It’s a funny thing, this recovery business. It makes me question every emotion.
I have a bad night’s sleep. Am I getting depressed again? I wake up feeling tearful. Am I getting depressed again? I start to stress out about work. Am I getting depressed again?
I shout at the kids. Am I getting depressed again?
But that question – am I getting depressed again? – makes me realise a very important truth. I am not depressed any more. I have come through it. Not totally. Not unscathed. Maybe I will never be exactly how I was before. But I am not depressed.
If I think about it too much, I can start to believe that I am. Because I’m not completely fine. I still have black dog days. Sleepless nights. Days when I’m anxious or ratty or tearful or withdrawn. But I’m not depressed.
Depressed was when I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone, let alone laugh. Depressed was when I barely ate for six weeks. Depressed was when I had to extend work deadlines because I just couldn’t put the words onto paper. Depressed was when my children lived on freezer dinners because I didn’t have the energy to cook. Depressed was when my baby girl asked, ‘Why is Mummy sad?’
I am not like that now. Now I can take pleasure from cooking a nice meal again and from eating it. I can defuse an overtired toddler tantrum with love and understanding, rather than panic and rage. I can put myself out there at work, feeling confident that I can do the task justice. I can play-fight with my children and make them laugh. I can feel happy and relaxed with my friends, sitting and chatting in the park. I can do favours for people because I love them and I want to, not because I feel it’s the only way they will like me back.
I am a work in progress, I know that. I don’t think there will ever be a straightforward answer to the question, ‘Why was I depressed?’ I know it is likely to bite me again, which is why I need to safeguard myself against that by seeing my counselling through, seeing my course of medication through. I know I will always have black days that make me fear that I’m sliding backwards again. But I am accepting myself more.
I am not perfect. But I’m okay. I’m not a brilliant journalist. But I’m making a living out of it. I’m not a brilliant housewife. But neither am I a complete slob. I’m not a brilliant wife. But I’m better than I could be. I’m not a brilliant friend. But I have a few people who I know are friends for life. I’m not a brilliant mother. But my children know they are loved.
I’m never going to be everything I want to be, or everything that I feel is expected of me. I’m always going to be a bit shy, a bit introverted, a bit morose, a bit temperamental, a bit lazy, a bit fat, a bit slovenly. But I am okay.
I am going to be okay. And in saying that, I know I am no longer depressed. Not cured. Not fixed. But not depressed.
A Moodscope member.