I was first diagnosed as having depression when I was twelve years old. It was after my granddad died. I wasn’t just upset by his death, I was heartbroken. He was very much like a second dad to me and I adored him. Not having him around anymore tore me apart and I spiralled downwards.
Shortly after being diagnosed with depression it also became apparent I was suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and I began struggling at school. I remember waking up every day and if there was even one cloud in the sky I knew the day would go badly. I would go into school but get myself sent to the medical room before the first lesson even started. I don’t think my teacher knew what to do with me. I don’t think my parents even knew what to do with me. I was meant to spend the weekends with my dad in London but I would spend the entire time crying, having panic attacks into a paper bag and generally being a mess.
I was like this for almost an entire school year. Luckily, with some counselling, I was able to fight the bad feelings away and I recovered. The next time I realised the depression had returned I was sixteen and with my first proper boyfriend. It was not an easy relationship but one built on mistrust and drama, which eventually took a toll on my mental health. I tried going to counselling again but this time it just made me paranoid and I felt worse so stopped going.
I have suffered from depression on and off several times over the past ten years. Most memorably was when I suffered both pre and post-natal depression with the children. I became so low at one point when Cameron was a baby that I told my mum that he would be better off with her and I ran out of her flat towards the road, mascara running down my cheeks with the intent of ending everything.
Since then I have seriously considered suicide on several occasions. It wasn’t until last year that I finally gave in to the doctor’s and allowed myself to be put on antidepressants. Having an addictive personality I was terrified I would become hooked on the drugs and be unable to ever come off them. Although they did help the first time round, it was this fear that made me come off of them too quickly, suffering dizzy spells and nausea in the process.
This time round I have been taking them for several months and have no intention of stopping anytime soon. I don’t feel addicted or that I wouldn’t be able to come off of them should I need or want to, but I feel they are keeping my head above water. Life can sometimes be fairly stressful and at the moment my job and some aspects of my home life might break me without the boost the tablets give me.
I still have down days. I have even been low enough to feel it would be better if I wasn’t around whilst on the tablets, but they allow me to carry on a mostly normal life without struggling to get out of bed each day. At my lowest point, at the start of Summer this year before I went back on the tablets, I went through stages of being almost catatonic.
Ed has been incredible. He has been my rock this past year. To be with someone who is living with depression is incredibly hard. To trust that your partner loves you despite not loving themselves or even wanting to be around is immensely difficult. In the past I have shut partners out and pretended I am ok, even when I wasn’t, because it was easier that way. Ed encourages me to be open and honest about my illness. I don’t feel I have to hide anything, despite what I am saying not being the nicest thing to hear.
Suffering from depression as a mother is an uphill struggle. I constantly feel I am not good enough for the children, that they would be better off without me. I find it hard to juggle a work/life balance and feel guilty when I am not around, despite knowing I want to work to support my family.
There have been times over the past few years where I have cried uncontrollably. Times I have not wanted or been able to speak to anyone, even those closest to me. I have often hidden my pain behind a fake smile. A smile that has become so easy to paint on my face that for most people it was a total shock when my marriage ended last Autumn after arguments behind closed doors for more than a year beforehand.
I have shut friends and family out time and time again, preferring to be alone and even more low than bringing anyone down with me. There have been friends I have lost from my illness, people who haven’t been able to understand when I have had to cancel plans or cut evenings short because I have felt anxious in social situations.
There have been times I wished I could be someone else and not have to suffer with the feelings inside of me. There have also been times, believe it or not, that I have been thankful for my depression. Yes, it is something incredibly difficult and painful to live with, but it has made me a more compassionate, empathetic person. I also know that I could be suffering from much worse conditions and I am grateful, through everything that I have my children, my family and my physical health.
I will probably always be living with depression but, through it all, I am determined that this illness will not beat me.