Okay, yes dogs always look sad, I should know as I have had four spoilt dogs over the years.
I wonder how many people have woken up this morning feeling sad and lonely this morning. In fact how many would actually be honest and admit it?
It’s a true statement that you can be in a room full of people and still feel lonely. I have had too many days like this over the years. Before I was married and from the age of 20 I felt lonely every Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. Christmas Day and Boxing Day was spent with my family yet I felt disjointed from them as if I was in a bubble looking out on them being happy. On New Year’s Eve, when I chose to be with my family we would go out for a drink then onto a family friends home for a party. I would put on my happy mask as I was too ashamed to admit I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t enjoying myself. I didn’t feel part of the family or a friend. I was expected to be happy because that’s what my family wanted.
No I wasn’t happy. No I didn’t feel part of the family. No I didn’t want to lie and fake being happy. Yes I was a good actor. I was tired of being accused of being a drama queen, an attention seeker or moody. Facing up to being severely depressed wasn’t an option.
I wanted my son with me. I wanted to wake up on Christmas Day and open presents. I wanted to have fun playing with him on Boxing Day. I wanted to go to bed on New Year’s Eve knowing the next year was going to better than the last.
If my family ever read this they will probably think the same as they always do that I am selfish, only think of myself and always tried to hurt my family. It doesn’t that I was expected to be at my sister’s beck and call as the babysitter. Or that I took my nieces out regularly for a few years.
I was even shocked to find out when I reconnected on Facebook with an old school friend that she considered my parents strict. But, I would do as I was told, did my homework coming before going out, got home by a set time, went for the type of jobs they wanted for me, even friends were a problem. My first best friend at the comprehensive school I went to was from a working class family. My mum wanted me to have middle class friends. She came round because she knew my friend was well raised and polite.
I grew up in a predominiantly white town so it wasn’t too much of an issue until I got to my late teens / early 20’s. Nothing was said directly but I remember feeling uncomfortable with comments along the lines that if a non white person or family moved next door to us we would move. I couldn’t understand why as my parents had non white friends and polite to those they didn’t know. I have had non white friends over the years and have lived in towns where white people aren’t the majority. To me they are decent people and have the same values as we do. Of course there are bad ethnic minority people but not all white people are decent.
End of rant and back on track.
Christmas Day I felt lonely. That’s sad. I know Rick loves me. We had a good day. We don’t have any worries. Well. Except for the bathroom leak. But. I felt lonely. It eased by teatime as two friends were with us for a couple of hours – one is a neighbour and the other one we got to know through church. I suppose I just miss the Christmas Days when I was young, I felt loved by all my family and the day was always special. Although I have always believed in God the point of Christmas Day got lost in the ecitement. I miss not having the Christmas Days I had as a child with my son and seeing his excitement.
Boxing Day was also a bad day emotionally. We went to Hartlepool to have a look round the shops and anxiety hit me like a brick. We lived in Hartlepool when I ‘found’ my son. Even though we have been back to Hartlepool over the years we haven’t spent so much time in the town centre. Memories of better times came flooding back so it was hard not to cry. It is hard because I know I can’t have that time back again particularly as I can never trust my son again. He justwanted to use me as nobody else would put up with his bad behaviour again. It hurts. I have a son that hates me. I have a grandson I will never see because of his father,
Today I feel empty. What do I have to look forward to that will make me whole again?
I put my mask on because I love my husband and cats.
I put my mask when I am at church,
I put my mask on when I do voluntary work.
What I really want to do is put a smile on because I am happy, fulfilled and feel loved.
I know I am loved by Rick.
I know friends like me.
I want to be at least liked by my family.
I will never feel liked or loved by my mum as she passed on in 2011.
I know my dad cares but I am too scared to try and get close to him because of the past.
My sister tolerates me for my dad’s sake.
My nieces don’t want to know me and certainly don’t want to know the truth of my relationship with my family.
I will always be a disappointment to them.
I give up.
I shall do as I always do and hide.
Behind my mask.
Last Saturday I went out for a ‘girls’ night out in Shildon to see an Elvis tribute act at the working men’s club in Shildon. It was great to let my hair down for a change and it has been the best night out I’ve had in a long time. My friend (and neighbour) invited me out as she was going with her daughter whom I do know and her friend whom I have met once plus two friends of my neighbour. We were the ones who got other people up dancing eventually simply because they could see we were having fun.
Since then Rick and I have been able to go out when we have felt like it. This year hasn’t had a festive feeling leading up to Christmas even with getting in presents, decorations up and the ‘treats’ we like to have in for Christmas.
Last night we went out for a meal with friends which was their Christmas present to us. It’s been a while since we have been out for a meal so it was a nice change from the norm. While we were there an accident occured and the road was partially closed but we were able to get out okay.
I used to love Christmas as a child and up until I was 19 years old. It was the one time of the year that was special and to look forward to. Christmas always kept up its magic for me. It wasn’t just about receiving presents it was also to celebrate Jesus’ birthday although technically he was probably between January and March but with the calendar changing it was still kept to the 25th December. I also loved giving presents, well I still do. Of course the reason I don’t enjoy Christmas as much as I used to is because of my son being illegally adopted. The Christmasses he was with us I did enjoy as we were a family. Now Christmas makes me sad and hurt. I wish I could be honest with people why I prefer a quiet Christmas but they wouldn’t understand.
Life just feels pointless at the moment and I am just going through the motions. It takes time for me to get to sleep then when I do I wake up regularly. Last night wasn’t any different so I am constantly tired. I no longer get any pleasure out of anything I do yet haven’t got the energy to speak out that I don’t want to do volunteering for the time being. Even eating is a struggle now and I am losing the will to do even that. I know I should see my doctor but that feels pointless as well as I’ve already had my anti depressant – Sertraline – increased. Before that I was on Citalopram which worked for a while then stopped helping so how many times do I have to go back to get my head sorted?
For too many years I did what I told and kept quiet that I was a mother. Except. My parents hoped my son had gone away forever. He came back but my mother still didn’t want to acknowledge him. Her only grandson. My family ‘won’ in the long term. He and I don’t communicate. I have a grandson but I’m not allowed to be a grandmother. It hurts when I know someone becomes a grandparent and they can be one in the real sense. No matter how I try to put my pain to bed I suffer triggers but I can’t tell anybody. All I ever wanted was to be a mother to my son. Instead I hide my pain. Too many triggers. Too much pain. Will it ever end?
Death will be the only healing I will get. Too many years of being made to feel a bad person. I was never a good enough daughter for my parents. I was never a good enough sister for my sister. Too many years of being the black sheep of the family. Too many times of being accused of things I hadn’t said or did. I have made mistakes in my life but why should I be blamed for things I haven’t done?
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.
This post is specifically to do with the reason why I suffer with PTSD which is to do with adoption. Unfortunately adoption isn’t seen, by professionals, as a course for PTSD.
It makes sense to explain what adoption has to do with why I suffer with severe depression as well. I have suffered with depression since I was 12 or 13 years old which I didn’t realize at the time. At the time I didn’t understand why I was so sad often nor could I have explained why I was sad. My life was good, I had friends, there was no need to be sad. I should have had the courage to speak. I started having suicidal thoughts which horrifies me as an adult that I was feeling like that and never had the courage to tell someone.
I found out I was pregnant after a long term relationship ended. For reasons that now stay in the past I continued with the pregnancy with the intention of raising my son. This didn’t happen and my parents chose adoption. Nothing was discussed but plans were made and I didn’t know what to say or what to do to stop it. When I saw a social worker after I had my son on the 3rd August 1981 I told her I didn’t want him adopted. Promises were made however she did persuade me to let my son go into foster care in case I decided adoption was the best option. My one act of defiance was to go and see him in the nursery and to hold him for a while which I have always been glad I did. I was in hospital for about a week as I was ill so asked to see my son again but was told I was too ill to see him. I left hospital never seeing my son again.
The following weeks were unbearable and I emotionally shut down as I believed I had no one to talk to. Nobody to understand how I felt, I was wrong to be feeling the way I did. Others knew what was best for me, for my son.
I was suffering with post natal depression which wasn’t treated. What I didn’trealize was that I was now suffering with severe depression as well. Over the years I went through cycles of coping, being severely depressed, suicidal (including suicide attempts) and self harming. I had emotionally shut down so ‘put on a mask’ and was in denial.
For the next 23 years my son wasn’t talked about although I never forgot about him. I got married on the 20th November 1993 although, sadly, we haven’t had any children. In early 1999 I had a falling out with my family. In the August my son started searching for me and found my family quite quickly. However by this time I had moved so they quite honestly told him they didn’t know where I was.
In late 2001 I got back in contact with my parents as I felt it was time to try and bridges as they were elderly and frail. In August 2004 my husband and I thought it would be fun to join Genes Reunited which is a British based site for people researching their family trees. After I had put all the details that I could I realized my details had been entered by my son. He was a member using the names I had given him. I messaged him without a second thought then panicked about it. He responded quite quickly. I was very upset to find out that my parents hadn’t told me that they had contact with him or let him know where I was.
What I didn’t know was I suffer with PTSD due to the trauma of my son being adopted. It hasn’t helped that I found out my son’s adoption was / is illegal. I have to live with this as I can’t change the past. My mother died on the 1st April 2011 and we never talked about the time from my son’s adoption up to reunion.
I am sitting with my laptop on my lap ready so here I go, “My name is Philippa and I suffer with severe depression.”
Does that scare you?
Does it make you feel awkward?
Is your instinct want to change the subject?
The subject of depression does affect people in these ways but it’s also okay to be honest. You can leave and go back to your comfort zone or you can read. If you decide to read it may help you to understand better.
Depression still has a stigma, depression sufferers still suffer in silence, people still commit suicide because they are at rock bottom. Me?
Well yes I have suffered with depression for most of my life but have only been open for the past ten years. Why?
I didn’t understand that I did suffer with depression for several years. At 19 years old I had my son – that’s another story which will be touched on – and I knew I was suffering with post natal depression. But. It didn’t stop there. I still suffered in silence. But. I still couldn’t talk about how I was really feeling. I was just ‘moody’. I was a ‘drama queen’. There were people far worse off than me. Silence. I put on my mask and got on with my life. The alternative?