This blog has been a long time in the making. 5 and a bit years to to be exact. I’ve often wondered whether I should write about this experience, but I have a number of friends who are going through the same thing, so it’s about time this particular confession saw the light.
July 7th, 2005. Exactly a year after I’d moved into the house from hell. A sunny day. It was also the day I had a panic attack and couldn’t get on the train to work. If you know me, you know this is not my normal mode of being. Fearless – Yes. Frightened – Often, but I hide it well. Cowed – Never, especially not in 6 inch heels and a suit! But if you had seen me sitting on the station bench that day, hyper-ventilating, shaking and trying not to cry or step in front of the train (crying and spoiling my make-up would be worse, you understand), anyone would be forgiven for thinking I’d finally given in.
July 7th, 2005. Exactly two years since someone I loved, left. A sunny day. The day of the London bombings. When I finally made it into the City and into a walk-in clinic, I sat waiting for a doctor and watched the carnage unfold on the flat-screen in the waiting room. All I could think about…while the helicopters circled Cannon Street and the discordant siren call of police cars and ambulances pierced the usual hum of a big city, was that my problems were minor compared to those people who lost loved ones or now bear permanent scars from the random acts of deranged fundamentalists.
My doctor diagnosed depression and prescribed medication. I diagnosed an immense gratitude for the fact that I was still alive. A feeling that grew as I walked through the silent streets in the evening aftermath of the day’s events. And my prescription – which I still follow today, even though the pills got flushed down the loo after 6 months – was to find three things to be grateful for at the beginning and end of each day. Instead of lying in bed wondering if I actually wanted to carry on, I’d be glad about the birdsong, the way the sunlight twinkled on my wall, and the fact that my cat loved me more than anyone else in the world – despite my flaws as a human. Nothing stays the same, even bad things… I’m really lucky and I have so much to be grateful about…I live by the coast, have a brand new nephew, and people who I love deeply. Life is short. Embrace the good things.
Depression affects 1 in 10 people, and one in 50 people will suffer severe depression. It affects not only those with depression, but also their families and friends. Help is available here: http://www.samaritans.org/