I can take the boy-child anywhere twice; albeit the second time to apologise. Phot0: The Big T, 2013.
It’s Mothers’ Day; but today I’m off-duty. My son is on his first solo out-of-town trip, visiting a friend in Wellington.
Last night his friend’s mother sent me an email thanking me for having a fantastic son who is a pleasure to have around and has become a good friend to her son.
That’s my Mothers’ Day present, and it’s probably the best I’ve ever had (sorry kiddo). It doesn’t take anything away from my son’s ability to manage his own actions and choices, but acknowledges that I have played a role in raising a child who can go out into the world and be a credit to himself and his family.
Photo: The Big T, 2011
This is important to me for a whole bunch of reasons; not least because I’ve been a “stay at home” mother to my only child. I don’t regret that at all; in fact I believe that both the boy-child and I are better people because of our time together. But the choices that were made when he was little have come at a cost to our family. I suffer from depression and it impacts on us all.
I was diagnosed with post-natal depression 17 years ago, and although circumstances have changed, I don’t think I’ve never really recovered. I have weeks and months when things seem fine; I function as a fairly competent human being. Then the gloom descends and my world falls apart.
So much of his first year passed in a blur. I look at photos and wonder if that was really me. Photo: The Big T, 1998.
I’ve talked to various GPs about this in the past, but only in a general “let’s wait and see” sort of way, mainly because of my reluctance to buy into any sort of pharmaceutical solution (I’m like this generally — about most ailments). But last weekend I hit a new low and sought help.
I’m not really sure what I expected, but my doctor has prescribed anti-depressants (and some other stuff that I’m still thinking about). I came home and did some research on the particular medication (I have a library degree, so I mean actual research – not Google); and I’ve decided not to fill the prescription. The thought of what the chemicals can do to my body actually makes me more depressed. But I think more importantly, it makes me feel that I’m relinquishing control over my situation and I’m not ready to do that. I know that antidepressants do a whole lot of good for many people and I’m not ruling them out forever. I just want to look for alternatives first.
Medication also treats the symptoms, and I really, really need to address the causes. I feel like my life is shit because – well, objectively, a lot of my life is shit. Taking drugs won’t fix that I’m overweight, unemployed, have a relationship in crisis and feel like my brain is turning to mush from under-use.
So I’ve decided to deal with this the way I tackle most things; by doing research, analysing the information I find, doing some more research, and making a plan that involves taking charge of things myself.
Feeling a bit more in kick-ass mode. Photo: The Big T, 2012.
Yes, I am a control freak; but actually that’s a part of me I can live with.
I’m also a writer; and have realised over the years that writing is how I make sense of the world. I’ve never been one of those people who plans something out and then writes it down. I start writing, then read what I’ve written and change it a bit, then I write some more, and repeat this process over and over again until I’ve created meaning out of all the thoughts and connections that whiz around my head like ingredients in the pantry, waiting to be turned into a cake or a casserole or whatever.
Even as I’m writing this, I’m not sure that my blog is the right place for this process. But the fact is, part of dealing with depression is acknowledging that it exists. My blogging community is no less real than any other I belong to and it would feel disingenuous to continue posting with a phoney “happy face.”
I have no intention of turning ZimmerBitch into a chronicle of depression. One of the things I derive real pleasure from is photography, and the blog will still be principally a place for my images and the thoughts that go with them. But I guess I’d also like to use the structure and discipline of writing a blog to explore some of the stuff I need to think about.
Taking photos is one of the things that gives me pleasure; knowing that might be part of the recovery. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.
I will provide warnings on all DEPRESSION content, and if you start abandoning me in droves, I’ll see the error of my ways and find alternative forums for my angst!
In the meantime, I’m taking baby steps. So I’m off to get ready for a date with the Big T; dinner and An Evening with Noel Fielding.