3 years ago, I found myself swallowed by a big black hole. I was numb. I was exhausted. I woke up one Friday morning and I could not move. It wasn’t because I was paralysed physically, but mentally and emotionally I was broken.
I’ve suffered with anxiety as far back as I can remember. I have stubby fingernails and some pretty crazy actions, borne out of overthinking, that pay testament to that fact. But after a break up, a new home, a new job, finding my feet with single parenting and the loss of my beloved dog Rosie, the cracks in my toughened exterior finally shattered into a million pieces.
I rang the doctor. I had no idea why I was feeling the way I was but after a 20 minute chat, the doctor simply said…it’s not an anxiety attack you are having. You are depressed.
For the first time in a long time I cried. I cried and cried and cried and cried. I struggled to breathe through the sobs as the reality dawned on me that my brilliant astute brain and my inner strength had finally given up on me.
Of course they hadn’t given up. Simply put, my mind and body forced me into facing my reality that I cannot lunge myself into all manner of exciting things as a way of dealing with what was going on inside.
I was hurt. I was sad. I was carrying a heavy guilt. I felt like a burden on my friends and family and rather than face that head on, I simply ignored it and went on with life. I was fixing a broken heart. I hadn’t felt loved in a long time, nor did I think I was deserving of it.
At the very same time, I had met a guy. He was nicknamed Super Mark because he had done all these incredible things. He had such an amazing life story. Things were moving rapidly, but when I woke up on that Friday morning I had no idea how I was going to tell him.
He knew I was off work. And one night on the phone he asked me if I struggled with depression. No, I answered. He responded softly saying ‘I have you know. I’ve been depressed to the point of suicide. I know from experience that the only way to start healing is to talk’.
In that moment, everything I had been holding in came tumbling out. I have no idea how long I was on the phone for. He patiently listened to me pour my little heart out. I have no idea if he was listening really, but I sensed he was from his mmm’s and aah’s and awww’s.
By the time I finished, he simply said ‘this is a chapter in your life. You won’t feel like this forever, just for now. Do you feel better?’
It dawned on me in that moment that by talking and getting everything off my chest, I felt a sense of relief. I wasn’t ‘fixed’. I had simply opened the door into healing.
And the mad thing about it, was that afterwards, Mark didn’t run a mile. He chose to love me instead and gave me a wonderful 8 months. That is until I found out he told my Dad that my mum was fit and how much fun it would be to have me and her together.
(Which is proof that even the good guys can be grade A fucking dickheads)
I digress. Back to healing.
I started therapy and working on doing things that made me happy. That’s how I got into football coaching. And how I got back to my hiking. I started budgeting properly and planning days out to the beach. I discovered hypnosis and meditation. Eventually, although it took a while, I found writing again.
Reflecting on the last two months, despite the wonderful things I have been experiencing, I have definitely fallen backwards a little. Depression isn’t ever fully resolved. It’s a constant battle of forgiving yourself. Forgiving the feels. Forgiving people. And in my case, speaking your truth. And after the year we have had, being confined to my own four walls, it’s amazing that I didn’t slip sooner.
I injured my foot and broke my big toe at the end of March, which stopped my usual exercise routine in its tracks. I was able to walk so I still hiked a little. And I managed to limp around the football field twice a week, there really isn’t much running in coaching thankfully. But it delayed my progress.
Last weekend though, I climbed 5 mountains (not as dramatic as it sounds. Actually it was, because it was hot as fucking hell in England) and since then I have been doing my 15 minute hiit or dance workouts. The result is I am happier. Less fatigued. More motivated. I’ve found myself singing again, to the point people have commented. I’m dancing as I walk and shop and talk. My mood is just way more upbeat. I don’t feel like writing is a chore (sorry for that), I’m doing the washing again. The plates are no longer stacked high.
I’m not saying that exercise alone fends of depression, but I’m a pretty good example if it does.
So next time I go AWOL, please, somebody shout at me to dance round the living room for 15 minutes and all will be well again.
Peace out mofo’s!