Learning to live with my depression
Posted Wednesday 1 August 2012
Recently, I read a review of Alastair Campbell’s latest diaries. The review made mention of his much publicised battle with alcohol and depression and, although I can identify with Campbell (we are both Northerners, for one thing), I’m mentioning this because I actually read the article, the whole thing, all the way through, and being bothered to do this was a really important step for me.
Like many sufferers, I really don’t know when the depression started. The only thing I know for sure is that by January this year, I was a stumbling husk of myself. A wreck. I’d lost weight and was finding it difficult to eat. I was drinking far too much. I just about managed to turn up for work. My self-confidence had disappeared. I just couldn’t be bothered to live. I saw no point in carrying on as no-one would notice if I wasn’t around. I firmly believed that my lovely, caring sons would be better off without me. I was an embarrassment. I made a feeble attempt at taking an overdose, but worried that I would end up in a coma instead of dead, causing more problems for my family.
I made an appointment to see my GP which I didn’t keep. But the day after – only spurred on by hearing the despair in my sons’ voices – I did go. This time I had to take an emergency appointment. ‘Come and sit with us’ said the receptionist, ‘while you wait for the doctor.’ She then thought about which GP she would assign this very distressed patient to. I don’t know which of the several receptionists this was, but she did me a huge favour, simply by being thoughtful. The GP I saw was one I’d never met before. She was – and remains – sympathetic without being patronising; she seemed to see something in me which I thought was long dead and she gave me a glimmer of hope (along with a prescription for antidepressants).
Much against my natural instincts, I confided in a few trusted friends about how I’d been feeling. They have formed a natural support group and, along with my sons, they give me the comfort of knowing that if I begin to feel unsteady, I’ve always got someone to turn to, whatever time of the day it is. I’ve made lots of changes to my life - now I’ve decided to live, I want to make the most of it!
I’m constantly learning about myself. My capacity to enjoy the simplest things is a new one. I am also endlessly grateful for the feeling of contentment. As you can imagine, the knock-on effect on my sons is immense.
I now live with my depression. If I were to try to explain what that feels like, the nearest I can come up with is that it’s like sitting by a campfire at night. I know that there’s something out there, just beyond the trees, in the distance. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I’ve no doubt that the thing is black, huge and thoroughly unpleasant. But, as long as I keep that fire going, with lots of wood to hand to make sure it doesn’t go out, I’ll be fine.
Gill also has her own blog, where you can find out how much her allotment, choral singing, her cat, meditation and her two sons help her on a day-by-day-basis.
If you're feeling in crisis, we're here to help, contact the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 and visit our support pages.
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