My Dream Life nearly destroyed by the Demons of Depression.
To everyone around me, I had the perfect life. A beautiful house, a wonderful boyfriend, two amazing, healthy, happy little girls. But to me, my life, family and I were crumbling down around me. I was crippled by post-natal-depression. Too ashamed/ oblivious to ask for help. Here I am a full year later, ME again and telling my story of the struggles, the ups and downs of my recovery.
I was in the bliss of family life, a stay at home mother to two gorgeous little girls. Kayla who had just turned 2 in July and Aria was born in September 2013. I was enjoying having a curious, funny, all-go toddler and a precious new born baby girl, and a supportive, loving boyfriend. The family I had always dreamed of. Things quickly went downhill and in all honesty, I have no idea when it all happened. Daily life started to become a struggle and every little task seemed like a mountain to climb. I assumed it was how every busy mother of two kid’s felt - juggling breastfeeds with meal times, cooking, cleaning, laundry, sleepless nights and the constant worry. It was much more than that though, I was struggling on the inside, judging every little decision I made and criticising everything I did. Feeling terrible with a constant guilt, for not being a good enough mother, not being a good enough girlfriend, not being good enough at cooking, cleaning. I wasn’t good enough. I doubted every little thing I did. I didn’t change Aria’s nappy right, I wasn’t giving Kayla enough time and attention, I didn’t have dinner ready when my boyfriend came home from work. I would be so distraught by my constant self-loathing and negative thoughts, I was struggling - really struggling - to keep it together. Leaving the house? Well that was just a whole other issue in itself! Never mind trying to get three people fed, dressed, nappies changed and bags packed just to go to the shop. I felt like the walls where coming in on me and something terrible would happen if I walked outside that front door, I just wanted to stay inside our little bubble where we all would be ok. On the days that I did manage to get everything together to leave the house, I was faced with an uncontrollable feeling (melt-down as I called them), I would go into a panic, I would start to sweat, shake, heart racing and jumping in my throat, couldn’t catch my breath, I would end up in a pile on my kitchen floor in tears. I would eventually get it together and get out of the house, praying that I didn’t bump into anyone I knew only to then rush around and do what needed to be done to get home to our bubble, where we were safe.
These horrible feelings, thoughts and guilt were consuming me, I locked them up inside and hid them away from everybody, even my boyfriend who knew I wasn’t myself. He would always tell me what a great job I was doing with the girls. I shut him out. I couldn’t face the truth- well it wasn’t the truth but it felt like it to me. I was a terrible person who didn’t deserve all the amazing things I had in life. My boyfriend and my little girls deserved better, much better. I let these thoughts and feelings take over, I couldn’t see any good in me. The suicidal thoughts and urges quickly became all I could think about. How my boyfriend would be so much happier with me, he would find a beautiful, loving, kind girl who would take care of him and be an amazing mother to my girls. That is what they deserved, not me!
My boyfriend convinced me to go to the Doctor. My boyfriend knew I was depressed but had no idea how deep I was in. I was drowning! I really did lock everybody out. I didn’t want to face it! So I reluctantly went to my Doctor and I glossed over it. “I’m just not myself and having a bit of a hard time”. My doctor prescribed me an anti-depressant and put me in contact with a psychologist to talk to. I am not a girl who gives into taking tablets, I’ll hardly take a Panadol, but my doctor insisted I need to take them and need to take it easy and get some help with day to day life and to talk to the psychologist. I am a stubborn person, and I did not like asking for help with anything, I always took pride in that part of myself, but it really was my biggest down fall, it nearly cost me everything. So I went home made an appointment with the psychologist and started to take the medication. I was too far gone, my end was planned. I was blinded by the fog of my depression and it had got me. I was just waiting to end it. It was by now the start of March 2014 and I wasn’t going to be here by April.
A few weeks earlier, I had met a girl at a local mammy and toddler group, Emma, a bubbly, friendly girl with two beautiful kids - Ellie who was only a few weeks younger than Kayla and Ryan who shares the same birthday as Aria. She had introduced herself and was very friendly. We had exchanged the usual mommy stories. I thought that I was able to put on a good front and conceal what was really going on, but Emma was able to see straight through it and knew I wasn’t right after that very first time of meeting her! She had tried to contact me through a mutual friend, as I had missed the toddler group for a week or two, by not being able to leave the house due to my uncontrollable fear, anxiousness and panic-attacks. I met Emma again at toddler group and she had asked to exchanged numbers, I had thought nothing of it and of course gave her my number. I received a text a few days later asking if everything was ok. “Yes of course” I replied. She didn’t buy it for a second. She opened up to me and shared her own struggle after Ellie was born. I was relieved in a way, I wasn’t alone.
I had been seeing the psychologist now for a week or two, I could not keep it together when we met and I would break down in puddles of tears because she knew just by the look in my eyes I had given up; I had nothing left! I didn’t even have to speak, they just knew. My psychologist contacted my Doctor and my boyfriend and said that I needed urgent help. By this point, it was the last week in March, but I thought that they wouldn’t have to concern themselves about me…soon, their problem would be gone, I would be gone.
That weekend, as I lay in bed waiting for everyone to fall asleep, the demons in my thoughts took over. This is it. I waited for my boyfriend to fall asleep so I could sneak out of bed to do the unthinkable, I was at peace and I could feel the relief, I wouldn’t be a burden on anyone anymore. I had one leg out of the bed, and suddenly Aria woke up screaming, I ran to get her out of her cot which was at the bottom of our bed, because she was still only 6 months old. My poor baby was burning up with a fever. Her screaming had also woken my boyfriend. My concern was of course for my little girl as we sat up all night nursing her and tending to her, but I had missed my deadline.
My little Aria had just saved my life.
Earlier that same weekend, my Doctor had put me in touch with a psychiatrist, who had giving me an evaluation. She suggested I be hospitalised but I absolutely refused, no way! She gave me an alternative treatment method. The Homebase treatment allowed me to be at home in my own surroundings with my family while I received treatment. She altered my medication and was going to monitor me through the Homebase team and with regular appointments with her too.
Tuesday Morning arrived and two lovely, friendly girls arrived at my home, to aid me in my recovery. Laura and Yvonne came into my home and they gave me their hope. I sat at my kitchen table hugging my legs and tears streaming down my face as the girls asked me simple questions to which I was just able to nod my head to. I was a broken girl. I was just a shell of a person, I had no fight left in me. I was reassured by these girls I would get better and I wouldn’t have to live like this. I did not believe a word they said. At first!
My Boyfriend had taking some time off work to be at home with the girls and I while I got treatment. Mainly because I think he was too scared to leave me alone. But never once did he show it he was so strong and supportive for me and the girls. I had visits every day from the Homebase team, Kayla looked forward to the visits “was Laura going to call today” she’d ask. I was glad one of us was excited about it! Facing people every day was such an effort, I still couldn’t open up at this point, I just couldn’t talk about it. I trudged on just existing, not living. I had reached out to a childhood friend, Mandy, my best friend when I was a kid, who I could talk to about everything when I was younger. I told her about my depression, but I couldn’t even tell her everything. In true Mandy style, she would show up with chocolate, walk straight in and put on the kettle. Every day, there was somebody in my house, Mandy and her babe of a son Pearse, (who is just a little older than Kayla), Emma, Ellie and Ryan, and Laura from Homebase. Some days even all of them were there at once. I just wanted to scream at them get out of my house! But they were all there for me, which I couldn’t understand for 1 second.
I slowly started to confide in Laura, and open up about my feelings, suicidal urges, and my thoughts. Laura listened and reassured me that this was all normal, as crazy as it sounds. This was her job, she sees it every day. Laura was amazing at her job. I then started to open up to my boyfriend, he was attentive and supportive and patient with me and let me talk in my own time. As the medication started to take effect and I began to be able to talk to my boyfriend again, slowly my days started to get a little easier. I could go for a walk with Mandy, and take the kids to the park. I could take pleasure in the little things, like Kayla acting all goofy. Wow. This was amazing! It wasn’t all good, but there was a glimmer of hope, and I grabbed on to it with everything I had, I wasn’t letting go. The weeks were passing and with the support of my amazing boyfriend, my wonderful friends and Laura, things really started to get easier. Daily life really wasn’t so bad. I looked forward to visits from my friends and family trips to the shopping centre at the weekends. Yes, grocery shopping became fun, whereas a couple of weeks ago the thought of going to town made me want to vomit, and I would scan the whole shopping centre out of paranoia, and try to avoid anyone I might know.
I was rediscovering myself and I loved it. I could crack a joke and I didn’t take myself so seriously. I was enjoying being a Mammy and a girlfriend again. Now, not every day was great but the hard days were getting fewer and far between. The suicidal thoughts and urges started to fade away, I learned how to manage my anxiety and negative thoughts. I was living life again! I never thought it could get better, but it did. I was so clouded by depression, I forgot what all the good things felt like. I was enjoying my family and my friends and being able to hold a conversation, have a good gossip about the Kardashians. Every day I was learning about myself again, all the positive things, that I was a good mother, girlfriend and friend. I was enjoying the journey of recovery and discovery of myself. It was an amazing adventure. I was loving watching my little girls discover that mammy could be fun and not so serious all the time, the sound of their little giggles as I played and messed with them. Such a joy.
A year on from “My deadline”, I couldn’t be happier. I didn’t think I would be here and I couldn’t be more thankful that I am. Thankful for my amazing boyfriend and our two beautiful daughters for being so understanding and patient with me. My best friends Mandy and Emma for believing in me. Homebase for their constant support and guidance, always at the end of the phone to listen. I am still learning about my journey with depression and about myself, and I hope that doesn’t stop. It has been one of the hardest things I have had to face in my life. I count myself lucky I got the help I needed when I did.
This week is a milestone for me in so many ways. This time last year, I had my plan for my suicide and this week this year, I just got discharged from treatment. Not everybody is so lucky. If you are reading this and can relate, please reach out…do not be ashamed or embarrassed, it is not too late to get help. Or if you know somebody that might be going through this or something similar, reach out to them. Please don’t let depression be a taboo, it needs to be talked about. You never know who you could help.