So I keep threatening to do more on my blog and really, my intentions are there. The past 6 months have, however, been a literal rollercoaster ride with a lot of downs and a few ups – so not quite the kind of ride I would recommend.
Things started to split at the seams in December and after a week or two of holidays over the festive season I returned to work confident in my ability to process and deal with whatever was thrown my way. And you know I really thought I was doing just fine. But I had lost my “vooma” at work – I found it increasingly difficult to care about what I did and there was no sense of urgency. I did what I could, and was relatively happy it was ok – to a point. I started putting off tackling tasks that made me uncomfortable, didn’t check my work before submitting so it was filled with all those stupid mistakes you catch when you check. Life at home was crazy as always but I convinced myself I had a handle on it.
After my little episode on September/October I have been seeing a psychologist more or less once a week. The timetable didn’t fit with work so I started trekking through to the deep south on a Friday afternoon battling the rather early rush hour that occurs in Cape Town (I mean honestly do people really finish work by 3pm on a Friday? I don’t usually get out until at least 4:30pm). So I felt pretty confident I was on track to deal with and handle the curve balls life was throwing at me; as well as the slow unpack of “the Suitcase” – you know all the stuff you have never really dealt with but deep inside know you should. And once you start seeing a psychologist it is quite amazing the truths you learn about yourself.
But after a particularly bad week or two of performance from me, my boss sat me down one Friday afternoon and lay it on the table. A really tough meeting to sit in, and left me feeling dreadful, but honestly was the reality check I had been denying myself. I left work for my regular Friday appointment with my quite amazing psychologist and cried the entire way there – a good 45 minutes I might add. I am quite surprised I made it and she was a little taken aback at the state I was in on arrival. An hour later I left feeling a little better and in shock that I had been diagnosed with serious depression.
Monday morning bright and early I headed off to the GP to relook my meds – since having twins in 2006 and suffering from Post Natal Depression, I had been on and off a fairly mild anti-depressant. We increased doses and kept our fingers crossed it would be enough. I was booked off for a few days and then went back to work – not much better but felt I needed to show up and show I was committed to being there. I battled through a week or so before my quite amazing boss took me aside again and quietly suggested a follow up with the doctor or possibly…. a psychiatrist was needed. I cringed at the suggestion – I was not the ill was I? I mean to me a psychiatrist means there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with your MENTAL HEALTH. It takes Depression to a whole new level. Her other suggestion was to take the time off that I needed – I had not been listening to my GP and had been going to work, but not working at nearly the needed capacity at all. And it wasn’t working. For anyone. I was doing more damage than good.
So off to the GP I went, once again weeping in his room, but promising to listen to his recommendation and was booked off for week. I spent a week at home but didn’t feel any better. I had booked a few days leave as the boys and I had arranged to go to Hermanus to visit with a school friend of mine who was down from the UK. I was supposed to check-in with my GP on the Monday and postponed till the Wednesday – something inside me not quite wanting to face up to the fact that I actually was not feeling better at all. In fact the big black hole I was in was growing and the light at the top was getting further and further away and everything felt just so hopeless.
So another trip to my GP, and at this point I must say he is the most amazing doctor who has been extremely supportive, a mid-morning appointment so I had left a message for my friend to say I would probably leave for Hermanus later that her. You know, when your GP tells you he would like to book you into a clinic for 3 weeks and has spoken to your psychologist, your world starts to crumble before your very eyes. The pillars that held my world together had, over the past year been knocked down one by one and my last pillar had just taken a serious beating. It was like being smacked across the face as someone screamed at me “you are REALLY REALLY ill”. He also recommended a psychiatrist and made a call for an appointment while I waited. As it turned out they could see me later that day.
I left the GP holding it all together and tried to get my head around the fact that in an hour or two I would be seeing a PSYCHIATRIST!!! I got to my car and called my friend to say it looked like I would be leaving CPT much later and would see her in Hermanus – except I didn’t manage to get past “hi” before I erupted into a sobbing heap. I managed, choking through tears, to give her a quick update as I started to hyper-ventilate and she sternly told me to get my ass to her house – NOW. I am not quite sure how I managed to drive there, tears flowing, partially hyper-ventilating and feeling like I might just disappear off the end of the world – but I did. And had my first ever panic attack. And let me tell you it is no laughing matter – you cannot breathe, you limbs go numb, you can barely speak or think, and your head starts to spin. It is at times like these you count your blessings and honestly my friends are amazing – chamomile tea, breathing excersices, telephonic encouragement. I had to call Bjorn to tell him what had happened and he was adamant I would not be going to Hermanus in my current state. He was right, and I asked him to drive me to my next appointment.
With great trepidation we set off – very little talking in the car – understandably as he didn’t quite know what to do or say. And honestly, if you have never suffered from depression, it impossible to understand or relate.
So this is how March started for me – and how I spent my birthday – in a big deep black hole that almost consumed me… I will continue my saga (and oh my hat it does so feel like a saga) on another post…