Okay so I’ve suffered on and off from depression for most of my life. I’ve always had insight into why I feel bad, and why I have low self esteem. I believe my particular problem is not due to a chemical imbalance. It’s often situational; triggered by events in my life or the circumstances that I find myself in. I’ve only just found out it’s called reactive depression. For the past six years I’ve lived at my mother’s, paying board and for internet and Foxtel. I contribute to bills when I can, but that is very rarely, as I am an unemployed student, attempting to complete an arts degree. I live in Australia, so anyone who knows our welfare system will know that I and others like me subsist on a payment that has been 40% below the poverty line and hasn’t seen an increase since the early ’90’s, despite inflation.
But enough about that. As I’ve mentioned, my depression is due to circumstances, often beyond my control. So I haven’t sought professional help until recently, because I didn’t think it would make a difference. After a particularly traumatic past few months, when my mother threw my daughter out of the house, forcing her to live with her schizophrenic father and his mother, I’ve come to the realization that if I don’t get serious and talk to someone, I might end up doing something stupid and irreversible.
My therapist is a lovely lady named Kate who instantly took me seriously when I told her I had a plan for how I was going to do it; and that I didn’t want my family finding me (my body). She conducted a couple of questionnaires to see where I fit on the DAT scale for level of depression and my result was a high/extreme level. I’m not threatening to slit my wrists tomorrow, mind, but give me a reason … anyway, she asked if maybe hospital might be an option, and I said no, not at this stage. She also helped me work out a safety plan, what I would do if I was on the verge of suicide.
My point in posting this blog is that if you are like me and you are on the brink, please go and get help. It’s a relief to hear that someone actually takes you seriously and will listen – even if they’re paid to do so – without judgement. One of my problems has been that while certain members of my family and circle of friends claim to be supportive, when I try to talk to them about how I’m feeling they ALWAYS make it about them. Every. Single. Time. My mother’s attitude is that she has had such a shit life, and her husband was a bastard, and her brother was murdered, and her niece killed herself, so by rights she should be the one bound for the nuthouse, learning how to retie her shoelaces and speaking in tongues, but she’s not. Way to go, Mum, I feel like saying. Want a medal? Because I can organize one for you that says ‘World’s strongest woman’. Depression isn’t about how much shit you’ve had to endure. No one’s applauding you for not going bat-shit crazy. Weird thing is, she seems to think I should be happy. Um, I’m 43 years old, with no job, no money, no car, no prospects for getting said job or car, and I live with my mother. Also, my brother has had anxiety, depression and a death phobia that he has been seeking help for and takes medication for, and for some reason, she doesn’t give him the same “oh why are you depressed, you’ve got everything to live for” crap. She recognizes his problems as real whereas mine are … I don’t know, a symptom of me being a drama queen, perhaps? The reason I don’t discuss my depression is because I know I’ll get shut down and told that I should just “do something about it”. Like, go and get a job.
Because it’s just THAT easy. In an environment where there are 700,000 people unemployed in this country and 150,000 jobs, what are the odds?!