Category Archives: The Rabbit Hole

The Bottom Of The Rabbit Hole

I’m not sure how people remember me from High School, the truth is I hardly talk to anyone from then now. I hope they remember me as happy, smiling, laughing and maybe even funny. All the things a teenage girl should be, wants to be and all the things I tried so desperately hard to be. All the things I was most of the time.

I remember many things about my High School years. Friends I thought I’d have forever. My first crush. My first boyfriend. My first love. My first exam. My first pass. My first failure. The first time I contemplated suicide.

That memory is raw and etched into my brain. I remember my Mum begging me to talk to her. I remember sitting on the swing in our backyard and not moving. Just back and forth swinging and deciding how I’d do it. I remember truly believing that I could slip out of this world and no one would ever notice. Not my Mum, not my Dad, not one of my 3 sisters or 3 brothers (the 4th yet to be born). The memory of this time is what I like to call ‘The Bottom of the Rabbit Hole’. There is no one to blame for the path that led me there.

Even now I can’t explain what led me down such a dark path. I have no idea how or why I went from who I was to a shadow of who I am. I don’t know how I lost my appetite and started throwing my school lunches in the bin on the way home so Mum wouldn’t notice. I don’t know how my obsession with my body became so dangerous or how I even became so self aware. I don’t know how I started pretending or why I started pretending to be happy and why I couldn’t tell anyone I wasn’t.

I don’t know if it was the girl that teased me for being lanky, too skinny and berated me to eat more pies that led me to start hating my body and pick it apart in the mirror, something I still do now. I don’t know if it was the shock of my fellow class mates when I made an extension class that led me to think I couldn’t possibly be smart. I don’t know if it was the boy I had a crush on laughing at me that led me to think a boy would never like me. I like to think that these things didn’t impact my life so dramatically because they are normal ‘teenage’ things but the fact that they are still a part of this memory so many years down the track makes me wonder otherwise.

One day I was me. I was ok, nothing could touch me. I could handle the jibs and jabs of teenage life. I took it on the chin, I laughed it off. The next day I could not, the next day I was not ok. I didn’t want to feel or be this way. I didn’t want to be so angry or sad but I didn’t know how to stop it. That is how I found myself sitting on that swing in the backyard thinking up ways to stop it forever.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. I suffer from Depression. It is an illness and it does not define me. It is not uncommon and it will effect 1 in 5 New Zealanders this year. It could be you, your parent, your child, or it could be that girl in your class with a constant smile.

Step Forward NZ is an initiative to raise awareness and to help remove the stigma attached to mental illness. Step Forward is the way forward and if you click one link today to check out, I hope it’s this one.

Mel x

Where to find help:

Lifeline NZ – 0800 543 354

Depression Org NZ – 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis –  0508 828 865

It’s Ok To Not Be Ok

itsok

I have depression. There I said it. It is not who I am, it is not what I am but it is something I live with and deal with every day. Some days are great, some days I wake up and I am ok, truly. Other days, however, not so much. Other days I wake up and feel like I can’t escape the grey cloud surrounding me. I can’t shake it; I can’t find my way through it. Those are the days I have learned it’s ok to not be ok; it’s not ok to stay that way.

I don’t write this for sympathy, I don’t want your pity but I do want awareness. Awareness for a chronic illness that affects so many that is yet unspoken about. I want people to stop suffering in silence, I want to stop feeling so alone, and I want the stigma of mental illness removed.

My depression did not begin with Motherhood. Although I did experience post-partum depression, it was not my first trip down the dark rabbit hole. I have suffered since I was a teenager. I have been to the bottom of the rabbit hole and clawed my way back. I have had the darkest of thoughts and then I have found a glimmer of light again. My children are my light, my husband is my light.

My two little lights of mine
My two little lights of mine

I know my husband feels the responsibility of being my light and it is a burden he lives with and a choice he made when he became my husband. My children however are too young to yet understand the significance they have in this battle of mental illness I have. I tread carefully; I never want them to feel the weight on their shoulders of their mother’s fragile mind. I also pray every day that they do not experience the thoughts I have had and that they avoid the same grey cloud I carry around with me.

I only began being so open with these struggles when I lost a friend to this illness a few years back. Knowing she was experiencing these dark days only in hindsight after the unthinkable occurred and feeling like had there been more open support available she may still be here. This may very well have not been the case but I feel that if I can make just one person feel less alone in the darkness then I am getting somewhere, because being alone in the darkness is a terrifying place to be.

I can think back on the moments, the triggers that sent me spiralling. Some were plain unavoidable such as the death of my brother and the inevitable run in’s with post-partum depression. Other triggers were slow and snuck up on me. They were a series of small things or incidents that added up to a slip backwards, after feeling like I was finally moving forward. Earlier this year I felt my grip slipping again and so I went and spoke to someone. Openly and honestly, someone I trusted without fear of judgement and someone I knew were going to offer me a plan and guidance on how to combat the beast. While it was extremely helpful and I felt I was finally going to have this under control, I am feeling myself slipping again.

So this week, it’s back to the doctor. It’s back to talking about it with a professional because as much as my husband tries, he does not understand. I don’t know if you can truly understand depression unless you have been there and so I hope just one person who is feeling the same as me right now, will read this and not feel alone in their darkness. Let’s make change together, let’s get better together.

Mel x

A Letter To My Fellow PND Mamas

My early motherhood days passed in a blur of grey. A rollercoaster of good days and darkness.

I inevitably suffered from PND after the birth of both my daughters. I should have been prepared for it. I should have at least been aware of the signs that I was heading to a place of darkness but I didn’t and I wasn’t. It sideswiped me.

The feeling of complete and utter failure. The self hate for the negative thoughts. The confusion that you haven’t magically bonded with your child and become a some what Madonna figure of perfect Motherhood. The dread that overwhelms you when your child begins to cry and on the worst days the way even a murmur sets you on edge. The weight of the world on your shoulders as you feel you have let everyone down, especially your new born child.

I know someone very close to me who is currently suffering. I am aware of the signs now and I want to be able to help. I want to grab her and hug her and let her know there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel she is living in. It’s a glorious light that seems so hard to get to right now but it is there all the same. Unfortunately I cant get the words out, I feel the heaviness of her heart and it gets the better of me. I’m as much a teary mess as she is, so I do it the only way I know I can and I write her a letter.

To my amazing friend,

I know you are in a bad place right now. I know you are suffering. I know sometimes things suddenly get so tough and you don’t understand why. I know that this is said to be one of the most beautiful times in your life and you feel like something is all wrong about that idea.  I also know you are strong and you are beautiful and you have the ability to have the good days. You have the strength to conquer the dark days and it doesn’t just come from the right medication, it comes from the self acceptance and belief the you are worth it.

I love you, as so many of us do. You are allowed to love yourself. It will be hard but I will be here and I will help you learn to love yourself. You are a kind, beautiful and caring soul, worthy of the love we all have for you. You have done and will do amazing things. And I will be there to support you through it. There is no better mother for your children than you. You are a good mother, you can be an amazing mother. Don’t doubt your own abilities.

I know you will read this and cry and wonder where to start. I know that you have told me that you hate the person you are. I know that you want to help yourself but you don’t know where to start. I really believe it starts with learning to accept yourself and to accept that you are valuable and truly important. You have an illness, but it is an illness you can recover from. You are not your illness.

You must forgive yourself. Let go of the hurts, the hurts to yourself and others.

 Your baby forgives you. Your family forgives you. They love you. They will always love you. You deserve to be loved.

I love you x