Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Where have I been?

I’m a hopeless blogger. I say that all the time. My last post was in August and so much has happened since then, but I have not bothered to document it. This is not an excuse. It’s more of a confession and an apology.

I am a terrible friend. I never call people, I rarely answer text messages and if I’m not going somewhere with the girls or the whole family, I tend not to go anywhere. Instead, I spend my time at home, reading, writing, sewing, sleeping. It suits me, most of the time. But over the last few months, I have been through the wringer – emotionally and mentally.

I have always struggled with depression. While at uni, I would spend hours sitting on my bed staring at the wall. I had friends who I saw at lectures and tutorials, but I never went out anywhere or actually got to know them. During breaks, I would stay in bed for days on end (my longest stint was three weeks when my parents divorced). David would bring me food and make me shower (God bless him for still marrying me!!).

Then I had a baby. My beautiful, awe inspiring baby who would cry for hours on end, then feed for just as long. I got to the point where I would lay on the couch and not move unless I was attending to her needs. I was prescribed antidepressants and advised to stop breastfeeding. I never took the medication, because I felt better after I stopped breastfeeding.

When Willow was born, she was a dream child, but breastfeeding was hell. My period came back only four weeks after she was born, wreaking havoc with my hormones and milk production. I was exhausted, stressed and anxious all the time. I stuck it out for 11 months (so they were both fed for the same amount of time) and felt much better once I stopped feeding her.

I felt like I was completely in control of my depression. I have done my Masters in Guidance and Counselling, so I knew all of the theories. Behaviourist theory is the only documented proven therapy to work with depression, so I figured as long as I was busy, I would be fine (I know, I really do know the theory, I promise!!).

But I still had periods where I would cut myself off and just go through the motions. It began increasing until I got to the point where I did not even want to spend time with the girls. Any chance I got, I got away from them. When they came back, it was too soon. My guilt and anxiety increased and I was so grumpy, defensive and aggressive. I made poor Bel cry so many times by the way I spoke to her and I am horrified to hear how she speaks to her friends because I know it comes from me. The tone of her voice is awful.

Then my beautiful soldier of a sister-in-law died. On her father’s birthday, the day after my birthday, five days before Christmas. She said goodbye to me and I did not believe her. She had come through so much and was on such a high dose of morphine and methadone that I was convinced it was the drugs talking. But she went, leaving the biggest hole in my heart that I have ever experienced. She had been sick for so long and all she ever wanted was to live a normal life: go to work, go out with friends, have children. I get to do all of those things, so why was I so miserable? I just wanted to curl into a ball and be left alone – indefinitely.

Instead, I finally made an appointment and hauled arse to the doctor. I needed a pap smear and figured I should see if I was actually depressed while I was there. I actually told the doctor everything and he told me that, yes, there was no doubt that I was depressed and I needed to take the medication this time.

So I did, I am, taking the antidepressants. I still like my own company, but I’m starting to feel more engaged with the world. I am actually spending time with my girls and feel more energetic. I can drive without my stomach being in anxious knots. I can sleep.

So to all of my friends, I’m sorry. As I read over this, it sounds like a giant whinge and an excuse. But the reality is that depression is becoming more prevalent in our society and this is my journey with it.

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