“What can you say to pierce this dreaded black fog, when once it descends? No words prevail. Your hugs pain me as I seek only the agony of my solitude. Leave me. Let me lie, that I might ponder why I am worthy to live. To recall my unknown and unforgiven trespasses. To hear each breath as it flows in and out my imprisoned chest. My heart cold. My sun dark. Perhaps, this time, it will not pass – and then I shall lie peacefully forever in the arms of eternal quiet and struggle no more.”
These are not words spun like a silken thread from the spindle of a writer. These are my own memories. Memories of dark days that haunted me – and I survived. Shared memories of my beautiful daughter, who did not.
Depression comes into our lives in different ways and not everyone can deal with it successfully. Once it has struck and covered you with its black fog, nothing is ever the same again. When depression strikes our loved ones, the pain of feeling impotent and unable to “fix it” is a pain of a different kind but of no less intensity
Depression can be crippling – and worse. As Stephen Fry has recently written, it is almost impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it.
There is a world of difference between feeling “a bit under the weather” or “not feeling too bright today” to suffering the deep despair that depression brings; that paralyzing abyss from which even to dream of rising seems beyond the realms of possibility.
I have known depression. But no longer. I guard against it; watch out for it; stomp on it as soon as it begins to raise its ugly head. I know it to be insidious; sneaky; a two-faced Gollum like emotion that catches you unawares when you think everything is going to be OK.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Many of you will already know I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer at the end of November 2012 and by December 3, my left breast was gone! Am I depressed? No!
I have much for which I am thankful:
- for the cat whose embedded claw sent me to the Doctor.
- for my Social Media network which helped me find an excellent surgeon and medical team
- for my health fund which has made it less of a financial burden to get healed
- for the excellent private and public health system in Australia which underpin my treatment
- for knowing there were no cancerous cells detected in my lymph glands nor has a fully body MRI shown anything to cause us immediate concern
- for my family and friends on Facebook, Twitter and in my offline world who have been unstinting in their support and good wishes.
I have heeded the advice of my Surgeon and my Oncologist and others – by putting my own situation into context when I research on line and being careful to not encourage unreasonable worrying and fear for myself.
I reject websites, organizations and ideas which are negative in their views about survival and treatment, while I am realistic about having to make some changes to my lifestyle, diet and recreation and accept my treatment. I mean to say: I know that chemotherapy is not going to be fun!
I don’t think Facebook gives a “rat’s” about how I am feeling today, but I do think Facebook wants to prompt us into saying how we “feel” today.
It’s great for targeting us with adverts for the cure for whatever ails us, maybe. Or a new holiday destination; a new car; a new romance. Who knows? Not me!
I will tell you (and Facebook) I am feeling absolutely fantastic today!
I was a bit put out yesterday when I dressed for lunch, to take my Mum and Dad out for the day, only to post on my Facebook page: “hmmm – beautifully dressed to take Mum to lunch. Dad is splendiferous. Dresses don’t sit so well when half your “chest” is missing. Will have to look into this sooner, rather than later.” and later I wrote “I actually forgot about it once we got out and about. However, I have some beautiful clothes and there is no point in not making the most of them. So, some little adjustments will be made. “
Sharing our aches and pains; our fears and worries; our anger and grief through Social Media is incredibly helpful in dealing with stress. If we SAY we feel like “a dog’s breakfast” and a friend gives it a Like – that DOES help us feel better, because we know someone has acknowledged us AND I care how you are feeling today.
We can never have too much laughter, compassion and gratitude. We can never share too many happy stories and photos, like this one of the gorgeous Sean Connery. The next time someone tells you “on your bike, mate” say: “Yes! Sean Connery looks fab on a bike!”
If you want to tell me how you are feeling today, please feel free to comment. You are more likely to get a reply from me than you are from Facebook. 🙂
What can we do for each other?
Show compassion. Depression is an insidious disease and we need to be aware – all the time – that a “down day” may not be as simple as it seems. Do not feel embarrassed to ask for help. I know now that I suffered badly from post-natal depression after Annette was born but I did not know why I was so miserable. I only knew that I thought the world would be a better place without me.
Reach out! Keep reaching out! You are not alone. Reach out to groups like
- Lifeline Lifeline
- Beyond Blue Beyond Blue
- Beat Baby Blues Beat Baby Blues
- Ngala Ngala
and many other organizations that are there to help. Find your local support organization and keep the contact details close to hand. If you feel you are suffering from depression, learn how to manage it – with diet, exercise, support, counselling and medication.
Take care of yourself. Laugh a lot – even when it seems ridiculous to be laughing when you feel so damn awful.
Begin to pray, although you may not feel God is listening. Angels are. They brought me home and they will help bring you safely home, too.