September 13, 2015 by epochbeadsuk
This is my latest creation called Blood & Tears Necklace. There is a story behind this necklace which I would like to tell you if you would indulge me. It is quite long but stick with it! I am not telling this story for myself (though must admit it is most cathartic!) but to raise awareness of the issues I am about to tell you about and that they can happen to anyone. Beading is my passion and my therapy so beading a little when I felt able to helped me through this horrendous time and the necklace is the result.
Most people when they meet me find me a big, happy, trekkie, loud, outspoken(!), confident woman who is always smiling and laughing. Most people will not believe that I suffer from depression and have done since I was 14 years old (I’m now 52). Most of the time it is completely under control through my meds but sometimes it rears its ugly head and bites me in the arse! I guess I am one of the ‘lucky’ ones as over the years I have learned to spot the signs so can usually get help before it gets too bad, and have learned lots of ways that work for me to get through it, (including beading), however, my last bout of depression was the worse I have ever experienced.
Last September (2014) I met a man and fell completely head over heels in love! It was magical, amazing and every other superlative I could think of! Around two months into the relationship it started to change and what was once magical became abusive, violent, controlling, nasty and evil. I am not going to go into details about the relationship as for me it is over and I have moved on. However, I went from being a strong confident woman who manages two social care projects for a local charity with many staff, volunteers and clients to a complete mess.
We have all seen and heard about abusive relationships through media or through people we know and personally I have always scoffed at the individuals who stay in these relationships. Why would you put up with it? Why would you stay there? How can you say you love someone who does these things to you? I thought these people were weak and yes, probably deserved what they got as they stayed for more. I really couldn’t understand it – till I was sucked in myself. Luckily through the help of others I managed to get myself out of this short but terrifying relationship but it took its toll on me. The Black Dog of depression grabbed hold of me, punched shit out of me and dragged me spiralling down into its black murky depths and there was nothing I could do.
People who have been lucky enough to have never suffered ‘The Black Dog’ could never comprehend how it can be. nothing can ever prepare you for the black void of despair. I felt like I was disappearing into a giant old fashioned mincing machine with my legs mashed to a bloody pulp up to my thighs and I had to fight to stop it pulling the rest of me down. I couldn’t hold thoughts in my head. It was just random crap and disjointed thoughts going on in there all the time which makes functioning on any normal level impossible. I would have weird and wild completely disconnected conversations with myself in my head. “Am I mad?, no it’s just the depression – hang in there!” I knew through previous bouts of depression that it would end and I would be OK and that was the only thing that kept me going. Some people have described depression as a lonely place to be but I have never thought that. Who needs to see other people when depression loves you so much. It clings onto you in a never ending cuddle, smothering you in kisses and doesn’t let go. How can it be lonely when you have your devoted companion depression with you endlessly?
I couldn’t work; I couldn’t even get out of bed. If I went to the bathroom I couldn’t make it back upstairs so would just lay on the sofa with my snuggie like an empty shell watching Star trek and Greys Anatomy, with my own sense of self slowly eroding away. I had no idea who I was. I would look at pics of myself before and wonder who on earth that happy smiling person was, did I know her? and would she ever come back?
I didn’t wash for days, only when I couldn’t stand my own stink any longer did I shower. I would suffer panic attacks, which had never happened before. I would suddenly and without warning have this overwhelming and terrifying feeling of fear come over me. I would sweat, I would shake uncontrollably, I would be gasping for breath, my heart would pound so fast and hard I was sure I was going to die. Through my work and studying throughout the years I knew these feelings were panic attacks and I had to get them under control and regulate my breathing (which is easier said than done!) so I would go back in my mind to when I was pregnant with Joe and do my antenatal breathing exercises – they never leave you even 28 years later lol.
My increased meds started to kick in which helped with the disjointed thoughts but not with the sheer physical exhaustion. When I had to make myself to go to the local shop for food it was like climbing Mount Everest and pulling a sledge with weights on it behind me. I would chant what I needed in my head over and over to stop the rising panic inside me as someone might look at me and would see I was mad! What if someone spoke to me and crap came out my mouth? My secret depression would come out and everyone would know I was a mad failure. I would be known as the mad woman of the village! As an aside, when my son would phone I would pretend everything was completely normal as I didn’t want him to know I had failed him as a mother and wasn’t the strong woman he knew me as – stupid I know, but depression and rational thought do not go together!
When I needed to go further afield and drive (Tisbury is about 4 miles away!), I knew in the back of my mind that I had to do it and could not give into the fear but it was terrifying. I would force myself to get into the car and drive at 30 mph and no more lol. Drivers would beep and gesture at me but I kept my eyes on the road and focused my brain on the driving. When I did it and got back home to my sanctuary the relief was such I would cry uncontrollably for hours. Though I was pleased with myself for completing my mission!
I know it is a cliché but you learn at a time like this who your true friends are. My Witchy friends (don’t ask lol) and my boss were amazing. My house looked like a complete shit hole. My boss would phone me and ‘order’ me a tidy a room! She would even make me take before and after pics to send her to prove I had done it! What a cow! Who did she think she was? I hated her and would call her every name under the sun but I did it lol, and felt better for it and I understood why she was doing it. One day after I had completed an ‘order’ from my boss we were talking on the phone and she said to me “You know, I won’t let you go under”, even today as I write this that simple line makes me cry. I will never forget it; it was like a confirmation that this horrible period in my life would end – a little ray of hope to hang onto.
Of course I recovered; it took a while but I got there. I didn’t finish the necklace I put it away – it was over. I eventually went back to work and life went back to some kind of normality which after the depression was wonderful. I am pleased I finished the necklace as it marks the start of a new and happy period in my life.
If you suffer from depression believe in yourself – it will pass – you will find yourself again. Be proud of every achievement no matter how small It is not failure, you just have to accept it is happening and ride it out because nothing lasts forever not even depression.
“Inside you is the potential to make yourself better… and that is what it is to be human. To make yourself more than you are” Jean Luc Picard
Couldn’t resist a Star Trek quote! No doubt sometime in the future my old friend depression could come back again because as anyone who suffers from it knows, it never really leaves you. but for now I am enjoying life, my work, and my family and friends and looking forward to the future. And of course lots more beading.
If you are still here thanks for reading – Jackie xx