“How do you get that lonely, how do you hurt that bad,
To make you make the call, that having no life at all
Is better than the life that you had?
How do you feel so empty, you want to let it all go
How do you get that lonely… and nobody know?”
Blaine Larsen, How Do you Get That Lonely?
Depression is a vile illness, from the pit of hell. Let me be clear, depression is not a ‘bad day or bad week’; it’s not someone who is ‘too emotional’; it’s not something that you can ‘snap out of’ or ‘just get over’; and it’s not simply PMS or hormones.
This topic is really sensitive, so I want to handle as carefully as I possibly can. I don’t believe that you ever understand the darkness depression brings, until you have faced it for yourself. I had good friend end his life a few years back, and it rocked my world. But I could never truly comprehend how he (or anyone else) got to that place. Now I can take a good guess.
Let me pause for a moment to say that PND has made me physically unwell – panic attacks, tremors and shaking, muscle twitches and spasms, aches and pains, headaches, insomnia, dizziness, heart palpitations, sweating, tingling and numbness, no appetite and generally feeling like I was too tired to get out of bed, never mind make Reuben his breakfast. I have been back and forth to the Doctors for tests and more tests. I got to the point where I longed for them to find whatever was wrong me, no matter how bad it was, so I could just make peace with it.
But bigger than all of that – PND has taken me to the edge of a cliff. I have wanted to give up on life altogether. Ironically, the only thing to have held me back, has been Reuben. The weight of responsibility of knowing that he would grow up with a stigma, if I made that choice and he lived believing it was because of him, has been the fine line between life and death for me.
Instead I have begged Gavin and my mum to “lock me in a room and never come back for me”, as if that was somehow a better option. I have considered packing my bags and never returning, with no idea where I would go, while believing anywhere would be better than here.
The triggers that have led to this state of mind vary, depending on the day and situation I found myself in. Sometimes it was because I felt so overwhelmed with life and all it needed me to be. Other times it has been because I felt so physically unwell, with no hope of recovering, as no one could tell me what was wrong. Maybe it hit me because the housework seemed impossible to keep on top off; Reuben was teething and up a lot at night; Gavin was working long hours and I was always alone; I tried to do a ‘mum thing’ with Reuben and failed; I missed my family; or I simply was exhausted and hungry and wished someone was around to have a wee cupa and grown-up chat with.
These have been some the TRIGGERS, but I now realise the REASON I got to this really low point is PND. It has fooled me into believing many lies about myself and my life. For example, that I am a burden to everyone around me. That I am completely useless and a waste of time and space. That I am unlovable and unlikeable. That the world, my world, would be better off without me. That my future is hopeless and I will never recover. That I have messed up with best gift I’ve ever been given – motherhood – and that says more about me than anything else in life ever can or will. That those around me deserve better than anything I can offer them and secretly they know this too – even if they were too kind to admit it.
As I said depression is a vile illness, it’s frightening, it’s lonely and it’s very very dark. It’s only now, as I am beginning to recover that I am starting to understand where I have been and why I have been there.
The only way to get better is to face all of the negative thoughts and deal with them head on. To take them out and look at them. To decide, in community – with my husband and family, if they are true. And then, to choose to replace those false beliefs with the truth, every hour of every day.
If are reading this and you are struggling with similar thoughts and issues, there is hope to be found. Please try to reach out, even to one person. Get in touch with someone – a relative, a friend or a helpline. Do not keep it to yourself.
The best thing, for me, was Gavin and my mum discovering I felt like this. As heartbreaking as it has been for them to hear, as much as it has made them worry, it’s so much easier not having to face it alone. I will never forget the pain in my mum’s eyes and the tears that ran down her face, when I begged her to “lock me up and throw away the key”. But they have both said they would much rather carry this with me, than have me bottle it up alone, perhaps to make a drastic choice, out of desperation.
If you are in this dark, lonely place, you need someone to do that for you too – reach out and find them, it will help. It is scary, it might take all the courage and strength you can muster, but it is worth it.
This is perhaps the worst part of the illness, for me and for all who love me. But now that I know the truth of ‘how you get that lonely’, I am determined to fight against it with all of my strength, and the support of those around me.
The lie PND has told me is, ‘having no life at all, is better than the life that you have’. The truth is that there is hope; healing; light; a good future; peace; love; and life if we take the steps (no matter how small and slow) towards recovery. I beg you to join me on that journey today. Please do not allow yourself to ‘get that lonely’.
If you need to get help quickly:
Samaritans – www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us
Lifeline – http://www.lifelinehelpline.info
Other Contacts – www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide/Pages/Getting-help.aspx