Today marks the three year anniversary of my breakdown which two weeks later led to my severe treatment resistant depression. I anticipated the date was coming up and put considerable thought into how I wanted to spend the day. I thought about a celebration lunch but I didn’t think my family could cope with that, so I took a laid back approach. When you’ve been through an event such as a mental health breakdown it is so traumatic. Thankfully time has faded some of my feelings and the slow but necessary journey of healing has begun.
So, I spent the morning practicing Modern Calligraphy and contentedly splattering ink all over my hands. It filled my sense of wellbeing no end. I stayed in my pyjamas all day and ironically had to go to a chemist to get medication to stop me having further breakdowns. So cheers to that. I went for a long drive with my Mum, my biggest supporter through this whole ordeal and I realised I’ve never actually verbalised just how much i LOVE driving!!!!! It is the best feeling of freedom and I swear music sounds 1000 times better blaring from the car stereo!! I still use cds lol.
I had a minor upset during the day with someone in my family commenting on me being overweight. WHY aren’t we talking about this people? Why don’t we talk about the fact that some anti-depression tablets can make the average female gain 40 kgs. For anyone reading this Do you know how DISTRESSING this is??? I resent those sideways glances with people looking at me as though I ate myself fat. I myself resent the fact that I eat moderate mostly healthy meals yet I look ready for The biggest loser. Having your IMAGE and IDENTITY changed without having any control is gobsmackingly painful. I’ve lost my beauty, I’ve lost my career and I’ve lost my energy levels all thanks to depression. Is there anybody out there who has experienced any of this? I hope not but at the same time I don’t want to be alone in this. So yes, 3 years is significant to me. 3 years……….
Hey everyone! How’s life treating you? I sincerely hope that you are all well. I’ve been really well lately and had a real sense of contentment and wellbeing. I have to say that I have achieved this through my newfound love of painting/dabbling in Watercolours and a passion for calligraphy. My schedule has also been pretty full. This means I’ve really been enjoying life to the max. Well that was up until yesterday…..
I woke up feeling on edge and quite moody. I really don’t like the days when I have to visit my psychiatrist. He’s a nice enough guy, I just don’t like the reminder that I’m actually in need of one!! So my appointment came and went but this time we discussed my diagnosis. I immediately began to cry, I just don’t believe it, I said. He gently began to explain why. I left feeling terrible and my quest for truth began on the internet……
On Instagram I posted that I was finding it hard to accept, people posted that I’d feel better about it in a week so I’m waiting for that time to pass and looking for any indication that my feelings are beginning to change. I read a good article on WebMd that gave me more understanding and I’m starting to wonder if the medication I loathe taking so much has actually given me stability in my life to prevent any relapses.
I just feel so strongly that if I accept this label, then I’m losing my own self identity and any hope for the future. I’m more than a diagnosis, I am me. Me with a hope and a future, not this individual with limited potential. I always felt I had unlimited potential……. I’m not going to let a medical diagnosis take that away from me.
So hey, I’m Tam. I had a relatively normal life up until three years ago when I was diagnosed with Severe Depression. I’ve gone from crying and sleeping all day to being able to interact with others and trying to reach out to fellow sufferers. I have my own family, being the parent of an almost twenty something and a younger one as well. My husband works full time and is my carer too.
I like to post on Instagram about depression in the hopes that I could inspire someone else, to encourage someone that I’ve had the worst depression but I’ve been able to find ways to enjoy my life as well. I’m not cured but life is certainly much more enjoyable now than it has been over the past couple of years. I definitely want to get that across.
It’s also possible to have depression and to try new things. This year I decided I did not want to be isolated anymore, so I joined two community classes. I was pleased to join in with a group for a short space of time, where my depression wasn’t the main focus. It was so liberating, I felt so free (and nervous) and I found interests that have become passions.
Watercolour painting is the main passion that I now have. Being able to share it in a group of friendly people has been so wonderful. I’m an absolute beginner and I am learning from scratch, but when I glide that paintbrush across the paper, I see beauty, hope and wonder. In that moment I am free, I am myself without the depression, just me. I’m surprised that my art is simplistic, optimistic and pure innocence. After the darkness I have endured, it truly is a gift. An escape, a true vacation from my problems……
Do you remember old passions that you used to enjoy but depression has tarnished? I do. I used to be a keen cupcake decorator, complete with a signature swirl, so much so I had my own business, just a hobby on the side and it really floated my creative boat.
Well recently, a friend and I decided that we would do a cake decorating course to make a smooth crisp Edge with fondant icing and a rice paper flower. We were in! The day arrived and would you believe an hour into class there was a blackout! Yep no electricity on a gloomy Australian day! We persisted with what daylight we had available to us but it was very limiting!!
Ganaching is a term for getting many layers of icing around the cake to make the outside of the cake. I thought this was a one time exercise but no, we must have ganached this cake eight times by the time we were through, standing above the cake, standing below the cake, it truly is an art form and to be honest it was one I was out of shape for. I required so much of the cake demonstrators time to help me that I joked it was ‘our cake’ because truly it was!
Just when I thought the torture was over we had to roll out the fondant and go through the process of smoothing it onto the ganached cake. I sat down to put piping gel onto my cake when all of a sudden I had the sensation of falling. My chair had been pushed backwards. Phew, my cake and I were both saved.
The instructor guided me to place the fondant on my own cake and I let her do the rest. My body was exhausted, I’d reached my limit, I wanted to crawl back into my bed and have some escape from this cake. When I excused myself from the class the instructor handed me a cake box, an unmade cake box. I left it behind as my cake and I ran away into the night. I was over it, so OVER it!!! I vowed that I would never ganache a cake again, I’m closing the door on cake decorating forever. I am DONE………
I never knew after depression hit me so hard and so fast that I would get to this point where I have some choices I can make about my life again. Simple, small straightforward choices that seem to be becoming a stepping stone for me to build my life upon again. Have you seen this place, where your up on a mountain top and the clouds are so close but you can look around and see there are some choices.
I’m learning about Art, Watercolours Painting, Lettering, Modern Calligraphy. I’m learning about the kind of person I want to be and role modelling that to my children. Depression doesn’t allow that for large periods of time, my energy lasts for small bursts of time only.
There are opportunities that I never dreamed would present themselves, like mentoring and inspiring on Instagram, researching safe encouraging quotes and getting to lift up those I see around me, those in my life who I never would have met without depressions cruel grip. I’m starting to see there could be a future for me after all I’d thought was lost. Could there be hope for you too? I’m certain there is, Dream with me….
That’s It, I cried. I can be a slave no longer to this hideous addiction. Like David Bowie in tights, his massive hair styled to be the envy of any porcupine. I watch myself, like Sarah in the Labyrinth, I remember those last few crucial words ‘you have no power over me’. My battle is with my beautiful friend Coca Cola. Since I started to become more well in my depression journey I found that I needed something that could constantly be with me. People leave and get busy, they get schedules and fall ill and cancel plans. But Coca Cola doesn’t. I don’t know how I subconsciously made this decision, but I did and it saw me drinking two yes TWO litres of Coca Cola EACH day. You’ve heard how people who are addicted to over the counter medications, well they go pharmacy shopping. When you have a Coca Cola addiction, you go Supermarket shopping, well that’s what I did. I was so embarrassed about how much I needed this drink, that I only ever purchased five 2 litre bottles at a time. I’d often have my best friend and my Husband out buying for me too. I even had my best friend contact me each time there was a special in the local supermarket so I could scurry on down there and get me some delicious cold caffeine. We’re talking long term too, I think this has been going on for two years. Well this week I decided NO MORE. I did not want to HAVE to go down to the shops to purchase it, I’d already researched a flavoured water that I really liked but it would cost me double the price of Coca Cola. So down to the store I go on this Sunday morning and I buy myself about 5 litres of flavoured water and 3 six packs of bottled water. (I have a thing about tap water). I actually managed for two days but I found I was missing the fizz and the flavour. I acted very maturely but when a friend invited me out to dinner at Hungry Jacks I was beside myself, the standard drink is a Coke! It was heavenly, oh my gosh I really missed it so much but I promised myself I would remain on the flavoured water and water bottles that I had purchased. I’m not going to stress myself out if I have one drink of Coca Cola here and there, its still so much better than the amounts I was drinking up until now. So thankyou for listening to my strange little addiction, feel free to share yours in the comments.
SO, I have just finished writing a letter that is like a sword slaying all my dragons at once. I am so brave (in theory) and I think I’ve been pretty tactful about what I have to say. I feel like I’ve got some pretty good ammunition at the moment as I’ve been attending regular counselling and another group focusing on all of the emotions, yep I think I’ve got this one in the bag. The only thing I don’t have any control over is the person receiving this letter, all I know is what my counsellor told me, people without boundaries have heightened reactions and tend to go all over the place, crossing the boundaries as they go. But I know the time has come, I’ve tried to set polite examples, I’ve tried in SO many ways to get my message across, it’s just not working. This time I seek the armor of the written word.
I’ve questioned myself why exactly NOW is the time and I think I’ve had an epiphany. All of the stress and the toll it is taking on my body is just not worth it anymore. The price is too high a price to be paid. I want my life back, as much of it as I can handle, I don’t have time for conflict anymore in my life. There are some really tricky relationships to be worked out, things that I may not be able to solve on my own, somethings or some people that I may need to avoid for now. I wonder just how many heads my dragon has on it, could I like Merlin the Magician face this head on and reign triumphant after I have conquered it. I wait expectantly…….