The Great Depression of 2014/2015

April 2017.

About this time 3 years ago, I was in the midst of the deepest depression that I have ever been in. Before that depression, came the TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Before the TBI, was the ‘usual’ reoccurring depression…

Before I had the TBI, although I was depressed, I was still functioning well. I was social, and engaging in the world. I was working, cleaning a pub in the morning and working shifts there too, training to be Assistant Manager. Plus studying, living with my daughter as a single mother. I was functioning well – on the outside.

On the inside, the depression was growing. I felt like nobody really cared about me. Like nobody really knew me – I was depressed and no-one could see it in me! How could they really care? My family hardly ever came to see me or my daughter, or contact me. I stayed in contact with my friends, but I felt that if I didn’t contact them, then most of them wouldn’t contact me. The same with family. I felt worthless. Alone. How could I tell anyone?

Depression becomes the best kept secret.

The reoccurring depression can arise slowly from an accumulation of things; be a gradual build-up over time, or it can arise rather quickly and intensely – triggered. The feelings that I was experiencing during the summer of 2014 arose from a gradual build-up. The hating voice inside my head that tells me I’m not good enough, starts to get louder and stronger. The will to ‘give up’ starts to grow. So it becomes a battle. That’s what people mean when they say that they are ‘battling depression’. It is difficult to fully comprehend, even to myself, now that I am not going through it. Though, my heart remembers the pain well.

When my daughter was born, I had around 3/4 years with little depression and little anxiety. There were moments, but overall life was good. I made plans and went out without a second thought. I always chatted to everyone, met friends and family and had lunches / dinners /playdates with them and their children. We were always out doing something and having fun. I ensured that my daughter formed solid relationships with her family, especially her cousins. I used to have all of the cousins over, often. It was hectic. The house got trashed, I got eaten out of house and home. But I loved it.

Looking back I can see that I had so many distractions from my mental health issues. So, I never really had to face them. Depression would arise but always sink away again. I did have anti-depressants for a short time around 2010 as I felt the depression worsening. I kept forgetting to take them and then, I was OK again. I got through it without meds and without the doctors. But, without intervention, the periods of depression did gradually get worse each time. I can see that now. In my own mind I didn’t know what was going on. I felt low and confused and anxious about everything and everyone. And to everyone, I most probably just seemed like a moody bitch. Nobody understood me. That made it worse. Still, best kept secret.

I’d kind of gotten used to it – the reoccurring depression and anxiety… Actually, no I didn’t… I’d gotten used to being an expert at distracting myself from it. When you have a child to look after, and are seeing friends all the time, it’s a good distraction from the negative thoughts. But they were still there. I wrote a lot of songs during those three years. They’re very emotional…reflective.

In the summer of 2014, I was battling anxieties and depression. Still, I wore a smile, went to work, picked my daughter up from the childminders, did my duties, saw and helped friends, took my daughter on playdates, etc… Life carried on. As it always did.

Then, one Sunday night after work in August of 2014, I had a drink with some work colleagues. We finished up in the pub and then went back to my place where we carried on. After drinking rum all night in the pub, we switched to wine. BAD idea. It got me absolutely horrendously drunk. And that itself is a BAD idea for someone who is depressed, and that has C-PTSD. In the midst of that horrendous drunkenness, after going to the toilet, I stood on my stairway a few stairs from the top, and I remember thinking –

“If I just closed my eyes, and let myself go, I could have some peace from my mind”.

And so I did.

I closed my eyes, and let myself ‘fall’. I went limp and gave myself over to peace.

Except, I didn’t get peace. I got a TBI (traumatic brain injury); A lesion to my left temporal lobe, a brain haemorrhage and concussion that lasted months. I also got an almost unbearable hyperacousis in my left ear that lasted for months. I couldn’t bear to be around noisy places or loud, sharp noises like a person coughing. Even the sound of running water was too much to bear for a while. Running water still aggravates it slightly, as does a rustling crisp packet, a road drill, a children’s playground, high-pitched percussion instruments…that sort of thing. I also now have almost-permanent high-pitched tinnitus in my left ear due to the TBI. I also have sporadic pulsating tinnitus.

I went to hospital the morning after the ‘fall’. My work colleagues had called the Paramedics that night, as I was passed out on the floor at the foot of the stairs. When I awoke from passing out, I was sick and incoherent. My work colleagues carried me up to bed and cleaned my head wound. Unbeknown to them, what I had just done. The paramedics arrived, concluded that I was just drunk, and left. The next morning, I awoke in excruciating pain from a headache and I was very dizzy. Everyone had to leave, even their whispers were too loud. I phoned my mother, she came over. She told me to sleep it off…she was always dismissing me about something or other. I tried to take her advice. My daughter’s father came over and persuaded me to A&E. A CT scan showed the extent of the damage and I was given a bed in the Intensive Care Unit where I stayed. I was at the hospital for 10 days until the CT scans showed that the haemorrhage was dispersing. When I was certain that I felt I would not be in any immediate danger from the haemorrhage, I discharged myself. The beeping machines, and being left with the beeping machines as my drip ran out etc was too much for my headache, and hyperacousis. I had to get out of there. Before we left, my sister asked, ‘Aren’t you going to bandage up her head wound?’. The nurse asked, ‘What head wound?‘…Yeah, I just wanted to get out of there asap.

I obviously couldn’t work, I was signed off of work by my GP on sick pay.

I didn’t want anyone to visit me while I was in hospital, or straight after when I got home. This was due to the hyperacousis and the concussion. I just wanted quiet, and sleep. Still, my sister came to see if I was ok and to sit quietly with me. She helped me out quite a lot, she brought me home from the hospital. But we always end up falling out about something or other. We do not communicate well. So that visiting ended. My brother texted me, checked in on me now and again, a few times. A couple of friends visited a few times. One friend always came over. Bless him. But after a while, I had to make my excuses, preferring the quiet. My daughter’s father stayed at mine for a while after the TBI, helping me out. Maybe he thought we would reconcile, maybe I did too. But it was not to be. Again, we do not communicate well. It didn’t help that the TBI and the effects of it were making me feel extremely irritable. He didn’t stick around for long due to this. He never was the understanding type. More like an ignore it than deal with it type. Total opposite of myself. My mother and step-father helped me out with my daughter, took me where I needed etc, they were helpful and reliable. My step-siblings (whom I have grown up with), each checked in on me once… And that was after I texted them to say, ‘Hi, I’ve had a TBI, didn’t you know?’.  They did know. This upset me greatly.

After about a month after the TBI, I went to my workplace and spoke to the manager. I’d need more time off, but I was eager to get back. She was worried about how much time I’d need off. A week after that chat, I received a text to say that she was firing me. I was absolutely gutted. I practically begged her to wait a bit longer, but she had made her mind up. I was only there for a couple of months, I was meant to sign a contract on that fateful Sunday, but she hadn’t prepared it in time. So, I didn’t have any rights. Gutted.

Having my daughter’s father staying with me was difficult. He and I clashed and argued too much. And once again he walked out, and in my time of need. I  felt vulnerable, angry and sad. I was reeling from my family’s lack of care, reeling from the miscommunications, and reeling from the lack of friends calling in on me. I was devastated from the injuries that I now had to live with, the new anxieties. I was worried about the ear / hearing  damage and I thought about having to give up my music career. This devastated me. My future now felt uncertain, cut short. I lost the motivation to do anything. I withdrew. I pushed everyone away. That way, nobody could hurt me and nothing could make me feel bad. Isolation.

The ‘Great Depression’ began then after the TBI in the Autumn of 2014 and stayed until the beginning of Summer of 2015.

It was abandonment depression

Mood Symptoms:

  • Intrusive, debilitating anxiety.
  • Chronic feelings of insecurity.
  • Chronic depression.
  • Decreased self-esteem.
  • Feelings of loss of control over life.
  • Self-depreciation.
  • Isolation.
  • Obsessive thinking and intrusive thoughts about the abandonment.

Behavioural Symptoms:

  • Attraction to those who are unavailable to re-enact of the original abandonment.
  • Heightened emotional responses related to abandonment triggers, such as feeling slighted, criticized, or excluded.
  • Vulnerability in social situations.
  • Emotional flashbacks from the time of abandonment.
  • Addiction to self-medicate.
  • Hyper-vigilance related to perceived threat similar to original trauma.
  • Panic attacks related to unconscious triggers.

The constant feelings of emptiness, loneliness and numbness engulfed me. Soon, I was spending pretty much all of my time in bed. I wasn’t sleeping properly, eating or drinking enough. I had one meal a day for months – the evening meal that I cooked for my daughter and I…that I, half the time wouldn’t even eat. I wasn’t bathing or brushing my teeth for days on end. I was exhausted…I thought, what was even the point in doing those things? I didn’t care about myself. Even breathing seemed to take too much energy. I could not sleep at night, or I’d get to sleep and be restless, waking up. Yet, I only wanted to sleep all of the time… Sleep to stop the negative and suicidal thoughts that came to plague my mind.

I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to live. Yet, I had to live. For my daughter. I remember feeling that the pain and the guilt of that – having to live but yearning to die. I thought about the pain that my daughter would feel when she was told of my death, and that was unbearable. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t pass my pain onto my daughter.

During those months, autopilot took over. I could only manage the bare minimum. I cooked quick and easy dinners from the freezer into the oven. There would be the constant rush of washing school clothes that I’d forgotten to put on. My daughter was old enough to bathe herself, so I’d run a bath for her, get back into my bed and listen and talk to her, from the bedroom a few feet away as she bathed. After every chore, I would go straight back to bed. I’d put the dinner in the oven, go back into bed. Check it ten minutes later, go back to bed. Serve it up and go back to bed. My daughter would eat on the bed with me. She came to do everything on the bed with me. My bed came to be my safe haven. My daughter and our dog were my comforts. They followed me around, laying in bed with me or sitting in my bedroom. We would cuddle, watch movies, talk quietly, or she would be on my laptop next to me watching her YouTube blogs. I felt numb. I was desperately sad. I wasn’t angry anymore, I hadn’t the energy. I was just numb. I hid so many tears from everyone. Some, I could not. I felt like crying all of the time. My daughter would cuddle me if she knew I was upset. That’s all she could do. I felt like a failure to her…

During this time, I could not always reliably get my daughter into school, she was often late or not there at all. She would miss days at a time. The school were completely unsympathetic and continued to add pressure to my life. Threats of the Educational Welfare Officer and fines. In turn, I added pressure to my daughter’s father. This didn’t work out well. Nothing got resolved, communications broke down even further between her father and I, and my daughter continued to miss school. More pressure… I blocked it out for a while, after all nobody was listening to what I had to say anyway.

All I did was tend to my daughter’s basic needs, read and sleep. I read about world history, politics, governments and authorities, class oppression, race oppression, famine, poverty, diseases, GMO’s, diets and nutrition, human rights, spirituality… and so much more. All distractions from the other thoughts in my head and pressures that I faced! I read some deep shit. I learned a lot. I am very efficient when it comes to researching – following links, looking at the arguments for and against, making a conclusion. I love that process. Unfortunately though, reading about the world in depth like that whilst I was so depressed made me feel a million times worse. It filled me with more sadness and anger. I could see not positives, only negatives. I don’t recommend it as a therapy route! I was not strong enough to process the information properly. In hindsight, I can see that it was not good for me… But I have come out the other side stronger and wiser. So, every cloud.

Life was like that for a few months from November 2014. We lived on £480 per month for months once my sickness pay stopped. That was enough for our basic needs. We needed less shopping as I wasn’t eating, less water as I wasn’t bathing or drinking, less heating as I curled up in bed all of the time, less everything… life was minimal.

The beginning of 2015 was very difficult. I had confided 2 close friends about how I was feeling. They persuaded me to go to speak to my GP. Which I did, but I was not in the right frame of mind to be able to communicate clearly how I was feeling. The GP gave me antidepressants. I didn’t take them properly, I was forgetful due to the TBI and depression. I was also dubious about taking medication that came with so many ill side effects. I took them for around 4/5 months, and then stopped taking them. They worked, and then they didn’t. Did they even work or was it placebo effect? I think the latter, in my case. That was the third time I’d been given antidepressants by the GP. I didn’t go back to the GP until the end of 2015. Just reaching out to those 2 friends helped me greatly. They were very supportive. They decorated my home with (for) me – I’d had the wallpaper etc for months. They got me out in the garden, gardening to cheer me up, and to be able to sit in the sun. They came and dragged me out of bed, and to their home for dinner etc. They were just ‘there’. That helped a lot. Except they drank a lot, and that didn’t help so much. As I said above, I put a quick stop to that slippery slope, but I did drink at least 1 bottle of wine everyday for about a month. Some people see no problem drinking 1 bottle of wine after work to relax. But when I start doing it, I’m doing it to cope. I have done this twice in my life, abused alcohol for a period of time like that. And I have at both times recognised that I was becoming dependant. I recognised the need for the alcohol, rather than the want. It is a slippery slope, play it safe and just get off of the slope ASAP.

Around Jan/Feb of 2015, I started seeing someone, just on the weekends – a good friend of a good friend. Why did I do this while I was so fragile – terrible idea. He was very sympathetic to me and my mental health difficulties. Perhaps that’s why I clung to him. We saw each other for about a month or 2, before I saw that he was no good for me… We’d had a little disagreement about how drunk he was around children (not mine, she was with her father), I told him to go and sleep the alcohol off. He was aggressive to me, he trod on my foot with force and then put me on the ground, in a kind of slow motion wrestling style, and then put his knee in my back. I went mental. I ordered all of the children upstairs and ordered him out of my house. He wouldn’t leave. I phoned the police. I don’t think that the police came, I think I just spoke to them on the phone. Anyway, quickly after that, he left. Never to be seen again. I kicked him out. Done. He was gone, but what he did had a detrimental affect on my mental health. I spiralled.

March 2015, I was really not very well. I was experiencing suicidal ideation as if I had a second voice in my head. The researching that I was so good at became all about the quickest and most painless way to end my life. I certainly did find the correct information, of course I am not going to share it. The suicidal ideation got progressively worse. Soon, all I could think about was throwing myself in front of a train. So I reached out for help. I took my daughter to school, and went straight to the hospital to speak the Crisis Team. I was given a psych-evaluation. They left me in a room on my own for hours. I eventually calmed down. I begun to feel more coherent. They were thinking about keeping me in, but they agreed that I was in a better frame of mind and I was able to leave.

After that trip to the hospital, social services got involved in my life. The nurse at the hospital had reported that I was an alcoholic and a battered wife! Because I had told them that I was drinking alcohol to cope for the last month – which I had realised and put a stop to – and because spoke about the boyfriend who manhandled me ONE time and I didn’t file a police report / charge (because I dealt with it). The crisis nurse was also worried about my daughter, understandably. But she totally misconstrued what I reported… was it purposely exaggerated? I wondered. I certainly was not a battered wife or an alcoholic and I wasn’t about to let them tell me any different. They were in my life for a few weeks, they didn’t offer my daughter nor I any support, and then the case was closed.

By the summer of 2015 I was feeling more together, more able to do things. I was very much up-and-down with my emotions due to anxiety, but the depression had lifted. I was not spending all of my time in bed. I couldn’t always leave the house or go far though It took a lot for me to leave the house and socialise. Getting drunk helped! (socially -I was well off of the slippery slope by this point).

In June 2015, a friend took me and my daughter to Glastonbury. He drove us from London and back. The trains into and out of London were a complete nightmare, I hated every second of it and avoided social contact with everyone. But I did it for my daughter and I. Glastonbury was a great chance to get closer to her again. We spent 5 days in a tent together, sharing musical and creative experiences. It was amazing. A peaceful and beautiful experience. I didn’t have much money but we still had a great time.

The school let me take my daughter to Glastonbury, on the grounds that we both needed the time and experiences to bring us back closer together again after the debilitating depression. But I brought her back a day later than I said I would, so they fined me £250. And tried to fine her father £250 also! He was not having any of that, and I stood up for him, saying that he had no choice in the matter of whether I took her or not. They didn’t fine him in the end. I was not going to pay the fine. I would have happily served prison time standing up for my beliefs, not paying that fine. But my daughter needed me. I couldn’t leave her. And I was riddled with anxiety and not in the right frame of mind to fight it, or take advice on it. So, I just paid the fine. What was the point in the fine? I don’t know. A pointless exercise of authority? The school continued to harass me, which helped the anxieties greatly, as you can imagine.

I went back to work around October of 2015, working in a pub kitchen. I was not there long before I quit my job, due to anxiety. I couldn’t handle the pressures, and I was feeling anxious and stressed from having the memory problems and the problems with my left ear.

I ended up taking my daughter out of school in Nov 2015. I attempted to home-school her but it failed for reasons that were out of my control. More pressures! (I have dedicated a page to that experience.)

At the beginning of 2016 I was homeschooling my daughter. I had started seeing a friend, as a lover. And I was getting by with a little (lot of) help from my friends.

Soon, I felt strong enough to ask my GP to send me for a psychiatric evaluation / assessment.

In March 2016, I had my first mental health assessment with a Senior Mental Health Nurse. (I have dedicated a page to that experience.)

The nurse reported that I was lying throughout the assessment.