Depression really is a bastard

I had a lovely morning today, carefree, kicking leaves like a two year old, enjoying the sun.   And then I read my Twitter feed to see the breaking news that Gary Speed had died, aged 42, apparently by taking his own life.  It made me realise, once again, that life is so short.

I don’t know Gary Speed.  I know he is something to do with football but what I do know is that he is a father, a husband, a son.  And he has died.   And that, right now, is all that matters.

If, and I say if because it is too early to be certain (and not my place to speculate), it is because of depression it is too tragic for words.   But it did get me thinking about depression.   I wanted to write about my personal experiences with depression but they are too personal and I can’t do it.   One of my Twitter buddies said “I will write something anonymously for you” and so here it is.

Thank you MummyBarrow for letting me “say my words as they tumble out with my tears”
I feel compelled to write about my experiences as some people are ignorant.  Some are not ignorant.  Some don’t wish to know about it and some won’t even put their hand up and raise the profile of something so bloody ugly, because for crying out loud ‘our parents had a stiff upper lip and we should be the same’.  But we’re not and no two people who have suffered with depression have exactly the same type/brand/variety of depression.  Oh you can umbrella it but it’s like flu.  Oh I’ve got flu, then in a couple of days it’s gone.  Hey how are you?  Oh I’m depressed.  Couple of days it’s gone. Like hell.
Got your attention and now you are thinking “what is this person on about?”.  Well do you know what?  I haven’t a bloody clue because for ages I have struggled in my own mind and my own world trying to make sense of the huge powerful enemy that hides in the dark.  A shadow, a cloud – sometimes a security blanket.  Depression.
So let’s go back and pick over the bones.
I am an adult, I have children, a husband, a job, a desire, a dream and I also flirt with depression.  Well I say flirt, maybe I am stalked by depression, it’s like an ugly bloody unwelcome guest.
I have always been a dramatic person, all very ra ra (think Brian Blessed presence but not appearance) and because I am such a bouncy extrovert person my low is lower than any of you can ever imagine, because my normal is your high and my low is your rock bottom and I doubt many of you have got there.
My granny however was the one person in my life who rocked my world.  She was amazing, she was everything to everybody and everybody loved her.  And in our lovely times in the large kitchen by the aga she would tell me of her life.  She was from a very affluent family and she married well.  She had everything and her variety of everything included depression for which she was treated with electric shock treatment.  I will leave it up to you to find out about electric shock treatment but when she told me, I just stared at her and loved her for more for her honesty.  Honesty remember that word.
My crazy life carried on and I found my own way of coping and then one day I was rocked because my aunty came to stay with us.  She was a very naughty girl and because the court said so she wasn’t able to live with her mummy and daddy so she stayed with us, she was wild and naughty and when mummy went out she used to sneak us to the pub and we wold sit and drink coca cola out of a bottle with salt & vinegar twisted crisps, then she would race us home and we would go to bed.  But it was fun and like an adventure.  Only she too had everything and her everything included drugs and depression.  She was a manic depressive with bipolar and her medication also stretched to waccy baccy.  It wasn’t until I was older and she had a particularly draining episode that I knew what was going on.  The hushed phone calls, the quick visits to the grandparents, the aunty coming to stay, the rescuing her from squats, the collecting property from the police station.  All the times that had happend before there was no explanation and no honesty
So that was all documented.
At the age of 16 my life was one big huge turmoil.  I did really badly at school, had to repeat my exams, I had no idea what I wanted to do – I mean I thought I would marry my first love and we would be happy for ever.
I got a call from my mummy to tell me that my uncle had died, there had been a very small funeral and there would be a large thanksgiving service, in keeping.  My family were shocked and for them it was shameful to have a suicide in the family.  This is the spooky part and today’s sad news made me remember the pain.  My favourite uncle took his own life yesterday 25 November in 1985.  Shock reverberated around the family.  Who knows how long he had struggled but he discharged himself from hospital and put everything in place and on that afternoon he went to the gun room for the very last time.
Those are 3 incidents that have affected, I could do nothing about them because I WAS NOT AWARE.  If I was aware what would I have done?  Who knows, I hadn’t thought about it but I was never going to get depressed.
Yep!  I got it!  I got postnatal depression when my eldest was 6 months but didn’t admit it.  Then one day I went to the Dr and she said how are you?  And I looked into her eyes and said “do you know what, I actually feel like I have never felt before and I am going to put my hand up and say I am depressed”.  She looked at me, pushed her chair back and said.  “Good for you, good for you for being so strong that you saw you weren’t you and you have now put your hand up, now I can help you”.  I trotted off with my antidepresants and told my husband and he said what do you want to do that for.  Anyway that passed, but I don’t think it ever went away.  It reared its ugly head after my second two children and with the last I also had post traumatic stress.  So now I wont  have any more children.  I was very ill and got depression but through counselling, therapies, a few small changes and a large amount of love I am now the other side of depression where I would like to stay.
Am I making any sense?  Maybe not but can you maybe see that behind the mask of respectability could be a person who is crying out.  A person who would dearly love someone to say “how are you” and then just look at you and you have no option but to admit what is happening in your head and in your heart.  If you ever feel that someone you care about may be struggling, then be the bigger person and say something.
Today Gary Speed, a young man, has died.  News of his death has shocked and saddened many.  This was a man of 42, a man with a wife and two children, who are now a widow and fatherless.  He was a young and talented man.  He had everything to live for.  A respected man.  Who knows why he chose to take his own life.
Maybe you might learn that a few words from you might bring someone closer back than too far far away.  Please look inside your heart and find the strength to allow people to find their voice and strength to raise their hand and say I’ve been stalked by depression but I want that bastard ugly filthy time consuming ugly bastard out in the open.
Hug those close to you and have the strength to understand that all is not as it may seem.
If you or somebody you know suffers, there are a number of resources you can use to get help, not least The Samaritans

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  • What a post! Sitting here all emotional now. A very brave author. Written so well, I wish them all the best for the future. My thoughts are with Gary Speeds family. Xxx

  • Thank you for writing so passionately and honestly about your experiences with depression. I agree that it cannot be adequately described using a blanket term. I think we need to keep talking about it but also highlight that it can be treated and that people do recover and live happy and useful lives.

  • A truly thought provoking post, the author has my sincere respect.
    I’m fortunate to be one of the lucky ones that hasn’t suffered depression but I have experienced it & that alone was terrifying. My younger brother attempted suicide 6 years ago due to his depression – it shook my world, I wanted to tell people to look out for him but he wouldn’t because of the stigma that is attached!!
    Depression is an illness that I believe we should be able to talk about as freely as we talk about cancer, after all they are both debilitating & can be terminal.
    We need to remove the stigma & get people talking about it – after all we wouldn’t tell a cancer patient to stop moaning & get their act together would we?

  • Very brave post. Thank you to the writer for sharing and thanks to Mummy Barrow for posting it.

    After 18years of not feeling quite right with the world, following severe post traumatic stress when I was 17, I was diagnosed with depression in February. I’ve become a very good actor over the years, generally regarded as a vet confident and extroverted person. I go through huge highs… And embrace them, only to crash into enormous lows. These tend to be worse if I force my self to ride the high for longer. My life tends to hinge on trying to hang on to positive emotions of others in a way to escape from a huge underlying feeling of guilt and loneliness.

    After 8 months of Counciling, medication and mostly starting to be honest with myself and the people I care about, I am starting to see some chance of feeling in control for the first time I can remember.

    It takes a lot of work and support. Thank you to all for sharing. I truly hope that reading all this can help someone else, going through something similar, to feel a bit less alone and take some action. Feeling ‘wrong’ means there must be a ‘right’ to work towards. It’s worth it. It’s can get better.