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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Opening up about depression.

I can't really explain why this post, now. The words just came to me and asked to be written. And once written, I thought they may as well be shared. So here are the words, being shared.

April will mark eight years since I went to my GP, took a deep breath, and said, “I think I have post natal depression”.


Doesn’t sound like such a big step now, but at the time, that was like leaping off a cliff.

As someone who has always found it hard (impossible sometimes) to ask for help, this was momentous. I’d been to my GP with intentions of seeking help before, but always with another issue. I’d think, “I’ll mention it after we sort out these scripts” or “I’ll get the pap smear done first, then….” or I’d let my daughter’s sore ears/throat/rash be dealt with first, telling myself “I’ll talk about it if we have time”. (Seriously, a pap smear seemed like a better option than asking for help.)



I’d change my mind because there was a lengthy wait and I didn’t want to be the cause for my doctor becoming even more behind. I'd change my mind because the baby and the two year old were reaching the end of their patience. I’d change my mind mid-consult as I just couldn’t quite form the words I needed. I’d change my mind because I was worried I’d be told that I was imagining it, that things weren’t really as bad as I perceived them to be, that plenty of people have it much worse. (This last reason is the most ridiculous of all, as my GP is one of the kindest, most approachable and understanding doctors I have ever met.)

That’s the thing though – depression lies to you. It lets you make these excuses to yourself. It let me get away with thinking, two and a half years earlier when my first daughter was born, that yes, maybe this was post natal depression, but I’d studied psychology, so surely I’d be fine to manage this on my own. (Nope, the answer is no. Bad choice.)

Depression lies and tells you all kinds of things that aren’t true – that you won’t get better, that no one wants to listen, that you must be hopeless because you can’t manage two kids in the supermarket. (I now know that pretty much any shopping trip with a toddler will involve a tantrum somewhere along the line, and that babies have a special knack for needing you when you are halfway through something.)

Sometimes you just have to ask for help and hand the reins over to someone else. Let them decide if they have enough time to listen to you. Let them decide if you are imagining it. Let them help you to make a plan for how to deal with it.

The key message here is ASK FOR HELP. Suck it up and – ASK FOR HELP. Got it?

I didn’t really tell anyone at the time. I was feeling overwhelmed by the emotions of finally asking for help, and thought that I’d tell people when I had things more under control. I didn't want to worry people by letting them see just how fragile I really was at the time. Then, as often happens, the longer you leave things, the harder they get.


I told my husband – I said I’d been to see my doctor and we’d decided that starting medication was the approach we’d take at this point. I don’t think he grasped the magnitude of this situation though. The fact that someone who so rarely asked for help, had sought help. The fact that maybe I might continue to need help.

Depression is a hard disease to understand unless you’ve been in the grips of it. And I think that some people are just never able to fathom the way it can affect so many aspects of a person’s thinking and behaviour. Likewise, it can be hard for some people to understand that medication can help improve these things.

Antidepressants are not a big deal, in the scheme of things. If you need them, take them. But if someone is telling you not to take them, when you know you need to, that is a big deal. A big deal breaker, in fact. Enough of a deal breaker that can lead to the end of a marriage.

But hey, that’s life. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made. You make a decision and cross your fingers that it’s the right one, and that things will improve. 

And, you know, things have improved for me. I’m a single mother, but it’s no big deal, my kids are happy. I still take antidepressants, but, again, no big deal, I’m well. I often feel disorganised, I struggle to fit everything in, I get overwhelmed with big decisions, I sleep like crap, I worry about money, I wonder if my kids will turn out okay, I whinge about my freaking back. 

And, you know what? 

I’ve never been in a happier place.

Seriously.

 

And now that I’ve shared those brief thoughts with you, I think it’s time to move on to some camel-toe applique, an anti-Valentines Day rant, or a picture of kittens and unicorns.

(Insert picture of kitten and unicorn reminding us to ASK FOR HELP.)

Also, the pictures are just for pretty value. Cos you can't blog without pictures.

8 comments:

  1. Great blog, big sis! I'm proud of you and I love you.
    xoxo
    Gemma

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  2. Obviously that is all very serious and important and I think you are legend. Now, lets talk about the camel toe appliqué....
    Big love xx

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    Replies
    1. It's the very next project on the list. ;)

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  3. Well written Bronwyn, and I loved the pictures too..

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  4. Excellent post! I have a daughter who has fought depression since she was 12, it's an UGLY disease that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge or act like it exists...BUT IT DOES... I thank God you sought help and received it!

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