My Big Black Dog …..

I know you want to talk about the colour of babies poo and what my kids are eating for breakfast, but unfortunately that is not what we are doing today.

Today is “Talk about my Depression and find a Therapist Day.”

Unofficial day of course, but I figure if enough of us get behind it we can have it declared a public holiday with the requisite president’s speech and youth parade at Soccer City.

I know that I am fortunate to be living in an age where we can talk about depression and medication with only a certain measure of shame and embarrassment.

I know there are folks who are embarrassed to admit that they pop the odd Prozac or shoot back a handful of Zoloft with their glass of wine, but I am not them folks.

I spent much of my teens and twenties realising that I was clearly certifiable insane and just wondering how long I could keep this secret until someone found out.  I did not realise I was depressed.  I did realise I was a very sad girl with some happy moments, but I accepted this as being “just the way things are.”

When I had Connor my wheels well and truly came off, then I really got afraid.  Of me.  For me.

I thought THEY would find out and take him away from me.  I became (more) paranoid and anxious and when something happened, it was not that he was going to get hurt, it was that he was going to die.  He was never going to get lost at the mall, he was going to be stolen.  (To be honest I have not outgrown that, I have just learnt to play it down.  Kennith insists I remain in reality as much as possible.)

Initially I did not really tell anyone about my little internal battle with my black dog of depression.  I really do not bring it up as a key part of conversation, it is a bit of a buzz killer I am afraid.

It is much easier to tell people who ask you “How are you?” to answer “I am fine….” because any deviation from this “party line” does make people feel a bit uncomfortable and then the conversation gets awkward.

People say ‘depression’  in a whisper like the way your grandparents say “cancer.”

Unfortunately the most common reaction from Joe Public when they hear the term ‘depression’ is to go “aw, sorry you are feeling a bit blue, I am sure tomorrow you will wake up and feel happy.’

Sweet but misguided.  Actually a bit annoying, but one smiles and nods, and sometimes waves as you flee the scene.

I did feel that admitting to it and if I ticked the block for “mental disorder” on the form (depression = mental illness/disorder on most forms) that it might be a problem for me when I changed medical aids.  It also might be a hinderance if I wanted to qualify as a pilot or apply to be a meals-on-wheels lady.

At some point I realised, agh, sod it, pilots are over rated and meals-on-wheels declined my application any way.

The thing that burns my arse about depression, is I barely understand it.  It is something about the chemicals in your brain being out of whack – for what ever reason, and the result is that you cannot actually “decide to be happy and then you will be …”  You seem to lack the chemicals to keep you or make you happy or smile or have a “normal” reaction.

Being me is not fun, not for me, and not for my family and for most people who know me.

Being happy is a chore, so right now I aim to be mildly content.  Mildly content is  a bit of an aim high achievement at the moment.

I am going for sort of content, some of the time.

I do however have faking content down pat, but the mask does slip off quite regularly, and some times I do not give a sh*t about keeping it up. (this week is that week)

My mate told me about a reference in Marian Keyes Newsletter about depression where she describes it as:-

“Wave after wave of black agony has been rolling up from my gut and bursting in my head and I’ve been powerless to stop it. I’ve heard people describe depression as feeling like they’re living behind glass, of being
numb and unable to experience anything, but for me, it has been totally different. It has been like being poisoned, it’s felt like my brain is squirting out terrible, black, toxic chemicals that poison any good thoughts. I’m well aware that I have an enviable life and there are bound to be people who think, “What the hell has she got to be depressed about?” But whatever has been wrong with me isn’t fixable by an attitude shift. Believe me I’ve tried (Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, gratitude lists…)”

That is probably the most apt description I have read for some time.

I am at that point – and granted I have been here for a bit, where I no longer care about the how and the what, I just want it to go away.  I want to be happy people.  Okay I do not want to be happy people.  Happy people (and clowns) scare me a bit.

I want to just be mildly content people who appear mildly content for the majority of the day.

I do not want to feel like I am carrying the world’s sh*t around with me.

What I want to do today (and for the last two weeks or so) is curl up in a ball  and then sob some more – which is fabulous, because I am not even sure exactly what I am sad about.

If I am done crying then I want to sleep – because sleep is about as close to feeling dead as you can get.  And that right now is quite an attractive feeling.  (sorry no fairies and unicorn stories for you today – insert sad smiley face icon here)

Unfortunately in my neck of the woods, pity parties are not really catered for.

I get up, put on my furry slippers, my grubby blue bathrobe, get kids ready, get myself ready, drag myself to work, try to really try to be productive, and then go home, get kids into bed, and find the quickest way I can get into bed and fall asleep.

And tomorrow repeat the cycle.

Last night on the drive home, I considered if I had a wee little car accident it might get me 3 – 8 days lying in a hospital bed and drinking luke warm milky tea and sleeping.

Then I thought with my luck, the car would be totalled and I would walk away totally unscathed and then have explain why I am a tosser driver, and well there is the insurance excess to consider and …..  lots of logistics, so maybe that was not my best idea of the day.

Just too complicated, and way too many things that could go wrong on that one.

It really is about as much fun as it sounds, really – I am not leaving out any of the really cool parts here.

I have made an appointment with a doctor who specialises in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

I plan to arrive with a list of issues and ask if he can make them each go away individually with what ever he does.  I clearly have no idea how it works, but right now I would pay for shinola if it made some of my sh&t go away.

I also think I am kidding myself – but delusions are part of it I guess.

I have also made an appointment with a pill doctor who has a large white script that he can write my name on in big block letters and write something along the lines of  Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Ambien, Valium or what ever else they are dishing out now a days …. I really do not care at this point.

The first appoinment I could get was in August!!  AUGUST? August!  “B&tch, do you realise how close I am to going off my frink’n head over here!!” …… The receptionist did not quite get my sense of humour and did not take to my tone of voice ….. or being called a bitch ….. …. but did bump me up to the 12 July and kept telling me how lucky I was ….. repeatedly.

Yep, I am feeling pretty darn lucky right now.

Sorry there is nothing funny on this post today.  Not feeling so funny today.

But that does lead me to the fact that you might need a bit of upliftment after this rather somber and (excuse the term) depressing post.

I seldom come across depression jokes, but I saw a few recently that made me snort a little bit:-

Q What’s good about depression?
A You always have your funeral planned in advance,

Q  What’s an advantage to Major Depression?
A  You never have to make your bed, since you’re always in it.

I was depressed last night so I called Lifeline. They’ve got a call center in Pakistan. I told them I was suicidal. They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.

Okay, that’s all I got ………………

(Illustrations credited to Matthew Johnstone)

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