“Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water, those problems seem to arise the ones you never really thought of, the feeling you get is similar to something like drowning, out of your mind you’re out of your depth you should have taken soundings, clutching at straws, we’re clutching at straws……”
(lyrics by Marillion, album Clutching At Straws, 1987)
After the sleep out on Friday night, and after a few hours sleep at home, we spent two nights at the Bramble Barn Retreat, just outside Chester. The accommodation is beautiful, and the owner Carol, is friendly, warm and welcoming ( and as it turned out spent six years living in Sheffield just around the corner from where we live now ). The weather was a mixed bag of sunshine and showers, cold but not unpleasant, and the weekend was a relaxing break, away from home, and everything that is happening at the moment, albeit with a couple of waves of melancholy.
The drive home in some of the worst weather so far this winter, was stressful anyway but as the journey continued, and we got closer to home, while the weather improved, my anxiety grew, my stomach churning, my mind racing, my heart pounding. A little later I dropped Janine at her Weight Watchers meeting, on the way, we passed work, and my stomach lurched and my heart began pounding even faster than before, I felt cold, clammy and I could feel panic rising. Not wanting to worry Janine, I drove on, trying to breathe slowly and deeply. I returned home safely, but as soon as the ignition was off, I had a deep wave of anxiety and panic, shaking, and almost immediately beginning to cry. I dropped my house keys three or four times between the car and the door, struggled to get my key in the lock, and as I was also in need of the loo, my panic rose and rose.
maybe I was just tired from the drive home, maybe I should have eaten something at lunchtime, I can’t explain what caused the anxiety, but it was very real, and equal parts frightening and frustrating, having felt on Friday like things were levelling out, this shook me deeply. an hour later I went to my Slimming World class, I needed to get out of the house, and the group I go to is really supportive. I was calmer but feeling very shaky, and I sat fairly quietly through the meeting. ( I lost 3 pounds, which was good news)
How quickly it can go from ok to not ok is something I thought I had become accustomed to, I guess it’s going to take a little longer to fully adjust to.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last few days, I know at some point I’m going to have to tackle the subject of work, when I’m likely to feel well enough to go back, or in fact if I can go back. At this point, I honestly don’t know where my feelings are, the thought of returning fills me with dread, a sick, empty feeling in my stomach, but the thought of leaving, of having nothing to go to, is equally frightening. I have ideas, threads of plans that I desperately want to tie together, but at this point I’m struggling to decipher the right paths to follow. I’m hoping that after some counselling, and speaking with Occupational Health at work, I’ll have more clarity and I’ll be able to make a more informed decision. At the same time, I’m still struggling with guilt at not being there, despite constant reminders that I need to heal.
This morning on Facebook, today’s memory post was one from a year ago, a cartoon about depression, which beautifully and poignantly illustrates the feeling almost perfectly. When I posted it last year, it seemed like something abstract, a reminder of something I’d overcome, today, its utter relevance to the present floored me, so I shared it again. I think it’s very relatable.
Also today, it would be remiss to fail to mention another very poignant anniversary. Six years ago, football manager Gary Speed (Wales, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United and more) lost his secret battle with his depression, and took his life. A heartbreaking example of exactly why I feel writing this blog is so necessary. Gary was a man’s man, a sporting hero, a family man, successful, respected and adored by fans of every club he was ever involved with, as well as his fellow professionals. Seemingly having it all, his demons weren’t discussed, in the sports world, especially football, these things aren’t spoken about, certainly historically they haven’t been. Thankfully, things are changing, and if the heroes of sport can come out and discuss their problems, then maybe more men will feel that it’s ok to do the same.
Sadly Missed, Rest In Peace Gary Speed.
So, tomorrow is another day, I’ll go to the closet, and I’ll put on the suit of outward normality, and I’ll keep on clutching at every straw I can reach. I’ll try to keep taking one step forward.