It’s a little confronting to acknowledge that you were depressed for a very, very long time.
I feel like I’m addressing an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting: “My name is Alana and I was depressed. It’s been 30 days since my last black dog moment.”
Except depression isn’t like alcohol. When you’re an alcoholic you’ve either had a drink or you haven’t. Depression is a little more elusive.
The problems started with the birth of my first child. I probably had post-natal depression, though I vehemently denied it.
My ex wanted me to get a psych test after our second child was born. I refused.
Depressed people can’t get out of bed in the morning. Depressed people don’t have hope for the future.
I wasn’t that person. I got out of bed every morning. I knew things would get better eventually.
But sometimes a little voice in my head would whisper “I want to die.”
That little voice was being melodramatic. I didn’t want to die. There was too much living to do.
Still, it was unsettling. I was never brave enough to tell anyone about that little voice. I was scared they’d think I was a suicide risk.
I think what the little voice was trying to say is that life felt very, very hard.
Unfortunately, a lot of bad stuff followed my post-natal depression. I got really ill with something called disaccharide deficiencies, my four-year-old daughter developed severe anxiety issues, I was working with a sociopath, my job went pear-shaped and I started having heart palpitations.
Every day felt like I’d been thrown into a very deep pool and was scrambling to keep my head above water.
I tentatively told my doctor that I didn’t think I was quite right. She dismissed my concerns. I felt silly. I shut up.
A few years later, I found the courage to mention again that I was in a bad place. She gave me a referral to see a psychologist. I went every week for a few months and cried for an hour in her office. But they were expensive tears and they didn’t seem to be solving anything, so I stopped.
I think I switched to survival mode. It felt like I was observing life rather than living it.
My ex was patient with me for a very long time. Then he got resentful and angry. He said I never thought about the effect my issues were having on him and our family.
When I begged to know why he left me, he said he felt he “could never make me happy.”
It’s very hard to make a depressed person happy.
It’s also very hard to live with a depressed person.
Ironically, it took our 23-year relationship ending for my recovery to begin.
After a few months of sobbing, I felt something shift inside me. The worst thing in the world had happened, but I’d survived. I began to feel lighter, more positive, engaged.
I still have my bleak moments, but I’m a different person now.
This person doesn’t want the false security of that broken marriage. She understands a bit better why her husband walked away. She wonders why he didn’t push her a bit harder to get help. She wishes he’d tried harder to fix things. But she understands his frustration.
I wish I had some pithy advice to share, some wisdom on things I’d do differently if I had my time over, but I don’t.
Maybe I should have persevered with counselling. Maybe I should have pushed for anti-depressants.
Who knows? What’s done is done and can’t be undone.
I’ve chosen to look forward, not back.
I’m excited about the future. It’s filled with endless possibilities, laughter and love.
I think the universe has wonderful things in store for me. It has wonderful things in store for you too.
In the meantime, I want you to know you’re not alone.
Song of the day: Timbuk 3 “The future’s so bright”