I realised today that I have written very little on my depression, the very thing that saw me hospitalised in the first place. From a creative perspective I find my depression very difficult to write about. Depression for me was bleak, cold nothingness. How can I begin to describe the pain of nothingness? I usually try to inject a little humour into my writing, in an attempt to make it more ‘readable’. But there is absolutely nothing humouress about this particular depressive episode. Nothing at all.
My depression was, and remains to be a uniquely personal experience. I rarely talk about it to anyone, including my nearest and dearest. I seldom like to think about it. Irrational as it is, I’m frightened that a thought could suck me down into the darkness again. Because this is the darkness that nearly killed me. This darkness was, without a doubt, the most horrific thing I have ever experienced.
I didn’t really cry much when I was depressed. I’m not sure that I even felt sad. I just didn’t feel anything. I was completely numb from my soul outwards. In a way this is what allowed me to carry on untreated for as long as I did. Robotically, I carried out everyday activities. I did the things I needed to do. I created a facade that I was fine.
Occasionally I would break down, the numbness would melt away and all I felt was pain. Anger. Grief. Sadness. I started having panic attacks regularly and dosed myself on Valium until I had built up such a tolerance that the drug didn’t work anymore.
One day I was in a near car accident that would have been entirely my fault. I wasn’t concentrating and made a stupid decision. Fortunately all I received was a loud honk and an angry gesture. Afterwards I felt completely calm, I felt no adrenaline rush, no guilt or remorse. It was then I realised how truly ambivalent I was. When faced with what could have been a serious accident, I felt nothing. I didn’t care whether I lived or died.
Eventually I began to give up. I stopped eating, stopped sleeping. Hubster frequently had to leave work to care for Master D and I. I kept experiencing this bizarre sensation where I felt I simply could not keep going. I couldn’t take another breath. I couldn’t take another step. If I was out when it happened I felt I was going to physically collapse and someone would have to come and get me. They would have to come and get me and I would be stiff as a board, carried out on a stretcher, not even able to move my limbs. In a plea for help I started telling the people around me, over and over, “I can’t keep going. I just can’t keep going.” I think they interpreted this as “I don’t want to feel like this anymore.” When really what I was trying to say was “I don’t want to be alive anymore”.
I was consumed by guilt and a pure hatred towards myself. One morning I woke up, listening to the two people I loved more than anything in the world sleeping peacefully. I decided I needed to leave. I couldn’t do this to them anymore. They both deserved so much better than me.
So – out of pure impulse – I grabbed the first article of clothing I could find, a dress, and threw it on over my pajamas. I slipped some shoes on, quietly opened the front door and left.
Halfway down the drive I realised I was wearing odd shoes. So I slipped them off and continued to walk barefoot down to the road. When I got to the road I looked around. Now what? I had no money, no phone, no plan, no SHOES for Christ sake. What on earth did I think I was doing?
Defeated, I dutifully checked the post box and started walking back up the drive. On the way I passed a tree. One of those weepy trees with long concealing branches. Before I knew what I was doing I sat inside the tree, huddled in the dirt. Suddenly I felt safe. I could see people go past, joggers, people walking dogs, women with prams…but they couldn’t see me. I felt like a child once more. On the off chance that someone may see me I concocted a story where I was doing some weeding. The fact that I was in a dress, with my pajamas visible, barefoot, with no gardening implements in sight didn’t really concern me.
Suddenly our front door burst open and I heard Hubster running down the drive. When I saw him he looked absolutely frantic.
“Hubster?” I called out. He stopped. Looked around, clearly confused, then spotted me under the tree. He paused for a moment and then parted the long branches.
“What are you doing under there?” He asked calmly.
“Just…sitting” I said nervously. At this point I knew I had screwed up. Big time. Wordlessly he held out his hand. I hesitated and then took it, climbing out from underneath the tree. We walked back up to the house and I tried to explain that I felt safe there, that I wasn’t going to do anything bad.
Hubster just turned to me and said “do you have any idea how worried I was?! Don’t ever do that to me again. Ever.” I cried, told him how sorry I was. He just nodded and walked away.
I felt truly terrible. I realised what it must have looked like to him. My phone still at home. My (odd) shoes left in the middle of the drive. I realised that this couldn’t go on.
When I went into the bedroom Hubster was laying face down on the bed. I apologised and we held each other. I saw that he had been crying, or at least close to it. “do you think I’m bad if I go in to hospital?” I asked him. He looked at me “Quite frankly, I think you would be selfish if you didn’t go in and continued on like this” he said.
Suddenly I realised the effect that this must be having on him. Working fulltime, constantly on edge that he was going to get a call from me saying that I need him. Coming home and cooking dinner every night, feeding and bathing and putting Master D to bed. He had come to appointments with me, taken me to hospital, taken days off work to look after Master D. He had never once lost his patience with me. This man is a saint. I realised that he looked tired. I had been so consumed with my own despair that I hadn’t even considered him.
I realised my problem, my illness, was hurting him just as much as it was hurting me. I vowed to put an end to this. I decided I needed help. I made the decision to go into hospital.