I’ve had depression for a while now. Its definitely a long term thing. Its something I’ve had to learn to live with and get used to that’s for sure.
I don’t want to dwell too much on the past history of my depression but in brief I was quite a mopey teenager as my mum puts it. I then had my first child and developed Post Natal Depression. I was overcome with the idea that someone could take care of this little bundle of amazingness much better than I could but also would get heartachingly upset whenever anyone did anything for her. With short term anti depressants and group therapy I got through it. When my son was born he was poorly and then he was diagnosed with autism. Back to the GP I went, he got me the help I needed but also asked me to have an assesment with the Mental Health Team who in turn continued to monitor me and my ‘moods’. About a year ago I was labelled with the term Bipolar Disorder. People always freak out and think I hear voices or see things. Just to clarify I don’t. I experience cycles of ups and downs. These cycles can last quite some time and can have a pretty interesting effect on my life. Thats pretty much my bipolar in a nutshell. However for a more Sciency point of view:
Bipolar disorder or manic depression?
The term ‘bipolar’ refers to the way your mood can change between two very different states – mania and depression. In the past, bipolar disorder was referred to as manic depression, so you might still hear people use this term. Some health care professionals may also use the term bipolar affective disorder (affective means the disorder relates to mood or emotions).
I was exremely lucky that the father of my children was, and still is, so wonderfully understanding of this illness that would swoop in and attempt to take over our lives, sometimes sudden and without warning. Sometimes there are triggers. Like the above examples. Other times there aren’t. My friends will note how I’ve started to disappear, my mother notes the opposite, I ring her more and want more of her attention. Thoughts will creep in ‘you’re not doing that right’, ‘why aren’t you pretty like her?’ ‘you’re no good at that don’t bother’ and I’m over taken by this horrible mixture of anger, anxiety and well, sadness. I find it physically hard to get out of bed and my head feels foggy, like there’s no way out. I feel numb. Other times its the opposite. I can’t sleep, I bounce around like tigger on acid, many a great idea has been formed on an up cycle. However, my type of bipolar is often the former rather than the latter.
My daughter, now 6, comments whenever we watch Inside Out and see the blue sadness character ‘Mummy thats you sometimes’. It does pain me that my children will too come to know that Mummy is, to mirror my little girl’s words, sometimes sad.
For them I have had to think of ways to get through it. Its harder when I don’t realise its happening and it can sometimes feel too late. That doing some meditating and some mindfulness techniques are pointless. The beast has got me in its belly now and its time for some hard hitting stuff. First and foremost, whether its hit me hard or I can feel the icy grip crawling up the back of my spine like a Dementor shadowing over me, is to talk to someone. Anyone. Could be a friend, a family member, your GP. Could be one of those wonderful fantastic people at Samaritans. But it is oh so important to voice your worries. Voice them and you will be heard. Write them on the comments page or contact me. If you need an ear you can lend mine.
Next, get out! Put a jacket on and go outside. Go for a walk. Doesn’t matter where. Walk to your local park. Sit and look around you. Look at all the things that exist in this world. Its hard to find beauty in things but believe me you will find something that catches your gaze. I love looking up at the sky and watching the clouds. Its nice to just not think for a while.
Next, accept what is working. If you’ve gone on a retreat, brill! Gone to therapy, amazing! Back on the anti depressants, go you! Its working! So keep it up. Don’t stop! Thats the most important thing. Don’t let it get you. Because you are important. You are worth something! You are an amazing person who is loved and has love to give! That’s one thing you should always remember. I have two super tiny humans who rely on me. If I am not here who will give them chocolate cereal for breakfast when they are supposed to have Weetabix (our secret)? Who will shove odd socks on their feet because the point is to keep their toes warm? Who will help them make paper aeroplanes and paper boats to put on the lake? Who will run away from the scary geese with them and throw the bread from the bridge giggling nervously? Who will sing the same song over and over again because thats the only one that helps with the stims? No one else will do these things because I am Mum, I love them, they love me. Its up to me to do these things.
That feeling of all consuming love is more powerful than depression could ever be for me. My children have been my saviours more times than I can count. More times than anyone knows. So when I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, feeling the tears prickling at the corner of my eyes, I hear them laugh and I hear their tiny feet coming to get me. And I think ‘not today Sadness, not today’.
For more assistance/information with mental health please have a look at the amazing work done by Mind (:
Don’t ever feel you are alone. You are not. You are surrounded by people who want to help you. Let them.