My younger sister shared her story in a comment to my blog post Women Are Twice as Likely as Men to Experience Anxiety and Depression. I’m One of Them. and I asked to post it as a guest blog. I hope it will be the first of many from my talented sibling. Tara, you are an amazing woman and mother. You are enough.
I have a very similar story, with a lot of things lining up together with you. For me it was between 35 and 40 that it all fell apart. While I’ve suffered from depressive state as long as I can remember, other than one summer, it didn’t get in my way much till post 35.
I didn’t manage any degrees though, because outside of the structure of living with someone I need to ‘behave for’ I fell to inertia. But I had several jobs and a great career. Then I moved overseas to a place I should have fit in easily (no language barrier, etc). But it was awful, my partner fell apart and I had to hold us together in a place that, daily, reminded me I’m not enough, that I should just forget about asking because the answer is no, out of the gate. Where sexism levels are still in the 1980’s.
Still I held on and kept going, I had children and everyone was like ‘oh no! postpartum, lookout!’ But I’d been coping with depression for 30 years already, so I was like, ‘nah, I got this!’ Coping with depression and living life is a lot like being a functioning alcoholic, you’re hampered by this thing, but you carry on, it’s all good. Till you aren’t.
Which for me was a case of walking pneumonia four months long and a miscarriage. After that one-two punch I developed an anxiety disorder of amazing proportions. I couldn’t go for a walk in any, non main thoroughfare, because I thought locals would single me out and accuse me of being somewhere I ought not to be. I developed a paralyzing fear of doing anything new. I started to doubt my skill levels. I dumped everything into being ‘mummy’ and was horrified by my ‘lack of commitment’ to my children. I was the standard overachieving mum, but all I saw were the bad parts.
I’m working hard to change all of this though and I have a touch of traction for which I am eternally thankful. I let someone see the awful mess that is me and it may actually get better now. We’ll see.