I don’t mean to be a killjoy. I love life, love to laugh, love to live in gratitude for each moment I have my precious family, but sometimes depression comes creeping up on me, and out of no where, bam! I’m paralysed. I can’t breathe, can’t move, can’t function. I forget stuff, lose stuff, become blind to the piles of laundry and dishes, and forget how to cry.
Lately, a couple of things have happened, things that would normally drive me to sobs and wales but instead, I’ve just felt numb. No tears… zip!
Lately, I’ve gone through the motions of doing the most urgent stuff, and forgotten to do things, even things on my calendar… like go to the doctors appointment I had scheduled, like a good friend’s name when she’s standing right in front of me, like the fact I was meant to make an appointment with a client. I’ve been in such a state of overwhelm, even just messaging someone to say “Hey, I can’t talk tonight,” has been too hard.
Hiding Depression’s Scars
You’d never know it from the outside. I hide depression’s scars well, but they’ve had a hold on me for a long time, on and off, and it’s hard to prise yourself free when you’re gasping for air.
Chronic depression is a serious health problem for women globally. Antidepressants are the most prescribed drug for women in Western countries. Did you know that? And yet, my guess is that most women are like me. They cover up the anxiety and mask their sadness. They suck it up and get on with life, hoping that someone somewhere will care enough to ask them how they are doing. Even then, they’ll likely brush it off with a smile and say they are fine, when they’re not.
Mums, if you’re feeling this way, I urge you seek support. One of the reasons why I started Mumatopia was because I knew what it was to feel burdened by depression as a new mother and overwhelmed with the demands of caring for children with disabilities. Each year I block off my diary (no being on call for births for a whole month) so I can spend a weekend away, connecting with other women and refuelling my tanks at the Mumatopia Mum’s Retreat. Even though I spend the weekend working, it is still time out from the family, and time connecting with womenfolk about the things that matter most. We cry, we laugh, we talk about our families, our worries and dreams. We cook, we eat, we drink wine and watch soppy romcoms, make stuff and take long walks in the crisp winter air. Afterwards I feel tired, for sure, but I also feel like my tanks are a bit fuller and my heart a bit more open and my mind a bit clearer.
A retreat is more than time out. It is time to fill up your emotional tanks when they’ve run well and truly dry. If you’re anything like me, your tank is not only dry but cracking. If that’s you, please do talk it through with someone you trust: a counsellor, someone from Lifeline or a friend. And if you need to, take a break, even if it’s just a weekend in a tent, by yourself. You deserve some time out, just for you!
Depression can rear it’s soul-sucking head from time to time, and it can be extremely debilitating and sometimes it’s not something you want to admit to yourself, let alone anyone else. However, it can be beaten, with unconditional love (from yourself and others) and support. And when it does creep back after leaving you be for awhile, don’t be hard on yourself, even if others are hard on you. Take time to get your head and heart back into gear, and give yourself some space. Make small changes to your diet, go for walks, smell the roses and try to articulate the pain you feel in art, story, song, dance…. whatever helps. And if you need info or resources, jump onto Beyond Blue‘s website.
If you are someone who suffers from depression, take heart and know you’re not alone. And if you are a friend of someone who suffers from depression, you don’t need to take on that person’s burden to be supportive. In fact, it’s better for them if you don’t. Just show some kindness, say something positive, and encourage them to take little steps towards kicking the black dog in the butt. Make them a meal, pick up the phone, say “hi” on Facebook or just acknowledge them when they’re not able to do the same for you (or for themselves).
Depression is a little understood illness but with a little more compassion and a lot more support, you can get through it!Have you ever struggled with depression? What has helped and what hasn’t?