Hopefully that view on the left will soon become the view on the right.
It's difficult to describe how I've been feeling lately; and it's hard to talk about depression anyway, right? Because even in these enlightened days, it's still a bit of a taboo subject and there're always two schools of thought about it. There are those who believe depression is a bit of a luxury that only the bored or aimless can afford. And there are those who know that it can be a life-consuming condition that threatens to destabilise the sturdiest of foundations.
My parents held the former belief and I remember well the time I needed psychiatric counselling after I'd taken one too many prescription drugs as an angsty teen. Of course, the intention had never been to actually kill myself (and I was intelligent enough to realise that 12 Valium - which I'd been prescribed for 'nerves' - was only going to make me pass out at worst) but the guilt I was made to feel when my parents realised what I'd done was suffocating. I was called a "coward" and a "selfish child" for having put them through the embarrassment of having to transport me to our doctor's to find out why I wouldn't wake up, and their humiliation of having to take me for weekly counselling sessions was almost to much for them to bear and what on earth were they "going to tell people?"
Of course if they'd actually asked me why I'd done it, instead of shouting me down and berating every subsequent move I made following the 'incident' (my mum even made an elaborate show of hiding all the sharp knives in the kitchen and staying upstairs with me when I took a bath) they'd have realised that I simply felt lost, lonely, afraid of my own shadow and convinced I was invisible in every way. Until I literally felt I was going to explode with madness and sadness. And all because my closest friend had left our town and gone to Uni some 40 miles away. I'd got no one around I felt I could talk to and I felt abandoned. I guess it was separation anxiety. So taking those tablets was the stereotypical cry for help - only it never came - at least not from the source nearest to me.
After this, I always felt let down by my parents and knew I'd never have a proper bond with them, however much I fantasised it might some day happen the way it does in films.
The last time I needed prescriptive help was ten years ago when my marriage died at the same time as my mother. And had it not been for the mother and daughter from the nursery that The Girl was going to at the time, popping round unannounced one morning, then I'd probably still be in my PJ's rocking and sobbing in the corner of a room whilst a confused daughter played silently in another room. I didn't even realise it was me in the corner. That's how unattached I felt with reality. And as a trained Nurse, the mother totally took over; made sure the girls were entertained, got me dressed, yelled blue murder down the phone at my doctor's receptionist when told there were no available appointments and just drove me straight there. Through my wet mess I sat shaking and sobbing with the doctor explaining the tablets would take a couple of weeks to kick in, that they wouldn't make everything better, but they would help me feel more able to cope: "but they won't make my husband love me again" I remember wailing like a child.
And even though we were never close, for some reason all I wanted was my recently departed mother. Or perhaps my idea of a Mother - to make it all better. And that made the unbearable sadness of my husband not loving me anymore even harder to comprehend because now there were two people who'd never love me again and I felt completely powerless to hold onto any kind of hope that anything would ever feel 'normal' again.
But it did.
A different kind of Normal. A more independent normal. A tougher one, if you like, because that's what becoming a single mother does to you. It makes you look at life differently; makes your options that much more singular and creates a fortress of self-preservation around your little unit that you never thought you had the materials at your disposal to build - let alone sustain.
And slowly time heals the pain and life takes you down more avenues of Normal.
Until something like two car crashes in 5 months hits you ('scuse the pun) for six and even though you can feel and see the pins tumbling, it's like they're made of water and the more you try to hold onto them, the quicker they slip through your fingers.
The only way I can describe how I've come to feel over the past fortnight is fearful. I'm pre-occupied with route-planning and working out when I have to drive somewhere, when I should leave, how long it should take, which roads might be safer, clearer, wider even... and I hand-wring for a good 30 minutes before any journey, staring out of the window as if this will somehow help me prepare. I'm anxious - to get whatever car journey is required - over with - out of the way and then I can relax in the safety of my home. Weekends have become solitary. Something I used to look forward to; they're now a kind of cocoon and I'm getting that dreaded 'Sunday-night-feeling' I used to get when the School-on-Monday loomed dark and foreboding, decades ago. And a part of me feels invisible once more. After all, I must be see-through for two cars in 5 months to decide that the shortest route is straight through me? And this invisibility has seeped into my personality. I don't feel that anything I write, think, say, has any proper substance to it. Therefore I'm not writing (apart from this and I'm still not sure I'll actually post it anyway) and I'm not really commenting on a lot of things, I think a hundred times before I speak and even then am convinced what I've said was all wrong, and everything feels very grey and fuzzy round the edges.
Although I haven't woken up thinking 'what's the point' now for five days. Which has to be a good thing. So I'll just take one Good Thing at a time for a while...