Yes it seemed that my old friend ‘depression’ had returned – out of the blue!!! I denied it for some time – but I knew all too well that nasty feeling that invades your whole body. I wanted to bury my head in the lounge.
Doug noticed – he said ‘There’s something wrong – you seem to be….. blank!!” I agreed – I felt like a statue. He asked if it was helping going out to the horses. No – even the horses weren’t helping. I knew I was in big trouble. I have taken an anti-depressant/anxiety medication for many years. I had tried many times to reduce the amount – in consultation with the doctor.
When I had my ‘big breakdown’ in the late 90’s, I didn’t take any medication. I had intensive therapy and I gradually found my way back from the depths. However, a few years later I was having some big anxiety episodes – no matter what I did, I couldn’t control them. My heart rate, blood pressure etc. would go through the roof!
Of course, I well knew that anxiety and depression cycle together – like two evil beings out to get you. My doctor suggested medication – I was reluctant – why? – because there was such a stigma about any form of mental illness!!! And shouldn’t I be able to fix it myself?
He said to me “Look – think of it as giving your body a break so it doesn’t have to physically deal with increased anxiety”. I also had a poor genetic history with depression. My parents met while both being treated for depression – back in the 50s! My father died from an anxiety induced heart attack at 43!! It made sense – he told me to think of it as an insurance policy. I took the medication – no side effects – and my quality of life improved dramatically. But I still had this idea I needed to get off them – and I had tried to reduce the dose several times.
I also practised meditation, tried every herbal remedy and other alternative treatments – all to no avail. Meditation was great – when I was meditating!!!
But now, here was depression returning ….. after 15 years…… why???
So it was time to visit my doctor to get help. He told me sometimes that happens and prescribed a different medication – but he also suggested I get some counselling. Oh no!!! Surely I’d had enough counselling to last a lifetime!!! But I agreed it could be a good idea. In Australia we have a good health care system. For chronic conditions like this, I qualify for ten free sessions a year.
I found a psychologist – let’s call her Karen. Sadly – Joy was no longer working in private practice! Karen was upbeat – much different in style to Joy – but very effective. I started talking – said I just felt blank – like I could hardly move. We went through details of what I had been up to. I said I just didn’t understand why it was happening!
I talked about the horrible year visiting Mum in hospital and then the battle with the nursing home – and her eventual death. I also told her I’d had almost two years in intensive therapy so I was very aware of issues from the past. I said I’d had a wonderful year with trips overseas and planning for the horses. I didn’t have much to complain about – so what on earth was wrong with me?
And of course I well knew that was such a classic statement – I have a nice life – so I shouldn’t have this…. Depression doesn’t work on that sort of logic – it is much more complex….
Karen listened to me while I talked about my previous therapy. I told her that during the past therapy I was a teary, emotional mess. This time I just felt like I’d turned into a statue – I was at a loss as to what to do! I didn’t feel like I was still in the grieving process after my mother’s death – but in fact, it turned out that what was going on in my mind was indeed part of the grieving process.
Karen finally said to me ‘Well, this is how I see it after our talks – your mother is dead – but she’s still in your head. You are trying to find a new way to live – to be in the world – now that you don’t have to live like your mother wanted you to”.
She’d hit the nail on the head!!
Oh no! I thought. What tangled web do I have to get myself out of now??? Yes – I had had days where I wasn’t sure how to ‘be’. I felt great relief at not having to watch out for Mum – and I don’t mean just as an elderly person – but how I had watched out for her all my life …… but there was also an emptiness. I knew I didn’t want to go back to how it was – but I didn’t really know how to move forward.
Sigh….. I would have to work my way through this……
COMING UP – GETTING UP AGAIN…
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