I have experienced depression in many shapes and forms since my teens. It has presented in so many ways. It can be be a dark slow creeping heaviness that has taken over slowly – its slyness catching me out as it slips over me while I have my back turned. It has also felt shuddering, sudden and painful.
Each time I have been taken aback by it and not seen it coming. But each time I have also got through it, and come out the other side somehow. Each time I recovered, and in the past, I would assume I had beaten it, healed myself and it was done. Dusted. Over.
The postnatal period of depression I experienced was the one which really changed me. It made me sit up and realise I really had to start helping myself. Until now I had been able to distract myself with work, and life. My second pregnancy had brought depression with it, but with moving house and a toddler I didn’t see it until much later. The wheels slowly came off until a day at home with my children was crushing and I couldn’t cope. A day alone with them was terrifying because they had needs I didn’t have the mental ability to meet.
They saw me cry a lot. I was in bed a lot. My children got used to seeing me horizontal. I was numb and wishing for critical illness to give me a visible excuse to STOP. It got to the point where I could barely read a sentence of a bedtime story, uttering words to them was like trying to speak a foreign language I didn’t know. Asking me to do the washing up was like suggesting to take a quick hike up Everest. Sounds daft now but this was my daily reality.
You ache to feel happiness, and desperate to be the perfect parent. But this thing called depression shrouds you like a lead coat. Hopelessness, layers of guilt and self loathing set in with intent. Nothing, not even the people you loved most can make it go away. You function, but there is no pleasure.
So I asked for help, reluctantly, admitted ‘defeat’ again. I went to the GP and after not being able to speak for sobbing, I was prescribed some familiar tablets and I started the process of mending again.
Except this time, I felt I had so much to lose that something else had to change too, my mindset had to take a step up. My children were forming their memories and I wanted to make sure their childhood was/ is as anxiety free as possible. A sobbing, grey shape-shifting wreck of a mother wasn’t going to cut it.
I started paying far more attention to eating, sleeping, talking, and exercising alongside the medication. Investing in myself I suppose. Acceptance, self awareness – educating myself. It was hard, still is hard. I have to have a very stable and calm existence. It took a while to get used too, and now two years on it’s a daily thing. Eat, sleep, talk, and accept the status quo. Little daily mantras. On repeat.
I am going to see how far it can take me this time.
On February the 11th 2018 we launched a crowdfunding campaign. We want to start a conversation about mental health that is powerful. No more treading on eggshells. We are not invisible, We do not want to be hidden away. Our work in the studio and shop is #SmashingStigma every day, and now we are going to be a little noisier.
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As part of the campaign we are also looking for more blogs about mental health stigma, so please get in touch if you have a story to share.