Random Thoughts

How’s My Head and How’s My Heart? #BellLetsTalk

I was diagnosed with depression 14 months ago.

There. I’ve said it. I have not ‘outed’ myself publicly about this before. Not that I was embarrassed. I just felt that this journey was my own, my coming of age, somehow finally growing up.

It took me two months to admit to it; needed to appear strong, needed to appear capable, needed to appear confident, in control, needed…needed. December 2015 saw me literally hiding. Hiding in bed with the curtains drawn, covers over my head, television blaring away in the next room: the white noise drowning out the fear and loathing in my heart and in my head. I could not function, could only cry. When I did get up, I would shuffle about for 40 minutes and then slump back into bed. No energy, no desire. Nothing. I removed myself to the country to try and heal. I continued to work, but took a very short leave of absence, convincing myself that all would be fine with the Happy New Year 2016. I revealed my depression to only a few chosen people. Family, two close friends and of course my husband. All were supportive; very supportive. But I was shocked that their initial response was surprise. Surprised that I appeared to ‘have it all together’. Surprised that ‘ I have such a great life, how can you be suffering from depression’. Surprised, mostly, that depression was happening in their own backyard and they frankly were completely unaware or didn’t have a clue how to respond or handle this.

On a very cold, and desperately dark December 15th I discovered this piece by Mary Oliver:

The Journey:
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.”

And indeed, on January 5th, 2016, I scheduled some time with a wonderful man, a five-minute, brisk walk from Chester Station in Toronto. I cannot say that this last September was really any better than last. But simply reading Mary’s words again gave me hope, gave me thrill, (if I can still feel that), gave me courage. To follow, follow, follow, follow ‘the only life you could save’.

Post-script: I can happily report that one year later, I am free(er), lighter, clearer. How’s my heart and how’s my head? Very good, thank you! #bellletstalk and continue to talk about depression and mental illness, because it’s here, around you, in your own back yard, at the desk beside you, across the table from you, sleeping beside you. 

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