2015 has come and gone. What type of year was it for you?
For us it was a hard year. We enjoyed lots of wonderful times, made amazing memories and were blessed beyond measure. But there were hard times too. Not only did I end up in hospital with gall stone pains, only to later have to go back and get my gall bladder out, but I battled something slightly more hidden all year.
I have struggled to live with what started out as post-natal depression for a long time now. I've been on and off my medication so many times that the last time I got it renewed the doctor very gently advised me that maybe this time I should just stay on it for good. I think after all this time (my youngest is 7 after all) it's gone past post-natal depression, and moved into plain depression.
I suffer from depression.
I also don't know why I feel so defensive about it. Even to me there has always been a massive difference between someone who has normal depression and me - a girl with PND - as if the name made it better and less stigmatic.
But it doesn't. And the root of the problem is the same. I'm broken. And this year has been hard.
My medication had to be increased around March time for a series of reasons, and thankfully it really did its job. I tend to get 'stressy fingers' when I get bad and my head goes a bit haywire. I get really antisocial - closing myself off from everybody and just wanting to hide in my bed, or getting into my house and locking the door as quickly as I can.
Obviously, with four boys and a very busy husband, my life can't just stop when a wee bout of depression hits. I still have to go to work, do runs to football, youth activities and after school clubs, and try to put on a smile. But it's hard. And I know that my boys (and particularly their daddy) get the worst of me and all the stressy bits when I can't put on a 'face' any more.
But the worst episode I've ever experienced took place just after October half-term. I felt like I was split in two. One half of me was so focused in school - I was loving it and really enjoying every second. But the other half was distant, glazed over and not quite there. This was me at home - the place I'm supposed to be comfortable, happy and myself. Instead I was unemotional (and you know that's not me) and separated from my life.
It was horrible. I've never felt more broken or more like a failure.
But thankfully, the doctor was able to pinpoint the issue, re-evaluate my medication and get me back on track.
Life is much better now, but it was a great reminder of how precious our minds are and how delicate out body's chemistry is.
Mental illness is never funny and almost always hidden from view. It can take the most confident person and leave them in a heap on the floor. It can reduce the happiest person to floods of tears or make the most emotional person ever (ahem - that would be me!!) stoney, distant and unreachable.
Please, as we start a new year, find friends who will be there for you, even when you shut yourself off; find joy in the little things in life - like a cup of coffee beside a warm fire; talk to people - no matter how weird you think what you're going through is; and know that you are not alone.
Here's to a great 2016!!
And an extra big thank you to all of my wonderful friends who have been right there with me every step of this year. Love you all xxx
Keep shining xx