So today I step out and get my hair done. Why is this significant?
The reason is twofold. Firstly I have a wedding coming up tomorrow which I’ll blog about on the day and secondly I realised that I’ve been homebound for a month now. When my sister came to visit over the past weekend, we got out a bit which helped. I think her visit with her fiancé helped lift me out the last bit of depression, like that last glorious pull of a cigarette. I don’t smoke, but you smokers make that last puff look irristable.
It’s amazing how depression has this funny way of hitting you at the shins- stopping you dead in your tracks. I spent all my time in bed, only getting up to load washing. I usually have the energy to show off and hang it up as well. I showered when I needed to. I showed love upon request. I felt bad about that. My children love me regardless of that. My eldest knows when I’m about to enter depression and becomes very affectionate. He should know, he knows me all his life. The other day he placed his hand on his chest and then on mine. “What’s that?” I asked. “My heart. I just gave it to you mommy.” The inner part of me melted instantly. Later the evening he pissed me off again but it didn’t matter. I had his heart.
I remember with my hospital stay in March sitting in a general ward sick with the same awful depression. I sat with three other women, all with their own ailments. One lady with pneumonia decided to make small talk and asked what I was in for. I answered her as best I could, “depression.”
“Oh. Yes, that is a thing.”
I didn’t know if I should be offended. I was too depressed to fight my own demons let alone the stigma monster.
She went on to say how brave the lady next to her was because she had cancer. She went on and on. And on some more. Many could argue I was overly sensitive at that time but the what she said made me feel like more of a coward than a fighter. How could I be in hospital when there were people who were braving and losing battles like cancer? She made me feel like what I was going through was nothing compared to something like that. The elderly cancer lady had just had some treatments done and was suffering terribly. She mentioned her husband had also just had his cancer removed. They were like war heroes. And I was wasting good bed space.
Sometimes stigma isn’t loud and obnoxious. Stigma can find it’s way into every day conversation and cause irreparable damage without getting loud. The sting lingers. That’s true stigma. When you afraid of the reaction when you tell people you’re clinically depressed or have bipolar disorder. That negative reaction, whether they intend to or not, stings. Sometimes we’d opt not to have that conversation about mental health to spare us the hurt and embarrassment. I know I do sometimes. When I decided to resign from my last place of work, I didn’t even have an exit interview and no one asked me to stay. That stung. They knew about my mental illness and couldn’t accommodate me because they didn’t want to set a precedent for the other employees. Puh. I think that is stigma. Don’t you? It was too late to make a fuss, but I had other priorities, like a baby that survived major abdominal surgery. I know I was a valuable employee. But I had family and my own mental health to deal with. You see what I did there? I got defensive and felt the need to give reasons for needing to leave. That’s what stigma makes you feel like- you end up scrambling and making excuses to validate what you feel or think because you’re afraid of negative commentary. Another reason why we just opt not to talk about it. Don’t get me wrong. I understand business, but I also understand people. When people are valued they’ll be loyal and add more than just profits to your business. That’s what I know. And that’s what I’ll bring to the next company I choose to join. But that’s next year’s worries.
When we employed my nanny, my hubby informed her about my illness (which took me my surprise) and how I need to be supported. Since then she’s taken the children for walks when I’m up and about. It’s like she can sense when I can’t deal with loud sounds i.e three loud children. She’ll take over unpacking boxes when she can see I can’t organise or think clearly. She even noticed when I started feeling better and she complimented me. That felt good, and that’s why I’m here, braving the eyes of people and getting my hair done. At least with all these oogling eyes on me, I’m giving them something pretty to look at.
This post was a little here and there but I wanted to let you all know I’m here. I’m here and I’m staying even when it gets tough.
I’ve seen the ugliness of depression but it fades in comparison to the glimmer of hope. That hope that whispers, “life is possible.”