Guess who’s back, back again, Kirsty’s back, tell a friend.
This is quite a bizarre feeling, I didn’t even realise it until a few weeks ago, but I feel ‘fine’. Not sure if ‘fine’ cuts it, I feel ‘great’ – Tony the tiger great.
For someone diagnosed with depression, who monitored her every feeling for fear falling back into the ‘darkness’ I sure did miss the turning point in my mental health, much like failing to see the dark path into depression. But I think, think, there’s light ahead, I’m pretty sure I see a flicker of hope and normality, in the not too far future.
This really is bizarre.
Describing depression is difficult, dare I say the common excluding phrase I HATE – ‘you don’t understand unless you have been through it‘ – but even then there are huge differences between people’s experience of depression. Describing it when I don’t ‘feel’ it is equally as difficult, a theme that ran through my mental illness – once I ‘solved’ an issue my mind would not let me access it again. Trying to remember why or how I felt can be very confusing. I haven’t forgotten anything, it just doesn’t’ hurt me anymore or provoke the emotions, despite it’s best efforts. My Beast doesn’t have a powerful and demanding voice anymore, it’s a soft whimper, trying to lure me over. I don’t need to look in that box, I’ve seen it, I know there is nothing for me there, nothing of good anyway.
In all truth, I sit here examining the what, where, when and hows of my mental health and I can’t find any answers that take me back to feeling depressed. Does this mean I have the all clear? There is a tiny, Beast voice, that want’s me to answer ‘well, we will wait and see. You are being naive. This could be a phase‘, but my defiant, arrogant, optimistic voice is telling it to STFU with major eye-rollage. I’m fully aware of the swings and roundabouts of life, what goes up often comes down, I know this may pass and round the corner that Beast could smack me full on with a baseball bat, again. But I don’t feel it’s over powering presence anymore, nor do I live by fear. I will take the good and relish in ever single second of it, even if I am oblivious to me being ‘better’.
I take huge solace that I don’t notice I feel happy. Although, saying I feel happy might be misleading, suggesting that depression is feeling sad. For me, it was feeling nothing, when I did feel it was anger, rage, defeat, hopelessness, jealously, loneliness, extreme loneliness, with lashings and lashing of self hate.
Those feelings are still there, of course, I am human, albeit the best human on the planet, you’re welcome. But the team on my playing field is much stronger than the shitty depressive team. They make me feel love, happiness, empathy, kindness, excitement, laughter and joy. I genuinely look forward to the future with a calm mind, ready for any obstacles, once again. The resting state of my mind, if an adult with responsibilities has such a thing, is a swirl of things ‘to do’, things I want to do such as baking, cooking, trips out and night’s in. There isn’t much space for the Beast, that is not to say it isn’t there. I do hear it now and again, it does still trouble me, always reminding me of it’s potential power. It’s a sleekit wee shit, I’ll be driving to work and it will be like ‘ba bam! Here’s a really painful memory, why don’t you dwell on that while I summon up the required emotions to wrap around your neck and drag you back into my realm‘. I won’t even notice what I am thinking about until I get the ‘pang’ of cold sweats and irrational, full speed thoughts and emotions relating to the specific memory.
Our mind is very clever and powerful – a great playing ground for depression and anxiety. Of course, thinking of a funeral or death can make you sad, but it’s when your mind is controlled, warped, by the beast that it makes you sad and alters your behavior. Instead of the thought just provoking sadness, it becomes your focus, consuming you, something to fear and avoid at all costs. My beast reminds me of my ‘breakdown’ after Jess was born, a very specific day that,in hindsight, changed my perception of David. Once the beast has that film reel playing, it’s all to easy to add in some extra’s such as ‘mind this mental thought too? How about thinking about this? You know, he doesn’t actually like you anymore? Mind this conversation? Here, go think about him crushing on someone else‘. All it takes is the shortest of mind flashes on the topic and the beast can move to the front of the queue. Luckily, she doesn’t have time to sharper her talons anymore as she skips up the queue to the driving seat of my mind, before she can open the rest of the ‘pain’ memories I mentally tell her ‘off you fuck, pal. No time for your crazy the day. I do NOT need to feel any of this’. Quickly booting her arse out of the queue and back in her cage where she belongs.
Although I am stronger, now, than the beast, I still don’t get off scot-free. The Beast has planted her seed, again, and I need to do my very best as removing it, again. Openness and honesty are my aids. A quick call to David to ‘tell on’ the Beast is enough to vaporizer the seed and let me get on with my day. I don’t even need him to tell me it’s ‘silly’ or ‘false’ I know that, I just need to get it out and it’s gone – much of the reason why I can be a brutal horror with David and close friends. The thoughts pass, but there is always an itch, always wanting a wee scratch. Everyone love’s a wee scratch eh, but scratching can spread the problem and cause a whole host of problems, so best just leave it alone, try to ignore it.
Most days, there is no itch. No thoughts, no self hating, no anxiety, no ‘this is too much’, no crazy. I can’t quite believe it. From all that shit I have been through mentally, this is the end? That’s it? I’m not sure how I feel about it all, other than wonderfully happy that I am ‘me’ again. There is trepidation and a feeling of grief. Is it wrong to grieve loss of depressive thoughts and emotions? It that the definition of fucking insane?! Depression can create such strong emotions, unmatched pain and darkness, that I believe your mind will always want to ‘feel’ it. Much like we chase a ‘high’ brought on by love or joy, so too will we chase the ‘high’ that accompanies depression.
Ultimately, I feel a bitter sweet sorrow regarding my better mental health. When I think back to the birth of my child, the first few months and now the first two years of her life, they are intertwined with depression. And just like I don’t want my daughter to grow and fly the nest (she says), I’m not yet ready to part with another chapter of her, our life. I get a little sentimental over stuff, my parent’s loft full of junk is testament to that!
In the same breath, not a chance do I want to feel any of it again. I don’t want to go back there. It was an ‘experience’, one which I and my family have learnt from, one we will continue to learn from. Just a bit weird to be think of me as ‘normal’ again. I’ve only got the general crazy to attend to now, like the ‘I’mma lose my shit’ at chores or ‘I’mma lose my shit at this child’ or ‘I’mma need a hug, coz I’m needy’ kinda crazy. Much more manageable, for myself and poor David. What do I do with my ‘mental illness sufferer’ badge? I’ll keep it a while yet, like I say, there’s light at the end, I’ll give it time and make sure I keep making traction towards it at my own pace.
I guess this is why people describe depression as a dark cloud that follows you, takes up place over your head, engulfing you head space, your every thought and emotion. I really do feel like the cloud has shifted, I feel a weight off my shoulders and a complete shift in ‘being’. Not going to go as far as saying I’m a chirpy, upbeat, buzzing ball of ‘life is wonderful, let me shower you with my positivity’ pain in the arse, no.
Never. I’m back to my usual base-camp, hating the majority of people, moaning my tits clean off, but at I can feel again, the good feels, for over a month now. I’m more than fine with this, more than fine to look at David through the eyes I had when we decided to make that darn baby, the eye’s that let me see he is every bit mine as I am his, and feel that for the first time in two years, really feel it. Now, I wouldn’t bat an eye lid if he told me he was going out for post work drinks -previously the Beast would have had a field day with this, thinking up all kinds of nonsense that I would believe. Now, at the slightest thought of him being unfaithful, I hair flick and mutter ‘well, that’s his choice and mistake, go for it’. The merest false, negative, thought that he might be thinking of another lady, I eye roll at myself and grunt ‘good wan Beast, haven’t heard that one before. Try again pal’. I’m over it, Beast.
I’ll keep my eye on the Beast. Currently, it’s sitting playing with lego in it’s cage, as is my mental Beast – kidding, Jess doesn’t have lego. Not too much of an eye though, I’m still shifting through the Beast fall out, batting down thoughts occasionally. I don’t need feel as though I need to keep an eye on the crazy anymore, I can’t feel it’s burden on me. As much as I say I don’t live in fear, I’m also not stupid enough to think that I have conquered it and will never become depressed again. I will give the Beast the love and respect it deserves, I will try my best to keep it contained, but without creating unnecessary allowances for it. I don’t know every factor that ‘made’ me depressed, but I do know pressure and stressors that can rattle it’s cage. There is a lot to be said for learning to become ‘mindful’. There might be new, unforeseen life stresses or events that will bring the depression cloud over me again, completely unrelated to the first diagnosis, sure. But for now, I will focus on keeping ‘healthy’ and minimizing paths that will lead me back to the Beast’s lair.