I was drowning and didn’t realise it

by Renee Greenland

My depression the first time

I’ve had depression before, when I was about 27, but that time was different. The ‘sign’ that made me seek professional help was the crying, and I mean sobbing, for no real reason. It felt like I was sad/unhappy when I should’ve been relatively happy. I had a great boyfriend, I loved working for myself as a graphic designer, I had an amazing support network … why was I crying over nothing?

I went to my GP and filled out the little How Depressed Are You? questionnaire and the numbers said I was mildly depressed. So my GP suggested I focus on three things. Exercise, healthy diet and good sleep. That was manageable and seemed to work because after a few months I felt like the real me was back.

Back then, I don’t think I told any of my friends about my depression. I thought depression was a sign of weakness, so I held onto it and tried really hard to not let anyone see what was going on.

My depression the second time

This time however, I wasn’t crying for no reason. I was moody, angry, unhappy and apparently, a real bitch to be around. Everyday I woke up feeling like this and it physically felt like a heavy fog was sitting in the front of my head.

I would snap at my boys for the smallest of things, I dreaded going to social events and would try to get out of them if I could, I stopped answering my phone and replying to texts, I avoided Facebook . . . seeing everyone’s highlight reels was depressing. I was completely isolating myself.

It wasn’t until my mum told me, with tears in her eyes, that My Silver Fox was calling her with worry about me, did I finally decide to seek professional help . . . again!

I was drowning but thought I could save myself

Looking back, my depression felt like I was walking into the ocean, fully clothed (a symbol for the weight of my life). As I walked out, my clothes became heavier, the water got deeper. But I was okay because I could still see the shore, my feet were still touching the sand and I could turn around to safety if I needed to.

At the time when Mum and My Silver Fox became concerned about me, I was in deep and struggling to keep my feet on the ground. I was bobbing up for air with my clothes dragging me down. “If I could just get my feet back on the ground, I’ll be okay.”

My Silver Fox saw me struggle and swam out to save me. Thanks goodness for life guards . . . they see the danger before the we do!

Getting the diagnosis

When I went to my GP this time, I burst into tears when I told her I thought I was depressed again. Why? Negative thoughts were sprinting through my head . . . “You’re not good enough. You’re not strong enough. You’re a failure. You’re a terrible mum for the way you treated your kids. You’re a terrible partner for putting My Silver Fox through all that worry.”

The little How Depressed Are You? questionnaire revealed I was moderately depressed. Meaning more depressed than last time. So my GP and I decided that medication and counselling was the best course of action this time. And as I drove myself home, I balled my eyes out again. I was really sad about being depressed.

But getting the diagnosis of depression was a bit of a relief to be honest. Depression is an illness . . . one that people can recover from. There’s hope and it’s just a matter of time before things will start to get better.

My ‘Crazy Pills’ Sister

One thing I was grateful for at the time, and even now, was the support and friendship with my new BFF. She’s another Work At Home Mum with two boys of similar ages to mine. She was a couple of months ahead of me with the whole medication and counselling regime so I was able to ask her loads of questions about her experience and we were able to compare notes.

“How many pills are you on? How long did it take for you to start feeling better? What did Mr BFF say when you told him you were depressed?”

I remember when we met up in person after my diagnosis and she said, “So, apart from the crazy pills . . . what’s been happening?” And it was that light-hearted approach that made me breath easy. Yes depression is a serious illness but I don’t have to take it seriously all the time.

Depression is different for everyone

I think depression feels different for everyone. For me, there is no particular trigger . . . just a slow walk into the ocean with the shore getting further and further away. This time I was lucky to have my life guards watching me closely, seeing me struggle and grabbing my hand to pull me up as I was going under.

I truly hope you have your own life guard on patrol and keeping you safe. If not, please reach out. You don’t have to do this alone!

How would you describe your depression?

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