I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but the tragic news of Robin William’s death has spurred me into action. I confess, I had no idea that this great hero of mine battled with depression. Maybe to some readers, you might be surprised to know that I suffer from depression? I’m putting myself on the line here, but if it raises awareness of the silent torture of depression and anxiety then it is worth it.
You may or may not know that over the last three years I have had a strange hormonal imbalance that can turn on and off the switch of severe depression (and all its symptoms) over just two hours. It completely changes my personality.
Well, I’d like to tell you about the worst day of my life. The day before I had been completely fine, normal, after two weeks of panic attacks, crying, not being able to eat and struggling to get dressed. But on that day, my mum’s 70th birthday, I was delighted to feel normal.
The next day, having had the gut-churning warning signs that a change was coming, I came around to a sickening realisation that I was depressed again. My mum had been staying to look after me as for the first time, I had been really scared of being on my own. It was not that I was planning to kill myself, I would never, ever do that. It was more that it felt like a voice had popped up in my head, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, saying, ‘What if you throw yourself down the stairs? What if you hurt yourself with that knife?” I got so scared, because when you are depressed and anxious, a thought comes into your head and it’s like, ‘Don’t think of an elephant’. I’d had similar thoughts like, ‘What if you are sick when you eat this food’, and I’d been sick and therefore was very, very scared of this whisper.
So, this thought came into my head as I was getting up the strength to have a shower. ‘What if you lock the door and you slit your wrists? What if you smash that glass bottle and hurt yourself?’ I went through my CBT exercises of rejecting the thought, I prayed, I spoke positive statements, but it took me two hours to have that shower and my mum was outside the door, with it unlocked. But, at least I did, and didn’t give in to the fear and just smell. 😉
You may be thinking, what? How can this Katie that I know, in whatever capacity, had thoughts like this? Well, this is my point. How could we know Robin Williams was nursing a deep darkness in his heart, which was the shadow to his apparent constant happiness? Even I question how I could have had such a thought.
It’s because it’s depression. It has a list of symptoms. One of which is suicidal thoughts. The biggest problem with depression and anxiety is where you start piling guilt on top of guilt, like, ‘I’m so guilty that I felt guilty about having that anxious thought about whether CBT will work,’ and so on.
I am receiving treatment for my hormone imbalance and as far as the depression and anxiety it suddenly dumps on me, I’m working on that too. I’m depression-proofing my work: telling people the truth, not chasing people, only planning a days work at a time, being upfront with all my clients, taking a lunch break and not working after 5.30 or on the weekend. Because I can. Because it’s my business and my health comes first.
Some people might feel uncomfortable about this way of working and living or reading this level of honesty. It might even stop them from engaging with me. But I hope you can see a little bit where I’m coming from and are still here, reader! 🙂
Through depression I have become so much stronger, more assured, braver, and more willing to stand up for the marginalised. I know many other amazing, strong people who would agree. And I’ve learnt the true meaning of ‘Joy’, not happiness all the time and a smile plastered on my face but a deep contentment in my life despite my circumstances, whether I feel normal or low.
Addition: I just want to be clear that I am sharing my experiences to hopefully show you that someone you know may be suffering but you have no idea. I am in no way, wanting it to be about me. You can draw your own conclusions, I’m not telling you what to do; it’s just to show you how depression effected me and maybe how to spot signs of those you love. Katie 🙂