When you find yourself conversing with someone and blogging comes up, inevitably the question will be asked - why do you do it?
To fully answer this, I have to examine the point I was at in life when I began blogging almost a year and a half ago and unfortunately for you, this involves me going back even further.
I had a really tough time in high school. I went to an international school where sports was king. If you weren’t into sports, you might as well kiss your social life goodbye. Being a slightly pudgy, musically inclined girl, I was not exactly popular. Kids can be cruel, but teenagers can be worse. Before I turned 19 I had tried to kill myself three times. This is not something I’m proud of, but it’s something I need to put out there. I never felt I had an issue with depression, but rather that my issues were circumstantial. I was pushed by circumstance to do something so drastic. It never occurred to me that there might be a chemical imbalance in my brain making me incapable of dealing with tough situations.
I remember the last time I tried it and ended up in hospital. I just wanted out of there, but they wouldn’t let me go without a psych consult. This arrogant woman came in and asked all kinds of insulting questions - did I have voices in my head - and the like. I wasn’t crazy, I was just having a rough time with life, didn’t they get that?
A year later I was finally able to move on with my life. I went to music school resigned to being an old maid. Imagine my surprise when I inadvertantly ran into my soulmate. Life really changed for the better. We moved to Michigan, I got a wonderfully fulfilling and challenging job, lost loads of weight and got married. Life couldn’t have been better.
It was then against all odds that in 2005 I found myself pregnant. Call me old fashioned, but I was just happy we were married! I was petrified though. I thought he would kill me and even told him in a public place just in case. Of course, he was absolutely delighted and we dove headfirst into the idea of becoming parents. I bought every book on the subject and began to really embrace the idea.
I read everything I could on pregnancy, labour and childbirth. Of course post-natal depression came up in many of the books, but it never even occurred to me that this could be an issue I would face, as I’d hadn’t considered the past episodes depressive. I’d never been happier and the times in the past were, as I said, circumstantial.
Imagine my surprise to find myself at home alone two weeks after giving birth, sobbing my eyes out. I was absolutely miserable and couldn’t understand why. Unlike times before, I had every reason to be happy. We had everything we could possibly want and then some, but I was an absolute mess. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but would drag myself downstairs and lie on the couch watching daytime tv, moving just to feed the baby and get more tissues. I couldn’t comprehend what was wrong with me.
I started having panic attacks when I went back to work and finally decided I needed some help. I’m not a fan of medication, but was able to get some counselling through work and talking to someone really helped. When I got back into work mode I found I was able to direct my energy elsewhere and began to come out from under the cloud.
9 months later we moved to Ireland and I can honestly say I was back to normal and feeling fine. I found moving to Ireland very hard - not least because we had sold everything we owned to get here and then the purchase of the restaurant we were to run fell through three weeks after we got here but more because when we lived abroad, I had always found it necessary to cling to my Irishness, making sure everyone knew I was from ireland, despite my American accent. I refused to apply for US citizenship when I had the chance, out of sheer pride. Imagine my surprise coming back to live and feeling nothing but unwelcome, an outcast in the country I had held so dear. It was hard, but I never fell back into the cloud that darkened my post-natal days.
Six months after arriving in the Emerald Isle, I once again found myself pregnant. It was at this point I declared myself officially immune to birth control. Once again I threw myself into preparations and even prepared for a home birth. Again, it never occurred to me I would suffer from postpartum depression, as I had never admit to myself that that is what happened the last time.
After my second was born, I was fine. She was a much harder baby to deal with, but I never had any of the dark miserable feelings I had after the first. It was only after I finished breastfeeding about 8 months later that the cloud came back, with a vengeance. I had no idea what was wrong. I had no energy, no emotion, no zest for life. I did the bare minimum to get through the day and even that would leave me haggard and empty.
I had a lovely GP at the time and went to speak with her about it. She wanted to put me on an anti-depressant and I was in such a state that I agreed. She also wanted me to talk to someone. I called up the Health board and was asked if I was sexually abused as a child. I didn’t understand how that was relelvant, but it quickly became apparent that the HSE wasn’t interested in helping anyone else. Unfortunately I had been abused as a child, but it was something I felt had long since been dealt with. I never saw myself as a victim and tried to move on. However I admitted it had occurred so that I could get the help I so desperately needed.
Six weeks later, the anti-depressants were kicking in and I began to feel better. I finally got an appointment with a HSE counsellor and was actually sort of looking forward to it. I went to two appointments and was devastated. She was not at all interested in helping me now, but instead wanted to talk about the abuse, something I really felt at peace with. I couldn’t continue, as it was a waste of both our time and God knows how many others were on the list who did need to talk about their abuse. Not having the money for a private therapist I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I felt that isolation was one of my biggest issues and tried to get out to meet people. It proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. I felt that I needed to come to terms with the fact that I had given up the job I had loved and that I was but a housewife. So I bought a dreadful book that I thought would help. The book was atrocious - poorly written with tragically hypocritcal logic - but it led me to a forum where I ultimately discovered blogging. I thought "Hey, I could do that" and the equally tragically named The Humble Housewife was born.
Within a few months I had met some great people. I had weaned myself off the drugs and never felt better. Although I was isolated in the country with no car when himself was working, I felt like a part of a community, albeit it an online one.
Since starting blogging I have met bloggers in real life too and most of them are just wonderful people. I finally feel like I am myself again. Not only have I met new friends in Ireland, but all over the world. I have received presents in the post, people have offered to have me stay and if I ever need to talk I know GTalk is just a click away. It’s quite amazing really.
When I started to blog it was to reach out, to somehow connect with the world I felt so isolated from. But today, I blog to stay connected. I blog to stay focused and to stay aware of the world around me. Blogging has allowed me not only to grow and mature in my own right, but to learn so much more about the world at home and abroad. I have discovered other cultures, learned fun geeky facts and maybe even become a little more liberal than I’d like to admit! :) I blog to learn about myself and others and I blog to keep my sanity.
Blogging was my light at the end of the tunnel. It may sound over the top, but I honestly feel it saved me. I can’t imagine where I would be right now without all the wonderful people I have met on this incredible journey. Thank you for helping me, even though you may not have been aware just how much you did.
I may not be alone either, blogging really can be a form of therapy! I would strongly urge anyone suffering from feelings of depression or gloom to start blogging. You can blog directly about your feelings, or blog about something that interests you, like I did. It took a lot to get me to be this open on a blog, and indeed there’s lots more I could say, but if I can get the message across to just one person, I’d feel good.