Depression is the worst kind of killer, it corners you at night, or when you are all alone, and eats away any shred of happiness it can find, until there is nothing left but pain and eventually death”
I read this the other day and it’s so true.
It’s been so long since I wrote – I have been fighting a battle that I have been slowly loosing. My grief has slowly been pushed aside, it happened so slowly I didn’t really even notice it happening. It has been joined by something so dark, endless and hopeless, the Dr has called it Passive Suicidal Ideation, PTSD, Depression and Anxiety, I prefer to call it Shit. Looking back now I can see that I slowly started to isolate myself, not talking to our fellow travellers, staying in the caravan while Rod would have a chat, my ‘good days’ became less and less, I started having anxiety when we were towing especially over ranges and windy roads or busy areas. I guess things came to a head when we arrived in Esperance in Western Australia, such a beautiful place but I just couldn’t see that, it stirred no emotion in me at all, when in the past I would have been awe of the beauty of nature, especially coastal landscapes. I cried what felt like days, couldn’t sleep and thought constantly about how it would be to just die, it started as thoughts of that “I don’t really care if I live or die” to thinking things like “I would rather die than live like this” to wondering how I might do it and what the consequences would be for the people I left behind? Who would miss me? Would people understand? Would people call me selfish? Is it selfish to miss your Son so much that you can’t live without him, it hurts so much in your heart that the pain is physical. Although Rod knew I was in enough of a mess that I needed to see a Doctor, he didn’t know about my thoughts about dying at that stage.
I saw a GP in Esperance and broke down in his room and explained everything that had been happening, what I was feeling both emotionally and physically, it was the first time the word suicide was said out loud and it scared the shit out of me. Me – Rachel, bubbly, happy, optimistic, social was ready to throw in the towel. We discussed the fact that I needed to be in one place for some time in order to get the treatment I needed and after talking to Rod we decided to make a run back home to Cairns. The Doctor in Esperance got me started on antidepressant medication and valium to help with the anxiety and panic attacks. It was pretty tough, we drove 6000 km’s in a couple of weeks, I cried a lot, panicked a lot, thought bad thoughts a lot but we made it home to Cairns at the beginning of December.
I went to see our family GP as soon as we got back, what a wonderful young Dr he is, I told him everything and he agreed with the Dr in Esperance however he wanted to change my medication to one he preferred I was happy with, as I wasn’t seeing any benefit with my current medication although it was early days, he also referred me to a mental health organisation who would fund a therapist for me, it was under a ‘suicide prevention programme’, at that time I was classed as a ‘moderate’ suicide risk so things were supposed to happen quite quickly, however by now we were headed into the Christmas period and managed to get in one session with my therapist before everything stopped until the new year, we talked about keeping me alive over the Christmas period so we could get started making me stronger and able to cope, it was a very intense session, I think we were both aware of the fact that Christmas is especially hard time for people who are having a tough time.
Apart from wishing I was dead, my other symptoms include feeling constantly low or flat, never having a good day, not being able to see the beauty in the World, I cry a lot, I don’t really care about anything, I have panic attacks and anxiety when we are driving on certain roads or towing, or around people I didn’t know, I have flashbacks about when I found Charlie or when I saw him in his coffin its like on repeat and just goes round and round and round, its exhausting and so, so sad. I don’t very often go out, I don’t see my friends much, I isolate myself in the caravan because it feels safe. I have put on loads of weight, I drink way too much, I guess I say I medicate with alcohol but some would say I’m an alcoholic as I drink every day.
I have never thought of myself as ‘suicidal’ I just think that I don’t really want to be alive any more, I just decided that life was too difficult. I miss Charlie so much it is almost impossible to think about him without crying, I never think about the good times only when he was already dead. I feel so low, I’m never happy, I hardly ever laugh – surely if I am so utterly broken that I feel I can’t be fixed that it’s perfectly acceptable for me to just let myself go, I get a bit mad when Rod and my Dr and my therapist are fighting so hard to make me want to live, why won’t they just let me go? If I had a terminal illness people would understand and it would be ‘acceptable’ and ‘understandable’ that they want to die but not for me. My Son isn’t coming back so I am never going to get better so to me that means I’m ‘terminal’ too. Rod now knows that I think a lot about about dying and he watches me like a hawk. Saying all that however, I have never tried, haven’t got a plan, haven’t written any notes or decided on a day so I guess that means that I still have a chance of turning this around.,
So now it’s the beginning of February I suppose my medication is starting to work, I don’t feel so low all the time, I had an OK week recently but to be honest that’s the only major change, this week I’m back to feeling lonely, sad, thinking it would be nice to get hit by bus or a bolt of lightning or something similarly fatal. I still prefer to be in the caravan isolated, except for Rod and the pets, I don’t like talking on the phone at all, I make excuses not to see my friends though, now and then I have managed to catch up with some people, there are still roads I won’t drive on or be a passenger in the car, windy or hilly roads mostly, I still find it hard to think happy thoughts or have happy memories about Charlie. Sleeping is a bloody nightmare, I feel tired all the time, and I feel that if this is it then it’s not good enough for me.
My therapist has told me that I will have ‘triggers’ that will bring on more intense feelings of wanting to die and for now my life will be ups and downs that hopefully will eventually become more ups than downs. I trust him when he tells me I’m going to be happy again, I trust him when he tells me that one day life will be worth living, I like, respect and trust him to help get me there. I try to implement the things he tells me and if I’m not ready to try something at least I’m thinking about it. My GP is also awesome, he listens when I talk, he always has time for me and I don’t feel like he is rushing me out of the door, he knows I don’t like taking medication but he explains why I need it for now and I accept that he knows best. Then there’s my amazing Husband, my love, my best friend, my safe place, he also believes that I can get better, he knows why sometimes I want to die and he knows it’s not about me wanting to leave him more about me wanting to leave myself, I have no doubt that he is holding me up and I love him even more because he wants to. Finally I have a friend who gets ‘it’ everything I say he understands, I spend lots of time with him and he says the right thing, understands how I feel and helps me kick on without feeling sorry for me or patronising me, he will be my friend for the rest of my life, hopefully till we are couple of oldies moaning about the price of tinned peas or why you shouldn’t eat out of date food. I am lucky enough to have lots of other friends who I know care for me, I’m just not very good at being a friend at the moment, hopefully they will hang in there for me and will still be there when I come out the other side.
I often feel lonely that there is no one I can talk to about Charlie, I have no family in Cairns or Australia or in the Southern Hemisphere, I don’t have a parent or a sibling or a cousin who I can just pop around to and have a cup of tea and a chat about Charlie. I know I chose to leave the UK and start a new life in Australia but I thought we would be starting a whole new family line here, Charlie would marry and have kids and I would grow old watching him enjoy life, find love, have children, instead I’m here all alone in a place I love with a man I love but with no one who has any long term connection to Charlie. When I try to talk about him the conversation feels so one sided. My Brother, my nieces, my Dad I miss them so much, I wish I could just pop around for a cuppa but I made my choice 16 years ago to leave them and now I have to just try and deal with it. There are also some family members I am estranged from, it bothers me a lot and it takes up a fair bit of my headspace, I won’t go into that now, I’m not here to bag out other people rather just tell my own story.
I have started to do a bit of exercise again, finding the motivation is hard but even if I just go once or twice a week then that’s better than not going at all. I’m also teaching myself Macrame, I like the repetitive action of making hundreds of knots that can turn a piece of cord into something beautiful, it’s also very distracting and I can loose myself in it for hours. But I can’t keep making it, endless amounts of Macrame, I’m too anxious to be around people in order to sell it, I think about selling online but living in a caravan leaves me no where to take decent photos of my work.
So on good days I know I’m going to get better, most days I don’t care either way and on my bad days I wish I could just let go. I can’t believe I’ve ended up feeling like this and to be honest it fucking sucks, I’ve always been a bubbly, glass half full person who generally has ridden the waves of life pretty well, like anyone I’ve had times when I’ve had stress in my life or have felt down but this is totally off the scale, mental illness was really a mystery to me, I knew people who had mental health issues and I thought I understood to some degree how they felt and I guess I was pretty quick to judge at times and I’m sorry for that because now I know I had no bloody idea. We need to talk more about depression, anxiety, suicide and other mental health illnesses, people shouldn’t be treated any differently from someone with a physical illness, if I had a physical illness I wouldn’t feel ashamed, a failure, useless, I wouldn’t be so hesitant to press ‘publish’ on this post.