On Thursday night I paced around my living room waiting to be picked up for a catchup in town with a few mates. I was shaking with anxiety, feeling so desperate I was on the verge of pulling out. But I decided to go and I'm glad I did. I told them about the depression because I wanted them to feel like they could speak up if they were struggling, and we chatted about it before moving on. They were supportive as I knew they would be. By the end of the night I felt great.
A couple of people have told me of the dark, dark place they found them self in with depression, one to the very edge of taking their own life. Seeing that they had clawed back to wellness and gotten their life back in balance is very inspiring. Seeing them thriving tells me I will get through this and also puts my current struggles in perspective. I feel grateful I called out for help early before I sunk too deep, that I'm physically fit, and sober, and that I have incredible support and love around me. I have the odds stacked heavily in my favour.
A good friend gave me the advice to: "Talk about it, and keep talking". Talking does help me, whether it is about the depression or anything. Having a connection to people is a lifeline. I'm finding isolation and silence the hardest conditions to navigate.
My youngest daughter has gone with her grandmother to the North Island. The night before she left, she came downstairs balling her eyes out saying: "I'm going to miss you Daddy!" That was hard. My wife and I wondered if we were doing the right thing sending her, but yesterday morning we kept things low key and she was far more settled and excited again about her big adventure. I got text reports all day yesterday saying how awesome she was and that she was loving her trip.
Yesterday was by far my best day since I started medication. It was the day I doubled my dose, and I felt the fog slowly lifting. I went to a morning yoga class which was absolutely brilliant for relaxing my mind, focussing the body and, most importantly for me at the moment, staying in the present. It was great for my breathing. As the class progressed I could feel the anxiety in my body ease. This will be a weekly activity. In the afternoon I went to Preschool to do my hour and a half helping the teachers pack up. One little girl was in such a happy mood it was infectious. Another boy helped me roll up the carpets. Spending time with the kids was healing. The teachers all showed their care and concern - one giving me a couple of wee easter eggs, and making me a cup a coffee as my anxiety returned and my mood, and energy, crashed. By the end of the day I was exhausted, but I felt my sharpness of mind had returned and my mood lifted, albeit temporarily.
Being around people is helping me. My counsellor gave me a piece of advice last week at the end of our session to try and avoid "turning into" the depression, and instead "turn out". I've thought about that quite a bit this week.
This morning I ran along the Heathcote River and watched the languid, steady flow of the water, wishing my life could be like that; easy, effortless, quiet, moving in a clear direction.
Right now my life is very simple; Sleep, medication, exercise, rest, staying connected, being with my family.
Those are the only things that are important right now. There's little to no room for desire, ambition or urgency.
In the last week I've become far more attuned to how my children and wife are feeling. One upside is I've deepened my bond with my children; looking them in the eye more, listening to them, and responding to their emotional needs in a far more connected way. Doing this has helped me recognise the ways they give that love and attention back to me; how much I need them and how much they need me. That is a gift. After nearly 21 years with my wife, our relationship has deepened too as we turn towards each other and discover the depths of each other's love and inner strength.