TRIGGER WARNING –
Depression and associated thoughts.
Please do not continue reading this post if these subjects might be a trigger for you.
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A warm welcome to all who have stopped by 😊
I have been sitting here and staring at my blank computer screen for far too long, I want to write about life as a writer with chronic illness... it is just so hard to know where to start.
So, I will go with the good old ‘at the beginning’.
A side note: My brain and my fingers do not seem to want to connect today but I will just jump in and see what happens (forgive me if it does not all make sense).
'At the beginning' would take us back many years, when I was living in my hometown in New Zealand. The colds that were long and seemed to be attracted to me. The hives, the chest and ear infections, the viruses and people who told me that if I simply ate healthier and blew my nose more I 'would be all good’.
These were my first symptoms of Chronic Illness. At the time, it seemed that I just got sick a lot. I had no idea (and neither did my doctor) that it was in fact the start of a huge challenge in my life.
Chronic Illness … two small words but something that causes such mayhem; something that causes pain beyond what I thought I would ever feel. They are also two words, giving a short (very short) description of something that would and does challenge me and many others. It frustrates, upsets and angers me but it also empowers and has helped me to grow in so many ways.
Since my first symptoms, so many things have happened. My mother passed away and my best friend for many years (my grandfather) passed away. There are of course other events, but I won't list them here. Everybody has 'things' right?
As well as the above, I moved to a different country ( :O )
Moving was the event that really changed my perspective for the better, taught me many lessons and helped me along the path to were I am now. That change was the one I needed the most. If I had not taken then huge leap of faith, I would not be here now.
Where am I now? I am the hot, cold, wind, sun, rain and stormy Melbourne, Australia. I live with good friends and I have many other friends close by and all over the world. Many of them I would never have met, had I not had these illnesses thrust upon me by… the universe?
I am grateful for my best friend who helped me to see that life could be better, that I needed to do things for myself and that if I took that first step (or many), I would have support, no matter how bad things got.
I stepped off the first plane that I had ever been on, after crying the entire flight, and sure enough... things changed (weather included and boy oh boy is the weather different here).
Things changed for good and for… not so much.
I have been in Melbourne since 2010. I still get a bit overwhelmed when I realise just how long ago it was.
Not long after I arrived in Australia, I faced my first big challenge. It is something that I believe everybody who can, should talk about. It is the only way the stigma of this illness will begin to dim.
I was depressed when I arrived. That only got worse as time went on.
Perhaps it was the trauma of leaving those I love so much; although I knew it was the best thing for all of us.
Perhaps it was my mother, my grandfather and other people passing away.
Everyone makes mistakes at some point and some of us, make even bigger mistakes. Perhaps there was guilt and regret in there too.
Perhaps it was moving to another country and/or being unsure how to cope.
Or maybe it was situations that I had been in, things I could not control but had left a lifelong impact on me.
Perhaps (I vote for this one) it was a mixture of everything. I arrived in this new country and finally everything hit me like a 20-tonne truck.
I spend many days in bed with the curtains closed, my thoughts going to places that no one wants to be visiting. It felt like I was stuck in a black hole. Hot, sad, angry and falling. Falling so far down into this hole, that it felt like it would never end and that if it did, I would be stuck in a crumpled, miserable heap at the bottom.
Some days, I was able to do things, to function and convince most people that all was okay (all except my very observant best friend). Other days, I could not raise my head off the bed and just wished for it to end.
I eventually figured out that the longer I stayed under my rock, the worse it got.
I started to drink. At least I was out of the bed, right?
I was attempting to not remember things, to not feel like me for a while. Boxed wine (disgusting stuff) was my choice. It was cheap, it came in a huge box and was always available at the supermarket just five minutes’ walk from where I lived.
When you are depressed, it can feel like the darkness will never end. All your memories, feelings, actions, regrets and guilt and a bucket load of horrible, horrible stuff closes in on you, draping you in a thick, heavy, dark, hot blanket of …. crap.
Not all my thoughts were ‘real’ and were not actually things that were a problem. My creative brain added these thoughts to the mix, but it all felt very real at the time and it was hard to separate them from all the other ‘stuff’ swirling around my head.
It can be hard to throw the blanket of nasty away; to climb out from under it.
It was hard.
I needed help.
but I did it.
It took my best friend coming into my room, dragging me out of the bed, putting me in the car and driving me to her GP to finally get out from under that thick, fog of pain and darkness.
I ... was... so... angry with her.
I refused to get out of the car. At the time, I felt that she should have just left me in the bed to wallow in my own thoughts and misery.
I got out of that car and made it as far as the door, I stood outside the GP surgery for a long time. Silently spewing and hating life.
Eventually, I did go inside. I was still angry with my friend but deep down I knew that this was long overdue, that it was something that I HAD to do if I was going to make it to my next birthday. It was that bad.
Still stewing like a soup in a pressure cooker, I sat in that doctor’s office and listened as the GP told me that I was depressed and went through all the things that come with that kind of a conversation. I was pissed. I would not take medication; I would not see a psychologist. I was going home for a glass of wine and my bed.
At home, I got another wake up call. One that now, I realise I needed. The same best friend who had dragged me to the doctor, who had put up with all my … up until this point was the person to give me that wake up call. After a few fierce arguments and long talks, I poured that wine down the sink and I began to take the prescribed medication.
It was a slow recovery; a slow climb from the bottom to the surface. With help, I finally broke the surface of the thick mud and was able to look around properly and see just how lucky I am.
I did go to the psychologist. Well, I gave it a go.
It didn’t work out as I was not comfortable with the person I was sent to see
(it happens, and it is okay).
Luckily for me, I had my best friend (let’s call her A, just for privacy).
There were many heartfelt and raw chats during this time and we still have them all this time later. Bucket loads of tears, plenty of arguments and many long nights as she sat with me, calming me down after I woke from yet another nightmare.
I will forever be grateful to her for the love and support she has given me over the years and still does. I hope that one day I will be able to let her know, just how much I appreciate her and everything she has done for me.
This post is getting long, so I will leave it there for now, but I will be back and will continue this post and share as much as I am able, my wish is that it will help somebody, somewhere know that they are not alone.
with love and light always x x
I was blessed to have my best friend to help me through some of my darkest days but I am aware that not everybody has that.
You can be sure that I will be back with another post and will pick up where I am leaving off.
I think it is important that people hear about experiences like their own.
Someone out there in the big wide world might need to hear about/read this and be told that they are not alone.
If you need to hear this, please bookmark and come back to read everything again, especially the below.
It can get better. It will not always be this hard and this dark. Find somebody, anybody who you are comfortable with and say to them ‘I don’t feel good and need someone to talk to’.
Start slow, just a sentence, share just one thought at a time.
You can do it; you can feel better than you do right now.
It takes time.
It will hurt and it will be hard; there might be many tears, but you will get through.
If you feel that you do not have anybody to talk to, send me a message or reply to this blog post with your email address. I am always here and willing to lend a shoulder/ear/time.
YOU are important, YOU are special and you are wanted.
Lifeline Australia- 13 11 14
Lifeline NZ- 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE)
Lifeline NZ- Free text 4357 (HELP).