Struggling Simone

by Renee Greenland

The “funny” thing about depression is that it never stays the same! Why can it not just stay the same?

I like to think to myself that I would be ok if it wasn’t for the ups and the downs! Like a roller coaster (side note: I HATE roller coasters).

I have had depression for so long I don’t even remember what it was like before.

I had all I ever wanted

I think I was okay with my daughter. I LOVED motherhood. I was never the kind of girl who was over ambitious and needed a career. All I ever wanted to be was a mom and a wife, and there she was . . . perfect in every way!

Until month four when I fell pregnant again. How the freaking hell?!

Non-stop morning sickness and a baby. What fun! (insert sarcasm)

After my son came it was a juggle. But I was happy. I coped. And then I had off days and was put on my first anti-depressant.

Then we moved countries

A year later we moved countries. I was alone, no family, no friends, nothing but two small kids and a husband who worked. I masked it all and lasted a while on that dose. BUT then . . . and there is ALWAYS a but!

After a while things got stressful again. I started drinking. I started taking sleeping pills just to switch off. And then I fell pregnant again!

Hello baby number three. Oddly enough my hormones seemed to balance. I didn’t take anything during this time and I was okay.

Then I went back home for awhile

I returned home to South Africa and had my son.

Then did a 12 hour road trip back to our home in Botswana. All battling mastitis and I was overwhelmed.

Thankfully we had help around the house but I ended up leaning on her more and more. I would sleep all morning and let her see to the baby. I’d wake up in time to fetch my older two children and then get back into bed. It was a vicious cycle.

I slipped back into drinking and taking anything to give me a buzz.

Then I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital

In 2012, a year after my son was born, I went to South Africa to see family and a psychiatrist.

She took one look at me and admitted me to hospital . . . a psychiatric hospital. I just wanted to go home and be with my baby. He was just over one.

I had to be weaned off my old anti-depressant and started and monitored on my new one. It worked.

I saw a psychologist everyday and a psychiatrist every other day. I said all the right things, smiled and made all the right movements. I was released and allowed home.

Depression took its toll on my kids, on my husband, on my life!

The kids and I moved again

We left Botswana after 5 years. I left broken, tired and drained. But being home was amazing. I had my family and my friends. My kids thrived.

After a year of commuting for work, my husband resigned and came home. I started studying and was seeing a psychologist once a month.

Life was good but . . . always the but!

My doctors decided I could come off the meds. I was weaned off gradually.

I started studying, something I had always wanted to do more of, but my husband was home and in my space 24/7. My health wasn’t the best and everything just built up until I lost it.

The breakdown

I had a breakdown one day and locked myself in a room. I wanted to die. I didn’t want my kids to see this and go through this again. They had been through enough and would be better off without me!

I went straight back onto my meds. I went to see my doctor and she agreed it was the best.

I felt myself again. I started studying again and I loved it. I started working out and looking after myself. I got involved with my kids school. I felt like myself. I felt like Simone for the first time in years.

And then another move

Our country was getting worse and we made the decision to immigrate for the sake of our kids.

I’m okay while I’m busy and I’m distracted. Setting up home definitely distracted me. Making sure my kids were settled and happy. Setting up home for my husband (I’m odd like that). I cleaned, I painted, I decorated . . . I was super woman.

One year on and I’ve done my job! My house is a home. My kids are semi-settled. My husband is thriving at work. But what about me?

I wasn’t thriving. I was barely showering. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I had to find a new psychiatrist and start all over.

He took one look at me and said my dose had to go up immediately. I went on the highest dose of venlafaxine/effexor that I had ever been on in over nearly 10 years.

I was a nervous wreck but it worked . . . kind of. Can it kind of work?

My constant struggle

I’m tired lately. I’m wondering what my role in life is? Am I just the cleaner/cook/dishwasher/taxi? What happened to Simone again?

I put A LOT of pressure on myself. I know I do but I don’t know how to stop it.

People are trying to involve me in things and all I want is be left alone. I have NO motivation to do it. I feel unworthy. I feel like my feet are stuck on those sticky fly traps or in concrete.

This is my constant DAILY struggle. I feel judged. I feel like I let people down. I feel tired and I feel alone.

But isn’t that what depression really is? Its EVERY emotion . . . all the time and not knowing how to switch off and differentiate between.

This is my mask. This is my life . . .


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