How does one write a story of depression? A story has a beginning and an end. In my life at least, I don’t have this. Depression is more of a theme, coming in when it chooses, messing with the various other stories in my life, then leaving me there to pick up the pieces. It has helped me drop out of education (a number of times) ruin friendships, family relationships, lose jobs. It has driven me to move towns, check myself in to hospital and tried to take my life on more than one occasion. And I know it is still far from down with me.
Now this is not a sob story or me trying to negate any responsibility for my own life, but to help explain the truly bizarre behaviour a normally sane person will exhibit in the depths of a depression – or hypo manic state. There are many things in my life that I am glad for and I my life (driven by my depression) has let me to this place so for that I should be grateful.
I couldn’t tell you the first time I became depressed or what started it. I do know that by my early teen years I sometimes struggles to get out of bed, had high levels of guilt and anxiety so I suspect it was happening at least by then. I have a family history of bipolar so it could be that it was just biological chance that I got this and not my sister. She and I grew up in the same house, had the same parents and weren’t that far apart in age, so one must start to look at the biology v environment argument. Maybe I was just more prone to “melancholy” than she.
If I look back even earlier in my life I can remember having significant trouble with sleeping. Falling asleep at night was difficult even as a young child. I was restless and my mind raced. My mother says she would have to hold me still so I could finally drift off. Evidence of my restlessness could be found in my bedroom of a house I lived in when until I was about 6 years old by the whole in the paint above my bed that I would pick and pick at when I was supposed to be sleeping. Not being able to fall asleep at night gave was to some rather expected problems in the morning; waking up. I had such a difficult time waking up as a child. Even now, depending on where I am in this roller coaster of an illness I can still sleep through alarms with ease. Once in my early twenties I actually awoke to my next door neighbour (whose house was a good ten feet from ours) walking into my bedroom to turn off my alarm. He assumed no one was home as it had been going full blast for over 30 minutes.
When you’re child difficulty waking in the morning is a tiresome affair, but in the end your parents are there to make sure you get up and on to school, but as you get older this responsibility is left to you. I would do everything I could to ensure I would fall asleep on time and get up on time, but so often it failed. At 16 you teacher doesn’t want to hear that you slept in again or in your twenties they just fire you when you tell the same story. I still am filled with anxiety when I know I have a meeting or a train to catch early in the morning. Now at least I have sleeping tablets that can help. The trouble is they only work for about five hours after which I drift in and out of a restless sleep until I finally give up and start to wander the house until it is time to start getting ready for the day.