The Shape Shifting Dementor of Depression | Jane's Story

So I'm 32 divorced mum to an 8 year old son. I have always had mental ill health, I have C-PTSD from childhood. I have had lots of therapy over the years but the thing that helped me the most to understand myself was psychoeducation around C-PTSD. Anxiety, depression and OCD with intrusive thoughts and compulsive counting have long been a part of my life, like I don't know any different and thought everyone thought like me. But then I thought everyone's childhood was like mine too...I thought that was normal, turns out it's not! 

I have dark dry humour and definitely use it as a coping technique, along with other unhealthy ones. Thanks to lots of GOOD therapy and support now I am in a much better place. 

I call my depression a shape shifting dementor. Like the characters in the Harry Potter books depression sucks the life out of me. I think I'll have it sussed and have coping techniques and be on the lookout for signs that I'm dimming and then out of nowhere, without a warning it will hit me. At its worst it feels like someone has turned the lights out in the room. It's airless and dark. And I know that I could just get up and turn the light on, but the dementor has taken my energy so I don't. Friends and family say 'I'm here if you ever need to talk' but when the light goes out, I can't find them. The logical part of my head knows there are there and trying to reach me and I just need to reach out, unfortunately the depression is stronger and it tells me lies, that they're not there, they don't care and they're too busy to deal with me. 

Whilst this might conjure up images of hiding in my bed until the depression passes, as a single parent, or a parent full stop, that isn't possible. So I have to go through the motions, get dressed, take my son to the bus, and go to work. Whilst in these times I would so love to hide away, I actually find it easier to 'show up' if I can call it that, then hiding away when I would have to explain to work why I'm not there. Work can spot when I'm not quite on it, in days go buy this would be because in person I would be less than my usual self. Now, thanks to Covid it's because I don't turn my camera on for calls. The strangest thing I have noticed with my depression is my inability to regulate my body temperature when I am in a depressive episode. It's like my body and mind are working so hard to keep me going through the motions that keeping me warm falls off the list. I have been sat in a meeting in a small room with 5 others who were all overly warm, I had my coat, scarf and a polo neck on...when you work with GPs like I do this leads to even more questions. 

The biggest worry I have about these episodes is how they impact on my son. As my issues stem from childhood I worry he will end up like me (he won't, what he experiences and what I experienced are very different!) I try to be open and honest with him, but explaining such a big concept to a child is hard, so I tell him that mummy gets sad sometimes, that's all, like the clouds rain when they get heavy, mummy cries. I tell him that mummy has a sad heart and head. He understands this and tries to cheer me up, we will watch a film together or cuddle. Thankfully he slept through the worst night when I broke down and had police and ambulance in attendance. Generally, I go through the motions and hide it from him as best I can. I think as parents that is what we do isn't it? 

At the time my ex husband was still here and it was a catalyst to change. I never want myself to feel that low again. When I look back now I had been so very ill for so long but had ignored it. I now know not to ignore it. When I start to feel the lights being dimmed I reach out straight away and hold onto someone. That takes vulnerability, which is hard given I can't be vulnerable with either of my parents, but I have some amazing people in my life, and support comes in the most unlikely of places. Namely, strangers on the internet. I find it easier to reach out to a stranger than I do someone I know. I find it easier to be vulnerable to someone I don't know than someone I do know. 

This year for the first time when the dementor came and turned the lights right off, I rang the crisis line. I had sat sobbing on my bed for two hours after I had dropped my son off. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't think what to do other than I needed telling how to look after myself. So I rang the crisis line. Having never done this I didn't know what to expect. But at the end of the line there was a kind soothing, faceless voice who helped me get back on track. 

Depression for everyone is different, and the reasons for it are different. I call it shape shifter because it changes form. Just when I think I've got it sussed it changes and comes at me another way. Sometimes it's sudden, sometimes it's gradual. Sometimes the darkness passes quickly, sometimes it feels like it will never pass. I wish people spoke about this side of depression more. The likeness to a black dog doesn't fit for me. I mean I'm a dog lover so I'd love a dog following me around all the time! That's why I have named my depression something that suits me, to take a bit of power back from it, a bit like in Harry Potter. 

I hope that this in some way has helped someone...? 

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