Jackie Goldston, Editor of Kids on the Coast (not the person of whom I speak, below!) and moi.
Last Friday I had the great privilege of being a panelist at the “Motherhood and Me” forum held by Kids on the Coast. A bunch of mums, gathered together in quite an informal fashion to ogle each other’s offspring (or was that just me? Seriously, my ovaries started to whisper to me again. Luckily I hushed them up by flashing them a stretch-mark), munch on morning tea and chat all things parenting.
It was in between sessions, however, when I started chatting to a lovely lady from the audience that a REAL moment hit.
Somewhere in the conversation, she casually mentioned that she was on antidepressants, but that she didn’t usually make that public because of the stigma associated with it. I nodded in understanding and then confessed that I’d just gone back on them too. I think we both felt better.
This relief at ‘coming clean’ , even to a stranger, is, I think, a perfect example of how simple support can be.
Supporting each other doesn’t have to be about about trying to help each other achieve sterling heights of prowess in parenting/jobs/life, it doesn’t even have to be about hold handing, mind-blowing deep and meaningfuls from a lifelong friend (of course I love those too) but can be as simple as being honest with each other, even if that person is a stranger. It was such a reminder of the power we have to relieve each other of our guilt, our shame, our darkness simply by admitting “me too.”
(Sorry if this is getting a bit Oprah for ya. But you know, that’s me. Love me, love my bullshit.)
You know what’s crazy? As part of my car accident stuff, I had to go see a psychologist for an assessment. Part of his job was to see how much trauma I had in my life BEFORE the accident, to put into context the effect of the trauma from the accident itself. As I was telling him the facts of my childhood, with no opinions, mind you, just FACTS and I saw the look on his face, it suddenly dawned on me…my childhood really was traumatic. I’d never really thought about it before. I mean, of course, my mum died and that sucked, but even other stuff (her physically abusive partner, moving house a lot, being bullied in primary school, I won’t go on but blah blah blah) …I’m honestly not sharing this as a “poor me” thing, but rather just to explain that up until recently, I’d never actually looked at that and realised that it wasn’t exactly a solid foundation for a well balanced mental state.
No wonder I’m in comedy.
Anyhoo, I’m rambling but my point is that in playing my minuscule part in the world, I’m gonna at east make a concerted effort to let more of me hang out. The ugly bits, the awful bits, the epic moments of fail. For me and for you.
Yes I’m back on anti-depressants.
Yes they are helping me hugely.
Yes a large part of me feels like a freaking failure at being back on them but you know what? Being off them wasn’t making me a winner either. And let me tell you, walking into the doctor’s office last week, sitting down and bawling my eyes out over his desk saying “I think I need to go back on them,” is, I think, one of the most humbling things I’ve done. And I think THAT – not being back on medication itself, but rather, being willing to admit that I need help – makes me a winner.
(I cringe even as I type that last sentence, but I’m leaving it in anyway. See? My ego is doing battle with my inner critic. WHO WILL WIN? They’re both ripped like Conan the Barbarian. It’s anybody’s game.)
What I really want to say is that whoever you are, random person of cyberspace, if you are or have been struggling, if you know what depression is – and I mean you really KNOW, if you feel like you’re failing at life, if you feel like a royal twat for even whinging about such self-indulgent crap when the world is as it is, if you’re in need of help, then let me just say, for what it’s worth: