World Health Day 2017

I’ma just leave that ^ right here.. sometimes, I think, it can be even more important. I am physically fit, healthy and able (mostly), and yet, if my mental health isn’t up for it, then all of the physical health crumples too.
Today is #WorldHealthDay – with the focus on #depression – and so… time for another blog!
As always, depression never feels like the right word to describe that black cloud hanging over you for no reason. I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have said to me – or my husband – “Karen doesn’t look depressed” or “but you have SO much/you’re SO lucky” … you get the gist, right?!
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because anxiety is my biggest problem, sitting alongside as depression’s BIGGER, brattier, harder-work sibling.. BUT, what exactly does depression look like?! Seriously! Before reading the rest of this blog, comment what you expect depression to look like in a person; I am honestly keen to know.
Do you expect me to turn up to a birthday/wedding/house warming/hen do/child’s christening dressed all in black with tears streaming down my face?! I cannot even begin to express how much I 100% HATE how often I do cry. I try my best to not, but it happens, a lot. (Although generally these days in the surroundings of Doctors/Nurses/Therapists.. at least they’re half expecting/trained for it..!) It washes over me like a tidal wave for absolutely no frigging reason whilst I’m in the middle of a conversation [with anyone] and suddenly there I am going beetroot red/purple, fighting and blinking back the tears welling up in my eyes, loosing my train of thought and ending up being handed a box of tissues, seemingly constantly. I feel like an over-sized baby. Generally, I seriously try to avoid this happening – particularly in public! How many people do you actually see, “depressed” and walking around in public in tears?? Not many, right? What about him? Or her? Or that child over there? Or that 90-year-old? Race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion; mental health illness doesn’t discriminate. Personally, I find it {my own crying} embarrassing. I sure-as-hell wouldn’t know what to do if I came across someone crying, or if someone broke down in front of me like I so often do to them.. And the worst part of those tears that are associated with “depression”? It’s normally anxiety that causes them in me..
And, I know. Believe me I know. I know how damn “lucky” I really am. I guess I wasn’t born into that surname for no reason, eh!! I have a generally all round brilliant life. The best, most supportive husband, family, friends (having dwindled out those who aren’t really..). I am {reasonably!} fit, and mostly {physically} healthy. I can see, speak, listen, smell, think, read, run, dance, learn, live, breathe, travel and do on a daily basis… if my mind allows.
All of this doesn’t make me feel any better. Telling someone how lucky they are or how they don’t “look” depressed simply adds this kind of “guilt” pressure and, for me, when I am left alone to think (often) then it gets to me and makes me feel worse and worse until in the end it’s spiraled out of control; and I end up at utter breaking point. And I do get to breaking point. I have, I really have. Several times. Almost 20 years of guilt carried around on my shoulders. Years of self-punishment; starving myself, making my self sick (even swallowing a small amount of bleach in a desperate bid to make myself sick; my crime? I ate an apple), over-exercising, over-dosing on laxatives, cutting myself, and all for what? For some brief relief and element of “control” over myself, but years of further pain; knee pain, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, insomnia. And the worst, the one I can’t just battle through and live with; infertility pain. I’ve asked it before, and I’ll ask it again, but for anyone that thinks this is a choice; why would you choose to suffer like this?
I am no longer “tiny”, and I miss it. Boy, do I miss it. I look over old photos of my tiny waist, tiny boobs, thinner, toned, legs and thigh-gap thighs, smaller bum, flat stomach, thin arms, prominent collarbones, hip bones and sometimes even rib bones and I miss looking like that. I miss the scales saying my “magic” number. I miss being told I have “no {brown} fat” by my [wedding] dressmaker. I miss being the smallest, tiny, invisible. Because that feeling of invisibility makes me feel better about how often I am overlooked/called the wrong name/forgotten about/left out/alone. I feel very much like I am only managing the (healthy, very healthy, “must stay at this weight” [thanks, doc]) weight that I am now just so that I can conceive, and yet, still not conceiving no matter what meds I seem to be given.. No matter if I run or don’t run, eat sensibly, R E L A X…
I now spend a lot of time alone. And on those days that are increasingly becoming more common – when I actually want to see and engage with people – it makes me miss Clarks and working full time like that. But deep down I know, I remember (because I was), that I was surrounded by people there yet feeling more alone than I do when I am physically alone now. And yet being alone is scary, it allows me time to think, which can be dangerous in plummeting myself back into that spiral of utter panic; anxiety with depression. And yet, on better days, even I wonder what all the fuss is/was about. Even now, I find this blog harder to write; the sun is shining, I’m on a small amount of medication for my mind, I am undergoing therapy, I am eating well and running really well; I am excited for events to come. I struggle now, to think back to those bleak days that I last fought only a few months ago. And it can be quite a scary place to reside; you feel fantastic, but after the first few times of it happening, you start to almost not be able to enjoy that feeling of happiness and feeling “high”, because you worry for when the negative thinking and behaviors will return, because they will, they always do.  But I cling on to memories. I over-take photographs and I look back on them fondly; it makes me sad for life gone, but reminds me of life and more excitement to come… So sorry, not sorry for the oversharing/posting 😉
I really thought – I was convinced in fact – that at the ripe old age of 26/27 (when I was wedding planning/got married) that we had whittled out all the fake friends. People that wouldn’t be there for us but seemed to expect us to be there for them. I was wrong. Really wrong, and it will probably always annoy me that those people got to be guests at our beautiful wedding. The “best wedding ever” (& that quote is from a friend, not either of us, although we believe it to be true!)
I just don’t understand people. I will go out of my way to help, to be there, to do anything I can and fight your corner (unless you’re in the wrong, in which case, I’ll let you know). And I have never asked or expected anyone to give me the world. I’ve never asked anything of anyone, but I guess a tiny part of me thinks – hopes – that if I’m there for you, you’ll be there for me… I guess not.
Sometimes, I just don’t know what to think, or what to feel. People really mess with your emotions and it’s outrageous. A subject of being “overlooked” comes up consistently in my therapy sessions, and it is so, so true. For my entire life I am constantly overlooked. From doing readings at assemblies, for being picked in sports teams, from accidentally being called “Kate” or “Lucy” or anything other than my actual name. From sitting down with me as a child/teenager/adult with my teachers/colleagues/friends/family and getting to the real bottom of why I constantly resort to harming myself one way or another. To desperately reaching out to therapists only to be turned away, or worse; forgotten about once again. Blood tests missed. “Friends” letting me down or cancelling on me last minute or finding something better to do.
It all adds up, and meanwhile, that girl(/boy) that you think has everything, is surrounded by infinite walls of loneliness. All the love in the world to give, to be, to do, to make a difference, but no longer the energy to keep constantly getting rejected.
So, depression. This is my account. Everyone is different. We are all different; it is part of the beauty of the world in which we live. But depression is not a choice. It isn’t something that you “had once for 8 weeks”. It doesn’t go away. You learn to manage it. To live with it as best you can. As you start to understand your own experience, you begin to realise what works for you; you do what you can to make yourself feel happier, be it eating a certain way (3 decent meals/6 small meals/more vitamins/vegan/vegetarian/etc.) exercising a certain amount/at a certain time of day, or even just a certain exercise (guess what, mine’s running 😝🤣!!), taking medication, undergoing therapy. All of which I have done, and continue to do. It isn’t easy, but it appears to be an ever-increasing problem as we create more and more generations. We aren’t really sure why, but it is, but we can work with it, we can manage it, and we can live with it if we just take some time to understand, listen and, always; be kind. 💖
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