I wonder how many of us have tried looking back over our past and analysing ourselves on when, how and why we ended up as sufferers of depression. I’ll guarantee that at some point in the last few years we have all done it! I know I have on many occasions. Because I ask myself constantly, when and why did it all go wrong? I keep asking myself those same questions, but as I can not give myself a definitive answer after all this time, then I sense that some how I never will find the true answers to my own questions. The only answer I can give myself is that I can remember when I became aware all was not well with my mental state of mind.
For some reason I sense that if I knew the answer to these questions, and I could pinpoint the exact reason and time it occurred, then I could prevent it from happening again, and I could prevent that same trigger being pulled again and it would stop me spiralling downwards again. If only it was that easy! For some the answer is more straight forward than for others.
The truth is I have never been able to ‘pinpoint’ the exact time in my life it all started to have an effect on me. And may be that is a good thing. But one thing is sure, depression doesn’t just start over night. A long series of stressful and emotional situations that built up over a period of time in my life was I believe the cause of my own depression.
When I look back over the last 25 years of my life, I feel that any point in time could have been the trigger that started me on a roller coaster ride. And I can remember thinking to myself how well I had coped with certain situations at those points in time……thinking about it in the here and now is a different story. As a much younger adult I felt I had the confidence and the abilities to deal with any situation that came along.
In 1998/99 a series of problems surrounding my physical health and well-being I feel played a major part in my depression. Following on from that in the summer of 1999 a very dear friend of mine passed away from breast and lung cancer. I had only known her a few short years but we had become part of a group of five very close friends. I had been visiting her in hospital every day for several weeks. Then we were given the news that she was expected only to live for a few more days. On the Friday morning I was on my way to work, it was a bright warm sunny June morning. Something made me change my mind about going to work. To this very day I still do not know what it was that made me change my mind and go instead to the hospital. I stayed with my friend Pat throughout the day. Early in the afternoon whilst holding her hand and talking to her she slipped peacefully away. I had never been with a dying person before, and it felt strange that I had been the one to be chosen to be with her during those last few hours.
A few days later, after the funeral, although still very saddened and upset by Pats death, I was due to go away on holiday to Scotland for a few days. I had myself become ill again. But as you do, you carry on determined not to let anything get you down. In the September after my return from my holiday, I collapsed at home with a suspected bowel blockage and was rushed into hospital, where I was kept for two weeks until further investigation and tests were done. I had already been diagnosed with endometriosis about 18 months earlier and as a result of that I had had my left ovary and fallopian tube removed and was then treated for the disease to stop it spreading in to my other ovary, and I was told I would then be ok. Unfortunately this was not the case, the disease had spread and had caused several large cysts to form including one that was attached to and pressing down on my bowel. At this stage, at the age of 35 I was told I needed to have a hysterectomy. I had to endure several months of injections to put me into an early menopause, and to make it safe to operate. I was told at this time also that because my bowel was completely stuck to the uterus, there was a very big chance that I would end up with a colostemy…..whether temporary or permanent at that point the surgeon didn’t know. The surgery was scheduled for April 2000.
In the February of the yr 2000, my cousin Graham very suddenly passed away. This was a massive shock to all the family, especially as we had all got together only two night before his death, for his youngest daughters 30th birthday gathering. My mom was very close to Graham, as she had helped to bring him up when he was a boy. Mom had not been very well herself when this happened, and the shock of this certainly did not help her, a few weeks later she had to be admitted to hospital.
Within a few more weeks mom had been diagnosed with cancer… non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The doctors told us because of her age at 74 and her general health they weren’t very hopeful, but agreed to give her chemotherapy and see if it would help her and give her a little more time.
I can’t really explain what happened next…but it was more of a feeling of deja vu.
On the evening of 28th April 2000, mom deteriorated very quickly and the doctor came and told us she only had a few hours to live. We were asked to make an agreed decision, not to allow mom to be revived when the inevitable happens. For some reason my mind went back to the previous June and and my friend Pat, being with her those last few hours. It all began to make sense to now. What happened with Pat, and me being with her those last few hours of her life was preparing me for this day. The family were allowed to come and say their goodbyes to mom, before finally in to the early hours of the Sunday morning 29th April, just my dad, brother, sister-in-law and myself were with her at her bedside. Dad left the room for a few minutes to go to the toilet, I held my moms hand, and it was as though she waited for dad to leave the room, and I told her everything would alright and it was ok now for her to leave us and go and join her other sisters. Moments later she passed away, dad returned to the room a couple of minutes later. It was without a doubt the saddest day of my life.
A few weeks later in mid June, I was admitted to hospital for my operation, to be done by two specialist surgeons who were to perform the operation side by side.. It hit home to me then, that for as long as I could remember my mom had always been there for me in the past when ever I had been ill, but this time for the most important operation in my life she wasn’t there for me. I was being prepared by a stoma nurse to accept the fact that I could wake up with a colostomy bag on my side.
After almost 5 hrs of surgery, I was woken up to find to my relief no colostemy bag attached to me. The surgeons had somehow managed to avoid damaging the bowel, and thus avoiding having to perform the colostemy . Whilst I am and will always remain indebted to those surgeons and their theatre team, I somehow felt that my mom was watching over me that day, and making sure everything worked out right for me.
Those two years were the toughest ever years of my life and at the time I did think I had coped well with all that happened, the trauma, emotion and the loss. It was no surprise then that a few months after that I realised my life was changing and I was on a journey that would bring me down into the darkest place in existence.
Reflecting upon all of this now, I do feel that there was that part of my life back then that contributed in a major way to the start of my ‘realisation’ that I was suffering from depression.
In conclusion I feel that no matter how hard I try to find the answers to when, how or why it all started, I will not find them. But I do have to accept the fact that it did happen……and there are some things that are out of our control.