April 1st 2017:
I have re-posted this to honor the memory of my dear friend ‘Jamie’. The anniversary of his passing is tomorrow. He finally gave up his struggle with life. The pain is still raw, and all the ‘if only’s’ in this world add to that tally. This post is confronting … because it needs to be.
I find it hard to believe that 3 years have gone by since I wrote the post that follows.
Can it really have been that long?
Three years to the very day and hour. So much has happened in that time. Yet the same wonderful folks that offered me love and support back then are still in my life. How damned lucky I am.
If the reposting of this helps just one person understand the long term problems of living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) then it’s well worth the time.
Here is the original post …
I will update my current situation at its end.
The “Black Dog” of Depression! Biting it Back.
Fighting back … and biting the ‘Black Dog’ of depression on the Ass. Great title for a blog post. Too easy.
If only it were that simple.
Most of you who have given me the honor of following my life through my books have commented on my strength. I have looked at those comments again and again recently, and I wonder … where is she, that feisty female?
Where did it go, that ‘strength’? Have I lost it? Or was it not strength at all?
Was it more likely my pig-headed determination after all, and not that inner resilience that one can draw on in times of great distress?
You know me well enough by now to know, that rightly or wrongly I have always been my most devastating when threatened.
What the hell happened to that?
There would be no point in even attempting to write this blog entry if I hadn’t decided at the outset to be honest.
Honesty does not always bathe us in an aura of golden light. It can be, and at times must be, clinically cold. It is, and I must be hypercritical of self if the point of the article is to make any sense at all.
So … let’s take a walk together, you and I. Hold my hand, (for I need it) and I’ll guide you through the past five months of my crazy life, in the hope that when we reach today, not only you, but I, will have a greater understanding of depression … and…the self destructive behavior that perpetuates the cycles of darkness when they begin.
This is not a prettied up version of events.
I live in a small two-bedroom apartment with my daughter and 11 month old Grandson.
I have not walked out the door of the apartment for 18 weeks.
Where did the Summer go? When did the crisp green leaves of Summer change to the golden hues of Autumn and fall to the fast growing coldness of the ground beneath? When did the neighbor’s children stop playing ball in the parking lot, and shouting delighted cries of challenge from the pool in the warmth and never ending daylight of our Australian Summer? Where the hell did that time go? It’s lost to me now, I can’t recapture it or relive it, I can only mourn its passing.
When did my darling daughter’s face begin to carry that look of worry?
When did I cease to notice or even care that I hadn’t bathed or even brushed my hair in weeks? When did a few glasses of wine once a week or so become anesthesia to wash away my fear?
Blaming my deteriorating health would be convenient. And yes … my health is bad, very bad in fact. BUT … it has been heading this way for a very long time.
I had a choice to take preventative measures, not to cure, because it is not curable, but at the very least to have given me some sense of control over time spans and a measure of comfort. I refused to do so.
Am I weary of being on guard all the time?…Damned straight!
Am I weary of always being perceived as the tough woman that survived so much? Sure I am. But that is the person I chose to be.
I recognize the presence of fear again.
I have tasted the bitterness of it like bile in my mouth many times in my life.
Why now has it’s presence become so devastatingly present? Why at almost 60years of age am I like the small child I once was with no control of her life in a world gone mad?
Fear is a devastating task master, make no mistake. If you allow it the upper hand it will strip the flesh off your bones with no apologies. I am afraid to look in any mirror, for the ravages of time and ill health show me a face that should be serene … but is not.
I am afraid if the food in the cupboard runs down.
I am petrified if the bills mount up and I simply have to wait a week or two to begin clearing them.I am aware of the vulnerability of relying on a pension payable by a government that has no insight into what it feels like to be at their disposal.
I began to isolate.
I am comfortable in my isolation. That is the deadliness of it. I sit in the early hours of the morning, when my body craves sleep; I sit on the balcony, comforted by the darkness and the lack of necessity to communicate with neighbors who in the daylight hours may have looked up and smiled, or even raised a hand in friendly acknowledgement.
How dare they intrude. How dare they even notice me there? For surely if I sat still and unmoving I ceased to be visible to them … didn’t I?
Caring for my baby Grandson during the day is probably the only thing that gives me any semblance of normality. He demands as much love as I can give.
For my daughter and the little guy that love is and will remain unconditional, but how long can I expect her to watch me slowly self destructing? How long can she tolerate the worry?
My grandson and I spend our days laughing and interacting in play. I am not well enough to take him for walks in the park, or walks anywhere for that matter. Simply walking from my room to the kitchen robs me of breath. Physically I am simply unable to walk far at all. Convenient? Perhaps. Can that change? No. I can’t regain the loss of lung function. But I can and must regain the beginnings of life function.
Other events over the past six months have taken their toll.
Perhaps if everything had not come crashing down at once I would have dealt with it a little better.
But everything did come at me at once and seemingly out of nowhere and all within a very short space of time.
A long term relationship that I treasured, ended. I hadn’t seen the signs, too caught up with everything else that needed my attention I guess. A poor excuse really, I could and should have seen the warning signs.
Reason can’t substitute for feeling.
I now have a dear friend still, but no longer my lover.
It took me a while to recognize that the visits were less and less frequent, the phone calls that had once come every day just for the comfort of hearing my voice, suddenly became weekly, and then not at all.
Did I ever tell him that the only time I ever felt truly safe were those times in his arms? The times when I would simply lay there, listening to his breathing and know with absolute certainty that I could fall asleep, safe in the knowledge that he would awaken instantly if I moved. Safe in the knowledge that he would give his own life to protect me if I were under threat.
I miss him.
I shall always miss him.
My writing? What have I written in the past 10 months? Hah! I finished a work of fiction that had been hanging in the back roads of my consciousness for a long time. But it was only one chapter that needed doing.
I wrote 65,000 words of another piece that for reasons that don’t really matter a damn anymore have been relegated to the trash heap. Apart from that… zilch!
I need to get this down, I need those of you that have suffered from depression to understand that whilst it is a lonely street you walk…many of us share that same welcome darkness.
Will I come out the other side of this hideous fog? Only time will tell. Being here cloaked in the darkness of thought, feels safer than coming out of the damned fog and needing to deal with basic day to day necessities, I don’t want to shower for I would then need to look at my body and accept the deterioration. Even recognizing intellectually what is happening gives no guarantee that I can act on that recognition and do something about it.
Counseling … thanks but no thanks. It works wonderfully well for many many people and I am thankful for that. It just isn’t for me. I just don’t trust folks enough to go that road again.
I haven’t written a blog piece in six months. Today that stops. I realize that the only way back from the darkness is for me to switch on my inner pilot.
Consider it switched on.
Comment and kick me in the ass if you choose. This is going to take quite some time my friends. The damage runs deep. Hold me in your thoughts, comment as and how you will.
Soooz ain’t dead yet! She just smells that way.
Thanks for reading.
Now an update …
Today is June 29th 2016. I am still here! Color me amazed.
I guess I always seem to find some muddle headed way of bouncing back. I think it likely that I am just too pig-headed and stubborn not to.
So where am I at now, where is my life as I sit in my small office writing this?
I have restructured my life piece by piece in the last few years. I have taken the precious moments and lovingly moved them to the safe place in my mind, and there they remain unsullied by the external world.
I have rejoiced with my child and my grandson. I have laughed more than I remember doing for such a long time.
I still isolate but not for as long or as often … baby steps.
I pulled my head out of my ass and re-published my books as an indie author after the publishing house that carried my books closed its doors.
I now use a wheelchair and it affords me the opportunity to get out into the daylight and suck in the air, with my loving daughter steering me determinedly from behind.
I have written two new books and have three more in progress.
All positive things.
I dragged myself back from the alcoholic haze and have been dry (Again) for over two years.
I have ceased to have contact with those that would relegate me to the easily dismissed pile in their lives.
I have lost two dear friends to suicide.
I have allowed myself to cry and to mourn.
I consider myself fortunate to have friends who stand by me.
For now … for today … I am happy.
If you know someone that suffers depression, if you suffer it yourself, reach out to those that can inform and assist you and hold true the belief that you are a human being worthy of being loved and respected.
April 1st 2017.
Thank you for making the time to read this post. Jamie deserves to be remembered,
Here are links that may assist you when the darkness threatens…
Thank you for being here.