My story is both hair-raising and mundane at the same time. I was a very promising student, talented musically and didn’t have too bad a childhood, but went down with clinical depression aged 19. Back then there was not so much awareness of the condition so I didn’t really get any effective help. Depression through my twenties came and went, I tried out ‘alternative’ lifestyles and was somewhat of a political activist, I didn’t pursue a career because it was kind of fashionable in my circle to be a dropout I guess. Also the episodes of depression would hit hard, still undiagnosed, still not really getting any help. Ran into problems in relationships, tried out being gay, found that even worse, I think the common factor was myself. Hid away from the world for about two years living like a hermit because people seemed to cause pain. Travelled to India for two years. Had massive psychotic breakdown in India. Returned to UK, first of many hospitalisations in psych wards.
Finally diagnosed as bipolar (very classic case of bipolar 1), revolving door syndrome of admissions to the psych ward on a section (forced). Fell pregnant by another psych patient (back then wards were astonishingly mixed sex), didn’t even realise my condition until it was too late to do anything about it. Ended up keeping the child because of my mother’s intervention (otherwise he would have gone for adoption probably). Struggled as single mother. Held on grimly for next seven years, felt pretty inadequate but did best, child was shuttled around between my mum and me when my illness struck.
Tried to get help from social services, none forthcoming. No one seemed to ‘get’ that I wasn’t really coping and couldn’t be everything to my child despite I was honest and open about it. Finally had huge meltdown following my father’s funeral (he was a somewhat abusive father who I had hated). Ran off in a state of florid psychosis/mania, leaving son alone with instructions on who to call. Ran to Paris. Long story short son went into long term foster care despite my best efforts to regain custody.
Feel like a failure at pretty much everything. But wtf. I am lucky I still have a relationship with my son and he is a bright intelligent boy (now 19) with a basic decency about him despite being somewhat prone to depression unsurprisingly.
Depression is the deadly enemy that I have to fight most days I guess. There is never a time when I truly desire to live, and I regard this life as a calamity and a predicament. My story isn’t even so very terrible when compared to many I have read or know of. The guilt and shame over my ‘failure’ as a mother has been pretty triggering. But it may also, finally, stop me from following through.