This may be one of the more contentious posts that I’ve ever written. However the intention behind writing it is to spark discussion around depression, and for us to share our suffering and experiences.
And I would like to STRONGLY preface this post by stressing this is my personal experience and struggle only. It may be confronting for some.
It’s also a long read.
I was watching a documentary yesterday about a forest in Japan. The documentary was voiced by the unfortunate gentleman who searches for the forest for the poor people that enter it with the intention of never coming back out.
He made mention of a sign that has been erected at the entrance of the forest, advising people to consider their family and friends, and to reach out and seek help for depression. He said that we are never really on our own.
Having struggled my entire life with mental illness (including severe depression and anxiety) this is an emotive issue for me.
Hence my blog post today to talk about it.
My intention for this post is to share my experience, and encourage others to do the same. In the hope that we can find hope and comfort.
I first started struggling with severe depression when I fell pregnant with my son. Up until then I had suffered, but not enough for it to impact on my life. I had however struggled with anxiety, and that certainly did impact my life greatly.
Before I fell pregnant with my son I was on medication for that anxiety, but I stopped it so that I could have a baby. I felt okay, and felt that I was able to do that (stop the medication). And having a baby was something I so badly wanted.
A combination of factors led to severe depression then setting in. I suffered 4 successive miscarriages in my attempt to have a child. I didn’t deal with them at the time as I should have, but just pressed on in the hope of having a successful pregnancy. Once I became pregnant with my son I had very severe morning sickness the entire pregnancy. I was unable to work, and unable to function at all. I should have been in hospital, but I was too sick and wretched to even get myself there. Then there were issues with the pregnancy as it progressed, and the scans revealed growth problems indicate of ASD (which did indeed up being diagnosed at a later date). There were also severe growth restrictions, and concerns with baby.
Include with that a very traumatic birth, and I finally cracked.
2 days after leaving the maternity hospital I ended up in a mental hospital. I went back on my medication and received counselling and pulled myself back together.
At the same time my (then husband) fell apart with severe depression as well.
He’d also suffered his entire life, and after I became pregnant (the 5th time) he decided that he didn’t want a child after all. Once baby was born he had thoughts of taking both of their lives. So he went on very high level medication which he remains on to this day.
That was my first experience with severe clinical depression.
Life went on (in some fashion) for the next 4 years until my husband left.
That in itself is another blog post. But he left to find his own happiness with someone else.
I however fell apart.
We’d been together from the time I left home. He was my first and only boyfriend, and it was all that I knew. In a short space of time he walked out, I lost my home, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I had a cancer scare, I wrapped my car around a tree (accidentally), and so on.
And I found myself utterly and completely on my own.
I realised – too late – that I had not put time into establishing strong friendships, and was devastated to learn that my family didn’t want to get involved in any great way.
I won’t go into details about what happened during that time, but I sunk as low as it’s possible to do so.
And this is where my thoughts on depression have been formed.
Naturally as a society we are urged to get help for depression and to speak out and ask for help. (And I stress this is NOT something that I am advising against in any way).
I however did that, and found no real help.
And believe me I have done it all – when it comes to depression I am a walking encyclopaedia. I’ve seen 3 psychiatrists and at least 8 psychologists. I’ve been on every depression medication there is. (some of which turned me into a literal non-responsive vegetable). That was a scary time for both myself and my parents.
I’ve done CBT therapy, and ABC therapy. I’ve tried the Buddhist approach to CBT. I’ve read about every self help book there is. I’ve called the emergency helplines. I’ve spoken to friends and family. I radically changed my diet (no gluten or dairy). I became an exercise fanatic.
But the one thing I found was that at the end of the day nothing really helped, and I was on my own.
My family didn’t want to get involved. The friends I had sympathised, but didn’t want to get dragged into my black hole. Which is understandable.
I find personally there is limited help when it comes to depression.
I am on medication still (which I will never come off). And it helps, to a limited extent. It certainly helps to feel numb.
But to be honest each and every single day is a struggle.
I have wondered at length whether there is any real hope for suffers of severe clinical depression like myself?
And this is where I would really value any stories from people that have found an answer to this suffering.
I would love to feel that there is hope, and that I won’t spend the next 10/20/30/40 years suffering each and every day.
As I said, an emotive post from me today, but one on which I would very much welcome comment.