Hey, it’s been a while ey?
Where to begin. I’ve struggled to write this year but as vulnerable as opening up about my story and past has made me, I truly believe that sharing and talking is the most cathartic thing you can do for your mental health and well being.
So let’s go back to 2017, my life was great, I had everything together (so it seemed). I’d ‘soldiered’ on through my dads suicide abnormally OK, and for the first time in my life everything was going right. I was working hard in the gym, financially stable, had an amazing network of friends and family and had even made the life altering decision to move to New Zealand. Unfortunately as 2018 rolled around, a desperate, dark sadness hit me with zero warning. Depression. WTF. Why was I suddenly crying everyday, couldn’t find the motivation to go to the gym, go to work or be sociable? Where had this fun, outgoing, positive character I’d been for the last 18 months gone? I want her back now. I put it down to moving to the other side of the world. Perhaps I was homesick, perhaps it would take time for me to adjust, and maybe I just needed a job, new friends, a new gym and I’d be OK again. So that I could be the ‘old’ me again. So I found all of the above, and I again seemingly on the surface, had everything to live and be happy for. So, why was I so desperately unhappy and why was nothing bringing me joy anymore?
The months moved past slow and my mood had not lifted and I had to be honest with my self and admit it was most likely depression. But how? I’d spent 18 months “dealing” with my dad’s death, doing all the the things the books had told me. I even wrote a blog on coping with grief!? Again, this inability to understand what was going on and why I couldn’t control it, consumed me in such a way I decided to come home and move back to the UK. The disappointment of something you’d wanted so badly fail and seeing others thrive in a lifestyle you’d always dreamed of felt like a punch in the stomach. Why is it everyone gets to be happy apart from me? After all I’d been through, surely I deserved a shot at happiness too? The victim in me came out and the “why me” cried louder than any other thoughts in my head for a few weeks after coming home. Although I desperately tried to cling on to the “it was the right decision”, the depression was still there. For the first time in my life, I felt zero control over it. This feeling was suffocating the joy out of everything I used to enjoy in life. I again tried desperately to cling onto the fact that I was ‘over’ my dad so it couldn’t possibly be that. I thought I was over it, I thought I’d got through it but unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth.
So I started counselling. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have it, when my dad died I always knew it was something that I’d need to do but it was more a matter of the right time. Although I could talk about my dad’s death without even a tear in my eye, I knew one day, I’d truly need to face up to a life without him. The new normal, the one that we all experience when a loved one dies. But even when you’ve read all the self help books, practise mindfulness, meditation and have ultimately accepted that yes, “time is a healer”, that doesn’t eliminate the pain and sadness of grief. However, I’d also come to the abrupt realisation that avoiding it doesn’t either. It quickly dawned on me that all the “dealing” I’d done over the past 2 years had actually been a form of avoidance. A safety net that my own mind had given me to protect me from the sheer monstrosity that was my dad’s suicide. Even though I felt ‘fine’ in the passing months after my dad died, the reality of it all was actually, it had taken almost 2 years to really set in. and when it did… My god did it hurt.
Depression is horrible. But what’s more horrible is hiding it because it’s so isolating as it is. Am I ashamed to admit that I’ve struggled with it? No. Because even if it’s a part of me, it’s not me. Just like it’s not you.
Be brave, be strong, and know that you’ve got through 100% of the bad days so far, and that’s pretty awesome.
Take care of yourselves and remember, we’re all fighting battles that you don’t always see.