Facing The Big Black Dog

Depression for me isn’t a feeling. It’s a state. I never felt depressed. If I’m being honest (which is what this blog is all about), when I was at my absolute worst, I didn’t feel anything at all. I didn’t feel joy or happiness. I didn’t feel fear or anger. I didn’t feel hope or excitement.  The scariest part? I didn’t even realise how bad I was until I was able to look back and see it with some clarity.

 

Coming to the realization that requiring antidepressants didn’t make me a bad mum, a liability, a failure or a second rate friend wasn’t something that happened as soon as I’d picked up the prescription. For years I’d feel good and stop taking it only to be pulled aside by mum or close friends and be told that they knew I wasn’t on my medication. I’d reluctantly plod off to the Dr, fill my prescription then find myself realizing 2 weeks down the track just how far back I’d slid.

 

I fought internally with myself, day and night. I felt like a failure. Depressed people were downers. They didn’t interact, they couldn’t get out of bed. They wanted to die. I didn’t want to die. That wasn’t me. I had friends and went out partying. I socialized and had fun. I also did crazy things with calories, binge eating (and drinking) then restricting my intake to 500 calories or less each day. Bad days would result in a handful of laxatives and obsessively weighing myself while good days would end in drinking copious amounts of alcohol with my friends and obsessively weighing myself. I knew something was wrong but I couldn’t pinpoint it. I had a job that paid well and friends who loved me. I had an amazing family and a boyfriend who I loved more than anything. Why did I feel so empty?

 

I knew I was doing bad things with my eating so without telling anyone, I made an appointment with a Dr and got a referral to an eating disorder clinic.  I wasn’t your typical anorexic/bulimic. I weighed more than I should and for that reason I believed from the bottom of my heart that they’d tell me there were people out there who were far more fucked up than me and deserved help before I did. To my horror and surprise, they came back straight away. I was officially admitted into their outpatient clinic. Breaking the news to my mum was awful. I knew she knew, but I knew she didn’t know how bad it was. I also knew my boyfriend had no idea at all and I was beyond petrified that he would put me in the too hard basket and leave.

 

For close to two years I was medically monitored and saw a therapist weekly.  Sometimes all I’d do is cry for the entire hour. I was so unhappy. I was mortified that my family knew. I was scared I’d be judged or not believed because of how I “seemed”. I was exhausted from running from myself and was ready to accept the help I was being offered. Medication was prescribed and I reluctantly took it. I didn’t notice a difference straight away. I actually didn’t notice a difference at all. That is, until I’d go through the cycle of taking myself off them, going back on them and retrospectively realizing how good it actually was for me. I chased this cycle for over two years until somebody posed the following question…

 

If you were diabetic and your body failed to make insulin, would you deny yourself insulin shots?

 

Well…no! I wouldn’t! And it’s no different for me. My body fails to produce enough serotonin, so I take the equivalent of an insulin shot to balance it up.

 

I’ve discovered there’s no shame in my mental illness, like there’s no shame in diabetes, cancer or stomach flu*. People, rally around those who you know are struggling as you would if they had a physical illness or injury. I appreciated when people would ask me how I was, and truly care about the answer. It made me understand that people cared and at least tried to understand what was happening inside of me.

 

And those of you who currently think you’re all alone in how you’re feeling. I promise you, you’re not. Don’t let anyone tell you to brush it off or convince you you don’t have a reason to be depressed or anxious or anything else. Reach out. There’s always someone listening.

 

If you feel like you want to message me in private, the link to my Facebook is here and I will always answer. You are not alone!

 

*Although there was one time with the latter that I just about shit myself at my boyfriend’s work mate’s BBQ. That’s a story for another day.

 

** This is a bit of an afterthought and I didn’t know where to slot it in but, in a weird, twisted way, the earthquakes we had in Christchurch were the most normal I felt in a long time. For once the devastation was outside of my body/mind and everyone was feeling the same. I remember for a long time being wracked with guilt that I almost enjoyed it because for once everyone was feeling like I was.

 

Aaaaaand discuss!