Sometimes things creep up on us unexpectedly, so subtle that we barely notice them until they have grown from a small niggle to a big deal. Sometimes when they get to this point they smack us in the face, throwing us off guard but giving us a chance to deal with them. Other times they tap us on the shoulder passively, trying to alert us to their presence but not firmly enough to get our attention so we ignore them. Or convince ourselves that they’re not really a big deal or that we are in fact dealing with them. Sometimes someone else has to point out to us that these things are no longer niggles.
All three of these instances happened to me this week and I think they’ve been a long time coming.
I haven’t written a lot about my post partum depression in this blog. I wrote about it a bit at first, made a few Facebook announcements that I was struggling but dealing, took some medication, carried on with my life. My posts became few and far between because I felt like I had nothing to write about, that I was just going to be whinging about my mental health. I posted a few raw poems and conscious streams randomly without explanation and felt like my blog was becoming a negative space so I neglected it.
I wanted to be the blogger who had a hold on their mental and physical health. That’s who I thought I was supposed to be. The woman who lost the weight and kept it off, discovered the reason for her eczema and banished it for life. The woman who tackled anxiety head on with little to no stumbling and who acknowledged her depression and then powered through it, helping others along the way.
That person doesn’t exist at the moment. She definitely did, two years ago when this blog was only a few months old my life was under complete control, anxiety was at a minimum, depression seemed a distant memory and my physical health was the best it has ever been. But then I loosened up on my diet, a little at first not noticing that it was becoming too regular an occurrence. My eczema started coming back but not enough for me to be concerned about. I started to stress out more, but found things to blame like how busy I was at work or how much was going on outside of work. Then after a short period of trying I fell pregnant and things have never really come back up from there.
Don’t get me wrong, deciding to start a family was the best decision I’ve ever made, but the process has brought with it personal issues for me that nothing could prepare me for. Food addiction, increased anxiety and post partum depression. A depression unlike any I’ve had before. One that lingers in the background each day, even the good ones, hiding from me but still radiating through me so sneakily I didn’t notice how bad it had gotten. Or maybe I was in denial.
I was trying to deal with my depression. I was taking medication, I talked to a few people about it, went to my support group a few times, I tried to make positive changes in my life, such as diet and exercise and to some extent I was doing okay. But I became good at ignoring the fact that I wasn’t myself anymore. I was busy at work, busy at home so figured that was the reason I lost my shit a few times, cried, yelled, slammed doors, slept all day or felt angry at stupid little things but these quickly became the norm for me so much so that even Anxiety couldn’t bring the guilt on for some of my behaviour that wasn’t particularly pleasant.
I’m making it sound like I’ve turned into some sort of psycho. I havn’t, I’m just moody, nervous, a little irrational at times and I overcompensateby talking too much or being silly or a little over the top with my interactions with people. Sometimes I silently cry to myself. Not because I recognised that I’ve been lying to myself, but because I’m terrified that something bad will happen to Bubble, or Zombie, or my family, especially after a special Aunty died. I even worry that something could happen to me and that Bubble will have to grow up without me.
On Tuesday I spent the day secretly crying to myself at work. My brother was leaving for a two year OE the following day and I was sad and worried but also excited for him at the same time. I started thinking about Bubble growing up and all the things that I was going to have to let go of and I got myself a bit freaked out. Thoughts about where my life was at started whirling around my mind and I started to feel trapped. I was having a tough day at work without this going on in the background and I could feel myself heading into panic mode. My breathing was getting shorter and I was having trouble controlling my temperature.
But something in me snapped. There was no way I was going to have a panic attack at work again. Not if I could help it. So I stopped working and sent Zombie a text. I told him that I felt like my life was spiraling out of control and that I didn’t know why since there my life is actually pretty good at the moment. I said I was scared and that I needed him to know that I was not in a good place. It was the first time I had admitted to myself in months let alone someone else that I wasn’t going to be okay just yet. I felt clearer almost instantly. I’ve since had it confirmed by a friend who took the time to ask me how I was doing because they had noticed that I’d been really stressed out every time they saw me for a while and that I looked worn out. I’d been trying so hard to hide the depression from myself I forgot about hiding it from others.
I wanted to be the woman who left her mental illness in the past and kept her eyes peeled for any hint of it creeping back. But I’m not and I don’t know if I ever will be. As undesirable as it sounds, depression and anxiety are a part of my life and it’s becoming clear to me that I need to get a lot better at recognising it. I want to get better. I’m stuck in a catch twenty two cycle at the moment, depression fueling my bad eating habits and laziness, these in turn giving depression more power over me. Some days it’s actually easier to just be depressed instead of fighting but when you give yourself a day off from fighting, you give yourself permission for another, and another until you stop fighting and let the denial take over. It’s a vicious cycle and one I desperately need to break.
I’ve got an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow about my depression and I’m still going to try and reach my health goals. I think it’s important and will help with sorting out my mental health at the same time. I’ve at least got the drive to keep starting over which means I never fully gave up the fight. It reminds me a lot of when I quit smoking. It took years. I tried and failed, tried and failed, I started most Mondays and usually failed by Wednesday, but I got there in the end. I never quit quitting and one day it just happened. Hopefully it just doesn’t take as many attempts this time around.
Smiles and Sunshine