Since I’ve ‘come out’ as depressed I’ve felt as if I’ve allowed it in, to wash over me and occupy the space. ‘Like that poem’ my good friend A said as I tried to explain what I meant. I looked it up and Rumi says it far better than I ever could. Most of my life I’ve been fighting any negative feelings, trying to banish them one way or another. Allowing my depression is a necessary step to becoming comfortable with who I really am but I still want to fight it, berate it, and banish it a lot of the time. I feel as if I’m shedding identities and I’m not sure what’s left or if I like it very much. I’ve shed the party good time girl persona and my competent professional self (though hopefully this one is temporary). I’m still doing horse stuff and being a mum but not a lot else.
I did go to the Celtic Connections music festival in Glasgow a couple of weekends ago with 2 of my oldest dearest friends S and B. It was hard being so sociable but it was wonderful. The music and the joy of the musicians as well as the easy company lifted my heart and soul. I stayed out until the small hours – something I didn’t think I’d be able to do without alcohol and guess what – it was better! No glazed eyes, loss of memory, stumbling around etc etc. No anxiety about pacing oneself. Just unfettered enjoyment of the music. Live music is definitely high on my list of sober fun and my love of it is definitely part of the real me.
Returning home I was tired then got ill. The depression and lethargy came back and I found myself resistive again. Feeling frustrated that I’m not doing enough, berating myself for it. Yesterday I woke up really low and C responded to me in a way that made me connect with his frustrations and hate myself even more. I’m questioning a lot of my decisions from my life at the moment and I started to question us which felt really threatening. I’ve never doubted us – I’ve always known we are meant to be together. We reconnected in the evening and I tried to explain how I was feeling. ‘I know I’ve no actual reasons to be depressed which is the most depressing thing of all’ I said. ‘Maybe not in your life now, but I think there’s plenty of reasons in your past’ C replied.
I feel a lot like my 14 year old self right now so I got to thinking about that time in my life. That’s when I first got depressed. I remember being in my room and my stepmum saying in exasperation ‘what’s wrong with you?’ I didn’t know anymore than she did. I do remember that’s when I started smoking again. I’d first smoked as an 11 year old – the end of primary school. I was trying on rebellion for size but it scared me and a part of me was very critical of it so when I got to High School I ditched my rebellious friend and went back to being the clever good girl for a while. When I started smoking again at 14 I was much better equipped to manage the rebellious persona and now there were boys and sex in the mix as well! Alcohol followed but I didn’t really take to that until I was older. I first smoked cannabis aged 15 and I remember thinking it was the best thing I’d ever experienced. Drugs and alcohol have rarely directly given me a bad time or experience which has made it hard to see them as the problem until now. Of course they are not the problem per se; they have been my solution to the problem of my intolerable feelings and dislike of myself. The conflict between the good girl me and the ‘fuck it’ me (the one that smokes and drinks) has been a constant most of my adult life. I would flip from one to the other without really thinking about what they meant, what their function was, and when in one state of being I would be critical of the other, admonishing without compassion or understanding.
When my mum left when I was 13 I remember feeling relief. I was riding before school and I shed a single tear and that was it. The ‘it was better afterwards’ narrative has been the only one I’ve allowed. I’ve not acknowledged how hard it was being a 13 year old girl living in an all male household; how lonely I was a lot of the time; how angry I felt. Nor that whatever the circumstances if your mum walks out and leaves you then that is an abandonment and it’s only natural to interpret that as you somehow not being good enough or loved enough. I’d had a lengthy separation from my mum as a toddler so perhaps the depression goes back to that; a time when we can’t put it into words so we have to embody it. This is the first time I’ve connected my parents divorce to my depression. I can’t help but also link my younger daughter’s struggles since me and her dad divorced to my own unresolved issues. A colleague of mine once said if you can’t understand what’s going on with a child that you’re seeing, ask what was going on for the mum when she was that age. We pass things across the generations in more ways than genetically.
As I was going to sleep last night I was flooded with memories of those years and I forgave myself my failings and comforted myself. I reminded myself I was just a kid. I woke up this morning feeling lighter and brighter and more my adult self – whoever that is these days! My daughter arrived home and she is lighter and brighter too and that cheered me more than I can say. I’m back in a space where I can appreciate this life and for that I’m grateful and in this moment happy.