Guilt, Shame, Sadness... Depression. How does it hit you? And what it does to you? I was dropping off my 8-year-old daughter to school in the morning after her being away on the school trip for four days. The Deputy Head Teacher greeted us sweetly. Once waving goodbye, I asked Mrs. T: "Mrs T, My daughter has mentioning on the way to school that there will be no school today after the trip. She wasn't entirely sure though. Surely, that is confusion?"
It would make perfect sense to have a rest after the trip, I thought, as kids returned in the evening happy and tired and fully deserving to have a bit of rest in the morning.
Mrs T. responded, "They should come to school later afternoon, there was an email sent last week."
… Silence, Shock, Surprise, Guilt, Shame… All of my known old friends arrived together. My mind goes: “You did it again.. You miss this email; you let down your child.” And in the memory flash, I went on seeing how hard it was for Mariana to get up this morning. She could have stayed in Bed for longer... How could I do this to her? Mrs T. sensed my torture and said in a soft voice: “It's ok, there will be few other children there, who have siblings it's ok, don’t worry, she can stay of course from the morning already. ”
I knew there was no point of return at this stage. It’s too late to make any adjustments to my busy schedule. So I leave, Feeling awful.
It’s been 8 years now since postnatal depression hit me. And the hiccups of that old tremendous pain are still returning at a time. It has begun as a profound sense of despair and insecurity around taking care of my little newborn bubble of Joy. She was crying, and every cry felt like a fail to me. "Why can’t I make her feeling content? What is wrong with me?!
New parenthood hit me hard. Being a new mum, I was remarkably sensitive to the potential hostility of the world towards my baby. I could see the possible threat everywhere. From loud noises, drafty rooms, untrusted strangers to the biggest enemy of all – a mighty "bad" bacteria. Somehow, for the first time parents, there is such a massive paranoia lives in regards to dealing with cleanliness and making sure “no bacteria” will reach their newborns. Many commercials you see around you feeding the fear of “bad” bacteria big time.
As a new parent, we have a billion ideas to go through to choose the “right style of parenting” ... and the problem is we can’t “properly stick” with any of those.
Then you go into baby sleep plans, exercise routine, feeding, etc. So many options, so many ways. And you seem to be the one who doesn’t do right any of those. What do we feel about our not so ideal parenting style in the end? Guilt and shame maybe? It was this for me.
I avoided mums groups like hell. I felt completely inadequate and intimidated seeing other confident mums. From my than perspective they seemed to have dealt with their babies brilliantly.
I isolated myself from all possible help that was there. It wasn’t even in my mind to seek help. To seek for what? To teach me how to be a mum? Didn’t make much sense then. I cut off from my friends too, as I found it extremely hard to relate to them. I was in pieces. And to attend any social gathering meant to me to put the energy into it that I simply hadn’t had.
My emotional life was divided into two mixing states: overwhelming preoccupation with a child being protected and safe and a brain fog's indifference towards life itself. The ever growing sense that I am failing as a mother became deeply engraved.
Even now, eight years on, being cured of depression, my self-created idea of parental incompetence still likes to kick in, like this morning, when I realised I missed the school email. The fail as a parent can be triggered by the not properly ironed shirt, forgotten lunch box and long unrealised dreamed holiday.
Unfortunately, there are many of us who keep asking the same question: WHY do I have this feeling of constant failing my child? That there is something I still haven’t done, haven’t delivered, and didn’t provide to her? The sense of Guilt and feelings of Shame are two friends that are always come together. Unfortunately, there is no Magic Pill for this issue at the moment. According to the British Mental Health Foundation, It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. While Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.
The Depression took me on the greatest journey of my life, leaving many shattered dreams and broken promises behind, including my marriage, career and friends. It taught me a lot too.
That you cannot cut it off from your psyche or fight it, neither you cannot pretend that it's not there. And most importantly you can’t run away from it.
Instead, I discovered many things that did work… Like gentleness, self-love, acceptance, kindness, humour, appreciation, gratitude, celebration and making a pact of being your own best friend forever.
Depression has given birth to a new me, mature, grounded and feeling most fulfilled than ever before in my life. It is thanks to this condition I can see myself to the core, learning to be brutally honest with standing firm in my integrity and values and me. It taught me not to compromise myself and treasure every bit of my life, neither to regret about anything.
The Search for the Cure has landed a new career opportunity for me - becoming a facilitator, a supportive hand, a therapist to those who are going through the same.
It gifted me with new relationships and an amazing circle of friends I couldn’t hope to have, as I simply was to shut down to recognise this wealth of goodness that was all the time available for me.
Wherever you are in your life, if you find yourself feeling more senseless than not, more sad than happy, more insecure than solid and stable, these are the signs for an alert. Please don't ignore, don't run, don't pretend. These are simply evidence of lack of balance within you. Meaning that one side of your huge amasingness that you are, the rainbow of colours that you are, the plethora of feelings that you feel is gone out of balance. It's like a rainbow has shrunk some colours that are available to it. NO NEED TO ACCEPT IT.
The Action Steps to take today: 1. Do see a professional. It’s good to know what is the level of depression you may be experiencing. You must be aware. And adhere to the advice. If you are not happy, look for another advice. But keep looking. Don’t accept the status QUO. Happiness is your birth RIGHT. What do you have without you? Take care of you First.
2. Find Support. It can be a local community, meet-up groups, charity run support groups, etc. These groups must not be from your immediate circle. Your relatives and friends may be too much involved in your story and not as effective in simply understanding what you are going through. As well don't deny your close once helping hand. But be honest how you feel about their help.
3. Form a Relationship with Depression through these few steps.
Step One: Allow the feeling of sadness. Simply Recognise it. It has arrived. It’s here.
Step Two. Welcome it. Remember it’s only ONE part of you. It doesn’t define who you are. It’s only one part of your immense, infinitely expansive in its potential psyche. Depression is not a Whole of You. REMEMBER: Feeling cannot be fought against. It’s not a stranger. It’s a Perception. And IT’S OK to have it.
Step Three. Embrace it. Embrace you feeling Sad or Indifferent, or Foggy, whatever that is. By saying it. “I feel foggy/sad/melancholic. And IT’S OK. I am aloud. I give myself permission to feel so.”
NOW. You can stop here, or you can walk further.
Step Four. Find yourself a quiet place. Make a connection to your senses, to your body, to your breath. Allow the feeling to deepen. Here you are forming a link to it. A Connection. And when you are ready, begin the gentle self-enquiry by asking this feeling to tell her story. What is she mourning for ? LISTEN What is the story? LISTEN What makes her feel so indifferent? LISTEN What is behind that indifference? LISTEN
And stay with it.
Step Five. Trust. You are doing something special. Instead of defining it, pushing it away, fighting it – you are stepping into owning your feeling. Here you are indeed taking charge back, by taking responsibility for your feelings in nurturing and loving way. Heartwarming and loving.
Please understand that Noone knows your story. From the moment of birth till now, only you, your mind and body know all the experiences you have gone through.
You are the spectator of the greatest and only movie of your life. Your Own. Noone has your senses, your memory, your reflections, your mental processing ability.
So it’s you and only you who can rewrite the script of your life. AND YOU CAN. Give it to yourself
Please comment if you wish to share your story or have question or clarification. I am very grateful for your insight.