Depression – the beginning, the middle and I’m hoping the end

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The beginning

Woman hiding behind cushionsJust before I got married, I was feeling very overwhelmed, anxious and unable to deal with normal life.

Hubby-to-be and I were trying to organise our wedding that would take place in Oz, halfway around the world.  It was only fair as my Italian parents were paying for it and that’ s where I grew up. At my ripe old age of 35, they had pretty much given up on me ever ‘settling down’ and figured they deserved a victory celebration.

woman with lots of question marks around her

At the time I didn’t even question the fact that the UK was now my home and I had a crucial ‘family’ of close friends who wouldn’t be able to share our special day.  On top of which my husband’s friends and family would also be in short supply – it’s a bloody long way to go for a wedding.  Instead, I went with the flow, took the role of dutiful daughter and did what was expected.
To be honest, I would have preferred to elope in Las Vegas Ross and Rachel style.

The symptoms

Keep Calm and Carry On

My comfortable job suddenly became too hard.  I couldn’t rely on my instincts or knowledge anymore. I began to double check my work or ask for extra clarity. And boy did I need extra acclamation.  Things I knew I knew, I no longer knew!  It was own Freaky Friday movie with the internal imposter in my head a needy self-doubting adolescent.

I  started to worry hubby-to-be would fall out of love with me. He was now the main wedding coordinator on this side of the equator as I wasn’t dealing very well with all the required decisions.

Screaming cartoon womanThe venue had been changed three times. My dad wanted a typically massive Italian style banquet whereas we wanted something simple. People I had never met had to be invited.  Long distance we had to decide what type of wedding cake to have, the order of events, how many courses, which booze, DJ or band, seating plan, wedding invitations, wedding favours.

The mere mention of the word ‘wedding’  would cause me to quiver and shudder like a cat in its carrier at the vets, awaiting an annual anal inspection.  Although I never soiled myself, so that’s something.

I felt myself sliding down a slippery slope of doom into an unknown darkness of despair and I couldn’t get a grip and stop the descent.

The solutionCrying woman

I went to the doctors and burst into tears.

Sympathising, the doc told me I probably needed a little help over this stressful time.

That was the first time I went on anti-depressants.

Did it help?
Yes and no.

bridge and groomI got married and we’re about to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary so that’s a plus.

And we did have a great day.

But I hadn’t really thought about what caused my stress and strong emotional reaction.  That came 15 years and £2,500 of therapy later!

 

The next bit

Packs of medication and pills

I’ve been on and off the so-called ‘happy’ pills since then. More on that to come.

The hospital

I’ve done a stint in The Priory for PTSD after an undiagnosed tumour in my kidney burst.

Which by the way was one of the best experiences I’ve had – The Priory, not PTSD or an exploding tumour – those I don’t recommend.

The Priory is an incredible place to shut the door to the outside world and focus on youWoman perched on top of a tree trunkSo many supportive wonderful people helping you feel whole again. A fabulous mixture of emotional and mental therapy, physical exercise, group time with incredibly strong and interesting patients as well as time for self-reflection.  I really think The Priory should open a new branch offering mental health break holidays to everyone. You should be able to book it through Tui or Thomson Holidays.

Anxiety

I’ve suffered from anxiety attacks.  Probably started because I was worried another time-ticking squatter in my body might burst again. The attacks are few and far between these days.

The weirdest one was just last year when I was jogging through the park.  My nonna had died and I thought I was ‘at peace’ with it all (for God sake she was 96. Italian women are like cockroaches – nothing kills them).  Suddenly my already laboured breathing turned into invisible choking. I could breathe out but not in.  Trust me that doesn’t get you far.

I knew it was an attack so I managed to calm myself down by doing my Lamaze breathing. I went and sat in the middle of the cold and wet grass and burst into tears. Good times.

Dead inside

I’ve had numb Groundhog Days where the body switches to autopilot as the mind shuts down exhausted and incapacitated.girl in leaves disappearing on one side
Walking through the park when my son was a baby I could see it was a beautiful summer day.  I could feel the warm breeze. The sun was flickering at me through the lush canopy of trees. My son was sleeping (hallelujah!). I had a loving husband and wonderful friends. A healthy son. It was a moment of pure perfection.

And I felt nothing.

No joy. No love. Dead inside. It scared the shit out of me and I went back to the doc where I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and put back on the happy pills.

I’ve never thought about actually ending my life, but I have had moments when I felt I didn’t want to be alive – does that make sense?

The now

I’ve been on pills, off pills, feel ok, feel shit, rinse and repeat for so long that it just became normal life.

Then one lovely GP suggested I get therapy. That was about a year and a half ago.

woman silhouette at sunset Therapy opened up a can of worms and a whole new life for me.

It’s brought me to this blog and to you.

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