Friday, 5 June 2009


Depression is a strange thing. Sometimes it involves conscious "oh woe is me" type thoughts, but most of the time it's a weird chemical sludge. I can feel my brain chemistry changing. I feel drugged, even though I'm not on any medication and would rather stay that way. Some of the time it feels like PMT. I get clumsy and grumpy. I can't think straight. Tiny things like my baby son wriggling so much I can't get his dungarees on, or my other son jumping up and down and shouting "bibbidy bobbidy doo" repeatedly, make me snap - the result being an apparently interchangeable growl or sob.

There's a slight buzzing in my head, hidden behind a wall of treacle which makes me wander around in a permanent fog. Of, er, treacle. OK, so I'm mixing my metaphors, but anyway...

I can see that the sun is shining and my sons are super-cute, I can see that objectively I have nearly everything I ever wanted, but all that does is make me feel inadequate, for not being able to enjoy these things.

It's not constant. I have good days, good weeks, but the sludge can return in an instant, and I forget it ever left.

I think I should just pull myself together. Sometimes I even can. I know I should think positive thoughts. But I never know whether I should be trying to control it and fight it, or just give myself a break, cut myself some slack, accept that sometimes I feel sad these days, and that's just the way it is.

I could summarise my whole life like that: It's been a constant tension between chilling out and fighting. I'm never sure which one I'm supposed to be doing. This is what you get for being a lazy control freak.

It's always afterwards that it hits me. I once suffered from acute anxiety. For a while I stopped functioning altogether. I had an anxiety attack that lasted a week. I was ill, on and off, for about a year. And it kicked in, as anxiety often does, just after a prolonged period of stress in my life. I fought the fires, and once they were out I fell in the hole they'd left behind.

This time it's depression instead of anxiety, but it's a similar situation. Over the last two years I've faced miscarriage, redundancy, debilitating illness, childbirth. More recently there have been smaller things: a baby with a high temperature that wouldn't respond to mdeicine. A car that died and needed to be replaced. A professional whose services were vital to my career, but who let me down when I needed them most - and had to be sacked. And now here I am, everything is calm again, the house is in some sort of order, I have my lovely baby who I went through so much to get*... and I feel rubbish. As long as I was still aiming for that new-baby goal, I had to hold things together. Now that it's all over, I can fall apart.

I knew it was a risk, having another baby, particularly so soon after a miscarriage. I knew it would be hard. I worried about what effect it might have on my mental health, but I went ahead it with it anyway. Maybe I shouldn't have done it. Maybe I should have left more of a gap. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to go self-employed after the redundancy - particularly when I knew there was no immediate prospect of any significant income, and home-based isolation is the last thing you need when you've just had a baby. But regrets are pointless, and sometimes you just have to go for what you want and hope for the best. Maybe if I'd held myself back I would just have got depressed sooner, rather than later.

Maybe I need to let the misery happen, get it out of the way and then move on. Or maybe that's tantamount to wallowing, and will just make it worse.

That's another symptom: A pathological inability to make decisions and then stick to them.

At least I've got September sorted. I'm not changing my mind about that.

*"get" seems like the wrong word for another human being. I got my baby. But I did. I wanted him, and then I got him. It always makes me laugh when people throw the accusation of selfishness around in respect to parenthood. It's selfish to have lots of kids. It's selfish to have none. Both things are true. We have, or don't have, children... entirely for our own benefit. But that's fine. It's how the human race survives. Although it's ironic that both having and not having children can also destroy someone.

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