Doing Clinical Depression and beyond
Having spent seven years with this illness, with medication and alternative treatments and having spent a further eleven years without it, I have so many thoughts on the whys and wherefores in which I would like to share with anyone who may be interested.
Looking back at the illness, I have little idea of what actually went on in reference to my character, personality, behaviour. I do know that my symptoms were frightening, that I felt lost, tried to hang on to reality, t0 mothering my three children and working. Work was impossible and clearly I failed, during those years, in being the mother my children had known and loved. Losing the plot in one moment and coming to seven years later, children have grown up, moved on, whereas you are stuck in a time warp. I am sure it is different for every single person and those with a spouse, close family, who honour the patient throughout, family may survive and grow together. However, that was not my experience.
I had only recently come to faith, but could not call myself a Christian yet, however, I did cling to God and in the latter years I attended church and various other church related events. I know then that I was appearing “normal” in the last few years, but I suppose medication and the desperate need to survive and come through is what drove away some of the darkness, lethargy, tiredness and pain. I can only tell you that the experience was unreal and I have a very real empathy for anyone who has gone through, or is going through their own journey of mental illness.
To say you are “cured/healed” is a statement of faith and relief, when you no longer need meds. or treatment. When the doctor signs you off and says you are better now. “Thank you Jesus” was my response.
However, the journey beyond the actual illness is different and you are not quite as you were before becoming ill. Looking back I was confident if shy, determined if insecure, able in most things, adventurous, a little bit craft inspired, and so on. Now, I am not at all confident, although I am able to give the impression to sound as though I am.
Thankful that you survived, thankful of the experience despite what it stole. But brokenhearted at the great loss, which can never be restored, the time with children, loving them and being loved by them. Lost years. Lost position as a parent.
I picked up where I thought I had left off, the smiling me, the one who has spent almost all her life giving the impression that all is well. Being who, I think, people expect. A veneer. Alone, in the dead of night, memories of losses, rejections, lies, hurtful words, injustices, flood into my mind and the tears form, but quickly wiped away. “Don’t go there, its too painful”. Shrug it off…again and again.
The thing is, depression leaves deep scars in its victims. Like surgery in many ways. Scars that actually don’t really fade with time. Those scars pull, warp, stiffen, hurt, break open. They consist of anxiety, and of wounds that were caused, a constant sense of uncertainty, fear of more of the same, panic moments and so on. I don’t know how anyone does it without Jesus, I think I may have become bitter and angry at the enormous losses incurred….and the stepping into the future but not being able to go back and regain those seven years, precious years with my children as their mother.
I honestly believe that if I did not have my faith, if I did not have a very certain hope of eternity, I may very well not be where I am today. Clinging to my Heavenly Father is all one can really do to get through a life such as this…He is my strength, my Counsellor, my Comforter and my reward.
I really hope I don’t spend the rest of my days on earth, treading water. A desire deep within is to be a good and faithful servant, to use my God given gifts…and the power that dwells within in the Holy Spirit. But there is always that little voice saying “no, you can’t, you will fail”. At which point I can choose to stamp my proverbial foot, but times where I am weak I believe that voice.
Broken lives, broken hearts can be healed, we just need to keep looking up. It is so easy to say, it is equally easy to do, if you develop it as a good habit/discipline, surround yourself with friends who will gently remind you to keep on track. Being loved, being supported are the most important aspects of this illness, the enormous and overwhelming sense of aloneness, loneliness, rejection, embarassment and fear, can only be counteracted with love and support, not judgement or rejection or even disbelief of the diagnosis.
This illness, thankful I have gone beyond and recovered, but feel blessed to have experienced it despite the losses. I am enabled to listen, understand, support others in understanding and living with their illness, and for those those who care for friends and family. It is another of those hidden illnesses where people think you look fine, therefore you are, or think you are a hypochondriac, you are miserable from choice or simply lazy etc.
Thankfully there are many support groups, institutions, and associations now, sufferers are able to seek help, along with medical intervention, therapy etc.
Clinical depression, like all mental health diagnosis, is not a “feeling” or a “choice”, it is very real and hideously insiduous.
- Posted in: My journey