So the balance tipped. Quite suddenly in the end.
My colleague saw me sitting dazed and tearful at the end of Thursday and realised what had happened. Insisted I wasn’t to come to work the next day and to get some help.
That night, I hardly slept. By 3am, I was wide awake. Restless and chaotic, but empty. At 5am, I got out of bed, threw some clothes on, left the house and started walking. It was still dark and that normally would have frightened me walking around the streets. But not this time. I felt detached. I knew where I wanted to go. To the place that has always been a haven. A place of peace and sanctuary. The Cathedral. It is not close to where I live; a walk that far would normally have daunted me. But I didn’t notice, though I was so slow from exhaustion. A city so quiet as I have never seen before. The sun was rising and shone onto the Cathedral as I arrived. Beautiful. Took a photo so I could take it home and remember the calm of the moment whenever I felt I wanted to be there again. I wanted to go inside, but everything was locked. I stood at the door and said ‘Let me in’ to myself. I so needed to get inside. But I just had to wait. It started to rain and I got colder and colder. Then the doors were unlocked and went inside. No-one else around. Absolute silence. Perfect. But I knew I couldn’t stay here forever.
A friend who knew I had been struggling sent me a message asking how I was. So grateful that friends were thinking of me. I replied, feeling only half-aware of what I was writing. I briefly described the feelings. So confusing. I’ve always loved life; so much beauty and things to see and experience. Always aware of how short life is and how suddenly it can be taken away. Must make the most of all of it. But now, my mind just wanted to shut the world away. Be completely at peace. She wanted to know where I was. I didn’t say. I knew I didn’t want my life to end, but I wanted to ‘switch my life off,’ just for a while. This made all sorts of terrible thoughts flash intermittently through my mind.
I got myself home several hours later to find my husband had come home from work desperately concerned. A GP appointment was made for me and I was duly taken to get things sorted. Time to accept what is happening. Broken. Depression. There….I said it.
Returned home feeling numb and confused. The tears had stopped. Now just nothing. But so many conflicts. Things racing around my mind, things that needed doing, things that needed sorting. Things that I wanted to just get up and get on with like I always have done.
But I couldn’t. So utterly empty and exhausted in every way. Part of me not caring whilst part of me finding it stressful and frustrating. Waves of panic running through my chest like a deep ache.
A tablet to take; such a huge challenge. I tell my patients there’s nothing wrong with this happening. ‘It’s no different to physical illness.’ But it feels different now it’s me. Weak. Failed. Pathetic.
I had barely moved from one spot for several days and nights. Staying curled up; quiet and alone is what I yearned for. In and out of fragments of sleep. No concept of time. Not wanting to talk; shutting out friends and family. Reading for a few minutes. Writing for a few minutes; where has the writing come from? Then rest again. No energy or inclination to wash or eat. Not able to cope with the children at all; the rest of the family living life in the rest of the house whilst I stay cocooned under the duvet in the bedroom with the door shut. The toddler just thinks my back is sore again and tries to kiss it better.
I tell myself not to be silly. I was fine last week. This is just daft; I need to snap out of it, get a grip and go back to normal.
But I can’t.
Family and friends are wonderful. Keeping in touch; though I’m still barely letting them in. Colleagues popping by. No, not just colleagues; they are showing what true friends they are now. Being brought food, encouraged to eat. It makes me feel sick, but I know I have to do it.
Then a better day – Tuesday. I cope with the children for the hardest hour I have ever had with them; just about. Then they go to their grandparents’ house for the day.
It’s got me out of bed. Out of the room. I can do this; I can function again. I have a shower and get dressed; never has this felt more momentous. Then pause and rest; never has it also felt so draining. Back to it; get some washing on. Then have to rest again. Maybe I’m trying too hard too soon.
A colleague and friend pops by with some food. Insists I eat before she has to go back to work. Asks for us to sit outside in the sun in the garden. This is actually quite nice. But now I want to go and rest again.
Small steady steps. Time to climb the ladder of recovery. One rung at a time.