In the last few days my life has changed so dramatically I'm not sure if I'll ever get back to the way I was, or whether I want to. Since being diagnosed with depression on Friday I've stripped back most of my responsibilities in order to focus on getting well again, as soon as possible.
I've started on anti-depressant medication (Venlafaxine) and things have been so up and down. I don't know how I'm going to feel from one minute to the next (this will settle down as the doses build up and my body adjusts). There's no general pattern to my emotions, and nothing dramatic. It's more subtle than I imagined. Mostly I have felt generally flat, with frequent bouts of anxiety or fear. When the tears have sprung forth (which tends to happen in the morning) they haven't been precipitated by anything sad, mainly by a feeling of hopelessness.
Since Friday I haven't felt frustrated, or angry or sorrowful. I think the numbness is the scariest thing. For any of you who have watched rugby with me, you'll know I'm so invested in the result and I get so worked up and emotional it's like I turn from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde. It's lucky the referee's can't hear me shouting at them. But on Saturday night I watched passive and emotionless as one of the most gripping games of the season unfolded between my Crusaders and the Hurricanes. I just didn't feel anything. It's like a whole range of highs and lows have been swept away leaving me feeling lost somewhere in the middle.
I think the biggest change is that I now accept I am depressed, and am no longer struggling to hide it or deny that it is happening. As my counsellor said this morning: "You can't be half pregnant." You either are or you're not. Letting go of the control I had, even down to taking a break from most of my usual daily tasks, has been a huge adjustment. My wife took Monday off to take the kids to school and preschool, and we spent the day together. We walked alongside the ocean in Sumner and had lunch and talked about everything. I am so lucky to have her unconditional support. She has taken a huge amount of pressure off me, but I'm conscious I don't want her to overburden herself. As I recover I'll build things back up.
I have really focussed on engaging with the kids these last few days. I'm concerned that they're okay and, while they know I'm not well at the moment, they are happy and coping well. That makes me feel better. I love those guys so much.
My mind feels a bit scrambled at the moment, which is actually making writing coherently a bit of a struggle. On Monday I popped into the bank to deposit a cheque, and after some confusion, worked out I was in ANZ rather than Kiwibank. I tried to order lunch in Sumner and told the waitress three seperate things before I remembered which dish I had actually decided on, leaving her a little confused. This morning I lost my keys (which usually never happens to me). When I finally found them I couldn't find my phone which I had just put down to find the blimmin' keys! I know this will all settle down in time. My counsellor has encouraged me to just relax and not take on too much in the next week or so.
I haven't lost my sense of humour. I am lucky to be fit (running helps a lot). I am staying connected to friends and family (support is important). I'm open about what's happening to me, because there's nothing to be ashamed of. People aren't ashamed when they get the flu after all. My wife and children are incredible. I AM going to get better. I think I will be better, and more empathic, human being for the experience.
I feel this blog is quickly transitioning from the subject of sobriety to mental health. So be it. The two are connected in so many ways. I had planned on finishing writing when my counter clicks over to 365 days next month, but I feel compelled to continue as I work through this depression. If you'll have me for a bit longer.