My last post here was a little bleak. Usually I try to maintain a healthy optimism about how I am because it helps me and if anyone does read these posts, well, I don’t think people really want to read bleak do they?
Things got worse for me since then, that spiral went further and faster than it has for a long time. My commute to work each daywas an hour in tears, thoughts whispering about how easily I could permanently end all my troubles. I stopped staying over in hotels as my thoughts alone in a dark quiet hotel were overwhealming. At home I hid everything away and pretended I was fine – distracting myself with phone games and “stuff”, At work I found excuses to be away from my desk and hiding in toilets and in the stationary cupboard (no – you are right, I did just say that I was hiding in a stationary cupboard!!!) and sleep was replaced with more tears and unending oppressive silence. Bad. And the pressure from work was building horrendously as I was asked to take on projects from colleagues on holiday and colleagues who were ill.
I had time off work booked though so I thought – “I can make it – I can get through to my two weeks off and it will be ok” but you know, I really couldn’t carry on. I have in the past but as everything got darker I knew this was going to be different and so one morning I asked to see my manager privately.
I’ve never told them about my depression, I’ve got the “oh no, I’m fine!” act down to an art form. Somehow I managed to stay in control though and explain to my manager just how not fine I was. I told him everything; how I cried about coming to work, how I felt totally unable to deal with things, wasn’t sleeping and that I needed not to be there – to reset my head. Telling him felt like a massive weight lifting from my shoulders, and to his credit my manager really listened and took it all in. All my fears about admitting my “inadequacies” were unfounded and he agreed to everything I asked, offered me counselling and reassured me my fears of not being up to life were not shared by him or the company. I left wondering why on earth I hadn’t been able to have these conversations before, if I had maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to this place at all.
Or maybe I would – you can’t really tell with mental health can you?
My work offered me counselling so I phoned the number they gave me. I spoke to a really lovely lady for over an hour and at the end of the conversation I had to be scored to see if I were eligible for one to one sessions. They told me that unfortunately my score was too low for them to see me – they actually suggested I phone back a week later (once I had gone on sick leave) to get rescored in case I felt less depressed and had a higher score – then they could see me! I thanked them, hung up and actually had my first genuine laugh in weeks – I was actually too depressed to be counselled! Go me!!!
Anyway the time off helped. My head was mashed, I was exhausted and I had lost track of who I was. But I still had my “proper” counselling worksheets so I re-examined them and started to restore my balance. Then during all this Chester Bennington killed himself last week.
Earlier this year I heard their song Heavy played for the first time and it took my breath away. It was a song that spoke to me and summed up what I was going through. The video that accompanied it could have been a recording of my life, I think I played it everyday since. Their albums have always given me solace, the anger and understanding of their lyrics reasonating on many different levels., but Heavy was my song, and then Chester took his own life and I felt the rug pulled out from under my feet again. I cried for Chester, for myself, for everyone who has had to suffer this kind of episode / way of life / disease / affliction. We shouldn’t have to feel this way, Chester shouldn’t have felt it necessary to take his life like my work colleague shouldn’t have had to either. Yet again I reaffirm that I won’t let this beat me but god it’s hard going sometimes.
And so to the optimistic end section! I’m grieving for Chester, I’m giving myself some time and space and I am back at work. My workload is light and manageable and I am been given the necessary support to carry on. At home I’ve talked things through with my wife and as ever she is my saviour, my touchstone, my love and my hope. I’m still crying spontaneously at things I see and hear but vitally I have restored the balance in my head and I feel able to control myself and surroundings again.
I wish I had talked to people at work sooner and explained how I felt before I got to the point I did, it has made everything better and I would urge anyone to speak up before it gets too bad to deal with.