What is life after depression like?
I am becoming increasingly aware and joyful at how differently I find things now the black clouds of depression have disappeared.
1. I don’t mind the house not being clinically perfect. I don’t have the housework skills to make this happen or perhaps I do but not when a husband, children and animals are around. It does not matter. However, it did and it hurt me so much that I could not meet the standards either of myself or others. I always did housework every day but could only see what was not right. Now I focus on what I have done well.
2. I don’t feel pressured to find a 9-5 job to justify my existence in the world. I have found a role that suits me and am proactively building on that at a rate that is comfortable for me. For so long, I spent hours trawling job sites trying to find something that would fit in practically with the particular needs of my family and then beating myself up emotionally when I did not find it or ranting at the unfairness of society. Neither of these made me happy.
3. I am standing up for myself in all my relationships. Instead of sulking or being aggressive, I am stating quite clearly what I will and won’t accept and also looking for areas of negotiation which has to be a healthy thing. My husband said the other day that he no longer comes in worrying what mood I will be in and how to handle me. We are talking more openly and honestly and laughing a lot again.
4. Instead of hating the school run, I now home educate and am learning to play with that experience rather than stressing it. I can do it for goodness sake. I can’t really remember why I thought I would mess it up. I am highly educated, have had lots of life experiences, have a real love of learning – if I pass on just some of that to my children and encourage their passions, how lucky they are!
5. I have worked out that I don’t need a totally in my life best friend. I just need to feel that there are people I could go to in a crisis and also people who are good either in the real or virtual world for good times even if that is just a cheery hello from someone in a shop or cafe.
6. It is OK to be me and to celebrate that. I have nothing to apologise for and am a rich woman. It took me a very long time to realise that. Looking back, it is clear that I was carrying trauma from the circumstances of my first year in the world and rejections thereafter. All this has contributed to making me the sensitive and caring person that I am so it was all fabulous in the end. I had such dark days and years but I value the good ones so much now.
7. I am strong enough to keep toxic people at a distance whilst managing not to be cruel too. Toxic people tend to have their own very real issues. I am also courageous enough to allow people from my past back in knowing I have nothing to be ashaemed of.
8. I feel young again and enjoy playing with my lifestyle and fashions just like I did back in my late teens and early twenties. I am walking taller and sometimes in the kinky boots! My new jumper has “Ooh la la!” emblazoned on it which says a lot about my new sense of self-worth.
9. Christmas and birthdays are not giving me any cause for concern. We will have a good time. We don’t need to spend a fortune and we don’t need to run round in some vain attempt to make everybody else happy. We will do it our way because we have a right to and prefer it that way.
10. Overall there is a sense of balance that I love. I do housework, I paddle canoes that matter to me, I work, I reach out, I go shopping and bargain-hunting, I am part of the local community, I inspire my children and we laugh a lot, I make time to read and to walk in the fresh air often several times a day.
Roll back 10 years …
1. Living in darkness metaphorically and literally with curtains firmly closed.
2. Not coping with parenting or housework. Making big mistakes and hating myself for them.
3. Worrying when people judged me.
4. Working in jobs that were not practical as a young mum and then wondering why I was not managing to do it all successfully.
5. Not telling anyone what I needed or that I was struggling.
Not seeking help from a GP.
6. Being obsessive. Being angry. Sometimes a degree of self-harm.
7. Convinced that only one bloke could ever want or fancy me and therefore holding on too tight and being desperately insecure. I still have work to do in this area but I know think I am as good as any woman which helps immensely.
8. Sleeping on the school run rather than home-educating which is what I actually wanted to do and with a lack of strong support system in place and a husband commuting 100s of miles per day would have been the sensible option.
9. Feeling utterly isolated and abandoned.
10. Not celebrating my very real and unique qualities and skills.
11. Listening too much to the toxic ones. Not listening enough to those kind voices out there. If they knew me really, they would hate me. If they saw me, they would be repulsed by me. All in my own mind!
12. Hiding in baggy and dark clothes often in sizes too big for me. Trying to be invisible. Getting in the way.
13. Trying to deliver the perfect Christmas for everyone not just my immediate loved ones. Never managing to gain approval and then being miserable at not being the perfect person. Spending too much to make up for all my other sins.
14. Striving and failing to be the person that I now see relishing life.
It can be done and I hope this reaches someone who is giving up hope and that they seek help.
Help for me included counting my blessings however tiny they seemed helped loads by taking part in Reasons to be Cheerful set up by Mich and now hosted by Becky and Jo.
Someone finally realising something was wrong with me.
Building up online friendships and feeling valued again
Then going to the GP and saying “Excuse me, but I think I have had depression for about a decade”. For me, Prozac rocks!
If you have overcome depression, I would love to know how life is for you now and what you think can help others most.