Anyone who knows me knows my struggle with depression.
Three years ago, I was in the midst of a downward spiral.
I made the commitment to exercise, and I held myself accountable by posting each day. It was the last thing I felt I needed to do, something that I hadn’t done before making the decision to go on medication.
I think I posted for approximately 90 days. It was 90 days of exercising each day.
In that time, I still rode the waves of depression. I battled through—I was dumped over and over, I felt like I was drowning, I had days of peace, and I had days of breaking through to the surface. I resisted, I struggled, I succumbed, I battled, I triumphed, I tried so hard to challenge the black dog.
In the end, though, I was still left with depression.
I went to my GP. She knows my story from when my daughter was a baby. The struggles I’ve had and the challenges I’ve faced. She has always supported me in my decision not to go on medication…even if she did not agree with me. This time, however, she gently suggested that I had tried everything and I hadn’t tried medication.
Did I not want to feel better? Live my life without the daily struggle?
I did. So much.
I also wanted to make sure that I was emotionally stable so as to get my eldest daughter through her higher secondary school years. I wanted to be the best parent I could possibly be.
And I felt like I had given up when I took that first script.
I went on it—I lasted for six months, and because I was feeling better, I went off it. It coincided with finally getting a job that offered me financial stability and security. Where I felt valued, respected, and seen. Where I felt I was making a difference.
Maybe that was why I was no longer depressed—was I feeling better because of the medication, or because of financial and job security?
But within a few months I felt the familiar pull of the downward spiral. I tried so hard to fight it. I was aware of it. I was aware the negative circular thoughts were not productive. I was aware that I was in the depression this time. That made a difference—the awareness that the thoughts were not “real”…it didn’t stop the feelings though. The lethargy, frustration, anxiety, no energy, blackness.
My sister helped. She pointed out to me that whilst on medication, I didn’t have depression. Perhaps give it another try?
So I did.
In the last couple of years, I’ve had times of feeling the depression behind me. That’s what it feels like. It sits behind me: waiting, waiting for me to be oblivious to its presence so it can either slowly creep in or suddenly pounce. It can happen both ways.
But I was aware. I continued with counseling. I continued with medication. My self-care was not so great, but I know that’s something to work on.
Today, I’m sitting here writing this and realizing that without me being aware, I am once again in a depression. I’m struggling. I didn’t see it coming this time. Oh, I felt it behind me, but I ignored it. I ignored it because I’d gone off my medication. My daughter had finished her HSC. I thought I was in the clear, that I no longer needed it.
After I write this, I’m going home to get my prescription.
This time, though, I don’t feel like I’ve given up. I feel like I’m taking action. Doing something to help myself.
I still don’t like the idea of being medicated, but I like the idea of being depressed even less. Of having no energy, being lethargic, frustrated, anxious. Not feeling the emotional balance within me. Circular thoughts that lead nowhere. Spiraling down into the deep darkness where I feel nothing but numbness. Living in a thick fog, wading through mud. Stuck.
There is such a stigma attached to mental health.
In the last couple of years when I’ve had to fill out forms that ask me to tick yes or no for any mental health, I tick “No.” I feel shame—for having depression, for not being able to live my life to the fullest.
Today, I have no form in front of me, but I tick “Yes.” I claim yes. I have depression. I struggle with depression. I battle depression. And medication helps me not to have depression so I can live my life to the fullest. So I can be the best parent I can be to my girls.
So the fog will lift and being stuck is no longer an option.