The look of confusion and upset on your toddlers face when he finds you crying again or even worse when you’ve been shouting at him for something relatively minor and then burst into tears.
The look on your husbands face when he realised that you, the you that he has been in love with since the age of 17 is no longer there, not in spirit and mind anyway
You recognise these looks because you feel the same about you too, you don’t understand why you are shouting or crying, why you can’t seem to concentrate or have hope. Recognising your failings is one thing, changing them is something entirely different and infinitely more difficult.
How do you alter your thoughts and feelings when you don’t feel in control of them? When you feel an imposter has taken the reins of your mind and is welding it to its will with you powerless to stop it.
There are moments, moments of light, where I feel however briefly that everything will be ok eventually, that I will Be me again. But these do not make up the bulk of my thoughts.
Depression is such a selfish bitch it really is, that’s not to say I’m selfish, not intentionally at least. But it’s like a virus it gets into your head and multiplies your fears and anxieties, leaving you trapped and paralysed in your head, no longer able to really live. Just a shell of you. You still remember the “old” happy you, you just don’t know how to get back to her, to be her again, no matter how desperately you want to.
It’s so hard for those people around you who love and care about you, so frustrating and exasperating for them to see you droop and wither like a dying plant. And so unsure of how they can change it for you. They try every tactic they can think of being nice, shouting, tough love but none of it makes much difference, because it’s not that you don’t want to get better, it’s that I don’t know how.
Some days my biggest achievement is having a shower, I know how pathetic this is, trust me, I know, but still, it’s the truth. I used to be one of those people who were unintentionally preachy, used to say you just need to do something, get some exercise, make an effort etc, but you see, the thing is, the thing that I have painfully come to realise now the shoe is firmly on the other foot, is, it’s not a case of effort. I’m not being lazy, I physically and mentally cannot just go for a run. I cannot do it.
Antidepressants, I know as a doctor these have an important role in helping with depression and other mental health problems but they don’t come without their own side effects. That’s not to say they haven’t helped me, they definitely have and I probably wouldn’t be back here, in this position again had I not stopped taking them when I felt well.
You see it wasn’t insomnia or nausea that was the problem, that on the whole settled down after the first few weeks of taking them. It was the strange sensation I had of not being quite myself whilst taking them.
That probably seems quite odd to you, as I suppose technically the whole point of taking antidepressants, drugs which alter your brain biochemistry is to not feel the same, not feel so depressed and anxious. This is true, and I can’t deny that the Sertraline helped with that. But, I feel like it didn’t actually “cure” the depression, it just masked it, they just made me feel numb. I no longer felt super anxious about leaving the house or really low, instead, I was ok, middling, almost as if I was stuck in the neutral zone of emotions. I suppose on some level this was progress and a positive.
But what happened was, I had forgotten to take them for a few of days when life was busy, and I started to feel more like me again, the me I thought was lost, feeling more again meant I became aware of how numb the tablets had been making me feel. I made a decision, I was going to stay off the antidepressants, for the sake of being me and see how it went.
I used to be one of those relentlessly annoying positive people who had an unlimited amount of belief in myself, that’s not to say I was cocky but just always of the belief that if you wanted something enough and worked hard I could do anything. It’s weird even though I know that was me, thinking about it seems like someone else’s life, so long ago.
Now, when I wake up, I wish I hadn’t, and most of the rest of the day, if it’s a bad day, is spent mentally counting down the hours until I can go back to bed, to sleep, to oblivion. I know that’s terrible but sadly it’s the truth. There is no point in me lying about it. Depression is not pretty, it’s not a polite feeling a bit sad for a few weeks kind of thing if only it was.
The never-ending onslaught of negative and derogatory comments that filter through my mind and into my consciousness are in themselves exhausting, which is probably why to sleep and be unconscious is so desirable.
So after 4 months of not being on antidepressants, being back at work and managing the daily juggle of family life I feel I am back to square one. Back where I started, in the dark.
The question now is… how do I get back into the light?