No. I’m not okay.
When I saw my clinical psychotherapist in February this year, I recognised that things weren’t perfect but generally, I felt that I was on top of the old depression thing and we were on a roll.
Of course, this is completely ignoring the fact that I had had to return to my anti-depressants at the end of last year because living without them wasn’t really working out for me. When it comes to me and depression, I live in a cracking houseboat on a river called denial.
My psych remembers February a bit differently – she noted that I was ‘symptomatic’ and that I displayed clear signs of anxiety and depression. She’s clearly good at what she does because I thought we’d had a lovely chat about how great life was – I didn’t even cry.
I even went back in March so we could talk some more about how I was doing and I didn’t cry again.
Fast forward to a day in August and I’ve been literally crying for about six weeks. I can’t stop. I cry as I sit at my desk, I cry after I’ve taken my children to school, I cry during movies, I cry if I’m invited, I cry if I’m not invited, I’m cancelling social engagements, I avoid conversations that are face to face, I cry in the shower, I cry while I’m working, and I cry some more.
Not in front of people. That just makes things awkward for them.
I think I’m getting away with it. I mean I haven’t been feeling great for months, in fact decidedly un-great, but it’s been a big year – 2016 has been a bit of an arse really – but it’s like that for everybody. This crying is stupid, I’m embarrassed by it.
I keep doing the things I’m expected to do. Because I don’t want anybody to know that I’m sad.
I’m not sleeping well. Mainly because I get so sad in the night I need to wake up and cry.
My self care is at zero. It’s okay – I’m showering, but that’s about it. I mean what’s the point?
It all feels hopeless. Then I realise it’s because I’m hopeless. There’s no point. My children and my husband would be better off without me. I’m a failure. I’m unlikeable. If I was gone, they’d be happier. I cry because I realise this is true. I keep crying because it’s true.
I grieve. I’m sad because my children are going to grow up without me. I’m going to miss my husband. I hope he’ll miss me. My limbs are heavy with sadness. My jaw is so sore from clenching my jaw to stop myself from crying in front of people that I have to massage it sometimes to relieve the pain.
My husband knows I’m sad. I hope he doesn’t know how sad because I don’t tell him. He doesn’t know it but if I told him how sad I was and he said the wrong thing it would break my heart. He doesn’t know what to do so he does all the right things.
All the right things. But I’m still crying.
I cry thinking about him being with someone else.
I wonder about what I could do that would put me in hospital that is serious enough that they would keep me sedated. Just so I don’t feel anything. I am so tired of being sad.
Life is going on. I’m dropping balls all over the place but nobody is noticing. I know that’s because I add no value. I am just 173cms of freckled sad pretending I’m not sad.
It’s out of hand now. I even cry in front of the children. In front of other people.
Then one day, I cry out loud when the supermarket cashier says “That’s $8.30, are you okay with paypass?”. She looks at me crying, hands me my groceries and says, “Have a nice day.”
I get home. I sit at my desk crying. I message two friends asking them to tell me something amusing. They tell me they have nothing hilarious. We banter. I type the words “I can’t stop crying”.
And they got it. They messaged me. They called me. They made me call my psychologist and make an appointment immediately. They offered the same advice to me as I would have offered to them.
I still cried. I cried that night in front of my children. Sobbed. I felt so small. Such a failure.
I cried on the way to my appointment. I went into my appointment. I cried. And cried. And cried. And the words just came rushing out of me. About all of it. How terribly sad and hopeless I was. And I used a whole lot of tissues. And cried some more. And then, I cried again.
And she told me I wasn’t sad. I was smack bang in the middle of a major depressive episode. She didn’t even say, “You feckin’ eejit why didn’t you come and talk to me,” though she would have been right to do so.
I hadn’t seen her since March. I was sad. I didn’t see the point.
And then she told me what we were going to do. We. As a word it cut through some of the white noise.
She was right you know. I knew I was depressed. But I don’t like living with depression. In much the same way people with cancer don’t like living with cancer. It’s a really fucking lonely journey, even when you know other people are doing it too.
But it’s not a choice. I don’t choose to be depressed. I hate it so much. I see it as a failing.
I know rationally it is not. That my mental health is just as valid as my physical health.
But I can’t do it on my own. Anymore than I could cure my own cancer.
I am still sad. I’m still crying. I’m still pretending I’m okay on the outside because that’s how I do it. It’s not just magically better.
I don’t want to talk about it.
But I do realise that people need to know about it. On my own, I was drowning. Dying.
I just hope that each time I get so close to the edge of my own reasoning that I grieve my own imminent departure from this world, that somebody thinks not only to ask if I’m okay, but to intervene if it’s not.
Like my friends did. Bossy cows. But thank you.
No I’m not okay. I haven’t been for many months now. But for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling like it might be.
Will you ask someone today RUOK?
You can learn more at RUOK.org.au or if you need someone to talk to Lifeline has brilliant counsellors on standby. Call 13 11 14.