I mentioned it in my weekly reflection last week, about being so down and finally ( FINALLY) not self medicating with food. Some of you know already parts of what I am about to write, others know more. I surprised some people because I always seem so happy, positive, upbeat. Last person in the world they would think would be unhappy....and it's something I try to never admit as well, I feel like I'm failing at the veneer of perfect life we all try to paint on our lives.
Robin Williams is a funny man......so is Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson and many more comedians. It';s their job! They must be pretty happy right? Nope. Depression has been with each of them.
In my experience, people with depression are good at hiding it. I know I am usually.
The chick beside you at the gym lifting weights? She might be suffering from depression, glowing with health as she is.
That new mum cuddling her baby in the shopping centre having a coffee? She might be locked in her own world of pain in her head with post natal depression.
That bloke who is powering on hard at work, top of his game and mates with everyone? He could be depressed.
Dperession has become a bit of a buzz word but it's not just unhappiness, or a bit of sadness. Those things are normal in life, they add a bit of colour and perspective to life. Depression is a weight that hangs off you, sucking away your air and nothing you do can seem to get rid of it. It follows you like a shadow, like a bad smell.
Because thats' what Winston Churchill's Black Dog was, and my dense Black Cloud is .....an all encompassing hopelessness that sucks every piece of light and love out of your life, leaving you without hope, dreams or the will to go on. It feels as if you are in a glass pit, slipping down further and further with no way to get traction to pull yourself up on the smooth slippery surface.
Take a walk inside my mind at these times.....Imagine being in inky black nothingness, but you can feel it there like a weight agaiunst your skin. I have voices in my cloud and they say the worst and most soul destroying things to me constantly, sometimes whispering so I can just hear it, sometimes yelling at me. And you are all alone.
I guess this is more a purge for me in a manner of speaking so please, if you are reading, feel free to not read any further. And if anyone is feeling like I have and do from time to time, take hope. Call someone, Lifeline or the Black Dog Institute http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/ or
Beyond Blue http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?
For me, I know roughly that the 'why' comes down to me. I am hugely self critical. Nothing I do is good enough for me, and, I assume, for anyone else. The depth of detestation I have had for myself meant I didn't look in a mirror for years, or look up from the ground when I walked. Convinced noone could ever like me, (because I couldn't stand myself) I ended up with few friends through school and afterwards.
Then I found a man who said he loved me. So at 18 and after 3 months of knowing him and thinking noone else could ever possibly want someone like me, I married him. And spent the next 5 years in an abusive relationship so horrific and scarring physically and mentally, I still have post traumatic stress rear its head, As I like to think in pictures, the post traumatic stress is usually the forked lighning splitting and stabbing the Black Cloud I am stuck in. The result? No sleep, a lot of fear and an overwhelming urge to hide or run away.
I learned to be hypervigilant to people's body language, and still second guess the meaning of their words, conversations and moods. I worry all the time and after years of being told it was all my fault....I believed everything, EVERYTHING is all my fault. If I had tried better or did better, or WAS better, I would succeed or things would be different. I compare myself to others constantly and am always found lacking. So I criticise and pick apart everything I do and am never satisfied. You can only take so much of this before your world comes crashing down, constant worrying and watching is exhausting and THAT'S when the Black Clouds sneak up and cover up the sun.
Now you know I've since remarried to the most patient man in the world who is awake at 3 am with me when I have my nightmares, and is by my side when I am in the depths of this Black Cloud with no way out. I frustrate him I'm sure, yet he is still there. He is my friend, angel, helper, who holds my hand when I can't see the way out and tries his best to show me the rainbows in the Cloud. But I don't just rely on him. I have to take control myself and find my way out.
I'm lucky I have a few tricks that can help me, and a family that helps me. I subscribe to the 'fake it til you make it' scenario....I listen to " happy' music to boost myself up, I run and run and run, I read motivational messages that support what I am trying to do. I stop the catastrophic thinking....so one thing went wrong in the gym today, what are all the things that went right? I practise gratitude and think about all the good things from throughout the day and try to go to sleep thinking about the very BEST thing that happened that day.
AND I SMILE.
Troy helps by pointing out when my expectations are unrealistic, that comparisons are ridiculous because there is NOONE like me, that I AM good enough and reminds me of what I have achieved, even if it was something as little as making a kickass cup of coffee that morning! He finds the funny when I can't see it for despair and holds me tight when I think noone cares.
And suddenly there it is....
The rainbow at the end of the clouds.