I realised today that I have never spoken much about my depression or my history of it, whereas I have touched on the topic and spoken about my depression induced memory loss. Writing is very much one of my key self-care things. It allows me to express and put down in words how I feel and I immediately feel a small weight lifted, as if I can let go a little bit.
So, I want to talk a bit about my history of depression and I will write more in-depth about how my depression affects me at some point.
I only recently got diagnosed with severe depression but looking back into my childhood I can see that I have had it most of my life. Most doctors will say that something in my life would have kickstarted it, but I have no idea what that was, although I can pinpoint perhaps a time in my life which may have influenced it.
When I was around 13 years old, I stopped going to school which was completely my choice. I remember my parents trying to put me into nursery as a toddler but I hated it. I would sit in the corner of the room the entire time and not partake in any activities – except running to get my cup of milk and cookie when snack time came! I would then tell my Mum that they beat me and begged her not to make me go back. She continued to take me for a while and even switched nurseries but as I continued pleading not to go, my Mum stopped taking me.
When I was 5 years old, on the first day of primary school, I begged my Mum not to make me go. I waited the entire day for her to come back for me and as the years went on I accepted that I had to go to school. I enjoyed learning… I LOVED it, but I struggled (and still do) with making friends and social situations (I’ve often wondered if there’s a reason behind that). When I went into secondary school I did a couple of months in year 7 and then a short time in year 8, before leaving and never going back.
Over those years, I became friendless and isolated from everyone and spent 24/7 with my parents, rarely going outdoors, until I turned 17 and went to university. I think those years were the beginning of my mental health problems.
As I was coming up to turning 17, back in 2011, my Dad suddenly passed away from lung cancer and I became obsessed and fearful of death. I would be terrified of sleeping because it was the closest thing we can experience to death without actually passing. This theme continued on throughout the time I was expecting my first baby.
Throughout the pregnancy, I was convinced our baby would pass away and I would never actually enter parenthood, at each milestone I was convinced that we would never reach another. When our son was finally born, he was whisked away immediately at birth due to complications – he was blue and purple and wasn’t breathing. A team rushed in and all we could do was watch as they shoved tubes down his throat, oxygen masks came out, injections jabbed into his poor legs and all the time he wasn’t crying. After an hour or so he was finally well enough to be held.
That first night at home with Joshua was terrifying, I broke down upstairs as he wasn’t settling. The next day we were urged to rush to hospital by our health visitor which, after a few tests, got Joshua diagnosed with a soft voice box, which he would eventually grow out of – and he did. But it meant that he would stop breathing daily and need help to get started again.
Over the first month I wouldn’t sleep. I had to be with him 24/7, wouldn’t leave his side unless I had to and wouldn’t sleep in-case something happened to him during the night. I would only sleep when I collapsed from exhaustion and when I woke up in the morning, I laid there preparing myself to find my baby dead. I couldn’t imagine him getting older or becoming a toddler, every day I was simply waiting for him to pass away.
I was convinced that if I wasn’t there to look after him then he would pass away. I hated anyone looking after him, changing his bum, feeding him or even giving him some fuss and attention. To me, he was my baby and I didn’t want anyone else looking at him. I suffered from severe exhaustion for months on end because I wouldn’t let anyone do much for him.
Joshua is now almost 3 years old and while I have got better with others looking after him, my depression is still very much present. I struggle to find motivation to do anything, I want to sleep all the time, I feel somewhat distant from myself and the world around me doesn’t feel real. I often question whether anything around me is real because it just doesn’t feel it. I often daydream about suicide and how it would affect those around me, to be honest I think just 3 people would be affected most. I also often think that my son should be taken away from me, although I know that’s not what’s best for him really, I just feel it in those moments.
Alongside my depression, I also have short-term memory loss, which means that I will often forget snippets of conversations with people, the entire conversation or even that the conversation took place. I need reminding to brush my sons’ teeth, take my medication, attend appointments and to even work. I need help with many things that most people don’t even consider to be ‘things’ to help me cope with daily life.
Since being on medication, I’m seeing small changes and I’m hopeful that I will continue to get better. My memory loss has not yet improved but I hope it does in time.
Sometimes hearing about other people’s mental health stories helps your own, so I would love to hear from you.