TODAY (April 13) in the Sunday Independent columnist and journalist John Waters said that he didn’t believe in depression.
During the course of an interview he said: “I don’t believe in depression. There’s no such thing. It’s an invention. It’s bullshit,” he said, “it’s a cop out.”
Do you know what? I wish I didn’t believe in depression. I wish it didn’t exist and I wish it was something I had made up so that I could simply stop suffering from it.
I had never experienced depression before the birth of my son, so when, a couple of weeks after his birth I was hit by that sudden, savage low it literally took my breath away.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t think.
I was afraid every minute of every hour of every day. Crippling, soul destroying fear. I was afraid of my baby. Afraid of hurting him. Afraid of being alone with him. Afraid of feeding him. Afraid of changing him.
Tears flowed, all the time. Every day. I was only happy when he wasn’t with me. When he was with his Dad or his grandparents, then I could relax.
I started to have awful thoughts, think terrible things. I wanted to leave my baby, and my husband, just walk away. Get on a train and go away somewhere, anywhere.
I wanted to give the baby up for adoption, give him to someone who could care for him when I couldn’t. I’ve never told anybody that. Not even my husband. But it’s how I felt.
I had to physically stop myself every day from simply walking out and leaving the baby in his Moses basket. I would wait until I saw my husband’s car coming into the estate and then go and get my coat. The baby would only be alone for 30 seconds and it’d give me time to get up the road, I reasoned. Every day I put my coat back before my husband opened the door – but yet the next day I’d again find myself in the hall, coat in hand thinking that this time I’d go.
This wasn’t normal, this wasn’t me and believe me it wasn’t made up.
I’m lucky. My husband is a saint in living form. He supported me physically through those awful first couple of weeks. He sent me to the doctor who instantly recognised what a terrible place I was in and who helped me. The doctor listened, he told me that what I was feeling was normal, that it was a medical condition that happened to some women after birth. He told me that he was glad I had come to him as the feelings I was describing, combined with the loss of my Dad a few weeks previously, could potentially have culminated in a major depressive episode, one which would have required serious in-patient psychiatric care. But because I had sought help he was confident that wouldn’t happen, that he would be able to treat me, with support from home.
And he did. Again, I was lucky. The medication worked. Asking for help worked. Having some help with the baby worked. And mercifully quickly. Within a few more weeks I was well on the road to recovery. The fear lifted, the anxiety receded, I could sleep again. I could enjoy my beautiful baby boy.
One year on and I’m still taking the medication, I’m still being supported at home with help with the baby and I still have bad days. But I’m much nearer to a full recovery than I was. Again, I’m so lucky.
Depression is real. It does exist. It’s not bullshit. It’s not a cop out. It’s a scientifically proven, medical condition that can happen to anyone. It’s as real and as valid as having asthma or epilepsy or a broken leg. It’s real and let nobody tell you different.
Please, if you’re suffering as I was, ask for help. It’s not easy, I know but please don’t live in the darkness any longer. Please.