Sunday, 22 June 2008


Yes, well, been a bit quiet here hasn't it? There is a reason for that and the reason is that I haven't been able to write. Wait, that's a bit obvious, isn't it? Duh. What I mean is that this blog (in case you haven't noticed) tends to be a bit on the frivolous side. I do like to write and what I like to write is silly, shallow stuff. If it turns out to be a wee bit funny too, so much the better. I am not one for great thoughts or deep insights. Prefer to stick to daft things my kids have said and ways I have made a fool of myself, often in public. I just enjoy the act of writing stuff that is the direct opposite of the kind of material I have to produce professionally.

The problem is I have not been feeling particularly frivolous or funny recently. In fact, if I am being absolutely honest, I have not been feeling that way for some time. I am just very well practised at maintaining that facade, playing the part of the person who is getting on with things, coping with life. But I'm not. Or rather I haven't been for a while now. I finally admitted this a couple of weeks ago and went to see my lovely and sympathetic GP who listened to me gibber incoherently for a few minutes, asked some pertinent questions and then told me what just about everyone who knows me well could have told me ages ago.

I am suffering from depression. And stress. (The terrible twins, you can't have one without the other) I feel like an absolute fraud, to be honest. I have nothing to be depressed about. Nice house, good job, lovely family etc. I keep thinking about the millions of people in the world who are worse off than I am, who genuinely have something to be depressed about and it makes me feel like a pampered slightly pathetic individual who should just give herself a good shake and get on with it for Pete's sake.

On the other hand, I have clearly been a less than wonderful person to be around recently. My husband was, if anything, relieved, when I confessed all to him - he had known something was wrong but because I wasn't talking, he didn't know what it was. The people I work with have also been great and also told me they knew something was up.

It would appear I have been hiding from people, unable to summon up the energy to interact normally, since "normally" for me is chirpy, cheerful, flippant. All the things I have not been feeling for some time. And I hadn't even realised I had been hiding, avoiding contact with people. I knew that I was panicking when the phone rang, not wanting to talk to whoever was on the other end, and I knew I was avoiding the communal chats over a cup of tea in the secretaries' room, but didn't twig it was any deeper than that. I realised I might be feeling a bit off when it was my birthday and the thought of an evening celebrating with my husband's family (who are lovely, honest!) made me feel anxious and nauseous rather than, well, celebratory.

In short, I had run out of the raw materials I needed to create the facade. The effort was just becoming too much. I managed a day at my brother's house with my parents and all the kids for my nephew's birthday and I enjoyed it, I really did. But by the next morning I was just drained. My stomach was such a knot of anxiety that I could not even manage a cup of tea. And when I can no longer drink tea, believe me, the world is shifting on its axis.

Finally talking about it helped. The medication I am on appears to be okay and I am told it will help. I gather it takes a while to really kick in but I am not suffering any of the myriad possible side effects other than a little nausea, and given that the side effects listed include a sudden desire to throw yourself under a moving bus, that's pretty good. I am due to go and talk to someone professionally in a few weeks (if I still need it by then) and I am due to go away on holiday with the family in a week's time. In fact, it was the approaching holiday that finally sent me scurrying to the doctor. Do you want to know why? Because on holiday I am with the boys and Husband 24 hours a day, which is great. But all I was doing was fretting because I knew I would need to have a good hard cry most days and couldn't figure out how I was going to manage to do so without them finding out. Ridiculous, huh? Even I could figure out that is not a normal thing to be worrying about!

When I first spoke to my doctor I was not sure what had caused this. He reckoned sometimes you never figure that out. However, I am pretty sure it is work-related. I love the firm I work for and the people I work with are, without exception, brilliant. Mad as a hatful of fish, most of them, but great to work with. I am, however, the only lawyer in my office doing what I do which is civil litigation. So there is no-one to compare notes with, no-one to ask for advice, no-one to just moan at. The whole department rests on my shoulders and while I have been doing this job for years, the shoulders seem to be sagging now. If I imagine being at work, I panic. I have convinced myself that I am not capable of being a lawyer and the horrible court action I referred to in passing recently really hasn't helped. For some time now I have sat at my desk and looked at the pile of work I have to do, and I have simply been unable to do it. I can't make any rational decisions, I can't work out what needs to be done and I have been absolutely convinced that the advice I tender is wrong and my opposite numbers in all the court actions are far more competent than I and therefore probably right. Not a good attitude for a litigator. And not something it is easy to admit to oneself, never mind one's work colleagues. Hence the fact that I have hidden it whilst I run in ever decreasing circles trying to get myself and my caseload back on track.

I would still be there if it were not for Husband. He has come over all masterful and ordered me to take some time off work, and since I could tell he meant it, I have obeyed (that's a first!) So I am off work until we go to Canada, trying, as they say, to get my head together. I am going to the gym and sleeping a lot. I could sleep for Scotland at the moment.

I have not however blogged because I didn't know how to write this post. I am still not sure I have got it right but a number of you (and you know who you are) have been kind and thoughtful enough to enquire after my wellbeing and I am so grateful for that. It sort of tipped the balance and made me feel I wanted to try and write about the last couple of weeks. I will, I am sure, get back to normal service soon. Thank you again.


  1. Respect to you! You managed to not only admit something was off kilter, but you've managed to take the necessary steps to deal with it - that's brilliant. Any idea how many people don't even make it that far?

    As for feeling guilty that you feel like shit, well, don't. Your feeling shit is a product of our fcuked up society, where work - no matter how you think you like it - and society messes our heads up. Sounds like no matter how great the folks at your work are, you're still somewhat isolated in what you do and you don't have the immediate support network round you. I know how important that is - I have three others in our office all doing the same type of work to help pick up the pieces when things are hard, so I hate to think how it must be for you without that. Never underestimate the cathartic effect of being able to moan to people who understand because they're in the same job!

    Wishing you all the best for picking yourself up though. And dont' be too hard on yourself. Take care!

  2. You are me, two and a half years ago. Take your antidepressants- they work. If the answer to why this happened isn't obvious then forget about it. Sometimes things need to change (job, work/life balance etc) sometimes there is not any reason. Depression can just happen. But you will get better.

    For me it took about four weeks til I notice meds starting to make an impact. And I took 8 weeks off work to get better.

    I wish you all the best. I actually started blogging when I was off helped me to chill out enormously. And depression has never come back.

  3. Loth I am so so glad to see you post again - I was starting to worry about whether anyone would tell us of something bad had happened to you!

    Well done on recognising there is a problem and on taking the incredibly courageous step of seeing your doctor. Never underestimate how much courage that takes. You are a strong lady going through a tough time.

    When your appointment for counselling comes up, go along even if you think you don't need it. Depression is an illness and doesn't disappear overnight unfortunately. So keep taking the tablets if they suit you, and keep accepting any and all help on offer. And stay off work until you feel strong enough to go back.

    I don't want to come across all "been there, done that" so I will just say there's a shoulder here if you need one.


    Wendy XXXX

  4. Loth, I really feel for you. I have been there myself and it's a very hard place to be. Just have faith that things will get better, and that you will feel normal again soon. Take as much time as you can to get yourself feeling well again. And if you feel like you can, keep exercising regularly (easier said than done, I know!).

    I also agree with Wendy; go to your counselling session even if you feel better. I went to a private counsellor and she helped me so much.

    And if you ever feel like a peaceful day out in the countryside, you are welcome round here anytime!

  5. Sweetheart, if you're coming to my part of Canada it is gorgeous, sunny, and just starting to burst into bloom - a quick pick-me-up all by itself!

    (And I know pretty weather won't make it all better. I do hope you feel better soon!)

  6. Loth, I've emailed you separately but just wanted to publicly say things will get better. I've been where you are and it's a crummy time I realize. Take the time you need to get yourself right again (the blogging, if you feel able, will be good therapy too).

    Btw, I am a Canadian now resident in the UK. I'm from the west coast of Canada (Vancouver, B.C.)...would that by any chance be the part you are visiting? If so, you're in for a treat.

  7. Lovely to see you in blogprint again. Hope the medication kicks in soon and sunny Canada works its magic also.

    Have a restful holiday. (Two small boys... well, maybe not exactly restful, but at least it'll be different from work. Work doesn't give you cuddles. Or at least, not in my experience.)

  8. Loth,

    I'm so glad you are able to write about this. I was concerned about your silence. I too have suffered from this thing, and have written a personal email to you. Hold on a little while. It will get better.

  9. I'm glad you chose to write about it - you may be able to help another person out by this, you realize. I agree with the commenter who said that even if you're feeling better when the counseling appt. comes, GO!

    It does sound to me like the work situation is a major cause/factor in this, and I think you'll need to talk to a professional on how to deal with that.

    Good luck - and I hope you have fun! I've been there, where every social function sounds like my personal nightmare. What I've found helps? Dreading it and dreading it and crying about it, and then when it comes, sometimes it's not as bad as I've made it out to be in my head. And, yes, I'm in therapy :)

  10. Sorry to hear you've been going through this. I hope the holiday gives you a chance to recharge. Sleep also sounds good. Well done to your husband for being masterful.

    This kind of thing happens, and it does seem to pick people who have (in theory) nothing to be depressed about, except that they feel rubbish. Often seems to pick very bright people, too. Good luck. Hope you feel better very soon.

  11. I have suffered from depression for many years. I take medication and I lead a fairly normal life. Depression is a dark place, my dear and so tough to break free of. No rhyme, no reason to it, it just is.
    It takes 4-6 weeks to get the medication to kick in and even then you won't just one day wake up and feel right as rain. It takes time, slowly.
    I'm glad you're taking time off. Be kind to yourself and remember there are so many of us that don't mind being that shoulder you cry on.
    I'm here for you!

  12. Sometimes putting it all on paper is half of the battle. And do you realize how many people you have touched by this post? Do you know that you are not alone and this post is going to help you realize that?

    You have great worth - even when posts are funny and fluffy. I don't typically comment, but this one brought me out of the woodwork. Good for you for such a well-spoken and emotional post.

  13. Loth,

    Thank you for posting about something that is really sensitive. It takes a lot of courage to just put it out there.

    My husband and I separated 2 months ago for about 6 weeks and have just moved back in together, trying our gosh-darn best to make it work. It's the scariest but most-real time of my life. And I have no idea about how to say anything about it on my blog.

    Thank you for showing me one way to post about something so close to your heart. And it is a long road, but I wish you continued courage in your struggle with depression.

  14. Sorry I missed this post. I've backed off of blogging a bit, but for other reasons. I hope you are feeling better. Depression runs in my family, so I know that it can strike anyone at anytime for no reason. Hang in there.