From Hopeful to Helpless...
Posted by AnissaTaylor
21st Mar 2015

My depression is not a constant state of overwhelming sadness, although it often feels like it is. My depression is the shadow in my peripheral vision, something I see there in flashes, and know can at any time overpower and overwhelm me, laying it's weight on me like a wet wool blanket that smothers the breath out of me. My depression is constant in so much as it will always be there, somewhere, even if I'm happy that day. It can and will come at any time, even if it comes in increments, slowly lowering me until I hit rock bottom.

I started 2015 as hopeful and happy as I have ever been. I work in a job I adore, even if I cannot stand the company I work for and I was finally being put onto my NVQ 3 in childcare. I had started a new and promising relationship. My excessive dental work to fix genetically weak teeth burdened with a lack of oral hygiene for many years (one of those unspoken truths of depression, simple tasks become too hard, and for many hygiene is one thing that hits the sideline) was complete and yes, there was a huge bill but my mother was helping me. I was moving to a larger bedroom in our flat when our very annoying housemate moved out in February. I felt happy, healthy, and able to overcome everything.

But these past three months have kicked me back down. I have still yet to start my NVQ. The last week of January brought the beginnings of tendinitis, and for three weeks I struggled at work with it until the pain became unbearable and I almost dropped a child I was carrying and fell onto another when my foot could not support my weight, so I was signed off for a week. The Monday I returned to work I was wiped out by tonsillitis, and was forced to work through it. I have, so far, been sick for two months without more than a days grace, I have been on a week course of steroids and a ten day course of antibiotics. I was told by my room leader that people prefer working without me, because when I'm not at work the children are better behaved, that it is less stressful, that everything runs better. I have been told that she told another member of staff that I am the cause of her standard of work slipping. I was dumped by the new relationship at the end of February. My mother moved into the flat I live in because we have a free room, so I no longer have any peace or space, she is always, always there, using my bedroom as her own personal living room. And I need space, I need time away from people to recharge and I only get alone time when I sleep. I had £387 deducted from my paycheck for seven days off, and I only received £54 in statutory sick pay this month, so I am so short financially I cannot afford my prescription. I am currently feeling the tendinitis and tonsillitis creeping back. The reality of my debt, the money I owe my family, has struck. £22,000. I cannot afford a car, cannot physically handle a second job, cannot cope.

I started a GoFundMe page to try and crowdsource the money to pay my mother back the £8000 for dentist fees, and so far I have received £5. I cannot be angry about that. There are many more worthy pages out there than mine, and my mind is a sneaky and tricky beast. Potato Salad may have raised a ridiculous amount of money through crowdsourcing, and to many that is unthinkable, and for many attempting to raise money for bills the same way their reaction may be anger that people would be so frivolous, but my brain, the voice of my depression, tells me that every word from every person up until now has been right, I am worthless, and in fact, potato salad is worth more than I am. I cannot be indignant at a lack of help, because my mind tells me that I do not deserve it.

I have walked this tunnel for sixteen or more years. I don't know, and never have known, what the end of it will bring. Will the light at the end of the tunnel be me finally giving in and taking my own life? Will fate stand up and say “Enough is enough. No more.” and take it for me, a driver going too fast, not paying enough attention, and suddenly I am no more? Or will I finally find peace? Will someone be able to love the darkness in me because it makes the light of me that much brighter? Most people cannot handle the dark, it overwhelms them, and I don't think they realise how overwhelming it is for me to live it. People don't realise the battle people with depression and other mental illnesses face is truly a battle. We fight every day, every time we succeed at the simplest task it is a battle won. When people say to us, “Just smile.”, “Have you ever tried not being depressed?”, “It's just a phase.”, “You're just doing it for attention.” we want to shake them, because what they see is only a small fraction of what we face. We place a mask on each day, the face of a 'Normal' person, a happy person, a well adjusted person, and we hope that no-one notices that it's a mask, that it doesn't slip, while at the same time we hope they do, hope it does.

My entire life I have known only one thing: I was meant to have children, to be a mum. It is an overwhelming need, one that is always there and has always been there, to have a family of my own. To raise, and nurture, and inspire my children. To grow them, to birth them, to hold them and love them. So far, I am single, too poor, to do so. So for now I love the children I work with, and hold my emotions in check as best I can with each facebook update that announces a pregnancy, an engagement, the purchase of a home... Anything that I have been unable to do. I try, as best I can, not to crumble at the thought that I am 29 years old and live in a crappy flat share (although I do adore one of my housemates), am single and have almost always have been, cannot afford to buy a house and probably never will... My brain, the thing that has been programmed from years of bullying an abuse to offer me nothing but negativity, spite, hatred, to tell me I am worthless and unlovable and to just give up already, telling me that I will never have any of those things because I do not deserve them, I am not good enough, I will never cradle my own child in my arms, will never plan a wedding or decorate my own home, because I am a pathetic, horrible, waste of space that people cannot bare to be around.

I bounce up and down, my happiness so changeable, and right now I am low. I feel beaten, bruised, and helpless. I don't know how long this will last, how long until things perk up again for a short while. I take my medication, and curse the lack of support for people with mental health issues. I cannot phone in sick when my depression hits rock bottom, when my anxiety is so bad I don't feel I can face removing the cover from my body, so I must lie, place a migraine or vomiting in the place of mental health, because that is something tangible that people can understand. But what happens at times like these? When your illness is tracked, and too much time off can have you fired, but existing is so painful that sometimes you don't know if you even can? What then? You must put on your mask, pull back your shoulders, and try to put one foot in front of the other, struggle through, hope that you don't break or crumble. In my case, hope that you don't cry in front of the children you care for when that straw falls and breaks the camels back.

I was told I needed CBT. I was placed on a waiting list. And I waited, and waited, and waited. Eventually I got a call, answered questions, waited some more. Got another call, and found out that as I cannot afford to take time off work, I cannot get therapy. There is no NHS out of hours therapy near me, everything after a 4pm finish is considered out of hours and on an early shift I work 7.30AM-5.15PM. So out of hours I am. I cannot afford to pay for private therapy. So all of that waiting, it came to nothing. I make my own path now. I fight my depression, my anxiety, my CFS (yes, I know, a lot of people do not believe that chronic fatigue syndrome is a real thing, but it is the diagnosis I have and it has taken me over a decade to get it), my HS, my migraines. I try to be as physically healthy as I can, within my tight budget, in the hopes that it helps my mental health. I make wishlists, I look at houses and cots and wedding dresses. I exist, and I try to do so as well as I can while I fight the broken parts of me.

I am stronger than I give myself credit for, because I am still here. But my strength is not guaranteed, and I don't know how strong I can be or for how long. I know I am not alone in this, I know people will read this and recognise their own existence in it. To those people I have to say, as low as we get, as hard as it is, as broken as we feel, we have to fight through. Most of this reads as a list of complaints, and I know that to some that will annoy, but others will read and say “I didn't know, I didn't realise... This helps explain things.” and that's all I want. The smallest things may knock us down, but we have to try as hard as we can to get back up again and to help each other. If you struggle, contact me. I may struggle myself but I will always, always have time to help others who struggle. So please, if you need a shoulder, use mine.

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