That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel
I have been depressed. Badly depressed.
After my accident, the work that I adored had been stripped away from me. All of my life, I had known that one day I would get married and have children. Suddenly my chances of getting married were worse than nil. They seemed non-existent. I was spastic and deaf. All my dreams had disintegrated. I was incredibly lonely. What was there to live for? One day…and then the next…followed by another…and then another….and flipping well another…For what? I honestly could see nothing great about continuing living. I had spoken to God about my whole situation. I had explained. He must expect me a little sooner in Heaven than perhaps he visualised.
I planned to take my own life.
I ran a gorgeous, hot bath with lovely soothing aromatherapy oils in it. And I had bought a beautiful bottle of wine. I planned to go out in style! I had two boxes of sleeping tablets and slowly, ever so slowly…well, you can guess the rest. But, there again I was a failure! I couldn’t actually bring myself to swallow those blasted tablets and end my stay in this thing called life. I sobbed in that hot scented bath as I can’t remember ever having sobbed before. I cried and cried and cried. I went to bed a washed out rag of a human being.
I needed help. I couldn’t “manage” this thing called Life on my own.
Enter Shirley Tollman, a wonderful psycho-therapist. My life saver!
Shirley has thick grey hair and penetrating blue eyes. She asked pertinent questions and listened. I was in a bad way when I began my sessions. I am just so grateful that I had a therapist like Shirley to pull me out of that very deep, dark hole of depression. Gradually, ever so gradually I began to heal. Gradually, ever so gradually I began to make sense of this senseless life. Gradually, ever so gradually, I began to accept life with all of it’s vagaries.
I am now a different person completely. I love life with all it’s ups and downs. Indeed, I love life because of its ups AND downs. Life isn’t meant to go smoothly.
About a month ago, I received the following letter via my ‘ear ‘ear! FB page.
I would like to share my story with you. It will start with “I wish I had known of you and your wonderful blog before. Your positivity is contagious. “
In 2010 I was going through a difficult patch….trouble at home, trouble at work. I wasn’t happy anywhere. To cut a long story short…..after a discussion with the managing director of the company I worked for….I left work, decided I had had enough of living and didn’t want to do it anymore. I then drove around for a few hours and drove my car into a wall at nearly 200 kilometres per hour. I sustained some extreme injuries but, miraculously, survived. I had broken both of my legs, the left one very badly and the right one (only) in one place. Most of my internal organs were swollen and damaged from the impact but I was alive. Now, of course, I had to live with the guilt of surviving, knowing that I had wanted to die….when others who have so much more hardship, fight with all they have. I spent 6 months in a wheelchair and a further 6 months plus walking with crutches. Now I just have a limp as a reminder….and a much more positive attitude regarding life. I enjoy your blog as it is always cheerful and you are so vibrant…..never letting things get you down. Thank you for that.
I’ve realised that life is for living…..
Oh, how my heart cracked into a million pieces when I read this. This man had needed so badly to talk to someone! Why didn’t he seek medical help? Surely he had people that saw how he was? Why didn’t they talk to him?
One cries out at this man’s inability to sit down and unburden himself of all those hidden demons tearing his soul apart. There is nothing “out of place” or “freakish” about being depressed. One wants to howl at the world to take notice and be there for him. One cannot go about ones life, ignoring what is so blatantly in front of us. That will surely result in a “car smash”! Yes, one will often be very smartly rebuffed when one tries to insert oneself in the path of those howling demons, but I believe that a rebuff is actually a cry for help. And one should continue trying!
Why are people so frightened to admit to being depressed? Why are people so reluctant to admit that they are bipolar?
Because they are afraid. Afraid that they will be labeled unstable, mental or even mad! If a person is diagnosed with cancer, they immediately get boundless sympathy and help. But depression! Oh no, too often it is a case of “Pull yourself together!” or “Get a grip!” But get a grip…on what??? People who are in the midst of a violent depression feel worthless. They see others coping with life just fine. What is wrong with me? Depression…is that what I have? But…but…what is depression? Is it this feeling of nothingness? Is it a sickness? Can it be cured by a course of tablets?
A friend who who had a Bipolar episode says: “The mind, not being made of muscle, or tissue or an organ of any sort, cannot be subject to “illness” or “disease”…..only difference.”
I read the following piece on FB. It was written by a friend of mine, Miranda, who I have known for the past 26 years. She is a sunny woman, who has a ready smile on her lips and she always makes me laugh!
“I was diagnosed bipolar in 1998. Over the years I have lost friends and I have struggled to understand their perspective. A lot of people do not nobly stand beside you as easily when your illness is invisible. It truly does seem easier for people to stay by a cancer sufferer, or someone with any kind of physical illness. Mental illness is just as life threatening. It devastates sufferers and their families, it mutilates an individual’s measure of the world. It isolates and imprisons with more efficacy than any prison wall. It is not possible for a sufferer to educate other people about their illness so that they will tick all the right boxes and provide great support. All that helps is talking, sharing information, being honest and facing stigma. No-one should be ashamed or guilty because of how well or badly they handle their own or another’s mental health. But to keep trying, is a great and very wonderful thing.
I have never posted or spoken about my own bipolar diagnosis publicly. Some of my friends know. Most, in fact, do not. I decided to write this on Face Book today in a statement of my own liberation. For many many years I thought I would just keep it secret for fear of stigma ( and I have had plenty of reason to fear that). I had decided I did not want to be the mum my son’s friends whispered about one day …. but I realise I am better than that. I am an incredibly vulnerable person, but hiding vulnerability makes one weak. Living in it, gives you strength. I have decided to live publicly with my bipolar-ness and make my life a living proof of someone’s best effort to manage mental illness. Yes, I have lost a very great deal during and as a direct result of the 16 years of my diagnosis. Jobs, homes, relationships and most of all, friends.
I have bipolar friends as well as friends diagnosed with depression. I witness their struggles too. We all know there are no easy answers and we do not hold out begging plates for understanding. But I know we do reach out, even though others may not always understand the methods of our madness.
Inside every sane person, there is a mad person trying to get out, and inside every mad person there is a sane one trying to get out. There is no “you” and “us” really, the line of division is not thin, it is a mirage of perspective.
Today I wish you courage!
She expresses so aptly what I was trying to say. Depression, being Bipolar…these are illnesses of our brain. The brain is the organ we know the least about. We mustn’t then condemn people suffering from these afflictions as being: (said in a hushed voice!) “Unstable, not right in the head, you know. In fact, they’re slightly demented!
For goodness sakes! The people thinking and saying these things are themselves slightly mad!
Stephen Fry, Bipolar himself wisely writes:
“If you know someone who’s depressed please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation, depression just is, like the weather.Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other-side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest and best things you will ever do. ”
The ‘comic’ strip is by Allie Brosh who blogs at hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com