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.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Your honesty will definitely help others to see that life shouldn't be as tough as your experiences. Hopefully others will learn from your experience and seek help before things get that bad. Well done to all for coming through such a difficult time, and well done for being honest and strong enough to post this.

  2. Thanks for sharing that Fiona…

    There is something to be said in the sense of relief you get when you admit out loud you're having a problem. Similarly I think I've had anxiety for so long I hadn't noticed it creeping up so badly until I hit my 'meltdown', and once I found the courage to tell my family and boyfriend things eased up a bit.

    On saying that, I've had a bad few days over the weekend, wanted a night out to go wild, so stopped taking the medication. Teemed with a whopper hangover, my mysterious left sided symptoms came back, and then some. Sunday night fear was near impossible to get through, and Monday at work ended up back in the old cycle of regular toilet breaks to check all angles of my hands for signs of muscle wasting and stupid strength tests to see if I had MND… Yes, despite a senior consultant deeming me to be free of all neurological disease, good old me knows better and was once again in the throes of health anxiety counting down to my funeral by the end of Monday night.

    I've read you mentioning your husband, and I can empathise with the pain and worry they experience too. For me, worrying about my boyfriend makes my anxiety worse – believing he's going to leave me for someone who doesn't worry about everything or see the risk involved in every small thing, for someone who doesn't cry and shake with fear every time we board an aeroplane, or who won't go to theme parks on holidays because I can't bear the thought of a rollercoaster. And he's an Irish man, who just goes to play football or goes to the gym to sweat out any issues. I go for a run, and if it's not faster than the last 5km I did, I go home and berate myself for being a failure. He finds it difficult to understand why I can't just 'switch off'… Oh how I wish there was an off switch!

    But last night, he sat with me, compared his hands to mine (previously I'd gotten rolling of the eyes and 'you're being silly'), pointed out similar dips and grooves and just held me tight and promised everything was going to be OK. And it's so small, but it helped more than he'll ever know. Knowing I can count on him to work through this makes me know he's a keeper.

    I'm back on the medication today and although still criticizing my hands, I'm more chilled out, and less focused on planning the funeral 🙂 I haven't lost any sleep and I'm still smiling, and counting down the days until I get my psychologist review to help me work through all of this! (7 days!) I've taken that as a positive that I didn't let it spiral like last time and end up in A&E…

    The Headspace app and some of the links are really helpful too – thanks for them, great addition! I'm not living in Ireland at the moment and the mental health awareness here isn't at all up to scratch, it's so good to hear and read your stories and experiences to remind me that there is help out there if you look in the right places.

    Keep it coming, I hope writing it down is as helpful for you as it is for us reading it, maybe some day I'll follow your lead and tell the world my anxiety story… but for now I'll work it out bit by bit myself and share as I feel able 🙂

    Hope the week with the kids is going OK, I'm fully confident you'll fly it!

    1. Hi Anxious Bear,
      Thanks so much for sharing, I'm really glad things didn't spiral out of control on you this time, well done!! Your boyfriend sounds like a wonderful support, and you're right, it really is the little things. Hugs are so important!!
      I'm finding writing really helpful, even more than I hoped it would be, and that you're getting something from it as well has really given me a lift. We'll get there!!

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