The year that was 2013 has not been an easy year for the soul mate and me. What started out as a year of months as an in-patient in a psychiatric hospital involving extensive therapy, and sessions of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), and many changes to my medications, was a year where I found out who my true friends were, after all being a psych patient and the survivor of a suicide attempt it becomes apparent who will continue to stand by you. I was the victim of retrograde amnesia as a result of extensive ECT, while I found my mood had improved I was faced with little memory of the previous year and parts of the three years before. I couldn’t remember people I had known for sometime, I couldn’t remember my little boy visiting me every second day, i didn’t remember where I lived or how to drive. It was not just hard but scary. In the time that my little boy went through the transition into secondary college I was in hospital, guilt ridden that at such an important time I was not there for him. Amongst all this my soul mate was always there, standing beside me, he was my smile when i couldn’t, he was the air when i couldn’t breathe, and was my strength when i was too weak.
Depression had taken control of my life, not just mine but our whole family.
It was a year when I was forced to either give up and allow depression to ruin me and take me away or I could stand tall, fight against my demons, and instead of struggling with depression I could live with depression. The difference being that I would control depression instead of a Black Dog consuming me, and controlling my life. It wasn’t easy to reach this place, it was more than hard, the journey was a difficult hike through rough terrain to slowly reaching a dirt road leading to my recovery.
It was a year where I found strength I didn’t think I had, it was a time of building resilience, it was a time of barriers, setbacks and finding a part of myself that for so long was absent. In my journey with depression I learnt many things, I learnt:-
To trust my Psychiatrist – for years I went to one session here, one session there, I either didn’t feel comfortable with the therapist or I couldn’t afford to continue with the therapy. To get well I needed to have trust in my doctors, in the treatments that they recommended and in the medicine routines they prescribed. It wasn’t easy but with my soul mate at my side I continued with the therapy, no matter how hard it got.
To believe in the medicines – I had to believe that the many medications I was on would work, they weren’t just pills, they were the key to my wellness. Despite side affects and costs I had to maintain the schedule.
To commit to group therapy – until I became an in-patient and someone with health insurance I wasn’t given the opportunity to attend group therapy. As someone who was affected by social anxiety it wasn’t easy to go to group therapy with complete strangers and talk about things that were very personal. I guess it was forced upon me initially because it was compulsory as an in-patient, from there it grew, I started to not only find the sessions helpful, but it was a relief to be able to talk about deep emotions without judgement, and with people who ‘got it.’
I started and maintained a meditation routine – relaxation, the slowing of my mind, was difficult for me when I was reasonably well, let alone when I was really sick. Once I was introduced to meditation at group therapy I found a new consciousness, a calming that was profound and would slow me down physically and mentally. I started meditation at least once a day, using a iPhone app, for about 30 minutes.
I don’t know at what point I moved from suffering to living with depression, but it happened. I am not sure when I started my real journey of recovery, I just seemed to reach a point where i didn’t feel dragged down by the heaviness of depression, I felt somewhat free. I will never be cured or without depression, I won’t go without more setbacks and episodes but at the moment I am in an ok place.
The day I started writing my blog as Sad Mum Happy Mum it became my outlet to release all the emotions, thoughts, and issues that were bringing me down and had plagued me for many years. I found strength in being an advocate, a mentor, and a living example to others living with depression. The feedback, and support gave me a sense of pride and drive to help others, like me, to seek treatment, and find the courage to get well.
It was a year when with wellness, strength, and courage I was able to return to the workforce. It hasn’t been easy, but I have done it, and I have done it well. I am still working on controlling my mania which on one hand makes me super efficient but on the other hand makes me crash and burn from exhaustion. I still hold many fears about working, fears bred from previous work environments that have discriminated, bullied, and treated me cruelly because I had depression that affected my work. I still have a mask up shielding me from my colleagues, I haven’t spoken to anyone at a personal level about myself or my illness because I am scared that they will judge me not on my abilities but on my mental illness.
The year that was 2013 has not been my best, at times it was extremely hard, fighting wars that nobody should be forced to do, I have seen deep darkness, but slowly I am seeing the sun rays, I have felt the will to want to die but I have fought back from this evil. For the first time in many years I am in a good place, still with ups and downs, but I am finally ok, and I can see the future because the fog is nearly gone, and the Black Dog has gone on a long walk.
This year as it comes to an end I can say I am a SURVIVOR, and I can and will LIVE with depression.