Depression hits and affects people in different ways. You never know who will suffer and who it will pass. This is my experience of when depression hit me. It follows on from Hollys trip to hospital (I wrote this just after it all happened, I was still in therapy etc… )
The first week home was hard. I was terrified of hurting her, she seemed so tiny and frail. I was constantly checking the scar and worried about knocking the scabs when I dressed her. I was afraid to bath her at first and would only top and tail her. She was so sleepy, part of it was the Phenobarbital, it was like having a newborn again except she seemed smaller and more fragile. She was still lighter that what the boys were when they were born.
We had to rearrange Stevies operation for his grommets, there was no way I was ready to take him in for an operation. It was way too soon and too fresh in his mind of what Holly looked like after her operation. I didn’t want to worry him about it at all. It was just a matter of waiting now, with canceling it put us to the bottom of the list. Carl being cheeky though asked Holly’s Paed to ask his colleague for a favour and try to squeeze us in.
Back home we had to slowly reduce the dosage of the Phenobarbital, which wasn’t fun. The more she was coming off it the more cranky she got. I looked up the side effects on the net, my poor little lamb was having withdrawal symptoms from it. There was a huge list of withdrawals.
Feeding was really difficult too. She really didn’t have the energy for a long feed, so we had to drop it to each hour just so she could get enough. But it wasn’t enough for her weight. She started to lose some. The neo-natal Nurse Sarah, she gave us a few more days to see how she was doing, if there was no weight gain she would put an NG tube in. We really didn’t want this to happen. To us it felt like a huge step back in her recovery. To us it felt like we were failing her, we just couldn’t do enough for her. The next few days we really felt the pressure. Food, Food, Food. That was all that was on our minds. We just so wanted her to feed, we got so frustrated. I wanted to cry at times but I was so afraid that if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop.
Sarah came back a few days later to weigh her. She had lost some more weight. We agreed for the best to put in the tube. She started off with a temporary one, it could only stay in for 10 days. That was OK, in that time I could get her stronger so she wouldn’t need it. A few days later she started with a sniffle.
That sniffle turned into a full cold in no time. It really knocked her for six. The little bit she was feeding she didn’t do anymore. She was rarely awake, and when she was she was very docile and not at all responsive. We worried like mad. We took her to see the GP, we said just for reassurance is she OK?? They gave her a full check over, checked everything and she was fine. The doctor then asked if we were OK. We were fine, but could he set up some council ling for in the New Year. We will need it at some point.
I contacted my tutor at college, and said I would be leaving it until the new term in January before coming back. Everything was still quite chaotic. The boys were playing us up, only because they were out of routine and were able to get away with murder while stopping with their grandparents. Discipline was totally out the window and bedtimes were a farce. We had to spend so much time cuddling and playing games with them, to give them the attention that they had missed and now wanted, but at the same time we had to be hard on them to get them back into routine. Those bits really hurt. All we wanted to do was spoil them, but it wouldn’t have helped us out in the long run.
We still had to get Christmas presents for the boys, we had to make sure someone could stop in with Holly while we went. It was a huge battle with myself to allow Carl’s mum to watch her, just for an hour while we rushed like mad to get back, just incase she needed feeding. Every time we went anywhere it was a mad rush. Although we were surrounded by people that cared and loved us we felt so alone, no one could help us.
Holly’s cold lasted all over Christmas, but we still managed to have a really great Christmas. We were just so thankful to be home, even if she did have the tube in. At some points we didn’t see that we would be home.
The boys were slowly getting back to normal, it was nearly time for them to go back to school, and nearly time for me to go back college. I was doing well with the tube feeds. Carl did the odd one or 2, but he felt really uncomfortable doing it. I only had about 12 feeding syringes, and we had to constantly re sterilise them all the time while we were waiting for homeward to get intough to leave us some more. They were getting really stiff now. One night in particular I was trying to fill the syringe with milk and it was so hard I was pulling with all my strength and then all of a sudden POP, milk was everywhere, I was covered. I felt so angry and pissed off, I wanted to slat everything up the walls and fly into a proper rage, but I had visitors. I had to hold it in. I had to wait until they were gone before I could let it out. As soon as they went that was it. The floodgates opened. The one thing I was afraid of happened. I knew once I cried I wouldn’t be able to stop. It was every little thing. I would cry for the slightest of reasons.
Monday soon come arround. I got my bag ready and my school work. I went to give Holly a hug to tell her to be good for her dad and I picked her up, and I couldn’t put her down. I held her so tight. Tears were streaming down my face. How could I leave her, she still needed me, she was still poorly. It broke my heart to think of leaving her. It was only for a few hours. I wouldn’t necessarily be away for feeing time. I couldn’t go. I pleaded with Carl not to make me go. I cried after with relief of not leaving her.
While we were in Birmingham we made a pact.We argreed that if it was going to hit us then we would let it. We wouldn’t try to fight it or pretend it wasn’t there. We would face it head on. We would tackle it straight away and not let it fester.
So now here it is.
I remember it hit like a ton of bricks. From being strong and keeping control to constantly crying over the slightest of things and feeling like every part of my life was slipping through my fingers.
I was afraid to leave the house, I was unmotivated to clean the house, even my personal hygiene went out of the window. I had never felt so useless in my life, I felt like a burden on my family and that they would probably do better without me. I never contemplated suicide, but I did try to plan how to get a new identity and just go, disappear.
Not only could I not face people in the flesh, I withdrew from my online world too. I didn’t even have the confidence to talk to strangers online. I still spoke to some of the ladies I met in the same due month in our MSN group, but I couldn’t face live chat with them on MSN. I only had enough in me to post on the discussion boards.
I started a diary, to keep a track of my thoughts and what kind of days I was having. I started medication and at first I felt so much worse. I found comfort in some of the other girls, cus they were going through similar too. Although it was a horrible thing to have, it was nice to be able to share.
I evaluated everything about myself. I tried to measure things like where on a scale of 1-10 would I be for my mohering skills, or on my wifely duties. I would put myself down terribly. I really started to detest who I was.
I used to get so angry at Holly, for just doing things that babies do, like crying, or spitting their food out. Sometimes I would get so angry I would want so badly to hurt her. I just had to walk out of the room and leave her to cry.
Gradually my moods started to level out a bit, I was still so afraid to meet people, but I was getting better. I wasn’t so angry anymore. But that was when the guilt set in. I felt guilty about everything.
I felt guilty for not being able to show Carl how much I loved him, I felt guilty about being sad around my kiddies. It took a while but we eventually got to the root of the guilt. I felt tremendous guilt about saying my goodbyes to Holly. In my heart I felt as though I had given up on her, seeing how strong she was and what a fighter she is just heightened that guilt. How could I have given up on her??? From that point I tried to over compensate and had to do everything for her. I had to do all of her feeds, all of the night time needs. I wouldn’t let anyone in, not even Carl.
This is what I am doing in therapy now. I am trying to learn how to let go a little. I am trying to learn that my guilt isn’t a punishment. I am trying to learn I am not to blame for what went wrong. I wasn’t to know it was going to happen. I was the one that signed the form, I carried her into theatre and I left her there. So in my mind it was my fault. I am trying to work on it, I know I will get there eventually.
5 months later and I am still wary when out. I have regular panic attacks still, and I can’t stand people being too close to me. I can count on one hand how many times I have made Love to Carl in the last 5 months, and that really hurts me.
Family life is hard when you are depressed. Children still want to be praised for being good, and they still want to play. They still need clean clothes and a nice house to come home to, and a good meal to fill them up. You go through the motions of being a perfect mum, but deep down inside you are in termoil and no one knows.
I’m not proud of being depressed, but I’m not ashamed of it either. Its a part of my life I have got to work through. Its there for a reason. Once I come through it I will be stronger. Its just hard work trying to get to the otherside.
6 years later and my life has changed dramatically. Although I still have problems meeting new people, and crowded social situations, I am in better control now and know how to deal with the anxiety when it strikes.
My belief now is that depression shapes you. It makes you feel & understand hurt in ways you would never have imagined. It makes you grow. Embrace the change, dont fight it.