Posted in My Planet

Why depression was the best thing that happened to me part II

This week I thought I’d develop the theme of why depression was the best thing that has happened to me. Because of the depression and anxiety, I had therapy for a long time during which I learned so much about myself, it was like I was reborn. However, I just want to make clear from the beginning of this post that this is not a linear process; I still have moments of struggle and days when I feel like a fraud and that everything I have to do requires the same amount of energy to launch a rocket into space. Lately though, most of the time I’m good.

My childhood was different from that of the other children I knew, including my siblings, as being the eldest more was required from me. My parents had a business and I had to help out from an early age, before school, after school and during the school holidays. So when most children were happy for school holidays, I always preferred the time spent in school, which for me was the equivalent to play time. My father always expected me to work in the business like an adult, he criticised every single action and every single mistake I made; nothing was ever good enough for him and he was never pleased with whatever I was doing. If all that wasn’t enough to make a little girl feel inadequate, he also loved to humiliate me in front of the customers and the other children that lived on our street and were always playing out. When I was growing up in the 70’s, my parents did things to me that make me cringe now that I had therapy and learned it wasn’t right, but all my life – although I didn’t feel good about it – I carried the weight of shame and guilt as if I could have changed things. For example one Summer my family went out for a day in Spain and I stayed at home alone because there was no room for me in the car, I was 10 years old. Can you imagine how a little 10-year-old girl would feel being left home alone waiting for her family to come back home? My parents, my brother, my sister, my auntie, my uncle and my cousin; they all went and I was left at home. What I remember most of that day was that I was at the window all day waiting for them to come back, it must have been one of the longest days of my life. I knew that I was the least worth person in the family because I was the one they left behind without a second thought, or apology, or any kind of bribe, there was no need I just had to accept the fact that there was no room for me. Today this would have been classed as child cruelty, I’m sure. Not only I worked for my parents business without any pay or recognition, I was also the least worth child in the family. This was one of many identical situations. In my parents’ mind, because I was the eldest I was almost classed as an adult, every issue between myself and any of my siblings was undeniably my fault for the simple fact that I was the eldest and therefore should know better. What they forgot was that I was only 18 months older than my brother, so also a child. My brother was good and it wasn’t his fault that he was the only one allowed to play out while I had to work or the one that got a bike while I never had one. I never got given toys for Christmas or birthdays, while the other girls exhibited their dolls on Christmas day, what I got was pajamas and chocolates from our cafe. I always felt in disadvantage and turned into an adult with an immense need for love and acceptance, but with very low standards, which lead me to very bad decisions – but I won’t go anymore into that for now.

What I want to focus now on this post is that due to the depression and anxiety, for the first time in my life I had to face all these ghosts from the past in therapy and learned that my parents were abusive towards me, not physically abusive but emotionally and mentally, which leaves long-term marks that we don’t see. I learned that it wasn’t my fault that my parents didn’t know how to love me and how to appreciate me or make me feel like a worthy human being. I love them, but I hated how they made me feel and that is ok. I learned that I did the best I could with what I had and there is nothing to be ashamed of. I did really well actually and I have raised three beautiful children who I always made sure to feel loved. After the depression, I learned my worth and I know that I deserve to be loved and respected and that allowed me to find the person that treats me the way I deserve, my lovely husband. All my relationships improved after the depression, but most importantly my relationship with myself had a massive boost. It’s still a work in progress, but everything changed for the better.

Posted in Poetry

Creative Portfolio (6)

The Moment

 

“I don’t know you anymore”,

you said.

“You used to go to work every day”,

you cried.

“You always found new possibilities,

always exploring, never unsure”,

your voice trembling.

“Even grandma said

you’d never stop surprising her,

it was in your DNA”

you were sobbing.

“I don’t understand”

 

“I’m still here”, I said.

“It’s like a tree in the winter, lifeless…

It’s a tree, nonetheless.

The winter will give way to spring,

the grey branches will turn green

happily bouncing with energy”,

I continued.

“Summer will follow with bright flowers,

juicy fruits, quenching and deliciously

refreshing”, I think now I was smiling.

“It will still be me in the autumn,

the leaves falling and leaving a warm tapestry

on the floor, made up with coloured patterns

and soft textures”. By now I was convinced.

“Just remember, if winter returns

and I turn blue again, it won’t be permanent”.

 

This poem refers to the moment when I realised the extent to which my depression was affecting my loved ones, and the moment I decided I had to kick it in the ass –  not easy as it sounds here, but a good start.

Posted in My Planet

How to identify the first signs of depression

I started writing this post a week ago, but I was then too tired and maybe too confused to complete it. So I’m going to do it now because I have been thinking about this problem for a while. When I talk about the beginning of my depression, I never know when the first signs began and I always talk about the time when I was diagnosed. So instead of saying that I have suffered from depression since 2010, I say that I was diagnosed in 2010. February 2010 was when I started to break down at work and my manager suggested that I went to see my GP, he said that he’d been observing me and noticed a change; he suspected that I had depression and that my GP would sign me off work for a while. I confess that at that moment, I had no idea what depression was, I had heard about it, but the concept was very abstract in my mind. I don’t think anyone who has suffered from depression can accurately say when it exactly started. We don’t know because we don’t know the signs and more often than not, we don’t even know what depression is in fact. Depression is one of those things that is very difficult to understand when we haven’t experienced it. And despite all the efforts to bring awareness to the general public these days, there is still a lot of stigma to it.

Lately, I have been trying to draw a picture of my early stage of depression, I look back on time and try to find the first symptoms. I can’t say if it was the permanent tiredness, frequent insomnia, lack of pleasure in activities that I used to enjoy, the feeling that there was no point in going to the gym or in wearing make up – just to mention two examples – the thoughts that I was a failure and a burden and so on. I don’t know what started first or when it started. All I can say is one minute I have a job I love doing and feel very grateful for, I go to the gym every morning before work, enjoy the journey to work listening to the radio, and my life seems to be going better than it has ever been. Everything seems to be working ok, my daughter is in college and has a job, my boys are doing well in school and I have friends with whom I share good times; my life is good for the first time in a very long time. Next minute, I feel tired all the time, can’t sleep, stop going to the gym, start to isolate myself, nothing gives me pleasure anymore and I think no one wants my company, I feel like a failure, a bad mother, a bad friend, I am making mistakes at work and I feel inadequate.

One of the things I remember just before the diagnosis was the disconnection between body and mind. Your mind knows what you should be doing, but the body just doesn’t follow. Like when you know you need a shower, but your body refuses to follow instructions. Sometimes you might be having a conversation and say something really stupid, that you know doesn’t make sense, but you just can’t help it. I was making mistakes at work and I knew it, but I couldn’t help it. To this day, I still can’t explain it. And this still happens when I have my low moments, the difference is now I know why it happens and I am not so hard on myself – most times.

Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments if you ever felt this way xxx

Posted in My Planet

We Got Married – Finally!

Yes, we got married on 21 June 2017. It was a lovely ceremony and a fun reception, very intimate with just over fifty guests – only the people that matter to us was there. I wanted to get married on 22 June because that was my 50th birthday, but the hotel chosen for the reception was already booked up for that date, so I settled for the day before. At least I can say I got married before I turned 50 – at least that’s what my husband says.

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It was a dream wedding because everyone had a good time, all the guests enjoyed themselves and that was everything we both wanted – that everyone had a party to remember. My bridesmaids looked gorgeous, the flower girls and page boys were a dream and the singer during the ceremony added a romantic and emotional tone.

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My daughter and I planned everything, she did so much for this wedding – I don’t know if I will ever be able to pay her back for everything she has done. But it all worked out perfect. The venue was very good and the food was delicious, the cake wasn’t only delicious but also stunning, the DJ and photo booth were a real treat and my hair stayed up all night – yey! The flowers got a lot of praise, I designed and made my own bouquet and the bridesmaids’ too. I was a very successful handmade wedding. I am so happy! My friends and sister came from Portugal and it made it even more special. My husband and I could have not wished for a better wedding.

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I have had some very hard times lately, but now I feel that this is the beginning of good things. Those of you who read previous posts know that I have been battling depression while dealing with feelings of loss and grief. Right now, I just need to gather my motivation and start taking action into creating the life I want to live. I have not been consistent with this blog so far, but that is about to change. Watch this space!