Sometimes I'm Happy

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

30th September 2022
At the end of my appointment, the man explains why I cannot see a future. I've gone in to the room black, grey and dark, dark brown. I've lost my shine. I've cried at him and tried to explain.

'You have the blue sickness,' he says. He doesn't say this, but I can't admit to depression, not even in my head.

I cry again, even though for most of the appointment I have cried on and off as I've explained that every morning, I wish for the night and an end to the relentless day, even though I am accompanied at every step by two tiny people to whom I am Goddess and know that I should be happy. All I can think of is that they deserve better.

I don't feel like a goddess. I spend my days wishing for bedtime; I spend my time trying to go backwards into my life when I took a different turning, knowing it means I am not present, but not caring, only wishing for it to be over. And the guilt that comes with that is horrendous. It is a constant cycle and I don't know how to stop it.

Do I wish for it to end? Not in those words, but I cannot see the future; it is as simple as that. The shaman says: What do you see in the future? And I open my mouth to speak and nothing comes out. No future. So, he tells me what is wrong with me and that I need help and that there is no shame, no shame in it.

The man's words resonate within me and suddenly I see it is simple. I have not asked for help because in my family there are countless Amazonian women who have dealt with far more than I, so therefore I don't need help either.

The man - my doctor, a shaman, a healer - writes me a prescription and off I go with a crutch, red-eyed and feeling small and weak.

Within a week, I start to feel more like myself. The only way I can describe it is that I am a sponge, full of holes, and suddenly the holes are being filled in, and I start to feel more solid. Another week passes and more holes are filled, then more, and I rediscover elements of myself I thought were lost. I look at the two tiny people with eyes of wonder and I take more joy in them than I thought possible.

In a few months I am a different person. I have stopped crying every day; I sleep better; I can make plans. Best of all, a path stretches out before me again. My home is more peaceful; my relationship better. I'm followed up by the doctor and it's decided I stay on the magic pills for the blue disease. For my depression.

Fast forward seven years and it is summer 2022. My shaman has long since left the local practice and the world has changed beyond recognition. More LIFE has happened, which means inevitability, death, loss, events unforseen, disease - mine and others, a return to work, a house move, a new business venture, two tiny people growing up. They are remarkable - and I wonder how on Earth they are so, only that I always knew what I SHOULD be doing, and I did it, even when I cried at the same time.

There has been plenty of joy, plenty of grief.

But this summer, I decided the tiny white magic pills had done their job. I couldn't stay on them forever. There had been attempt to stop using the crutch twice, but each time I had a breakdown of sorts and ended up in Winter, when I struggled the most, pill-less and lost. So I'd planned ahead this time and started cutting the dose in Winter, knowing I'd struggle but that brighter days were coming - literally.

I took the last pill on my Summery 50th birthday, grabbed hold of the handrails and held on tight. For a few weeks, I bobbed along in the wake of my hectic and joyous life. But I noticed I was snappier. Anger, mostly absent for the past few years, crept back in on padded feet, clawing me when I least expected it. Old habits raised their ugly heads and I thought many times: I can't do this.

However there was a balance.

I realised I hadn't grieved for the awful and untimely loss of one of the best people I'd ever known. Suddenly I was crying for her every day, and grieving as if from the start. To balance this out though, I found myself laughing more than I had in years. I found myself having days that were dark and grim and full of the old demons, but I was able to ride them out and the gift for this was days of joy, better, bigger joy.

I googled 'bipolar', just in case, but no. What I was experiencing was simply undiluted emotion, and I was stronger and able to deal with it. Back when I went to the doctor I'd been in a strange place, for a variety of reasons too long to dwell on here.

Whilst using the crutch I'd also done some serious therapy and explored the issues that had made me feel so utterly unable to deal with life. The biggest of these was self-hate. Lack of self-belief. A cold and deadly inner voice, that gave me an incredible ability to self-sabotage.

So, fast forward to this summer and I'm half a century old. I've been on anti-depressants for years. I've spoken to more shamans - for that is what these healer are, these healers of the mind and body - and I am better. Better in the sense I am fixed, or as fixed as I can be at this point in time.

On the happy pills I was a muted and safe version of myself. I could cope with anything and I did - loss of loved ones, family issues, a cancer diagnosis, going back to work as a lion-tamer (secondary school teacher) - to name a few of the things that constitute a normal, full life. On the happy pills I was able to face my inner demon, the one who told me I couldn't do any of it. And I put her in her place.

For a few weeks this summer I rode the roller-coaster of emotion. I worked through every emotion at speed and it was frightening. I understood my journey is still only just beginning, but that I could walk it without the aid of a stick.

As I sit here typing this the rain is pelting my window. I am safe inside. My life is busier and fuller than I could ever have imagined, back when I was deep in post-natal depression and trying to cope without any help. I could never have seen this woman I have become.

The pills had their place and I'm not saying I will never need that crutch again - life has been kind in so many ways and I am blessed. You never know what wickedness this way comes, so you can never say never and you can never say always. Maybe one day I will need that crutch.

In my story I know that at 50, I have reached a place of inner peace. It's not a perfect place, but I am no longer scared to feel sad, because I know it will pass. The fact that it didn't pass, not for years, was the frightening thing. Now it is a few days, and I am back. Just a bad day. Days are like this, a wise friend told me when I told her how I was feeling. I had forgotten that, that there can be bad days and that's OK. You can be angry and it's not the end of the world. You can cry, and you'll stop. You can feel sad, and it'll pass. It's all just a colour.

Sometimes now I am happy; sometimes not. On balance I am happier more often and it is a brighter happiness, cerise instead of baby pink; verdant emerald instead of pastel green. It's frightening, almost like learning a language again, but I like who I am now, and that is the difference. I like who I am and I trust that I will wake up again seeing different colours.

I'm a paint pallet that has had colour mixed all over it for years and years and years. I have relearned to use those shades with stronger stokes and I am living once again a life undiluted. I needed the extra water in those paints and I'm now painting with more abandon.

Thank you, Healers. Thank you for helping me heal so I can in turn help others learn to paint their own picture with confidence.

Red, Orange, Yellow; Green, Blue Violet.
And Indigo.

These are my colours, and I'm a rainbow.