Depression is a sign of weakness, selfishness, ungratefulness?
YEP – pretty much how I thought.
I’d been depressed before – but back then it was OK. Justified. Totally justified. Normal even.
That was on our long infertility journey – in the midst of IVF failures – I mean who wouldn’t be depressed?
Still it’s amazing how long it took me to admit it even then. A bit of self-medication with wine can be good for numbing the pain.
In the midst of our infertility struggle, admitting depression would surely mean I’d given up, sunk to the bottom, that all was fruitless. And I wanted so much to believe in hope.
So I was proud of myself when I finally saw the doctor, went to a psychiatrist, took the meds, got back into fitness and yoga and tried to feel other than a depressed infertile woman.
I took leave from work (while finishing off our home renovations) and then decided that work wasn’t so important and took the plunge into freelancing. We gave up on IVF and moved forward with our adoption plans. Clinically, I’m pretty sure I did everything right.
Then I had to fight to proceed in the adoption process – the black cloud of depression hanging over me, despite the fact that it was justified. Normal. The fight showed my resolve. After 9months I was already scaling back the meds. Common sense finally prevailed. And then 9 months later (not by pregnancy) we finally had our dreamed for child.
Yippy, Hoorah, bloody fantastic. And it was. Such joy left no room for depression, even if doubt and self-recrimination that I wasn’t being a ‘good enough’ Mum opened the door just a little on the black dog. Remember, nature had stopped me being a Mum, so maybe nature was right?
But NO – I was OK and I did my best to convince myself that I was an OK Mum, especially since I like to think I was more than OK. I did my best to convince myself that being a Mum was everything, while feeling guilty when it felt not quite enough. When I felt not enough.
Time creeps. Doubt. Lack. Of. Control. We wait to adopt a second child. And wait. And wait. And wait. Depression sort of sneaks back in through the cracks again. Down boy! Down.
Finally (six and a half years later) our second adoption. Dreams do come true (again). Our family complete, and with it the excitement of a year-long job and house exchange to Canada – a chance for me to bond with our new baby, to just be a Mum and BE happy.
I don’t know how a black dog can cross oceans and continents (avoiding customs and quarantine) but it can. In the cold and wet as cabin fever set in I had to wonder what the hell I possibly had to feel depressed about.
It might have been OK to be depressed before. It might have been normal. It was not OK to feel down, not with two beautiful children, living the dream in Canada. It was certainly not normal.
So I oscillated between joy and happiness and contentment at what a wonderful life I had, and feeling a bit sad, lonely. I self-medicated with cheap Chilean wine (which was really quite good and went so well with all that sitting by the fire).
Even though I’m doing lots of yoga, and trying to be regular with meditation, I’m still reaching for a glass, or too many, of wine, too often. I know it’s not the answer to my angst about how to re-engineer my life to do work that I love, to contribute in a meaningful way. It’s the lazy way, too convenient, wasteful. And it’s got to stop.
So, Ocsober – it may seem trite to some (what with Dry July’s and I think something happens in February too), but for me it can be positive in my life and help raise funds for Life Education in schools. Our society has to change its attitude to alcohol consumption and I have to be a small part of the solution. If you’d like to find out more or support the cause with a donation it would be most appreciated.
Linking up with the lovely Jess for IBOT.
So cheers (as I usually sign off, this time soberly).