Housing Fear And Depression: How My Mind Became A Safe Haven For Negativity Without Me Even Realising
Lots of people are sharing their experiences of depression, of stress and anxiety. A few are writing about the reality of menopause. I haven’t yet found anyone sharing the reality of a world where all those challenges collide. That’s where I come in. I hope my musings help.
I’VE always been a sensitive sort. Some may well say too sensitive. But when the depression hit it was like that sensitivity had taken a vacation.
My senses had been wrapped in layers of masking tape, dumbing down any kind of emotive reaction/response. Like I’d been doused with ‘Eau De Nothing’ numbing spray. I could observe the sadness, the disappointment, the anxiety of others at a ‘safe’ distance, behind Perspex almost, giving me a pretty clear view without any emotion.
At first I used to think that was how everyone felt, but now I’m not so sure. Looking back, it was one of the earlier signs that depression had begun dancing with me — and that I was losing that love of life I’d held for a lot of my 20s and 30s.
Other earlier signs were such a cliché — the not wanting to get out of bed for starters.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been an ‘early to bed, early to rise’ type, but spending hours watching endless YouTube clips, going to bed at 2/3 am consistently and then struggling to surface from my pit before 10.30/11am was a sign something was up. You see, in my world, where the black dog of depression skulked and sniffed about, there was nothing to get out of bed for; there were only grey days, with the colour sucked out of them — by who, and what, I was not to discover until much later.
Another early sign was the dependency I had developed on staying close to home. I do love my three-bed semi and my human and furry family…. but to not want to go out at all, to stay home, day after day after day, chained to the laptop and endless episodes of ER was not good for my health — mental or physical.
I was deeply, deeply depressed and fearful. That’s another thing that often doesn’t get talked about. The fear that accompanies depression. In my world, these two were best friends…
I was deeply, deeply depressed and fearful. That’s another thing that often doesn’t get talked about. The fear that accompanies depression. In my world, these two were best friends with the conversation going something like this:
Fear: “Boo! (cue evil laughter) It’s okay to be scared. There’s danger everywhere you turn. Don’t worry, I’ll look after you. We can build a hill fort, right here, and never need to leave the house again. We’ll just order everything in — food, drink, entertainment — it’ll be great and you’ll be safe. You’ll never need to trust another human again. We’ll hide here together.”
Depression: “You’ll be safe with me too. No more people letting you down because I won’t let them touch you. Just stick with me and we’ll grow old together. Never ending dark days where we can close the curtains and switch the world off. Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.”
Right then, with these sorts of conversations running around in my head, Fear and Depression had taken up residence and were making themselves well and truly at home. In no time at all they would have squatters’ rights, leaving just a teeny, tiny space for me.
Light in the shadow
Gradually, I would come to learn that the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel really did exist. I did find a way out of that shadow world, but it wasn’t easy. Now, I plan to use my experiences to help others. I’ll start by writing about what it was really like. These days, lots of people are sharing their experiences of depression, of stress and anxiety. A few people are writing about the reality of menopause too. I haven’t yet found anyone sharing the reality of a world where all those challenges collide. So that’s where I come in.
These writings won’t always be easy — either to create or read — but they might be cathartic, for me AND my readers.
That’s my hope, at least.
Asha Clearwater is an NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) qualified journalist who’s been a news reporter, features editor and arts editor, as well as editor of several national business magazines.
Today, through her business Turquoise Tiger, she coaches SMEs on the art of great storytelling to promote their products and services.
Asha occasionally freelances as a writer for national magazines and is even behind some of the information boards you’ll find strolling through Woodland Trust Forests.