Lighting the Darkness: my story of depression

I’ve been debating with myself whether to blog about this for a while now. I’ve touched on it in a couple of posts, most recently Why I sold my iPhone but wasn’t sure whether to be more open. But a series of small incidents have convinced me it won’t do any harm, and might even do some good. I have been spurred on by Glamour magazine’s mental health campaign; I highly recommend you have a read.

I have been struggling with depression, certainly since last summer but I think that was rather the height of something that had been building for a few years. Over the past thirteen years or so I’ve had my share of life traumas, life events, whatever you want to describe them as, and to top it all my last pregnancy with my little girl made me very, very ill.

I’ve never been suicidal but pretty much every other symptom of depression you can name, I had. Have. The worst of it all, other than feeling ridiculously down and teary at the oddest moments, is the complete disconnection. Disconnection from time, people, activities. I have lost time – I looked back at the beginning of March and actually could not remember what happened during most of February. I’ve closed myself away from the friendships I made on twitter and in SCBWI. Not on purpose, I just wasn’t able to connect. I haven’t written, properly, in weeks. Maybe months. I’ve done the odd diary entry (“Today I did… Today we went…”) and the odd blog entry, but actual writing? The kind I long to do, where I take words and turn them into stories? The kind I used to think I could do? Nada. Nowt. Nothing. I look at my pen and notepad and files and can’t actually bring myself to pick them up. I know many people get a therapeutic kind of release through writing; I wish I could.

I’ve just started reading again. That’s when I know I’m going downhill again – when I can’t read. I mean, I can read, I can look at a word and understand what it means, but I don’t connect – there’s that word again – them together into the big picture, the whole book. Often I just don’t even pick up a book, and then when I come out of it I get greedy and get tons from the library or drool over Waterstones’ shelves.

And then there’s the physical symptoms. Which tend, I think, to get discounted or at least not given the respect they deserve. For me, it’s my legs. I suffer from plantar fasciitis anyway, which leads to excruciating pain in my left heel, but I also get pain in my knees, my ankles, up and down my calves. Tiredness, too. I’ve been tested for diabetes, iron (which is now fine) and my thyroid levels have been checked, but they’re pretty well monitored anyway as I’ve been hypothyroid since birth. I’ve come gradually to realise that it’s my depression. I know I have small children, but there’s lack-of-sleep-tired (which I am well-acquainted with!) and there’s something-is-wrong-tired, and I know the difference.

So what am I doing about it? Well, this. I’m talking, or trying to. I’m talking to my long-suffering husband. I’m talking to my GP who is going to strongly encourage me to talk to a counsellor. I’m blogging, in case anyone else is thinking they might be suffering from something similar. I’m inspired by Sally Brampton’s book Shoot the Damn Dog where she is brutally frank about her suicidal depression, and by this article which I read this morning. And by Glamour’s campaign here, which I mentioned above. I’m trying to think about what I want out of life, what would make me happy, and how I get it.

And I’m asking people not to give up on me. I will make those connections again, I will write again and I will be myself again. I will.