I haven’t written a blog for a few months because for one reason and another (that is to say a litany of stressful happenings involving domestic life changes, physical pain, hospital appointments and Union representatives) I ended up blubbing like a lost child in the foreign food aisle of Asda and was diagnosed by my wide-eyed and tissue wielding GP as suffering from depression. This was a bit of a shock to me as I’ve always been the solid, take-no-nonsense, hard-core, feet-on-the-ground, look-after-everyone-else type. I guess we all have our limits and that none of us really know the extent of our fragility (especially we roughty-toughty types who never buckle – no matter what – until we do). So I was signed off work for a month. Great! I thought. I can write that novel, go walking, go climbing, paint pictures of mountains, play my guitar, visit friends, try out new recipes. Hmmm. Or alternatively, and this was the truth of the situation, I can spend quite a lot of time in bed feeling unfeasibly tired, not wanting to see anyone and living on toast. Who IS this person?? I wondered. I didn’t recognise me. I wanted to kick myself up the arse and exorcise this charlatan out of my body. This new me was of no use to me whatsoever, or to anyone else for that matter – although I probably would have made a good draught excluder, or bed-tester. Oh look – two uses! If only I had thought of them 6 weeks ago I may have felt slightly less totally shit about myself. What I did spend that time doing was learning about depression. I thought depression was ‘feeling sad all the time’. Not really. Feeling sad all the time I would say comes under the term ‘constant sadness’. For me, depression meant simply not being able to cope – with work, with people, with decision making, with any kind of pressure, however slight. It’s being stripped of all self-confidence, self-esteem and everything beginning with the word ‘self’. I lost myself. Although to be frank, I didn’t lose it, it was taken from me. But it would be unseemly for me to start pointing fingers on the interweb and cursing the perpetrator of my demise. I hope daily that she inadvertently falls into a bath full of acid but there’s never one hanging around on a street corner.
But here’s the thing. I began a course of anti-depressants (Citalopram – I think it’s doing the trick as I’m writing this blog as opposed to lying on the sofa in my pants). It took a lot of soul searching before I decided to take the medication route offered by my shoulder-patting GP, but I wasn’t really even coping with getting out of bed and getting dressed, because it seemed a bit pointless, because I was only useful as a draught excuder or a bed-tester. The list of side-effects is seemingly endless however and I appear to be suffering from 90% of them. The main side effect listed which, and correct me if I’m nit-picking here, seems a tad disconcerting for an anti-depressant is this – “thoughts of suicide and worsening of your depression or anxiety disorder”. Come again?? (actually this is also unlikely as other side-effects are reduced libido and problems in reaching orgasm). There has been nausea, tiredness, increased sweating, loss of appetite, problems with concentration, yawning, dizziness, shakiness of the arms and legs and feelings of unreality. Now – remember this – I’m depressed. How is this medication going to help me feel less depressed, considering the whole bucketload of total shitiness it brings with it? Well I’m no physician, but I do seem to have stopped leaking from the eyes any time someone asks me a simple question. It makes you think – “how bad must I have been feeling if I now feel BETTER as a tired, yawning, sweating, confused person who can no longer feel sexual gratification??” Yes. I know. Scary huh?
So in the midst of this swirling, sucking, evil-smelling quagmire of angst do you know what I did? Do you know what I had to do, despite the most enormous feelings of inadequacy and incompetence? I had to find another job. The reason for this being, it was largely my current job which made me want to tie my innards into a swing and hurl off them into the underworld. Trying to fill out application forms for new jobs when you are only fit to be a draught excluder is exhausting, and frustrating, and makes your nose and eyes run. But I persevered, and I have now been to 3 interviews. Attending interviews, when your self-esteem is lurking somewhere at the bottom of the deepest, darkest ocean with all those transparent creatures with no eyes and big teeth, is an almost insurmountable challenge. But I went and I grinned, and I sucked up every last drop of energy I had and used it to pretend I was a confident, professional, witty and hugely capable human being who would be a total whizz at the job and a real Godsend to the team. I didn’t get the first job, which in all honesty is a relief. I’m waiting to hear about the other job, for which I nearly ruptured myself in two interviews. I really,really want that job.
So I’ve realised something about myself – and I believe we all have it in us as I am not special in any way, shape or form (especially shape and form) – and that is this:.even in my truly lowest hour, when I have never felt weaker, or less empowered, I was able to dig deep and find the strength and spirit somehow to make a change in my life. To try to regain some control. To kick the Black Dog gnawing at my bones in the goolies and send it howling back to Hades. If I get a job, when I have been signed off work by the tissue-wielding Doctor for a whole month and given the kind of medication that will probably make my eyes bleed, it will be a miracle. But I will OWN that miracle.
Yes I am a fighter. Yes I have been brave.
(Now play the Theme from Rocky)