Depression (I’m not writing dear, you’re not dear to anyone).
I’ll get straight to the point.
I hate you.
Hate isn’t a word I use lightly, in fact I think it’s a word that I’ve mostly reserved for you. There are so few things that I hate but you’re right at the top of the list.
I hate you for the things that you’ve taken from me; control, self-worth, motivation and confidence to name but a few.
I hate you for the things that you’ve give me; the sometimes overwhelming fear and anxiety, the endless tears, self-loathing, mistrust, paranoia and despair.
Gifts that are so very much unwanted but that I’ve ended up having to keep as they’ve somehow become assimilated into my very being and I’ve no more idea how to exorcise them than I have to turn back time.
I hate you for torturing me with thoughts and plans to take my own life but also for not letting me go through with them. There were times when it was crueller to keep me alive and you stood beside me day and night telling me that even if I did die no one would care; that all I would be was a messy inconvenience and a pile of paperwork that would be a chore for someone to fill in.
I would find myself standing on the platform of the train station or in front of the medicine cabinet and realise that I could end it all but if I was gone you couldn’t hurt me any more and so you made me carry on.
I’m no use to you if I’m dead.
I think most of all I hate you for hurting people other than me; the Northern One, my mum and dad, my brother, the few friends that I’ve been able to keep despite your best efforts to make me drive them away. You’ve spent so many years breaking me down that I truly believe that we deserve each other and although I hate you I hate myself more.
I swear that you will never hurt Squidge.
Whatever it takes, you will not touch him.
You’ve taken me and twisted me, unmaking and remaking me to suit you but so that sometimes when I look in the mirror and I don’t recognise my own reflection. Slowly but surely you took over my mind; in the same way that an infection enters the blood and poisons the body so did you and I was just as powerless to stop you.
I took the medications the doctor prescribed and I attended the appointments that were arranged but the damage was already done and the scars were permanent.
You are the reason that I have nightmares and panic attacks.
You are the reason that I hate myself so much there are days when I can barely get out of bed.
You are the reason that I find it so difficult to make friends, even though I don’t want to be alone.
You are the reason that I tried to push everyone away because I didn’t deserve their love.
You are the reason that I thought I could never love Squidge.
But I can.
It wasn’t love at first sight, you saw to that but through him I realised that even though there was pain and fear in my world there could also be love and joy and that any of those things was better than feeling nothing at all. You persuaded me that the safest thing to do was hide from everything without finding out whether something was good or bad but after you tried to make me leave Squidge at the hospital and he found something deep inside of me to call me back I knew that I would never be able to hide away from the world again.
Now I’m trying to claw back so many things from your iron grip; my enjoyment of reading and writing and taking photographs, my belief in myself as a nurse, my ability to make friends without assuming that they think I’m boring, undesirable, a horrible person.
Your grip may be iron but iron rusts.
Slowly but surely I am regaining control.
Something once so strong it seemed undiminishable disintegrating as time passes.
Just like you will.
Yesterday I read a book, not just one book but three and although it may seem like a small victory compared to the hold you have over me small victories add up and I bet there was a time when you thought I’d never read a whole book again.
There were times when I thought that reading was something lost to me forever; I understood the letters but I couldn’t put them together to form words. They would wriggle and twist and slip out of my reach, taking with them the escapism into worlds both old and new that I so badly needed. I would sit on the sofa and stare blankly at the shelves with their rows and rows of coloured spines and I would feel empty.
I think the loss of my ability to read was one of the hardest things. I’d been a bookworm since I could read and it was one of the things that I felt made me, me.
But I wasn’t me anymore, I was yours.
But now that’s changed.
Today I got out of bed even though you told me I couldn’t do it and I felt so afraid that I wanted to curl up under the duvet and hide there forever. I got showered and dressed, even though you looked me up and down and declared that I was fat and ugly, a disgusting disgrace. I cleaned the kitchen even though you screamed at me that it was too much to cope with, I blogged even though you made me feel as though I would dissolve into panic and I chose the next book I’m going to read.
A paper-back book may not seem much of a weapon and maybe it’s not but I have a far bigger one.
Without even trying he’s restored so many things to my life that I believed had gone forever.
With him I’m always able to get up in the morning, even if it takes all the will power that I can muster.
He helped me to rediscover the joy of reading because even though I couldn’t find the will to fight you for myself I found it for him.
Every day with him gives me a different reason to smile and laugh and find the joy in life; something that you’ll never take from me again.
I’ve started writing as you’ve probably noticed and that’s down to Squidge as well. It was something I’d though about on a few occasions but you were always there to tell me what a ludicrous idea it was; that no one would want to read about my life when even I had wanted to escape from it.
But people do want to read what I’ve written, they want to read about my life as a nurse and a mum even with all the ugly bits still in. They don’t tell me I’m a shameful, despicable person, instead they praise me for fighting and thank me for my honesty and the work that I do.
I considered not writing about you but reducing you to words on a page shows that I’m not frightened of you; that I’m so confident that the lies you’ve whispered in my ear for the last ten years aren’t true that I’ll write them down for people from all around the world to read and to refute as well.
I thought you were so powerful, so all consuming that there was nothing I could do but accept you as the defining factor in my life but you’ve been beaten back by me who you thought you’d broken beyond repair and someone who can’t feed himself yet without poking himself in the eye with the spoon.
I carried on with the pregnancy even though you were there every single step of the way trying new ways to destroy us; to make certain that I couldn’t love him and that I would loathe myself for it even more than I do now.
Instead I found my reason to live.
And live I will.
My life won’t change over night and nor did I expect it to. I will take anti-depressants for the rest of my life because the Northern One asked me to promise that I would and I love him more than I dislike the tablets. During my pregnancy there were days when he was afraid to go to work because of the very real possibility that I might not be there when he got home and there is nothing you can do that will make me put him through that again.
There’s still a very long way to go; there will still be good days and bad and I know that I’ll have to carry on fighting you every day for the rest of my life but never again will you consume me so utterly that all I could see was darkness and all I could feel was pain and fear.
Yours, no longer or ever again
PS Fuck you
PPS I’ve never been a lady.