Sometimes we just barely survive our pain, whilst others find it all too much.
Life can throw out its fair share of surprises. Some you see coming like a fast train about to plummet off a broken bridge. Others hit slap you hard in the face; an invisible wall, no warning, no sign.
But we go on — well, most of us do. The souls that leave too early escape their pain but leave behind a crescendo of agony and heartache; their loved ones left in anguish, grappling with questions forever unanswered.
But most of us go on.
I cannot begin to imagine what life must be like for those who are chronically depressed. Those who struggle every day. If you are one of those people, my heart goes out to you. I do not know what to say or how to soothe. I have visited that place you know so well, but once I left, luckily I never had to go back. Just know you are worth fighting this for, and please, please hang on — reach out to someone, even though it goes against every instinct. Please reach out. Shine through. Live.
I am still here and I can tell this story because I had a child. I had a seven-year-old son. How so very thankful I am that my life did not end then. That I hung on through the pain. I shone through …eventually.
It’s so hard to imagine now how I could have ever not wanted to live. Now, when every day is so precious. Every day another chance to experience this amazing life. As I sit gazing out onto the French countryside, now living a life of travel, adventure and a life full of love, I grapple to recall the raw despair back then. The unbearable weight of being useless, unnecessary, superfluous. Alien emotions to me now. But back then, back then they devoured my very essence.
My Reason to Stay Alive
At the time, my son was the only reason to stay alive. The pain I would cause him, hurt more than the pain I was suffering.
It’s so difficult to imagine the mindset of another human being not wanting to carry on. Wanting only the stillness of a never-ending nothingness. For it all to just end.
I can offer a pick ‘n’ mix selection of reasons that led me to that dark well of despondency. And, in fact, do we ever really know the exact moments, the ripples before the tipping point, that ruptures a soul so deeply, and leaves it so broken?
We could start at the beginning, with my childhood. Therapists love to start there. My childhood was interesting enough for them to always find something there that could explain a multitude of problems in later life. Childhood sexual and emotional abuse can cause all types of issues — granted. But once a therapist hears these things, they tend to get stuck there, ignoring other possible issues.
I don’t think my childhood had anything to do with it.
I’d just moved countries, was three months pregnant and was living in the same house as my in-laws. A myriad of realities that probably all played their part. I think perhaps the tipping point was the pregnancy hormones. I like to blame the hormones — it somehow seems less my ‘fault’.
We’re talking about 22 years ago and even today, there isn’t much talk about prenatal depression. Plenty of information on post-natal, but prenatal or antenatal depression is still not highlighted. However, 10 -15% of pregnant women can suffer from depression at this time.
Hide and Seek
In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter what the cause was. It was a time that I would never want to repeat. I didn’t want to leave the bedroom, and on many days I didn’t. My excuse was the pregnancy and I said I felt unwell. I didn’t want to eat, to shower or to exist.
It’s hard to recognise deep depression. We are good at hiding it. There will be little signs, but you need to be astute. You need to ask more than ‘R U OK.’ Because the answer you will likely get is, “Yes. I’m fine. Just feeling a bit off.”
I can only go on my own experience, but let them know they are loved, they are special, that you are there for them anytime. Acknowledge that you’ve noticed they aren’t their normal selves. Reassure them that you are there for them to talk to at anytime. Go out for a walk, a drink, a coffee. Maybe they will open up. Encourage them to talk to a doctor or to someone.
You Have the Power
And if it is you reading this, get up, get showered and go talk to someone. Anyone. Let those swirling, confused, crushing thoughts out. Let the emotions go. Give yourself a chance to see the light through this seemingly never-ending shadow. The shadow will pass. You can shine through, but you have to get off your butt and take action. You have the power, no one else. Believe in yourself, be proud and get help. We are not islands, you are not alone and millions of others now, before now and after now, will have felt just as you do. You don’t have to feel like this. But it is up to you in the end. Be courageous.
Find the Love and Shine Through
I was lucky — I had a precious little boy that counted more than anything. I felt that everyone would be better off without me. My husband. My unborn child. The world. Everyone, except this one little boy. This little boy who pinched and jiggled my cheeks every morning as he told me how much he loved me.
You have loved ones like this around you. They too would be jiggling your cheeks and telling you they loved you if they were seven. Find them. See them. Take that one step and tell them how you really feel.
Shine through because you are loved. Shine through because this will make you stronger and shine because you have the choice. This is just a shadow. It will shift and shrink. And all the things you feel now, the helplessness, the despair, the anguish, it will dissipate into the atmosphere. In time, you will wonder if it was ever really there at all.
And you will find that little boy has grown to a man who you couldn’t be prouder of. A man who has had his own battles against the surprises life throws. And because you have been there, you understand. And you tell him how much he is loved as you pinch and jiggle his cheeks.
If you or someone you know needs help go to Beyond Blue to chat online, email or call. This site has a wealth of info about mental health that can help.