I’m a cryer, always have been, I cry at Call The Midwife and One Born Every Minute (basically anything with babies in it), I cry at Casablanca (every time), I cried reading The Girl In The Red Coat last week, I even cried when Rubens Barrichello won his first Grand Prix (though I think I may have been pregnant and therefore excused excess emotions at the time.)
Today however I cried for seemingly no reason and this worries me. I’d had a lovely day off, been into town, had my nails done and met my mum for coffee. I’d done what I had to do, come home, had some lunch and then gone to look on my computer for something Easter related (for here), instead I came across a selection of old photos and videos I didn’t realise were on my computer. They were lovely reminders of a time when I still lived with the kids dad, ok maybe there was a reason for the tears, a little nostalgia? A little sadness that my kids don’t live with both parents?
So the tears weren’t totally unwarranted but the quantity and intensity was, I’m talking proper sobbing out loud, followed by curling up in a ball on my bed, with tears streaming down my face. Now here’s the thing, my life is good, I am healthy, in work, with a wonderful partner, my kids are happy, we have no money or other worries and my relationship with the kids dad is probably the best it has been since we split, so what was my problem?
There is a reason this scares me, twice now in my life I have suffered bouts of “anxiety” or “depression”. The first time was back before I had children, when I had not long moved out of my parents home and in with my then husband to be, I had a fairly stressful job, we had taken on our first mortgage on a house that needed massive amounts of work done, and I began to suffer fainting attacks and stomach pains (so much so that eventually my appendix was removed and later found to be fine).
I had no idea I was suffering from what was eventually classed as nervous anxiety, because I didn’t want to accept there was anything wrong, my body was expressing itself with physical symptoms. I had private healthcare at the time and was referred to neurologists and gynecologists to try and establish what was wrong, eventually I broke down in tears in front of my GP and confessed I panicked at the thought of trying to get round the local supermarket and a diagnosis was made. I was prescribed anti-depressants and signed off work. It was a difficult time for my family, who couldn’t understand what was wrong, myself and my ex who bore the brunt of my illness, all I knew was I didn’t want to speak to people, my moods were erratic and my tears were almost constant.
Luckily the prescription helped me back to work and eventually a change of job which eased the pressure, and slowly life returned to normal. The worry stayed with me though that the same thing could happen again, after all there was no actual cause for my anxiety which is what a lot of people find hard to understand, most people think to be depressed you must have something to be depressed about, sadly that is not always the case.
Five years ago when I split from my childrens father I was terrified the same thing would happen, it didn’t (well not straight away), there was of course tears and upset but nothing I felt I couldn’t lift myself out of. It wasn’t till 3 years later when things should have been easier, I realised things weren’t quite right. Bouts of unexplained tears had become regular and a general feeling of being lethargic and of low mood (sorry that’s a doctors term) had overcome me. This time though (and with the help of a good friend who had experienced similar) I recognised quickly I needed help.
The GP prescribed a short course of a prozac based drug, I took no time off work and within 3 months I was back off the prescription and feeling far more upbeat. No-one (until now) knew about this episode apart from my closest friend, a sign that unfortunately at least in my head the stigma surrounding mental health is still alive and kicking.
So the moral of the story? Listen to your body, know yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Depression and anxiety are an illness like any other, if you have a headache you take a paracetamol, so why not do the same? It doesn’t have to be drugs, it can be counselling, talking to others, improving your mood through exercise is also great or just finding your own coping mechanism. I know I may always be at risk of slipping back into a depression but I also know when to seek help and when I may just be a little low and how to help myself.
So what about today? Today I think was a mixture of nostalgia and lack of sleep (I was woken in the middle of the night by a violent cat fight outside my window), so I reapplied my mascara, turned up my music and blitzed the housework, this is my coping mechanism, so if you ever come to my house and find the place a tip, don’t worry it’s just because I’m happy.