Light at the End of the Tunnel, Kawatiri Tunnel, Feb 2011

To anybody who knows me, they would probably describe me as friendly, outgoing, happy, smiling and helpful.  They are probably also wondering why they haven’t seen me for a while.  My mum described me as an actress the other day, and she is right.

Lately I have been battling with something that I would rather keep hidden.  A secret that is so soul destroying that you even wonder how it came about.  For the last 18 months I have suffered from a debilitating problem, something that comes and goes but is getting worse every year.

I have recently been diagnosed with mild to moderate depression.  And it has affected my life more this year than it has ever before.  This year, after suffering a cold upon a cold, culminating in a chest infection, and lack of sleep, I finally decided enough was enough and visited with my Doctor and I am now on medication.  This isn’t my first visit to the Doctor.  I first visited with her six months ago, and we decided to go with the exercise and natural method, but because I got sick, I was unable to do the exercise as much as I would have liked, so medication was the only course left to me – short of a mental breakdown, and that was coming.

I am now coping with the side effects of medication that I have been on for 10 days.  Things are getting better, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but the last 9 days have been extremely hard and I am thankful that my Mum has been with me for most of last week, to help me keep going through the day, to give me a break if I need one, and just to be a positive face to see every day.

I have read a lot about depression – it is repressed anger, it is inner hatred, there are lots of different definitions, but for me, depression is a black cloud that hovers around the back of my head.  It has been my friend for eighteen months now, and it is only in the last year that I have really discovered that it IS a problem.  But one I didn’t want to discuss.  Even my beloved wasn’t aware of how bad the problem was.

So how have I managed so long?  Writing.  Yes, weird as it sounds, and I have blogged about this in the past, but writing is my sanity.  If I don’t write, I feel myself going down hill, and very fast.  I need the outlet for my creativity, and if I couldn’t write, I would bead.  Writing is my first choice though.

Friends often wonder why I have such a tight schedule for writing (three novels in a year???) now you know.  I need it to have structure in my day, to have a schedule to follow so that I am able to function throughout the day.

I knew my depression was getting bad, because I didn’t want to write.  Writing is my passion, my soul, and one day, my source of income, but when I didn’t  want to write I knew that something was very wrong.  I haven’t written for 10 days now, but I am not giving myself a hard time about it.  Instead I am taking this time to relax, find new interests and spend time getting to know me again.  I will write again, I have a new story I want to write, a spiritual inspiration that struck me one night when I first started taking the medication, and was awake at some strange hour of the night.

Depression can hit anyone, and it comes in different shapes and forms.  Unfortunately it is genetic for me, but with help and love from my family and friends, I hope to be able to get some stability in my life, to be there for my son and my husband, who are only two of the very special people in my life.

Other special mentions should go to my Mum and Step Dad, two of my biggest supporters and encouragers, and my friends, both writing and non writing ones, because without you in my life, there is no sunshine!

Depression isn’t easy to pick.  In fact a lot of you would never have picked me as suffering from it.  Why would I tell you that my world was falling apart?  I can smile through the pain, I have gotten good at that.  But someone out there maybe suffering.  All you have to do is let your friends know that you love them.  Give them a hug when you meet, talk about things you like doing together, go for walks, go for coffees.  Sometimes just getting out of the house is enough to lift the spirits.

I am still me, I haven’t changed. I just need help to keep going and keep motivated but with time, I will be able to come off the medication, and hopefully fly on my own wings again.

The Masks I wear
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6 thoughts on “The Masks I wear

  • September 12, 2011 at 9:04 am
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    I know that feeling of putting on a mask. It takes a lot to take it off. But as you say, you’re still you and that new story idea sounds good. 🙂

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  • September 12, 2011 at 9:24 am
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    Thanks Kerryn, it is hard to admit that I have failings, but if I can help one other person out there, it will be worth while. 🙂

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  • September 12, 2011 at 11:14 am
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    I admire you for sharing this with us, Karen, and writing is a form of self-healing which many creative people practise. You have a generous, kind and honest soul, and your friendship is to be valued. So, when are the Kiwi Writers planning to meet up again?

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    • September 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm
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      Thank you for your kind words Cherie, both above and on the phone. They mean a lot. Yes, will have to meet up!

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  • September 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm
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    Very proud of you for being brave and blogging about this. I really hope those meds kick in properly soon and give you that boost that you need. Having battled with my own mental health problems, I know it can be a rough battle – but going to the Dr, getting help, reaching out, all of those things are fantastic steps towards a healthy, balanced, happy life. Well done, you 🙂

    Reply
    • September 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm
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      Thank you Cassie, your friendship has been important to me through this process. You have always been the ear I could bend and I thank you for that! 🙂

      Reply

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