The New Normal

Depression
It became the new normal for me. The feeling of fear. Like a heavy weight on my chest that would squeeze so tight, I found it hard to breathe. From the moment I opened my eyes of a morning, I was frightened. Properly scared. There was no rationale behind it, it was just there. And so fear and I, we became both friends and enemies, entwined in a paradoxical way: I felt alone if I wasn’t afraid, like something was missing, and yet it debilitated me to the point I could not function. Sometimes the fear would dissipate into numbness. Sometimes it would escalate into blind, uncontrollable panic. But it was always there. This was my normal.

For years and years, I carried around the weight of 100 bricks. Every lift of my arms was painful because of the bricks. Bricks, bricks hanging off my body. Bricks squeezing around my heart…bricks everywhere. I was tired. So very tired from carrying the weight. It hurt, and I felt alone. I had to be strong for my family. I had to be strong for my special needs daughter. I had to be strong for my dying mother. I had to be strong for my grieving father.  I had to be strong because of my pride. I had to be strong because of my faith. Oh, deluded, pathetic me!

People greeted me with the usual question: “How are you?”

And I would say, “I’m okay.”  But really I wanted to say, “I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid. Afraid of nothing and everything at the same time.”

And then one day I did know. After a violet panic attack, I knew something had to change. The abnormal became my normal, and my new normal was destroying me.

I remember the day.  The day I sat in a chair in front of a doctor with kind brown eyes. The chair was the typical office maroon colour, mottled with flecks of grey.  I knew I had to be there — to do this thing I should have done a long time ago — even though I didn’t want to.  It was time. The kind-eyed doctor: he looked at me and said, “What can I do for you today?”

I sat straight and rigid with my arms involuntary grasping the sides of the chair, and in an errily calm voice I told him how panic was overtaking my life.  It sounded strange as the words came from my lips. Like I was telling a story that was not my own.  The doctor, leaning slightly forward, sat quietly and listened. The quiet became loud in my ears. So, so loud was the silence. Then, a sudden pain exploded in my chest, like someone pulled a plug from my heart. I gasped. Mid sentence.  My body shuddered and I buckled over, trying to find my breath. My body convulsed in deep sobs and my breath came in short shallow gasps. I knew this feeling. I knew when I reached up to grasp the rope, it. would. not. be. there.  I knew when I called out, no one would listen, even though they may hear.  I knew I would have to ride the wave of panic until I fainted with exhaustion, or became fixated just beyond the ceiling.

“You’re safe. You’re safe here.” I heard someone talking to me, breaking through the wall of panic. The words repeated over, and over again.  I remember feeling annoyed at the words. I knew I was safe; why would someone say that to me? But in an odd way, the worlds calmed me, despite my inner protest. “You’re safe. You’re safe here.”

After a little while, the kind-eyed doctor pressed a tissue in my hand and said to me, “I was waiting for that to happen.  All those things you were telling me — hard things, difficult things — with such calm; I knew the dam wouldn’t hold much longer.”

There’s something very unnerving about being read so well by someone you hardly know, but I had come this far.  I had come to the point where I could admit there was something wrong, which in turn helped me to realise I needed to do something about it.  I had come far indeed.

Depression. I suspect I had suffered from it, undiagnosed, since my first child was born. And in my trying-to-be-strong I fought it, which gave the depression strength.  And when the balance finally tipped over, and my strength failed, and depression rose up, the battle was lost. But not to me. No. The battle wasn’t lost to me.  Depression lost in that conquouring moment, because the strength it fed off was gone. I wish I hadn’t tried to be so very strong for so very long. Therein, lay my weakness.

Lightness. Possibility. Endless possibility. After two weeks on medication, I could see two things very clearly. Firstly, I realised just how very long I had been depressed, so long it had become normal to me. And secondly, I reacquainted myself with how wonderful, truly wonderful it was to breathe, to dream, to live! Oh the joy of it! I thank God for that doctor who was so gentle with me when I needed it.  And for bringing the good out of depression; I no longer constantly live in my own strength.

Within a month of receiving help, I set up this very blog. This blog, has been very much part of my recovery process. The love the moment concept is not just a random idea, it’s my new normal. The normal I slowly discovered after living under such a cloud. Be A Fun Mum was born out of my recovery from depression and helped me find my voice again.

You can see my journey in the templates; both are beautiful in their own way. One reflects me at the birth of my blog: still dark with emerging shades of grey, and a header full of a thousand possibilities.  The other shows more of what Ive become: bright, focused and joyous.  These themes are very extreme but they both reflect me and my journey, and I’m excited about that.

Be A Fun Mum 1 Screen Capture

Be A Fun Mum 2

Some are shocked at how deeply I can share but I’m not afraid. Not here. Not anymore. Depression: It doesn’t have to be the new normal. There’s no shame in it. I share because I can, and because someone, maybe just one person out there, might not feel so very alone. There is always hope.

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Comments

  1. Annette says

    Thanks Kelly for sharing about the deep pits of depression. I have suffered depression and its good to be open about it.

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing this very personal and important story. Important because I think that it’s important to ‘say’ this stuff to heal. We are human and need to feel that connection to others to heal, and as bloggers, this is our connection. Important because there will be people out there reading your story, and identifying with it – maybe already diagnosed, maybe not – and it’s important for them to know that they are not alone. YOU are not alone. I am not alone. We are all in this big crazy world together, and we can help each other.

    You are amazing.
    Kirst xx

  3. says

    Thanks for sharing this Kelly. What an incredible encouragement to anyone who has been there, or is there, or will be there. I am bookmarking this.

  4. Meryl says

    Thank you for sharing.
    So many of us have suffered this debilitating illness, thinking we were the only one and feeling so totally alone. For those of you out there who still lay curled up on the floor next to your baby & wondering what the heck is wrong with me to those who just can’t enjoy a beautiful sunny day ~ seek help. This is real and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You deserve to be happy and to live a happy life. Be brave, put yourself first & see your doctor…
    Thanks Kelly for bringing this into the open on your blog :o)
    Meryl

  5. Nicole says

    {{{HUGS}}} its not a fun battle. I love that you are happy to be an open book. There is not a single thing in your life to be ashamed about. Why not share, hopefully others will too and in this cyber community of friends more people will not be alone.

    You are by far my favourite blogger in the world. I dont miss a post. You are like the OPRAH of the cyber world. Having a go at everything and never aftraid to be yourself. :)

  6. says

    Such a wonderful piece Kelly. So honest and real. You will help, encourage, and lift peoples hope with your personal story. We need to know that seeking help is OK! We need to know that we are not alone. We need to know their is no judgement. We need to know that their is hope, just as you shared. Thank you, you inspire me always. xxx

  7. Peta Wright says

    Kelly,
    That was so touching.
    Thank you for sharing in your honest way that I have come to know and love.
    Thank God for the power of transformations! Leaving the old life behind and becoming someone new.
    We all have a hidden potential that can quite often lay untapped. You have tapped into yours and I believe it’s a deep well of awesomeness! You’ve only just skimmed the surface of God’s potential for you! Keep living and “Loving the moment!”
    Peta

  8. michelle says

    This is so powerful. I am really struggling with PND and am not open about it, I feel a bit ashamed I guess, don’t want people to judge, label or pity me; it really is debilitating.
    Anyway I read your blog with such interest and hope. I want to change things, I want to live by my values and be the person I want to be. Your Love the Moment concept is amazing and brings light into the day for me as it helps me do something wonderful with my beautiful children, my children who deserve so much more.

  9. Alissa says

    Bless you for your openness. And thank you for sharing your new normal – it is beautiful to behold.

  10. says

    Loved your blog post! It was written very well too and from the heart. I love that your blog shows your journey the dark greys of the first look and now the bright fun look. I love your Love the Moment Challenge and now understanding the concept behind it I love it even more! What a great tool to help other mums give themselves small goals to achieve, helping them find themselves outside of the mum role! Love your honesty. Just love love love it!
    People need to read these honest things to give them hope and faith in themselves that they too can beat depression.
    x

  11. says

    I know you will not be suprised Kelly, to know that I read this with tears puring down my face.

    For you, your journey, your pain, and your strength.

    You and I have so so so much in common.

    xxx

  12. says

    I know the feeling of trying to be strong for too long. Unfortunately for me the road to recovery has been long and slow.

    I think it is SO important to be open about it. I try to do that too. The more we talk about it, the better chances of others have of recognising things earlier and getting help.

  13. says

    Good on you Kelly ! You have described my depression almost to the letter.
    We need to have conversations about mental illness, about depression, about suicide. There is no shame and the more we talk about it the more people will be helped. May I suggest that if anyone feels that they may have depression that they contact http://www.beyondblue.org.au and for goodness sake talk to someone about it. Friends ! we need to be asking one another too…. Are you OK ? much love Melinda

  14. says

    Kelly, thank you. Thank you for being so brave to share your story. I suffered from depression too.l was diagnosed with PND after my 2nd child, but now that I am on the other side of depression, I look back and see that I suffered from depression throughout my life, even as a child. It is the reason I began my blog too. IT was a HUGE part of my recovery. {I love your new look.} xo

  15. Meegan says

    Thank you for sharing that very moving story. You are doing an AMAZING job and I think you are awesome!!! Love the moment constantly reminds me to do just that!!

  16. Victoria says

    This was so beautifully written and moving Kelly! Thank-you for sharing so openly. It really touched me. I too love reading your blog and love how open and honest and real you are. xo

  17. Lyndall says

    One of the strongest things we can do is to admit we are so weak. May God continue to bless you Kelly as you and your family walk down this road together. Lyndall

  18. says

    Hi Kel, so glad you found out what was wrong and are feeling better. I have walked through this valley also and come through to the brightness on the other side – praise God I have a wonderful husband who walked with me!!! Thank you for sharing your story so openly and honestly, because I know it will help many.

  19. says

    What an amazing story of hope. I came over from Scarlet Rope of hope and your story stirs a very real feeling in me. I know the fear you talk about but I also know the hope of find a doctor who hears and understands. I am now on my own journey of recovery with God as my new doctor. I too have started a blog through out this journey and I love every minute of it. I enjoy being able to share and encourage people but I also love how I can link up with others and be encouraged, like you have done for me tonight. Awesome post :)

  20. says

    I most definitly relate with your ‘new normal’ and thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is always great to see what people do/did to begin the pathway to wellness

  21. says

    I lived with anxiety for 2 years after a traumatic experience and it was the most debilitating and ‘embarrassing’ condition. It is nearly impossible to explain to a person who hasn’t experienced it. Until it happened to me, I was one of those people who rolled their eyes at the words ‘panic attack’.

    Just admitting how you feel and having someone sympathise does indeed lift the weight from your shoulders.

  22. Tenille McNamara says

    I have lived with both depression and anxiety for years at a time and more recently in slight bouts. I get how embarrassing and debilitating both can be. It takes courage to do what you did :) Sometimes now, even after having basically kicked it’s arse, I find it can break me down to nothing before I even realise what is going on. It’s hard to ask for help, especially when people can’t see that you’re sick. I am truly blessed from your openness. Thank you so much :D

  23. says

    So gutsy of you to share this Kelly…so beautifully and vividly expressed. At the moment I’m on a journey to “find myself” after just trying to keep things ticking over with our move across the country last year. Those close to me realise that I haven’t quite been myself lately, and re-reading this post has made me realise that I really need to do something about it. Thank you. You’re such a blessing to me!! Al xxxx

  24. says

    Depression. The uninvited guest that moves in. For as long as it can, and sneaks back in when you think you have evicted it.
    A beautiful raw post. Thank you. And I am so so happy the doctor you approached could listen and respond.

  25. Shannon says

    Thanks for sharing. That is one of the most touching & real descriptions I’ve ever read of a feeling, a state, that can creep into your life & attach itself like a strangler vine sucking the very life out of your whole life.

  26. Christine says

    Thank you for sharing this Kelly. I’ve been there numerous times and for long periods of time. I’ve just found your blog this week. You are helping me to get back on track. Thank you so much for sharing. I wish you love and light on your journey :-)

  27. J says

    Thank you do much gor this page. As a (recovered) pnd sufferer I can relate to a lot of what you say. I had plans to create a similar blog myself but haven’t found the courage. You are truly an inspiration. Please keep it up!

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