This time two years ago I was in the middle of a three month depression. I think it may have been adrenal fatigue. Whatever it was it sucked the enthusiasm, the enjoyment and the energy out of me. I was a husk.
The first half of the year had been full on in the best and worst of ways.
Gunnas was going off, did Trollhunter, made Atheist Alphabet, huge happy household including a new dog Zeus, lots of stand up and conference hosting work, Pushy Women north and south, going out, people over, lots of travel then off to Europe after waving my eldest son off to Japan.
Then the wheels started to fall off. Christians sueing me, new dog not working out, massive teeth dramas leading to a tooth implant, two of my sons going through the most stressful times they have to date, then my health deteriorated. Virus after virus. Infection after infection. The depression landed in May. Shifted around September.
I thought it was jetlag, burn out, early menapause then I realized it was depression. Stone cold concrete depression. Boring exhausting depression.
No amount of willpower or strength of character could shift it. I moved through a thick grey blanket of fog. Everything was like walking into a headwind.
It was relentless.
I remember sitting at my desk in the middle of winter and there would be this 20 mintue block at around 11am where I would feel the winter sun on my back in the quiet house with the boys at school and Bear at work and I felt a twinge of relief. Fleeting.
I remember late one Sunday afternoon taking the dog to the park with Bear and Charlie. We threw the Frisbee as the winter sun went down and I was feeling okay for a bit. Then Bear said ‘Time to go it’s getting dark’ and I snapped back to a face not moving and a heart not feeling before we even made it to the car. The happy didn’t stick.
I kept trying to cook lovely food, exersise, push myself, lay off myself, go out, stay home, see people, not see people.
Depression is hard. And hard on your partner when it’s long and relentless. ‘Bear, how are you coping with me like this? It’s been a long time. What do you miss?’
‘The smiles,’ he said, ‘the smiles.’
‘Me too,’ I replied.
My face just didn’t seem to move.
When I was in social situations I would be constantly thinking of a question I could ask people so they would talk for as long as possible.
I would socialise but it was so exhausting. I got none of the normal joy and happiness of seeling those I adore.
And none of the warm feeling afterwards recollecting a good time, a lovely night, a job well done. Just pushing myself, giving my all and feeling depleted afterwards. I could fake it for an hour or so. Make the face move. Nod the head. Strap on the smile.
Yes I continued to work, parent, socialise, live. I would do things and it would go alright. It would just take me 10 times the energy and I got no enjoyment out of it. No relief. I endured.
I felt so guilty. I had so much. Love, work, a home, how dare I feel depressed. What did I have to be depressed about. I understand depression. I know you can only manage it. There is no cure. Yet I was furious with myself. ‘First world problems’ I would scoff at myself ‘Just get over yourself. You’re not on Nauru. Or in a refuge camp in Syria. For fuck sake get it to together.’
Every day I would stand in the back yard and look at the bare magnolia knowing it would bloom eventually as it always did. Trusting I would too.
When I realized the cloud had lifted I was ecstatic. My happy was back. I was chatting, making plans, bossing every one about. Oh God how I had missed being happy. Hearing my laugh after so many months.
‘I forgot how much you smiled!’ said Bear.
‘Me too!’ I said racing in front of him on my bike.
If you are in that place right now I was there two years ago. I am running 10kms every other day and writing TWO books. I am cooking lovely meals and enjoying my family, friends, sons, partner, work and just the sheer magic of being pain free.
Watch the magnolias. They are all coming into bloom, slowly. In their own time. You can’t rush them. And even when you can’t see their petals, their flowers and their joy, it’s all happening beneath the surface. In increments.