In today’s society, we sometimes only consider persons who are experiencing the flu, communicable or non-communicable diseases to be sick.
It is because of the lack of education or first-hand experience with other health issues, that persons are unaware of the prominence of mental health illness in our homes, workplaces and communities.
The following story is the first in a series of diary entries of a mental health patient living here in Barbados. Why is she sharing her story? To open your eyes to those who are silently crying for help, with the hopes that you may possibly save a life.
Last Sunday was my church’s Harvest programme and I was ecstatic because my son had his first big role in a dramatic production. My daughters were taking part as well, but my son, who has always been shy, was stepping outside the box to show the church how much talent he possessed. I was so proud.
I watched in admiration as the children anxiously practised their recitations during the day, but as time drew nearer for us to be on our way, the most awful feeling came over me. It was not a new feeling, but it definitely was one that I did not want to be experiencing at that moment.
I looked in the mirror, and what stared back at me was an ugly woman, with bags under her eyes, unkempt hair, flabby arms and a big belly. She was hideous. She taunted me, reminding me that I was nobody and no one could ever love someone like me. I felt an unbelievable self-hatred taking over and at that moment I knew there was no turning back. But why was this happening right now?
I thought about skipping the recital, but a small, almost fading voice, reminded me that there would be no other family members to cheer on my children and they would be so hurt if Mummy didn’t go.
I battled with this feeling for a while, and I believe it was when my youngest daughter ran up to me and hugged my leg, that I snapped back to reality. So reluctantly and with great effort, I got dressed and dragged myself out of the house.
As I arrived at church, a place of worship and thanksgiving, my thoughts were running wild. “If anybody in here speaks to me I will curse them.” “Look at all these pagans and hypocrites in here.” “Why she don’t control that unmannerly child?” I just wanted to scream. UUUGGHHHHHH!!!!!
And, just when I thought I had reached the absolute bottom, I sunk to another level during my son’s performance. There he was looking so confident and handsome, doing an amazing job, but his mother, who was supposed to be his personal cheerleader, was just sitting there staring angrily at the ongoing production. I got up and ran out of the church, tears streaming down my cheeks. I had let my children down; I had not clapped, cheered or smiled at them for the entire evening. I was not showing them how proud Mummy was.
This mental battle continued throughout the night despite my efforts to pull myself from the deep, dark hole into which I had fallen. Sleep evaded me but tears kept my company into the wee hours of the morning.
I awoke the next morning only to realise that the blended sense of anger and sadness had followed me into the new day. How in the world was I going to get through the day? I briefly considered quitting my job and packing my children off to their father’s house to live, but a tiny bit of motivation and the reminder that I had bills to pay and mouths to feed, got me up and out of the house.
As the day progressed, the feelings worsened. I could not be my usual fun self at the office, I couldn’t even fake a smile. I stayed in my own corner, praying that no one would cross my path. Unfortunately, or fortunately, someone did. And while I wanted to release a basket of expletives and issue a warning for them to mind their own business, instead I broke down in tears… pointless, flowing tears.
This was the first time that I had an outburst in front of anyone, and I honestly expected the entire office to hear about my situation. Instead, this coworker, my friend, saw it as a cry for help.
This was what led me to visit a psychiatrist, and it was then that I received my diagnosis of clinical depression. At 32 years old, with an amazing job and three beautiful children, I was battling a mental illness.
I feel hopeless.
To get more information on depression and find out the warning signs, you may click here.