Monday, 23 April 2012

The Disability Diaries (The Life of J1) : Dark Days - The Beginning of a Journey

Part two in a series of 'Dark Days' posts in the 'Disability Diaries' Feature.

I have had friends, who have been struggling with how they feel, ask me how the anti-depressants actually helped me.  The only way I can describe how they helped me on the road to recovery is to explain; I was able to deal with more.  Rather than the smallest thing seeming like a big deal, or a mountain to climb, they became just what they were again; a small thing

This in turn allowed my mind to start dealing with the other issues that it had to process.  Over the course of 15 months the days spent crying became less frequent, and the old 'fighting' spirit started to return, slowly.  It was not an overnight cure, the lack of sleep did not assist matters.  However, days where we had negative news on J1's diagnosis - which could have knocked me out K-O style - instead meant I cried, had a bad day and was able to move on.

In short, I started to learn to cope.

My doctor had not just prescribed anti-depressants to try and combat my dark days, he also suggested that I needed a healthier diet and some form of exercise as a 'natural' remedy to help lift me up.  The diet change was relatively simple.  Pre-baby I had always maintained a reasonable diet (my weight does not automatically stay down).  Also at one point I had spent a long period being an avid gym attendee.

Although I had good intentions with the exercise I struggled to find the motivation to do something.  The only real 'exercise' I enjoyed was going to the gym and at the time I was not in a financial position to join one.  Work had allowed me to reduce my hours, but of course with that came a salary reduction.  As I worked within the Students' Union at the University I was surrounded by a lot of sport-friendly/financially restrained people.  One person suggested that I might like to take up running.  It was free, would give me a good dose of happy hormones and some fresh air.  They even offered to work out a training plan for me if I so desired!  I nearly fell off of my chair laughing.  After thanking them for the offer, I explained that I faked a sick note for every 'cross country' session at school and had never even run on the treadmill at the gym.  Running was not a sport for me.

Although I was starting to feel better I still did not feel strong enough to take up offers of social occasions with friends.  I wasn't ready to run the risk of being required to openly discuss J1's condition, or even worse have to deal with their sympathy.  Additionally I found, after an 'attempt' at trying to tell certain people, they got very upset.  I felt they were expecting me to be strong enough to help them deal with their grief.  I didn't have that sort of strength so went back to my withdrawn method.  At work, people were appropriately avoiding asking anything too personal.  They stuck to 'How's J1 doing, ok?' allowing me to answer with a simple 'Yes, thank you for asking' - which was about as much as I could cope with.  I was thankful for the polite and reserved trait of the English.  

It was on another Saturday evening at home, researching a charity website, that I came across the 'How You Can Help?' section.  The site listed different 'Adventures' that you could sign up to, such as; Walking the Great Wall of China; Trek Kilimanjaro; Cycle to Paris.  One caught my eye in particular 'Trek the Inca Trail - Peru'.  It looked just, stunning.

I printed off the details and slept on the idea.  When I got up on Sunday the thought of doing something to raise money for charity, charities that were giving us help and support, invigorated me.  I felt a bounce in my step that I had wondered would ever return.  I had never been very adventurous in choosing holiday destinations, and to be honest it did scare me somewhat.  I decided to call a friend who was very well travelled to glean their opinion on the choice of adventure.

I felt nervous approaching someone about something that I wanted to do.  I was used to just doing exactly what I chose to.  However, I quickly realised that if I was going to do something, as big as what I was setting my sights on, then I was going to need support.  I made the call, and my excitement must have been infectious because two hours later I received a message saying - 'Not only do I think it will be good for you, I am going to do it with you!'.

I was even more worried about suggesting the idea to my parents.  I was concerned that they would think it was a step too far, considering I had only just started to cope with day to day life.  I was not going to be able to do this without their full consent however.  I was going to need lots of babysitting agreement so that I could get fit; go away for practise treks; organise the fund-raising side of things and of course go on the trek itself.

I did approach them however.  Although I could see uncertainty with a touch of 'We will say yes but I can't see her going through with it' in their eyes, to say 'yes' I think they must have see a twinkle in mine that had been missing for sometime.  My mum suggested before I parted with any money registering, I should take a month or two working on getting fit to see if I could - in reality - fit all the training in that would be required.

I agreed.  I had read that I would cope better with the altitude issues that would present themselves, if I had a good lung capacity.  At the time I could have taken a decent wager that it was currently pretty poor.  I looked up what would be the best way to improve it and unsurprisingly the suggestion was; Running.  It was time to go back cap in hand to the very kind person that had offered to help me with this very subject.

Little did I know that running was about to become a very real and very important part of my life.  How taking on more would in fact help me cope better and how much it would improve my state of mind.


  1. I'm really enjoying the disability diaries, it's so helpful to other mums and dads of children with special needs when they read how others cope x

    1. Thank you. When I started writing them, I did so more to try and raise awareness of the day to day issues both person with the disability and their carers / immediate family face, issues that would never occur to those who are not in the situation. So many of my friends would invite us round, without thinking, we wouldn't be able to get up the stairs to their flat or just to the door type of thing. I didn't think that it would be a support to those going through those early stages, but it is and that thrills me.x

  2. Keep writing, this is good.
    I have also started taking anti depressants,and they have helped so much!
    It was a hard decision, but i am so glad I made it. I blog about depression often- today in fact!

    Also, I think you will like this post- "because I have a child with special needs, I am a mama with special needs!"

    1. Thank you for the links Emily, will go and check them out. Depression is such a taboo subject, even now, it has taken a while to be able to write these posts, because I was still worried about what people might think! Silly. A-D are there to help people do just what they are meant to do lift you back up to the point of being able to cope. If I ever went as low as I went all those years ago, I would not hesitate in using them to help.

  3. You have it exactly right- I never realized how nice it was to be able to see SMALL things for what they are : SMALL. Until you can't and everything is huge.

    1. Exactly. I didn't realise until getting through the day with minimal tears and effort came back just how much energy was being spent on worrying / stressing over everyday little things that had never phased me before. My brain was just overloaded at the time. The A-D were like a little pill of patience. I had more calm within me to deal with little up's and downs in the way I always had done.

  4. Again another powerful narrative from Mother Duck - Really impressed with how you got back into the saddle again, and how you really looked after your self. This is gripping reading. Given all your life experience, I hope you realise you have a novel in waiting? You story is truely amazing.

    1. LOL, thank you Older Mum - that is a big boost! I guess I decided I had to get back in the saddle. I had a gorgeous little bundle that needed me too, particularly as I was a single mum at the time. I am lucky that I am a strong person by nature and that kicked back in - with a little help!


I would love for you to quack your thoughts along with me and will always try and quack right back.