Depression — sobbing, empty and angry

When I was 16 years old, a member of my family made a serious attempt at suicide; so serious no-one could work out how they’d survived.

I remember sitting on the floor in the lounge, going through the motions of doing my homework, wondering how anyone could do that.

Being a self-absorbed teenager, I also wondered how someone could do that to me. Then I started worrying about how we shared genes and whether we might also share that bit. The depressive bit.

That fear has gnawed at me ever since, until this year, when it seemed as though it was being realised. I was sobbing myself to sleep and waking up feeling empty and heavy and angry – and I couldn’t work out why.

I’d try walking the dog in the bush, but would plod along wondering what the point was of putting one foot in front of the other.

I’d scowl at the furball I adored. Wasn’t he supposed to be picking up on how I was feeling rather than ignoring my calls and racing off to sniff another dog’s bum?

I’d try going to the gym, but start with a quiet, inexplicable sob in the loos.

Then I’d work out, hard, silently begging the exercise gods for some endorphins to fix me.

In the middle of cooking dinner, I’d find myself slumped on the floor, amid the dog hair I couldn’t face vacuuming up, feeling like all hope had deserted me.

I’d berate myself for being so bloody melodramatic, all the while eyeing up our lovely Japanese knives, wondering with intent whether they were sharp enough.

I felt too ashamed to tell anyone, worried they’d think I was a just a bit blue because I no longer had a cool job on the telly, but that wasn’t it.

Then there was the guilt. I’d just got married. I was supposed to be in the lovely gushy honeymoon phase, but instead my new husband was busy mopping up my tears and trying to reassure me I was worth it.

I felt like a mopey burden he’d be better off without. Continue reading

  • Nadine Higgins is a New Zealand newspaper columnist, and radio and television broadcaster
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