Some of you may have noticed that I have not been very consistent in with my blog writing. The truth is that I have been battling depression and anxiety during the last almost twelve months, I don’t know exactly when it started, to be honest. It has a way of sneaking in ever so gently that you don’t even notice until you’re deep in it. My first impulse is to think, I should have known better as this isn’t the first time depression hits me, but then I remember what I learnt in therapy – be kind to myself! Yes, in therapy I learnt not to use the words like ‘should’, ‘shouldn’t or ‘should have’.
That indeed is a big challenge for me; in my mind, I am always thinking that I should have known better, should have organised my time better, should eat healthier and exercise more, should watch less TV, should read more, etc. I have been feeding a feeling of guilt all my life and it is so strong that is has not been easy to break free from it. I can safely say that feeling guilty has been my worst enemy. This feeling has made me feel unworthy of love and success and peace for most of my life. The first psychiatrist I saw in 2010 when I was first diagnosed associated this feeling with the roman catholic religion; I am not so sure about that. Although I have been raised in a roman catholic family, I have also been taught that God loves me and about forgiveness. So, I’m won’t go there for now as it would probably be another blog post altogether. Nevertheless, my parents raised me to feel guilty, guilty for my mistakes, guilty for my siblings’ tantrums, guilty for my dad’s moods and so on. So much so that it is very hard for me now, not to feel responsible for everyone’s happiness and success.
I have to say, though, that since I had therapy the first time I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I am a lot better. I have learnt that I am not responsible for other people’s behaviour and I can only be responsible for my actions and everyone is responsible for their own actions. But from time to time, it’s like I forgot everything I have learnt. For the last three years, I have been feeling guilty because my youngest sister is the only one in Portugal taking care of our parents and I think it is also my responsibility to be there for them and help. However, life circumstances lead that I have moved to England in 2002 and this is my home now. Should I have moved back to Portugal to help my parents in their old age and sickness? No, I don’t think so because my life is here now, my children were raised here and this is their home. Going back to Portugal wouldn’t be fair on any of us and our life wouldn’t be easy over there right now. What I can do now is to support my sister the best I can, and help whenever I can. I have started going over there twice a year, which I think has helped. And that’s all I can do.
Three years ago, we were told that my dad had cancer and that it was so advanced, he already had metastases in his bones and it was terminal. His doctor previewed that he wouldn’t live for much more than twelve months. I think I started grieving him in that moment. I have been grieving my dad’s lost health and strength, my mum and sister have lost peace and freedom and the fact that I can not be there to support them. This is why I have not been able to start grieving my mum’s death and I am suffering so much with it. And I keep thinking that if I had taken her to the hospital sooner, she might have been saved, that I should have called the ambulance for her.