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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20 Comments

  1. ollyonso

     /  November 7, 2011

    I feel for you hun, Ive been with mine for over a decade. Just know in a strange way it makes us who we are XX

    Reply
  2. Valencia

     /  July 6, 2011

    Hello, I feel your pain because I’ve lived and experiences valium ,lexomil etc etc etc ……. lithium and cie. Actually I was diagnosed as being BIPOLAR! right now I am in that dark depressive passage and well I feel sorry for my entourage. However I am using my daily lexapro … it’s not as if I’am in Wonderland . Husband doesn’t always understand my pain. Anyways I gotta keep my head above the water cause I am a mother of 2 . I really heart reading your blog. Keep well

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  July 6, 2011

      Thanks Valencia. Our partners often do carry the worst of our stuff ………

      Reply
  3. Tania

     /  June 24, 2011

    This is humbling. I thought my problems were real problems. Good Luck and I hope this new therapy works. Good for you for realising you have a problem again. I like the sleep bit, only problem is eventually you need to get up and get going…

    Reply
  4. Biral is a good little thing. It is mild yes, but it does kinda take the edge off when youre about to explode. I went to a pyschologist not long before I got married and all I did for the four days in a row that I went there was cry (snot and all) and maybe tried to be audible bout saying something. I have managed since then, but it does get hard.
    It is NOT something to be embarrassed about. EVER. I do not understand people who pull up their nose to it. It is out there and so many people go through it. Society needs to wake up. I think the more people actively talk about it, the more it’ll be able to help others.
    I respect you so much for talking about these issues and getting it out there. You are one in a million and we are all here for you and support you. Big HUG!!

    Reply
  5. I dont have much more to say than I did on that other place with the gray hippo. So will just send a (hug) or wine or whatever you need!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 24, 2011

      Thanks ……… not my best time right now ………….

      Reply
  6. Ai girl, you know I understand a bit. I took my first dose of anti depressives at 15 – not a very good record. But I am for some reason or another ok at the moment.

    I want to re itteratee the Boral advice as an interrim measure – or got o your GP to help you out untill the 12th.

    Love.

    Reply
  7. To Love Bella

     /  June 24, 2011

    I suffer from depression too. It runs in the family. I watched my grandmother and my own mother go into their dark pits and (before infertility) I was determined that I would not let it consume me. I would not let it affect those around me. How little I knew. It takes over you. Totally consumes you and as much as you’d like to fight it, it really is not that easy. It’s not just a bad mood or having a bad day. It’s so much more complex than that.
    Seeing a therapist really helped me – as sceptical as I was! I also went to a retreat in McGregor where a group of therapists helped me. I eventually realised that my thoughts were in a revolving door going at 240 kph – way too fast for rationality and plain old sanity to climb on board. After my first session, I really started to see things clearly. And even more so after my stint at the retreat.
    I am just saying all this because I do know what it is you are going through. I do hope that you find your light soon.
    As an aside – when I feel the shadows seeping in, I start taking Biral. It’s available at Clicks, off the shelf, and is herbal. It’s very, very mild but I do find that it takes the edge off.
    All the best, Cellie.
    xxxxx

    Reply
  8. Sorry to hear you are struggling. I so understand where you are coming from. I’ve been there and lately when I go back to that dark place there is lots of anxiety mixed in with the depression. I hate it when people say “cheer up.” Duh, wouldn’t I just do that if I could? They just don’t get it. Sometimes you can’t just “get over it.” Hope you find some way to stabilize those blues. Life is hard enough without living with that.

    Reply
  9. Joyce

     /  June 23, 2011

    Shame friend, I really hope these doctors can help you……
    ….thinking of you.
    J-xxx

    Reply
  10. Countess

     /  June 23, 2011

    i started on something yesterday. feeling miserable and am welcoming the numbness that the pills are giving me. why do some people feel depression and others not? am on 3 egglynols a day. that’s fine, will keep popping 3 eggs a day until I feel capable again!

    Reply
  11. Nicole

     /  June 23, 2011

    Hi Rm, I am so sorry to hear that you are experiancing all this pain. Although i cannot say “I understand exactly how you feel” i do understand the frustrated part of certain issues popping in your head and not going away. I had something pretty crappy happen to me in my childhood and through out my teens went for thearpy and i was often told to “forgive and forget” BUT HOW, how could i do that if i felt that this one disguisting, selfish d*ck ruined my life, what i thought of myself, how i thought other people would see me if they knew my big bad secret! I sometimes wonder to myself “will i just completely freak one day and have a mental break down of epic proportions because all this time i have kept it in? My mind never feels like its mine…

    Thanks you for being such an inspiration by letting us all know that its okay to feel a certain way and to be able to talk about it. My hubby often notices i go off the track but for now i am unable to tell him the full extent of my situation.

    Reply
  12. I have tears in my eyes as I read this. (And not only about the ‘mate’ description).

    I don’t have any words of encouragement. I just feel it’s absolutely RIDICULOUS that a pill doctor make you wait for an appointment when obviously you won’t be calling them if it’s not serious, no wonder my mom nicked a few of my Eglonyl’s when visiting me…I have tears in my eyes as I read this. (And not only about the ‘mate’ description).

    I don’t have any words of encouragement. I just feel it’s absolutely RIDICULOUS that a pill doctor make you wait for an appointment when obviously you won’t be calling them if it’s not serious, no wonder my mom nicked a few of my Eglonyl’s when visiting me…

    Reply
  13. reluctantmom

     /  June 23, 2011

    Amanda, I feel I am so exhausted by sitting on the couch chatting about what ever.

    I actually do not care who did what to whom and why. I just want certain issues to magically go away – and if someone can show me how and guide me, I will do it. I am tired of the same old shit rearing it’s ugly head over and over again. I am frustrated and exhausted by myself – I hate it, I hate it, and I hate me.

    Yesterday morning CBT literally just popped in to my head.

    I recall a psyciatrist mentioned it about two years ago in passing and I literally heard him, and then it fell out of my head. I did not think about it, I did not google it, and it never crossed my mind path again.

    I was sitting yesterday just dying under the burden of my stuff and I though if I could just get one stone off, just one, then I could maybe have the energy to stand up and maybe if I get one stone off, then maybe I can get rid of the others, one stone at a time.

    Just maybe ……… desperate does not even begin to hint at the full extent of it right now.

    Reply
  14. I connect with the MK description of depression – exactly what happens. I would love numb, but get the toxins too. And the “I’m going crazy” feeling!

    Well done on getting in touch with people who can help. It’s big if you do that when you’re depro. CBT is great because you get to participate in your own therapy. I’ve started doing some of the CBT things as I’m also in a dip and blogged a bit about my battle today. Or more about the CBT techniques itself.

    Why did you decide on a CBT practitioner?

    Reply
  1. Self diagnosis… | Delusions of Clarity

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