…FIND THE LIGHT…
This time I knew. I could feel it coming. The darkness. What can I say? I knew it well. I’d lived with it.
The way it clawed into my thoughts and told them lies. The way it left me feeling fatigued. Constantly. The way I needed to sleep so much more than usual. The way my eyes burned from the tears. The way I’d fight off sleep on the drive to work each morning. The way my heart knew the long road of healing ahead. My psychologist had once told me that depression shows the same symptoms every time it creeps back into your life. And it sure stuck to its word.
When it strikes, everything becomes an effort. The thought of making my lunch at 7am for the day ahead was too big an ask and too great a decision. It made me tired thinking about it. I’d live in the moment and think ahead to the next hour as a means of survival. This wasn’t ideal, but it was what was required to function. My stomach would churn with anxiety and unease. Constantly. The uncertainty of when the next bout was going to strike, when the next cry would be needed, who would see, how they would react and when my head would stop its messy, jumbled thoughts. My head always felt tight, as though I was wearing a beanie or sweat band all day long. Tight with so much information, too many thoughts that I didn’t even have the energy or capacity to store and decipher. My thoughts would be layered. I’d be talking to someone, thinking one thing and have fleeting thoughts overlapping those. All my usual activities went out the window – Pilates, personal training, socializing, to a degree. As I preferred my own company and was far too emotional and tired to be surrounded by others for prolonged periods of time. My family understood and gave me the care and love I needed during this time.
I found solace in my new puppy, (my real life heat pack), a diffuser and a day spa beats playlist. I’m a big believer in self-care and these were some ways I managed when I felt overwhelmed or increasingly sad. These strategies were different to last time and they’ll probably be different next time but they always come back to one thing: comfort. It’s important to feel comfort and nurturing when we are down. I allowed myself some more compassion this time. I’d done everything in my power to ward this off. I’d been proactive, sought advice and tried my best to self- preserve. Unfortunately, the darkness still appeared. I learnt that there’s only so much I can do and sometimes, others have more control in certain situations than I do. I tried to be good to myself and show understanding and pride in myself for putting so many actions in place as a preventative. I gave myself permission to feel the negative feelings and act on them. Whereas last time, I tried to block them out because it hurt too much to feel them. One positive is I have learnt so much in dealing with this.
I know what the healing process looks like for me this time. Which is a blessing and a curse. I know how to love myself so I can get back on track, find the things I love again and be at peace with myself. I’ve taken a step back from toxicity already and that will see me in good stead in the recovery process. The fact that I know what to do is scary because it means I’ve dealt with these feelings before. And they don’t get easier, they just become slightly more manageable.
I am sharing my experiences of depression because to me, mental health awareness is all about education. We learn from one another. If my words, my strategies or my actions can help someone or resonate with them, I will have achieved my purpose. Mental health is something that we need to discuss, understand and make time for. It’s about sharing our stories and not feeling judgment, rather support and understanding. Take the time to listen to someone today. Take the time to reflect on your own feelings. Are you being true to yourself? Are you living a life of intention and integrity? As a huge advocate for mental health awareness I leave you with this poem I wrote….
The monsters under my bed
Have reared their ugly heads
They swallow you in the darkness
Not letting you escape.
They take your light without permission
And lock it up to stay.
It’s up to you to free yourself
From the monsters mighty clutch
But how can one run
When running isn’t enough?
The monsters under my bed
Have visited before.
But the last time they came
They didn’t knock on the door.
This time I heard them
Footsteps and pitter patters
Grew closer with each night
Until they came and boom!
Took away my light.
I lost to the monsters
After trying so hard to keep them at bay.
It doesn’t matter because the monsters
Won’t listen to what you have to say.
I took the monsters aside and asked them to go
They shook their heads and caused a fuss
Demanding they were here to grow.
Long ago I won and fought off the monsters
They took the darkness away.
Under my bed they hid
Until this two years later
I fear the monsters
Because I know they are not my friends
Instead they want to destroy like the thoughts inside my head.
I wish the monsters could hear my cries
And leave me to heal again.
I don’t want them making a home inside my head.
How I tried to leave them out of this
How I tried to let them be
But unfortunately the monsters
Came back to visit me
Now I put myself first
Like they couldn’t do
To pick up the pieces
And to start anew.