On Monday the singer Sinead O’Connor posted a heartbreaking video to her Facebook page. O’Connor films the footage in a grotty hotel in New Jersey. And in it she is clearly in the middle of a depressive episode.
She is distraught. Beside herself. Her thoughts tumble into one another. And as you watch you can see and hear her heart break and her soul rip into thousands of tiny pieces.
It is a horrid video to watch. Especially for someone, like me, who has been there.
I’ve been that person who is trying not to die. Who is fighting to stay alive and keep the suicidal thoughts at bay.
My last suicide attempt was in 2002. And this year marks 15 years since that terrible day in November.
Yet, 15 years passing since I last tried to end my life doesn’t mean that I’m better.
Because I never will be better. I’ll be on a maximum dose of antidepressants for the rest of my life.
I often wonder how every other mum does all they do. And I feel pathetic in comparison. But then I have to remind myself that I can’t keep up with the Joneses because I have an underlying illness that stops me.
And it’s an illness that creeps up on me and knocks me for six.
The Ugly Truth of Depression
This week Mr H is on leave. It should have been a lovely week filled with family time and yet it’s not.
For some reason life has just caught up with me and I’m depressed. I’m finding it hard to do anything. I just want to sleep. I don’t want to go out and I don’t want to see or talk to anyone. I’d prefer to shut myself off from the world.
At the same time, I’m filled with self-hatred and I’m convinced the rest of the world despises me too.
I don’t think anyone is genuinely my friend. Because why would you want to be friends with a person like me?
I don’t think my husband or my children love me because I’m clearly and awful mother and terrible wife. I’m not surprised that I’ve lost touch with friends or that people don’t want to see me anymore. Why would they when I’m so hideous?
This may seem very dramatic. You may think it silly. Ridiculous. Even crazy. Maybe you think it’s attention seeking. Self obsessed. Self absorbed. Selfish. And perhaps in some ways you’re right.
But this is the truth of mental illness. I can’t control these thoughts or feelings.
And it’s these thoughts and feelings that are one of the only constants in my life.
Sometimes I’m able to push them away. Dampen them down. Wear emotional ear defenders so I can’t hear or feel them.
Other times are like this week, when the thoughts and emotions are all consuming.
On these occasions, my body can be filled with uncontrollable sobs. That start and then seem to have no ending in signt. They are often accompanied by actual physical pain. Because emotional pain quite often manifests itself physically. As our bodies are better at coping with physical pain rather than emotional.
This week, there have been no sobs. No hysterical upset. It’s been a quieter despair. More subtle. In some ways, sadder.
Instead, there has been a lot of sleeping. I’ve taken long showers and baths. Locking myself away from the world and concentrating on the details of these little rituals.
I’ve also spent time staring vacantly into space. Willing myself to find the motivation to do something.
But today I’ve felt brighter. And I’ve forced myself to be more Lucy. I’ve come out of my enforced isolation and I’ve attempted to motivate myself. I’ve been proactive about making myself feel better. I even managed to go for a walk in the woods with a friend and the children.
Yet in the background the negative thoughts and emotions remain. And they’re ready to take over and stop me in their tracks the moment I let my guard down.
This is the reality of mental illness.
Sinead O’Connor’s distressing video is the reality of mental illness.
It’s ugly. Messy. Unpleasant. Raw. Heartbreaking. Cruel. Out of control. Emotional. Disturbing. And it doesn’t make any sense.
Hopefully, Sinead O’Connor’s video will help other people who suffer from any mental health problem feel that they don’t need to face the ugliness alone.