Well I started writing this last night with Hubby watching QI/Republic of Telly in the background, and curiously enough, when I reread it this morning, it was kinda rubbish. So, I’m starting again.
While hindsight allows me to see that depression has probably been with me since college, the first time it became a serious problem was after our son, D, was born. Our circumstances weren’t ideal. For starters, like all new parents, we were utterly and completely clueless about the change having a baby would bring about (this despite hours spent trawling the interweb, various pregnancy/parenting books and several antenatal classes). We also live on the opposite side of the country to both our families, were the first of our friends to have a baby, and didn’t know a whole lot of people around where we live. So, not the most auspicious of beginnings. Added to this, it turned out after many trips to the doctor with an inconsolable baby, nights spent walking the floor with a similarly inconsolable baby, and D’s complete aversion to lying down and sleep, that the poor guy had chronic reflux. The easiest way to sum up the experience of having a reflux baby – actually there is no easy way. It’s exhausting. And stressful. There was a lot of crying, from him and me. I was breastfeeding as well so there was no chance of handing him over for a night off to try and catch up on sleep. Hubby was wonderful, helped every way he could at night other than feeding. But I was shattered. Physically I was worn out, emotionally I couldn’t handle D’s constant crying, and mentally I was on the edge. So the slide began.
For months we didn’t recognise it. Months. We kept putting it down to tiredness. I actually really dislike that word, it doesn’t come even close to describing the soul crushing exhaustion I was feeling. Sleep deprivation is cruel. I was losing perspective. I was scared to be alone with D, but couldn’t ask for help. Hubby didn’t know what was going on, how to react to the tearful phonecalls he was getting at work every day. My saving grace was a good friend, L, who worked locally at the time. We visited most days for tea and a chat, and she helped me hold on to my sanity.
Eventually, a few months in, we realised something was up. My Dad had come over to stay for a few days, and we went to do some food shopping. Not exactly a monumental expedition. But I just couldn’t handle it. As usual, D roared the whole time and Dad had to take him out of the shop. I finished in a panic, got out of there, bundled my still screaming child into the car, sat in the drivers seat and dissolved into a shaking, tearful mess. I was so glad Dad was there, because I don’t know what I’d have done otherwise. He took over the driving and persuaded me to take a trip home for a few days to stay with him and Mam. So I did. But I couldn’t face coming back west, so much so that I missed Hubby’s birthday, the only time that’s happened in our 11 years together. When I finally worked up the courage to come back, I was in the house no more than half an hour before I started crying again. I felt so completely hopeless. Lost, alone, scared, helpless. Nothing and no one could get through to me. Even now, I have a sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach to think of how I felt then. So, we went to the doctor, who was wonderful. I think he’d had his suspicions for some time, considering he’d seen me in tears with D many times by now. He prescribed an anti-depressant and so began the long slow recovery from my first serious brush with depression.
Writing this and reading back over it has really made the memory of that whole time come flooding back. There’s plenty more to say, but it’s not for now. If anyone reading this recognises the feelings I’m describing, and has been similarly dismissing them, please don’t keep struggling on your own!!! It’s too hard. Speak to your doctor, your partner, a friend, anyone. Just please, please, don’t go through this for a moment longer than you have to.