Dwarfed By Life

I have suffered from depression for about as long as I can remember.  But things really came to ahead in 2003 when I was 30, I was going through a divorce, I had 3 young children, was studying full time for a degree in Creative Digital Media, had an alcoholic boyfriend who was also, unbeknown to me, a heroin and crack cocaine addict and I discovered that I was pregnant!  Unsurprisingly I had a full-on nervous breakdown.

But the thing with me is this, when I am at my lowest ebb, in my darkest hour, I wear a mask.  I put on the proverbial 'brave face', paint on that smile and tell the world all is great with me.  I worry about everyone around me, look after them, fuss over them... but nobody had better dare try to break down my defensive walls, they are my barriers and they will remain firmly in place.  No-one had better cross that line and try to get into my head!  You see in my head there is nothing but confusion, darkness, paranoia, self loathing and high expectations of myself.  I believe I should be 'Super Woman', I have to achieve my goals, without anyones help, without confiding in others, no-one is allowed to take care of me because that would show my weakness, others would see how totally and utterly incapable I am to perform even the simplest of tasks.  How bad a mother I am, how terrible a homemaker I am, what a fraud I am, how bad I am, how uneducated I am, how stupid I am, how unworthy I am... So this is what was, and still is, in my head, not at all how others see me; or so they tell me (paranoia always there).  Totally and utterly irrational to a lot of the outside world.

But how do you rationalise the irrational?  How do you make someone, so consumed in the thoughts in their own head, so totally convinced of what they tell themselves, to see clearly when they refuse to talk to you?  When they totally cut themselves off from the outside world, friends and family?  When even their nearest and dearest don't know what the hell is going on?  You see thats exactly what I did.  I found out I was pregnant, by the addict ex-boyfriend, and something just snapped.  I was totally distraught and ashamed, I couldn't talk to anyone, I wouldn't see anyone.  I stopped eating, lost weight and told no-one I was pregnant.  I ate laxatives like sweets, prayed I would miscarry, my state of mind so bad, my shame so heavy I couldn't even face my doctor.  And so after eight and a half months I gave birth to my beautiful baby daughter on my own, at home, I cut her cord with sterilised scissors and I cried.  I felt so alone, so scared, so confused and I just wanted to die; for us both to die.  This was no life for her to be born into, a mother who had totally lost the plot and an alcoholic father, and so I phoned social services and I gave my baby up for adoption.  And I just got on with my life...

Until she was five months old and I went to see her for the first time since I had handed her over.  For weeks I had refused to see her, I was on auto-pilot but I knew if I looked at her, held her, smelt her, kissed her, cuddled her, just breathed the same air has her, I would crumble, I wouldn't be able to go through with it... and I was right, because in a rare moment of 'rationality' I agreed to see my angel.  And it was like a dream come true, she had grown so much, so beautiful, happy and content.  My heart weeped as I handed her back to her carer.  My sweet little girl who had grown inside me.  When I got home I cried and cried and then I picked up the phone and told my social worker I couldn't go through with it.  Within 4 weeks my darling daughter was home with me but I had to go through many hearings and court dates to get there and through it all my mask stayed firmly in place.  No-one offered me counseling, sent me for a psychiatric report, really asked why a 30 year old mum of three would suddenly conceal a pregnancy and then give the child up, no-one could see how fragile I was, how I was mearly taped together, how my world was crashing around my ears.  No-one really questioned how I was to tell my family of this 6 month old child they knew nothing about.  Even my family chose not to push the issue, not to really question me, though they were clearly worried, no-body knew how to get me to open up.  They welcomed the new addition with open and loving arms.  And so once more I got on with life. 

I was trying to pretend nothing unusual or out of place had happened.  Trying to act normal, keeping life together, while all the time knowing how bad a mother I am, how terrible a homemaker I am, what a fraud I am, how bad I am, how uneducated I am, how stupid I am, how unworthy I am... and now, how evil I am for almost giving up my own child. What kind of person does that, I would ask myself.  And so it was that the more I tortured myself, the more bright and cheery I appeared, the less I would talk to people, and the deeper into myself I crept.  Totally numb on the outside, dying on the inside.  Gradually I became more and more afraid of everyone outside of my little family, just me and my girls.  I wouldn't answer the phone, texts, letters, the door.  If I had to leave the house I would start to panic, I couldn't look at people, felt like everyone was talking about me, staring at me and I felt like I was 'an inch high in the land of Giants.'

After a year I went for a routine appointment at the doctors, I broke down in floods of tears and finally started to let out some of what was in my head.  She responded by putting me on anti-depressants but they made little difference.  For the next four years my medication was swapped and changed, I abandoned my degree through the final year after my step father was killed walking home one night when a car hit him and I sank deeper into myself, cried constantly, tortured myself with my thoughts, dreamed constantly about the accident, ate laxatives to punish myself , then started to stop sleeping afraid of the dreams, and finally felt that I could take no more and wanted to die.  Fortunately for me I had met a man who, for the first time ever, I felt I could trust and really talk to. 

And it is him, and his love and understanding, that I credit with saving me from myself, because in my darkest hour he made me see sense and got me to the doctor, they rationed my medication so I was unable to OD on them, I had to see her every couple of days while they referred me to a psychiatrist. My appointment was fast-tracked, and I finally spoke to someone who could see my torment and offer me help.

And that is where I am now, its very early days, I have a long way to go, so many unresolved issues.  But its a journey I need, and want, to take, my goal is simply to be happy and content.  To enjoy my life and give my children the best that I can.  I recognise I am so privileged to have four beautiful and, surprisingly, happy and grounded young ladies in my life and they are my focus when things seem bleak.  Every day is a struggle to get through and I am still an inch high in the land of Giants, but I am starting to respond to the new medication, and working with various people at the Psychiatric Unit and, for the first time in a long time, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Alabamascalling Alabamascalling
31-35, F
Aug 5, 2007