Depression is a horrendous place. Despite it, unfortunately, now having a colossal army of recruits, it is the loneliest place in the world. In my experience, this was a result of Superwoman Syndrome.
I wonder who noticed we skipped an edition? In nearly eight years of publishing Offspring Magazine to simply not produce an issue was a big deal. It wasn’t just a blip to my staff either who rely on a regular income.
The reason? A Big. Fat. Meltdown.
I shouldn’t understate the reality… that’s what got me into strife in the first place … glossing over things.
Celebrating 2017 New Year’s Eve and the ensuing 11 days in Royal Perth psychiatric ward with “Ice addicts and prostitutes” (yes, shamefully, my words at the time before discovering we suffered from the same disease – Inability to Cope with Life) was a Superpowered meltdown. Otherwise known as BREAKDOWN.
So I won’t skirt around, in a misguided attempt at Superwoman heroism. Mind you, I was never under any such delusions of grandeur, but I guess trying to meet some self-imposed, perfectionistic ideals of running a successful business and having aspirations of becoming a Mary Poppins-style mother (albeit in her forties, and single…), and managing – was trying to utilise superpowers I simply didn’t inherit. As my therapist points out, “60% is Doing Great”.
Flagellating the self for failing at attempts to live up to an ideal which saw a Good Mum BAKING not BUYING $10-additive-ridden-cupcakes from Coles; Or, that my kids would become maternal orphans for spending more time at their dad’s than mine during press deadlines; contributed to the malady.
I did have real pressures. Being a single mum is tough – emotionally and financially. I personally find the burden of having to Provide the hardest part. As well as not having that special someone to confide in the stresses of each day. The isolation and load is taxing.
I had also been running flat out for a while, expanding Offspring during a relentless and fast-paced era of communications changes, in a cut-throat industry, while adapting to life as a single parent, in a new town with no family or friends. The isolation exaggerates everything. It has been gruelling, lonely and stressful.
Background: Several years after launching Offspring Perth, I packed up my then-five and two-year-old children, and husband, and moved interstate to launch our Sydney edition and then earlier last year launched Offspring Melbourne. The digital side was somewhere in between, and of course the requirements for that area are expanding all the time.
The timing was unusual. Depression can be like that…sneaking up on you while you’re convincing yourself you’re ‘doing fine’.
I was apparently doing everything right: I took time off work. I was running 6km every day. I meditated two hours a day. I had regular counselling sessions with a great psychologist. Confided with close family. Spoke candidly with friends. Had invested in a personal library dominated by Hay House publishing; I think I could write a PhD thesis on positive affirmations! Hell, I even gave up alcohol. No mean feat given it was the Festive Season.
But, still, I could not keep the Black Dog at bay.
I lost all interest in life. Including eating, I weighed 45 kg.
I just wanted to Not Exist Any More. To die.
I wanted to escape the pain. It was excruciating.
During my daily run, I had to continuously fight the urge to run in front of oncoming traffic. And would then curl over in a screaming ball of agony. The pain in my gut, in my solar plexus, was like someone was pushing a nine-inch dagger inside and twisted it around. It was physical.
I prayed like hell for help. And it came. I was lucky in that I had tremendous reprieve relatively quickly, and without medication.
I was prescribed Prozac and told I would be committed to a life-long dedication to a medication and counselling program. It would be about ‘managing’, not ‘curing’. As someone who hates to be confined to any one dogma or label, this prognosis irked me.
One afternoon, two days before I was due to be released back into to the Wild, er, world again, and five days into the administered anti-depressant regime, and hungover from Temazepam as the only means of sleep while battling mental train wrecks and sharing a dormitory with three other emotionally-fraught, insomniacs, I had a whim to do what, any rational, and very, very desperate person, seeking Hope, might also do. Go see a clairvoyant.
It was on one of my family excursions, out of the asylum, during which my supportive ex-husband brought the kids to visit, that I decided a trip to Fremantle might be useful. This was the kids’ Summer holiday, I didn’t want my ‘ineptness’ ruining their holiday. (Ineptness was precisely how I viewed my condition, not as an illness, which is not a helpful attitude for addressing this type of problem.).
It was here, in a Crystal Shop in Fremantle, I met Yvette.
Yvette could relate. She read my soul. She could feel my agony without me saying a word. She understood my pain and offered help.
The medical staff at hospital had done their jobs well and offered help but I’d tried their treatments previously, and here I was, worse than ever. I certainly open to alternative suggestions. Anything was worth a crack, even if it meant reducing the pain by placebo. I didn’t care.
Yvette referred me a Body Talk worker, Brenda, and while I didn’t know anything about this discipline, I was too exhausted and hopeless to care, judge or enquire. What the hell? I’d take a gamble on adding to present pain.
I went and saw Brenda and WOW. I went to sleep that night and awoke the next morning to have ALL PAIN REMOVED. THE DEPRESSION HAD GONE.
And it hasn’t returned.
I am not advocating against traditional medicine. This is very necessary, for many, but for me I had tried several times over the years and it hadn’t worked. There were blocks there not being addressed by traditional methods.
When I experienced the relief of the depression I also had a massive realisation: This pain wasn’t new. It had only intensified recently to become unbearable but I had been harbouring the aching for nearly 30 years.
Sounds miraculous, and it was. And I am very, very, very grateful. I am grateful to the whole experience, not just the healing, and the people and events that lead to that.
I am also grateful to now grasp the damage this ridiculous Superwoman notion causes. Not just to ourselves, but to those around us. My family in Perth missed spending time with me at home. My kids had to visit me in a psychiatric ward and deal with an emotionally-fragile mother. The only time I spent with my old Perth friends while visiting was in hospital. My staff lost income. My ex-husband had to take a week off work, not to mention, presumably, dealing with the prospect of his children having a basket case for a mother. And of course, I was getting no joy out of life.
Ironically, in my bid to ‘have it all’, I had nothing.
So Superwoman, or Superman (now that’s a whole new kettle of piranhas!), can superzoom off into the ether. Superordinary will have to do.
For those experiencing depression please contact:
If you or someone you know is struggling with Depression please contact
Phone: 13 11 14