involved with someone else, while making me believe he was single, when he asked me to give us another try. My life, maybe, would have been different.  Maybe I would have moved back, settled down. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone searching every pint glass in the city for a solution to my loneliness.  Maybe I wouldn’t have gone into one bad relationship after another. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

He was a steady relationship. So was the next one.  But after things didn’t happen with him the second time around, oh! I chose poorly. Again and again.

And at his funeral, I tried to take care of her. Make sure she was okay. Help her through the day with silly memories. I didn’t think to take care of me. Who was I? An ex-girlfriend from years ago. A nothing in his life when he died.  There was no space for me to grieve. So I drank. I pushed it all down. Hid it all away.

Every time I look at that little nick in the leather of my jacket, I remember how it came to be: he sat, all night long on a hard, jagged rock in the cold, wet air, listening to me tell him all the things that were wrong with us first time around (same bar stool 3 nights a week, etc). He sat and listened, apologised, told me he’d make sure it was different this time. Told me he’d travel to visit me… said things he never would have said 4 years previously. Did everything I asked. Was there for me in a way no man has ever been before or since. That night. As I sat on a jagged rock, which cut a little tear in the leather of my favourite jacket.  Was strangely perfect.

Another night around that time he drove me home and we kissed for hours in the car outside my parents house, the comfort, the sense of belonging. The feeling of home.  But I went back to my life elsewhere on Monday morning. I went back to my routine of drinking at the weekends, and I didn’t want anything to distract me from that.  He called me late one night. I was drinking and had no intention of stopping.  He was interrupting my drinking and being chatted up by someone I had a crush on. I was rude to him, unforgiving, of all those things he had apologised for.  All those things I should have forgiven, but was too stubborn and angry and selfish to let go of.

He had been pursuing me for months, but I held on to my anger. He went back to her without letting me know. Told her there was nothing between us and made fools of us both when we realised.  I was angry. For her.  Not for me…why not for me?? I stepped back, let her have him. Thought she needed him more. Wasn’t ready for the children he told me he wanted.  Wasn’t ready to leave the city and move back. I was too young, I thought. And now perhaps too old.

Had I forgiven, I would have moved home. Had family around to notice my drinking. Had a support network. I wouldn’t have been able to hide my problems in the same way I did. I would have fallen in love. Into a relationship with a man who had made mistakes, but wasn’t afraid to admit it.

I always blamed him for being emotionally immature, but that night, those months, before he gave up and went back to her, he was there for me. He did everything he could to give me what I needed. He was the one who could distance himself from the bullshit. Not me. I let it drag me down.

I try to console myself with thoughts of: they were well suited in the end. But I don’t think they were. I really don’t. He told me he settled for her because “she’d be a good mother” and that he was fond of her. And many’s the marriage that thrived on that premise. But he told me I was his choice. He was gutted that I couldn’t see his side of things and that I refused to forgive him and try again.

I tried to pretend I was happy for them when they reconciled. Happy for them when I heard of the baby. Happy when I visited them in the maternity ward. Met them in the local. But despite the invite, I couldn’t go to the wedding.  I made excuses that it might make her uncomfortable. Who was I fucking kidding. She had invited me. I kept on partying hard 100 miles away, pretending I didn’t care.

But he’s gone now. I can’t talk to him about these things. Ever.  There can be no resolve. He was lost to me 10 years ago when she fell pregnant. But somehow it always seemed unfinished.  I held the anger, the pain, the disappointment and the betrayal, tightly, preciously.

This situation didn’t cause my drinking. Did my drinking cause this situation? I think, maybe.

Did my drinking rob a chance of happiness, family and stability from me? I think maybe.

Would he still have died, had I been the one there with him over the years?  I’m not convinced.

My drinking. Problem.

My need to escape. Problem.

I wonder did he love me?  I think he did. I’m sure he did. I mocked him for it.  Pity I didn’t know how to accept it.  I left him twice. I wanted him both times, but I left him twice. Run Forrest, Run!!  Will I ever stop??

No matter. All gone now. Pointless pondering and postulations.

14 days sober…

…and I’ve realised a few things:

1) Nothing, but NOTHING on this earth can make me want to drink more than attending an AA meeting can.

2) The anxiety disorder that has been building in me over the years seems amplified…Hmmm…well, there’s a link. I guess those semi-regular drinks during the week, whether it be a can of beer after dinner or a full-blown binge, are indeed attempts to mask my feelings of anxiety and helplessness and bring me back to my version of normality.

3) I need to stop trying to manage and control my drinking.  I need to stop. I need to learn to manage and control my thoughts.

4) It’s uncomfortable to sit alone in an anxious state.  Meeting people for a drink is not the solution.

I know all this stuff… well, number 1 is a surprise… but accepting it, giving in to it, that’s a different story.  I like to think everything is in my control.  It’s not.  Grow up. Stop trying to control the universe.

That is all.

Unravelling…

A month ago an old friend of mine hung himself.  We weren’t close and hadn’t seen each other in years and had simply chatted online a few times in the past 5 years.  I don’t know why it hit me as hard as it did, perhaps it was too painful a mirror to look into, but I began to unravel.

I’ve had another old friend to turn to, one that’s always there for me to help ease the pain… and this friend has pulled me down and through to the depths of insanity, depravity and oblivion.  I’ve felt the uncontrollable pull to the dark side, clutching my friend, as its luring scent and exciting headiness draw me further away from the person I want to be, this demon watching from outside of me as I degrade myself for another sip.  Watch me destroy myself.  My friend, my crutch when things get bad… my path to feeling nothing.

So today I went to my first meeting in 3 and a half years.  One day at a time…

Why Panic?

It’s been a while since I’ve written, which is partly a sign of things going well, in that I have energy to devote to other aspects of my life.  However, it’s also a sign of being over-worked and trying to get too much done all at once…red flag!

The past few days I’ve been feeling panicked.  Why? I don’t know.  I’ve started over-thinking, over-analysing, and over-reacting.  I’m becoming irritable again.  I’m becoming impatient with my beloved. Maybe the drugs never worked.  Maybe I was just in better form for a while there. Maybe now I’m back to my insufferable self. 

Is recovery possible? I was talking with someone recently who’s been taking anti-depressants of some sort or other for over 10 years.  She’s about to try new meds as her old ones are no longer helping her.  Is this what lies before me? I was hoping for a quick-fix.

Wow, okay, there it is in black and white: I was hoping for a quick-fix.  Hmm…this may be where my problem lies.  Have I booked myself any CBT sessions, psychotherapy, counselling? No, no and no.  I have been hoping that I just needed a little help to see that everything is bright and rosey in the world and I’d never go to that dark place again.  It appears I’m putting unrealistic expectations on myself again.  Hmmm…that old chestnut.

Old habits, Bruce Willis in a white vest.

Note to self: cop on. Make a change.

I’m making so many changes in my life at the moment…my mental health is taking a back seat.  Can I afford to ignore it? I’m hoping that once the rest of my life has some sort of structure around it that I can then slot in some time for me, my health, my well-being.  I’m putting my welfare behind that of my business…but they are inextricably linked, so what to do? If my business fails I’ll be in trouble, not just financially but emotionally.  My business is something I care about and enjoy working on.  It’s been good for me to have it to focus on these past few months and has been an important aspect of keeping me feeling good.  The concern is that if I don’t take care of my health I won’t be able to keep up with my business, which will be a double-blow to my mental health.  But without my mental health the business will suffer.  

Okay…this blog has been more of a ramble than a coherent piece of writing, but it has helped me find my perspective.  I need to help me find some help now 🙂 

Then what happens??

Things are going wonderfully well at the moment.  I still have days where I don’t leave the house and I get distracted far too easily when undertaking any task, but in general I’m making progress with things that need progressing and feeling pretty good about myself and my relationship with the Buachaill (the special man in my life).

Yesterday a friend of mine who suffered with depression over a decade ago and who’s now going through a life-changing and terrifying event was asking me about my anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication.  I wholeheartedly recommended that he try them out to help him with the panic he’s experiencing. 

Who did that? Was it me?  I remember a time when a mind that occupied this body considered such medication to be nothing more than a plaster covering an open wound.  Did I just recommend them without reservations?  In fairness, I believe he truly needs something to help in his particular circumstance, but what about me? 

The Buachaill and I are in love again.  Completely.  I catch myself watching him walk about half-dressed with a silly, happy, cheeky smile on my face.  He’s bringing me flowers and bath bombs, breakfast in bed and even de-iced and warmed up the car for me before I needed to go out for an appointment the other cold, wintry night.  We’re lovesick!  And it’s wonderful!!

But, should I be worried? Obviously I’ve lots of extra serotonin in my system from the pills.  He doesn’t; this is his natural self; this is how I remember him to be when we first got together.  But what about me? When the pills stop, will the bliss?  Will we descend into insane arguments about mundane, miniscule, meaningless things? Will I feel abandoned by him every time he needs to go away for a job, or stays for a drink with colleagues after work? Will my misery and mania push him away again?

At the moment I feel like I have a new perspective on life.  There’s no need for stress.  Issues can be resolved peacefully, rationally and in their own good time.  I can’t imagine ever going back to the urgent anxiety, surrounding issues that needed resolving NOW, that I suffered with a few months ago.  It was insane.  I was insane.  Everything seems clearer now, which begs the question, when the pills stop…then what happens?

The Rage

Apparently it’s a common notion that depression is anger turned inwards. I believe this to be true, but I also have had an abundance of anger turned outwards.  I have had little problem unleashing this raging demon of depression on those nearest to (and farthest from) me.

I have always been a very angry person. My father told me when I was 25 that he was afraid of me.  He told me that even when I was a child he felt that I had all the power over him, the adult, the parent.  I took it.  I clung to that power.  I was stubborn and angry and went to great effort to put up a strong front for the world to see that I was impenetrable.  Nobody was going to get through to me.  My wall of rage would protect me.  And it did.  It protected me from friendships, lovers, mentors, family, and most of all it protected me from myself.  Not even I was allowed to see the scared little girl underneath all the rage.

Surprisingly though, I have also been extremely adept at hiding my rage.  I’ve told people for years that I I have quite the temper.  Mostly what I hear back is: but youre so laid back, I can’t imagine you ever being angry, you’re too cool/level-headed to have a temper.  Yet ask my family, ask my boyfriends (past and present) and they’ll tell you.  Actually, many of them won’t, because, in spite of all my venomous rage that I’ve directed their way, they’ve all loved me.  I’ve pushed them hard away and still they all loved me.  I often question why, but I know the answer.  It’s because there’s been the other me too.  The ‘me’ that’s writing this post.  The logical, calm, reasonable, caring and kind person that gets drowned out by the rage monster.  She can’t understand the rage so when it consumes her it’s confusing, almost like an alcoholic blackout (and oh! I’ve had many of those too).

I remember once after a particularly painful break-up talking with two close friends about my ex-boyfriend. I was angry over something he’d said or done, or not done, I can’t remember the details now, but I was explaining to my friends what had happened.  I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back I noticed the looks on their faces. I hadn’t been paying attention to their expressions a few minutes before as I had been so caught up in my own anger. Their heads were slightly bowed as they looked up at me nervousy, almost fearfully, as one of said: You are scary when you’re angry.

Is this what I want? That my nearest and dearest, those I rely on for support, fear me?  Yet I have always held a certain pride in my rage.  When my father revealed he was afraid of me, I felt power.  When my friends recognised my anger in that post-breakup moment, I felt power.  This rage has been a powerful force that I have used, and abused, all of my life.   It has on occasion even protected me from dangerous situations when reacting out of rage may have even saved my life, so I’m not afraid to admit that diminishing this rage is a scary concept to me.  It leaves me vulnerable.  Exposed.  Naked.

I am starting to acknowledge, however, that the power this rage provides is not a strength, but a weakness.  It’s a power that consumes me.  The strength I feel when I acknowledge my depression is solid, grounded, wholesome.  The strength I feel in my yoga practice as I stand in Tadasana during a well-flowing sequence is beautiful.  The power from my rage is uncontrollable.  It is too much power for me to handle.  It devours me.  It scares me.  My current exploration of myself involves being mindful in preventing this rage from developing and allowing me to find my true strength in my natural state of peace.

We all have a natural state of peace.  We simply need to un-learn a few bad habits to experience it again…

I’m Not Sorry!

So this is my second blog ever…and it’s inspired by a comment to my first blog.  A very well-meaning individual posted a comment on my blog in an attempt to support me and inspire me out of my depression.  Her comment started with: I am sorry you’re depressed…

What’s wrong with that? Nothing, right? It’s a wonderful sentiment and I truly do appreciate a complete stranger reaching out across the internet offering support to me.  Then why does it irk me so? I need to dig a little deeper…

First and foremost I recognise 100% that this is MY issue and has nothing to do with the kind woman who posted her comment of support, and if she is reading: please be assured that this blog is not in any way directed at you, but merely my thoughts about ‘others’, what ‘they’ think.

Perhaps the first emotional response comes from a place of not wanting to be affected by the stigma of depression and, ultimately, to not be pitied.  I’m fine, after all! I have always been fine. I don’t need or want pity.  The thought of people feeling sorry for me makes me feel nauseous, angry and fills me with a sense of failure.

Secondly, I don’t feel sorry.  Is that a strange thing so say? – I’m not sorry that I’m depressed.

This one needs some explaining.  To me, if no-one else!  The more I think about this dis-ease and me, the more I realise that I’ve had it longer than I had initially thought when I first asked for a doctor’s help less than 2 months ago.  It started when I was four years old. 4!  I didn’t think children so young could be depressed, but looking back there can be no denying it.   It lifted for a few years from about age 10 and hit hard again around 13.  Since then I think I’ve had so many bouts of depression that it’s just become a natural part of me.  I hid it well with drink, anger, blame, changing relationships and changing career-paths.  I did such a good job at hiding my pain that I didn’t give myself the chance to acknowledge what was really going on for me.  It was just a part of who I was. Of who I am.

My bouts of insanity over the years, directed at family and boyfriends and strangers on the street, now make sense. I knew I wasn’t in my right mind when those episodes happened, but I didn’t know I wasn’t in my right mind!  I thought there was a reason – I’m only reacting like this because of (insert inane, yet somehow logical reason here).

I’ve now been taking anti-depressants for almost 8 weeks, and I’m not sure if they’re working. That’s a subject for another blog, but I do feel a little better lately. I feel like life is manageable. I feel like I can cope with what comes up in the next few months. I feel like I’m in charge of my life and my relationships, and most importantly I’m in charge of my emotions… so why would anyone feel sorry for me? It’s a mystery!

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy and I’m very grateful that I can get by financially on my part-time, flexible-hours job, because I simply don’t have the energy for anything more.  I came home last Friday afternoon and went straight to bed feeling like I needed a good cry, but the tears didn’t come. On Tuesday I didn’t get out of bed at all except to go to the bathroom, due to exhaustion.  Yesterday and today I’ve been in bed all day, also exhausted, but I’m pleased that I’ve been able to do a few hours work from my bed.  Things are not perfect, but I have hope that they’ll get better.

I have friends and family a phone-call away that love me, a partner that I live with that’s becoming more understanding of my down times, low expenses so I can just about get by and pay my rent and bills and I’m making my way in a new city away from friends and family and finding that I can make new friends here.  I’m proud of how I’m doing.  Okay, I’ve had to take a little chemical help from my GP, but I’ve never asked for help before.  That’s a huge step for me. I’m proud of how I’m doing. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me.