"the silence depressed me. It wasn't the silence of silence. It was my own silence" Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
I have been thinking about writing this blog entry for several hours. I have made a decision. If I am to be honest, then I have to give a warts-and-all view of my life, otherwise it will be sanitised and pointless. During the course of this depression I have typed the words "depression" into Google more times than I can count. I am familiar with the symptoms, I can't quite grasp the medical papers and I felt very vulnerable and threatened by reports that implied depressed people are idle. What I really needed was to hear someone's voice about how depression makes them feel. I haven't found it yet. It occured to me that someone who is experiencing depression might stumble across this blog and, for that person, I decided that I need to be honest. I live in full hope that I will get better, so I feel compelled to record the lows, as well as reassure myself by telling you about the good times.
I feel like a gremlin that lives at the bottom of a wishing well. Yes, it's dark and smelly and damp in here, but it's safe. I don't really have to interact with anyone, this is my space. And, weirdly, that is comforting. I wish I was more alone at times. I find other people, especially those with the best of intentions, irritating.
Lack of sleep means that there is little relief from this waking somnambulance. Yesterday I slept for 2 fitful hours in 24. The rest of the time was spent in a semi-stupour, unable to concentrate on anything for more than about 10 minutes, just passing time. At least the crafting gives my hands something to do and quietens the thundering thoughts.
I have been really worrying about returning to my part time job. If I am honest with myself (and with you) I know I am not up to it at the moment. My job is managing a big, new project and lots of people are waiting to listen to my instructions. The fear I had going into work those last few weeks of term was crippling. I would go and cry in the toilets, or sit in my baking car with the windows shut, wanting to hide away from it all. The urge to run away was overwhelming. I felt constantly nauseous, full of adrenaline and even gagged on occasions. It was suffocating and punishing. Eventually something small became the straw that broke the camels back, I came home and completely collapsed. I tried going back to a meeting last week - something safe and admin based with just the one person who has always been supportive. Even that put the fear of God into me.
Anyway, I honestly don't believe I can do it. I am on a contract which ends on 31st August but is due to be renewed. I don't think I would be entitled to any sick leave. I cannot even begin to imagine the humiliation of having to explain so publicly how I feel. I just want to hide away in my own safe space and cry.
I received a letter yesterday questioning my GTC membership. It's a small thing but the GTC was introduced when I was teaching in Further Education, so I was never asked to join until now. However, I contacted the GTC and explained my current role and, as it doesn't involve teaching, they sent me an email to say I need not be a member. However the Head of the school that employ me disagrees with them. So I paid the joining fee. It is still not showing on their system, so she has threatened not to renew my contract.
I am gutted. This is the Head who has never spoken to me, not once in 12 months. The school where I have been given no office, desk or computer and no system login. We have recruited the best Diploma numbers in the region, and one of the best nationally, as a direct result of my hard work. I am proud to say I have developed a pretty good reputation locally, and have been offered jobs by more than one other school since starting this position. Our Diploma model is currently being seen as exemplary by other authorities nationally, and we are being asked to train others. I have worked far beyond the two days I am contracted to do. Have I got a thank you? No. The only contact I have had with the Head is to be threatened, twice, with the termination of my contract. The first time was because the CRB check took too long to come back and the air was heavy with the hint of "what have you done?" Clearly nothing, as the approved CRB and the apology from the police proved. Now we have the same thing again - an admin error. But it's me who is suffering - far, far more than is normal, I admit.
I am so tempted to tell her to stick her contract up her bum. I really don't want to - no actually, that's not right, I can't - deal with this at the moment. I have no idea how to deal with this situation and keep my professionalism. I don't want to sacrifice my career but I am not sure that, at this moment in time, I can complete the new contract as they expect. And to do anything but complete the contract to the best of my ability would be to let them down horribly.
Let me tell you about feeling suicidal. It's a deep, dark and seductive feeling. It's always at the back of your mind, and it's there when you sleep. I have dreamed several times of different ways to kill myself - mostly they involve hanging or throwing myself off a tall building. I have these weird, uncontrollable thoughts, like waking flash forwards if such a thing is possible, where I can see myself doing something outrageously violent to myself. Recently it has been cutting my wrists. Today I bought a craft knife like a pizza cutter for making some patchwork cushion covers. The idea of wheeling that fresh, sharp blade across my wrists is delicious and alarming and forbidden. And I can't acknowledge that feeling to anyone.
I want to mark myself in some way to show that I am feeling different. It's partly hurting, but partly demonstrating that I have changed and that I don't want to make petty conversations and do day-to-day stuff. Instead of the wrist slashing thing, I have bought red hair dye which, I am sure you will agree, is a sensible move. I want people to know that I am different. I don't want them to actually *do* anything, I just want them to see and not to ask, or expect too much of me.
I know that if I took my own life then my darling boys would be deeply hurt and I can't do that for them. So I feel angry, as though a basic human right has been taken away from me. I am frightened by my rage. I am reminded of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Yellow Wallpaper and feel like creeping too. And that feeling is so abnormal it's strangely liberating.
Weirdly I also "know", like it's printed through me like a stick of rock, that I will get better. The anxiety comes because I don't know who I will be. This is a real rebirth. And that is both frightening and exciting. I am in freefall. So I know I will not commit suicide, but this does not stop me being magnetically drawn to such thoughts, desires and frustrations.
Today I went to the doctor. She has doubled my antidepressants and has told me to contact the mental health services to ask for my case to be moved up the priority list. I cannot tell you how difficult that is going to be. I am now literally terrified of the phone; it makes me feel sick. I am becoming much more anxious about the internet too. I am also afraid of the postman. I don't know what to do.
I have been crafting and I want to post about that, but this is not the time and the place. I may post later. You mustn't worry about me, as I still have the sensible voice in my head that keeps me in check. But the sensible me really misses Claire, I like her. I don't know where she has gone, although I suggest she's lurking in the back room of her mind and is unwilling to come to the door. I apologise to friends and family who are hurt my this (and some of the things I post). I wish it could be otherwise. However, I still love you all very, very much and hope that this soon will pass. Please stick with me.