Mental Illness

DEPRESSION AND HOPE (or rather the lack of it)

It is with some trepidation that I write about my long term relationship with depression.

Recently, I have been drawn to people who talk of happiness as a matter of attitude.  People who have had their fair share of struggle, but have looked that struggle square in the face and said “Fuck you!”  Their souls, whilst changed, have not been broken. It is a matter of attitude they say.

I read these blogs, books and articles in magazines and my heart breaks a little bit more.

I think, perhaps, I am beyond help.

My head hurts.

My heart is broken.

I stumble through my day wondering why we exist at all?

It hardly seems fair to be created with sentient awareness, but to have no true purpose.

I have been told that my purpose is to write.  And it is true, I do feel it in my bones.

But I am ruled by fear.  People afflicted with this hideous disease are ruled by fear.

That is the truth of depression.

Some hard wiring has gone astray and we live in a perpetual state of fear.

The voices in our head, that nasty little creature that revels in our misery, tells us, constantly, how it is all going to go wrong, how we will make a laughing stock of ourselves, how we are arrogant to believe that we could be talented in anything, how our lives, really, are just a waste of the space we inhabit, how we just need to die.

And so we sit.  We wait.  To die.

We don’t really want to die, of course.  We just feel incapacitated.  We feel isolated and we feel hopeless.  And hopelessness is the killer.

I once watched an episode of Bones where the serial killer would brick women up into a room with no food nor water.  He would stream video footage of their families to them and then he would watch them as they would scream.  But no-one would come.  And eventually they would lie down and wait for death, all hope lost.  At the end of the episode, when he had been captured, he said that it was this hopelessness, so all encompassing that they would willingly lie down and wait to die, that he could induce in these women that gave him the thrill.  Pretty awful really, but a very good mirror on the human condition.

We need hope to survive.

Survival is dependent on hope.  Hope for a better future, hope that tomorrow will be better, hope that life will be okay in the end.

People who end their lives no longer have hope.

To have no hope is to be empty, to have nothing left.

To have no hope is to die.

I fight for hope.  Every day I wake up and pray for hope.  Depression and hope are interdependent.

It is not self pity.  Many people think it is.  Many people think it is a case of wallowing in our own misery.  Which is why mental illness is still so badly stigmatised, why it is underfunded and why it is now touted that not 1 in 5 but 1 in 2 people will be afflicted with a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetime, and only a fraction of those will seek help, and only a fraction of those again will receive the help that will set them on the path to recovery.  That is to say, on a path that will enable them to see hope.

At this point in time I see no hope.

It’s horrible.  Shocking even.  I am a middle aged housewife living in a beautiful home with a beautiful family.  I have no right to feel depressed.  Or so they say.

But the reality is that I do have a right.  I have a right, because it is my reality.  It is a reality I wish didn’t exist.  It is a reality that I suspect will be a part of who I am for the rest of my life.  I will always struggle with finding the joy in a simple day, finding the happiness in a bird’s song.  I will always struggle to ignore the voices in my head that tell me I am not good enough, a waste of space, not worthy of love.

It is reconciling that reality, marrying it to a life of less pain, more vitality, less anguish, more evenness, that is the key.

Today, I am losing the battle.  But as of this day, I am winning the war, for I am alive.


Much love,

SHW Signature


And then there was light

You know how yesterday I was telling you about Darren Rowse and how he inspired me to at least think about dreaming again?

Well, today I made a visit to Mr C.  Today was an extended stay because Master J had started the first day of term 4 which meant I could just kick back and enjoy some quality time with my man in that private ward (get your mind out of the gutter!!).

I felt lighter this morning.  I have to really savour those moments as they don’t tend to last long.

But today was different.  I have felt light all day.  And this is despite being as hormonal as crap.

So, I was with Mr C and we got to talking about me and my life and the trajectory it had taken in the last 20 years.  We spoke about Master J having autism and how difficult it was for me to work, and how difficult his behavioural outbursts were, and how violent he used to be because he didn’t have the language skills or insight to know what he wanted, and how that violence was mostly directed towards me.  We spoke about how that affected me as a mum, about how my confidence plummeted because I felt like a failure at the one thing us women are meant to do naturally.

We spoke about how I didn’t feel like a  natural stay-at-home-mum, how I had so desperately wanted to work but couldn’t.  We spoke about how desperately I tried to find ways to work from home and how I always seemed so motivated in the beginning and then it always, always, fell flat.  We spoke about how I was so good at getting these things up and running, but for some reason the follow through was always missing.  We spoke about how hell bent I had been for the longest time on getting a degree, but could never find the impetus to finish it, that when I got there, it just never resonated with me.

We spoke about what it was that I was naturally drawn to {what Darren refers to as “giving you energy”} and what it was about all of these things that I loved doing the most.

We went through each thing that I had done in the past.  There were the direct sales things (Tupperware, Avon, Virgin Vie, Kaszazz, Stampin Up, Grace Cosmetics).  Yes, I have done them all.   Then there was First Impressions which was a company I set up to coach school levers on entering the job market.  I then set up Satellite PA where I worked as a virtual assistant from home.  I did a course in Numerology and decided to become a numerologist too (I have no idea what I was thinking with that one).  An eclectic mix to be sure.

“So what is it that you liked about all of these things?”  Mr C asked me.  There has to be at least one thing in each of these things that you have enjoyed doing.

I looked at him.  I knew immediately what it was.  No thinking.  At all.

The setting up of them all,” I said.

Yes, but what is it about the setting up that you really enjoy?  Is it the registering the business name, setting up the bank accounts, what exactly really grabs you?

The designing of all the stationery, and the website, you know, all the pretty stuff.

So, it’s the design you like.

Absolutely, I love that stuff.”  I was aware of the energy surging through my body as I spoke {thank you Darren for making me aware of it}.

So, why have you never gone for design stuff before?

I’ve thought about it often,” I said, “but I can’t draw.  Plus life has just always got in the way.  Plus I always believed that I wouldn’t be good at that stuff.

Because you believed other people were much better than you?

I nodded.  It’s true, I always believe people are better than me.  And I am right, there will always be people who are more artistic, more creative, better at design.  But should that prevent me from following my own dreams?  Do I have to be the best?  Do I have to listen to that script in my head that constantly tells me that in order to be of any value I need to be the best, which then paralyses me from starting anything?

The answer is no.

And there it was.

My dream.

The fire inside my belly.

My light at the end of the longest, darkest tunnel you ever did see.

So, I am going to swallow my pride, my fear, my anxiety and I am going to enrol on a beginners graphic design course.  I have also subscribed to Lynda, which is a monthly paid online course portal that has loads and loads of courses to choose from.  Other places I am looking at is Creative Live and Alison.

The fact that I cannot draw for crap worries me slightly, but surely in the entire world of graphic designers not everyone are virtual Van Goghs, are they?  I have to believe that despite my handicap in hand drawing, the design concepts in my brain can and will be translated on that computer screen.

I at least have to try.

I am nervous.  I have had these feelings before and they have fallen flat.  But perhaps this one is different.  Perhaps I can just learn and absorb and just see where it takes me, rather than try to predict the ending.  Maybe I can just enjoy the journey, not worry about being the best, and just be?

Maybe, just maybe, I will find this new adventure wonderful, and scary, and {dare I even imagine it} FUN!

It’s a scary step this, but I hope that you will take it with me.  I hope that if you are scared, you will know that I am right there with you and that I hope to hell you will make the journey because, you know, we may just enjoy it and five years from now we could be laughing at how silly we were and admiring just how far we’ve come.

If you’ve been on the journey and come out the other end, I would love to know about it.  Please do comment below.

Until next time,

SHW Signature