I wasn’t going to bore any more people by retelling my battles fought with depression over the last 30 years or how my life has changed dramatically in the last 8-9 months but, when confronted with this Blog topic suggested by WordPress and with my readership increasing daily, I feel it is time to put it all together so that you understand how it all started. I hope it makes sense.
“From little acorns mighty oaks grow”
Apologies for the length of this post but if I’m going to tell you how Poppyposts was born needs must. I created Poppyposts as a result of everything that has happened in the last few months and the build-up is critical to understanding the initial purpose of my Blog.
My experience with depression started more than 30 years ago but my story doesn’t kick-off until Spring 2010 as you will see.
Last April I was lucky enough to attend a course for “talented women” run by Aspire. The course was an intensive experience and I spent two days with 19 of my colleagues being inspired, motivated and encouraged to fulfil my potential regardless of the barriers, real or perceived I felt were in my way. Unlike some others I have never felt that being a woman, working part-time, or having children has been a barrier to my career progression. My biggest enemy was and is depression. I didn’t feel able to communicate this during the two days but I left the course with an amazing feeling of being freshly empowered with the endorsements of both the tutors and my colleagues ringing in my ears. I was truly humbled by their appraisal of me. I went into that course wondering what was missing from my life and how little me could possibly make a difference and I came out thinking I could rule the world!
To give you an idea how humbled I was here are some of the words spoken about me on the course.
Focussed, determined, driven, confident, open, strong, enthusiastic, energetic, committed, intuitive, giving, generous, a leader and a role model with a pioneering spirit.
I was advised to put all my previous concerns aside and to “Be who I am” and “Go for it”.
Having been emotionally repressed out of self-preservation for so many years I found this public outpouring of openness a little unsettling. Unbeknown to me at the time a chink had appeared in my armour and the floodgates were about to open. My defences were breached and I had no control over what was about to happen.
Soon after the course came a public holiday and I remember thinking that I was going to use that extra time to reconnect with old friends and focus on my relationships. Relationships and a strong support network are key to a happy life and I had neglected them for too many years.
Friends are the mirror reflecting the truth of who we are
Suffering with bouts of depression with mood swings, periods of self-induced solitary confinement, unpredictable behaviour and general lack of energy and interest resulted in a drop-off in the number of people I could truly call my friend. I must emphasise that this was at no time their fault or their responsibility. More, it was me feeling that I was an inadequate friend. I hadn’t the energy to help others with their problems. I couldn’t be bothered to make an effort. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning was a major achievement. If I couldn’t reciprocate or learn to live with my guilt therefore, then friends had to go. Some faded away gradually and some remained, understanding my quirks and foibles completely and accepting that I would help out and turn up when I felt well enough, but respected my condition so as not to put any pressure on me at times when I was more withdrawn.
A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be
That weekend along with others, I traced an old school friend Colleen Henderson-Heywood who I first met when we were ten years old trying to find our feet at boarding school. It is probably one of the most significant things I have ever done. You can find out more about Colleen here, but suffice to say she is an amazing person, inspirational, creative and ready to “kick-ass” at any given opportunity! I would not be doing this today if Colleen hadn’t challenged me to get off my arse and fight back like she has done against the Parkinson’s Disease that struck 6 years ago.
Cue Janet Street-Porter (JSP). I have often admired JSP for her outspoken approach and even if I disagreed with her opinions she was at least making an impact and stimulating debate about any number of important topics. That was until she wrote her incredibly insulting article about depression in her Daily Mail column. Her article was called ” Depression? It’s just the new trendy illness!” and you can read it here although I warn you that your blood pressure may rise as a result just as mine did.
After a few days of ranting and raving to anyone who would listen, Colleen suggested that instead of wasting my energy moaning and complaining, I might care to do something more proactive.
Aha! Why didn’t I think of that?
So, after work one evening I explained to my husband that I was taking my glass of wine upstairs to write my response to JSPs article-I remember saying that “I may be gone for sometime”. Unlike Captain Oates however, I was back within 20 minutes, article written. It was there composed in my subconscious just waiting for me to put pen to paper. I didn’t have to make any amendments. It appeared as if from a magic article-writing pen.
Unfortunately, I was too late to publish my response on-line as so many complaints were received that the Daily Mail had to close their in-box. But the process of purging my thoughts onto paper had been therapeutic and calming and since then I haven’t stopped.
That was only the start of my journey culminating in Poppyposts in November but 8 months on, I still feel like a volcano that has erupted after laying dormant for hundreds of years with an unending flow of larva pouring from my core.
Will it ever stop?
To be continued.