I'm sure some of you reading this will have thought to yourself: "what would my mental state be if I was presented with that diagnosis?" Indeed some of you reading this know exactly what your mental state would be, because unhappily you've been there with me or you're still in treatment and know exactly how it feels. One of the things that unnerved me slightly when I got the diagnosis was the same thought. Would I retain my sanity?
Back in the late 70s I had acute clinical depression, just 18 months after our first daughter was born. It lasted in its acute state about 18 months and I had only just ceased to take anti-depressants when I discovered I was pregnant again. I suppose it was about 10 years before I really got back to normal. The depression took the form of OCD and also some agrophobia. I know, you can't imagine me in a situation where I was frightened to leave the house lest someone might talk to me.
Would that awful bottom-of-the-mixing-bowl dark hole be once again the sum of my waking hours? Well obviously not because I've been psychologically fine through all this. In fact if anything I've been happier since I started feeling better than I have for years. But there are times when my brain presents me with less-than-satisfactory thoughts. It's normally just before I get up - somewhere between that "goodness it's 5am and so light already, but far too early to get up" moment and the "crikey is that the time? - I'd better get up" moment. These waking dreams are confused and usually provide an insoluable dilemma. Don't ask me to recount any of them because they're so odd that they flit from my mind the moment I fire up the electric toothbrush.
But the point about them is that as I come too and realise that they're not real, I am filled with a wonderful sense of relief and relaxation - joy I suppose. I don't wake with a jolt to find out I've got lung cancer - quite the opposite. I wake from the mayhem to be glad to find out who and what I am.
This is the complete opposite of how it was back in the 70s when I would sleep in order to gain relief from what was going on inside my head. Once hubby was home and my childcare responsibilities could be handed to him, I used to place myself in a strange sort of half-wake-half-sleep state in order to give my poor tortured brain a chance to rest. (Yes, my brother can do it too!) Waking from that I'd find a world of misery. It's the complete opposite of how things are now. But the bizarre thing is that back then I really didn't have anything to worry about, life should have been brilliantly happy - while now, when I do have something that I could worry about, I don't.