Last year I was diagnosed with depression. Whew, there I said it.
When I play I Spy With My Little Eye with my girls, Something Beginning with ‘D’ is usually a dog, a duck or a dus (which is bus with a ‘d’ and is totally acceptable when playing with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old).
But something beginning with D is never DEPRESSION in our little game. You can’t see it, even if it is standing right next to you in the park or making your dinner.
Depression is not in my girls’ vocabulary and they are far too young to understand the concept of it. They take me as I am because I am mum.
And, for a very, very long time, I took me as I was. A mum, an employee, a wife and a friend who was exceptionally frazzled, just going through the motions of life and suffering from insomnia.
I thought it was all part of womanhood in the 21st century and so I just ‘sucked it up’ and ‘pulled up my big girl panties’. Until it all came crashing down and I could no longer cope.
How Others Saw My Depression
I can tell you that I will have family and friends reading this post who will have their jaw on the floor thinking “I never knew that about Em!!!!!”.
I have the picture perfect life. That is what they saw. I have a kick-ass, loving husband when so many others don’t have a husband or were going through a rocky time with their partner (by the way, that is TOTALLY NORMAL).
They saw that I fell pregnant on the first go, twice, and have two happy, healthy girls that light up our lives. They saw family holidays. They saw a comfortable home. They saw a car and a job.
How could someone like me possibly suffer from depression!?!
What Depression Feels Like To Me
Argh… where do I start?
Depression is lonely. No one understands the depth of your despair, unless they have been there. I didn’t have the energy to explain so I withdrew altogether. By withdrawing from life I was making myself even more isolated, and then more depressed. So I would withdraw a little more and on it goes.
It is an eternal exhaustion. I could have slept for 18 hours a day and still feel tired. Any time I had on my own meant crawling into my bed and falling asleep. And as a mum there is not much time alone to do that but I did it whenever I could.
I couldn’t focus. All the anxiety and exhaustion meant I could not concentrate. My thoughts would be going a million miles a minute in my head which meant I couldn’t sit on one single thought for too long. I even got distracted whilst reading a book so I stopped reading books.
I felt like I was walking through mud. Every single thing was such an effort. Even making a cup of tea. So I stopped making tea for myself.
I would get very, very sad. Sad about something someone said. About something someone didn’t say. I’d get sad about nothing at all. But it wasn’t your usual sadness. I would become absolutely distraught and felt completely heartbroken about things.
So why am I telling you about my depression? And why now?
I am finally in a place that I feel the best that I have in years. I sleep soundly, I laugh at little things and I have so much energy. I feel stable and I can cope with everyday tasks and not feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious.
In addition to that, I have found that by slowly sharing my experience of depression with more people, that I am not actually alone. It has been really hard to share my rollercoaster of depression with others because of the stigma others attached to it and me seeing myself as weak.
I am not weak. I am surviving and getting better!
The fact is that so many people suffer from some form depression, even mums with a ‘picture perfect life’. And you would never be able to tell because unlike a broken leg, it is pretty much invisible. But just like a broken leg, we need help to fix ourselves and we need support.
So I am sharing this very, very personal part of me with you because I want to say to others like me:
I am here
I am listening
I am a surviving and so are you!
I am going to share more about my journey through depression and anxiety because we need more of us talking about it, recognising it and supporting each other. As a mum or a dad our life is strained enough and the last thing we should have to do is struggle through mental illness alone.
Send me your questions about depression. Email me privately if you wish or send me some mama love (it’s always welcome!) and I’ll send it back. If you think there is a topic about depression that you would like to hear more about then let me know.
From the bottom of my heart,