I have to say it. I hate November.
In my opinion, it is the hardest month of the year. And it is the month where I always struggle with my depression.
I didn’t always feel this way.
As a child and a teenager I was indifferent to November. Nothing exciting happened. I spent the days waiting for December and the count down to Christmas.
That all changed on Saturday, 23rd November 2002.
That was the day that I made serious plans to take my life and that evening I took my third overdose.
After the attempt, I was a ghost of my former self. A fragile and empty shell.
I was seriously ill. Physically, mentally and emotionally.
My psychiatrist, sensing that a hospital environment would destroy me, decided to release me into my parents’ care.
And at the age of 24, I moved back home.
The next few months are a blur. I can’t remember the events that occurred but I can remember the heartache. The desolation. The numbness. The self-hatred. The despair.
There were a lot of tears. There were hours spent staring numbly at the wall in my room. Unable to get out of bed. Willing myself to stop breathing. Stop existing.
But I carried on. I recovered.
It is now November 2015 and I am a different person. Most importantly, I am a wife and a mother.
But every November, I remember. And I relive the heartbreak and dread.
Every November, I remember the night my life changed forever. The night my life could have ended.
And it cuts through me like a knife. Every day. For 30 days!
I know it is just a date. I know it shouldn’t have any hold on me. But it does.
It is like a box of old memories that I have put at the back of the wardrobe. I know I can’t throw it away. It is an important part of my life and those experiences helped to shape the person I am today. But I wish it could be forgotten about. Closed. Sealed.
Even if I am not consciously thinking about that day, my subconscious won’t let me forgot.
The nightmares start at the beginning of November. Shortly followed by the recurring dreams that are echoes of past depressive episodes.
I wake up exhausted. Feeling like I have run an emotional marathon.
Then there is the self-doubt. The apathy. The general desire to hibernate and isolate myself from the world.
This year is even harder than usual.
In early November 2014 I lost our third baby. And the baby we lost back in May was due on 25th November.
When I worked out that baby’s due date, I turned to Mr H and said “it will be lovely to have something happy happen in November. Just once.”
It is possible that I cursed the baby with those words. Once spoken, a sword of Damocles appeared above my baby’s head.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I still have many happy moments during this month.
But there is a dam of emotion that is just waiting to burst.
And sadly these emotions can’t always be held back.
They emerge in a sharp word to a friend; an undeserved moan at my husband; an impatient strop with my toddler; an inappropriate comment at a social gathering; or an outpouring of emotion to people I barely know.
So how do I survive November?
I just do!
It helps to know that I feel as I do because of Novemberitis. That I just have to grin and bear it. The excitement and anticipation of Christmas awaits.
I make myself get up in the morning. I get dressed and I put on make-up. I go out and see friends or take Littls Miss H to play group. I allow my husband to give me comforting hugs and I feel secure in his love. I smile and giggle with my daughter.
I fight the feelings and emotions that try to take me to a bad place. I challenge my negative thinking. I do what I need to do.
I also allow myself to be.
To feel miserable. To cry. To weep.
This is a kindness.
Instead of pretending this depression doesn’t exist. I am controlling how and when I let it take me.
This November may be hard. But I will not let it beat me. I will welcome December with open arms and a beaming smile. And I will know that there are eleven wonderful months before the box of memories is taken out of the wardrobe, dusted down and opened once again.