The Good, The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 5 | Life Love and Hiccups: The Good, The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 5
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Sunday 3 August 2014

The Good, The Bad & The Scarred - My Story Part 5

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In that one single moment I let go and caved to the hopelessness that had been chasing me for so long. 

I had thought about letting go before, many times in fact. But I had always imagined it would be like falling from a cliff top, and that there would be time for me to regret my release before I actually hit the bottom. 

There was no time though, nor was there any distance between me and where I would land. For I was already at the bottom, as far as I could fall and I suspect I had been there for longer than I realised.

That day is a haze of painful flashes. Me collapsing into Carl’s arms wailing in the most primal way. Carl on the phone to the Doctors and the car ride to his surgery where I was ushered in quickly away from curious eyes in the waiting room.

There was the suggestion by the Doctor that perhaps it would be best that I be admitted somewhere where I would be safe from any harm to myself and then the fresh round of wailing from me as I begged to not be taken away from the only reason I had to keep going - my family.

I don't remember much of the next few weeks, except for little snippets of conversations I overheard from where I lay in bed, conversations between Carl and various people on the phone. “She’s doing OK” “She has had a nervous breakdown” and “She is heavily sedated and just sleeps all the time”.

For two weeks, I remained in bed in a tranquillised state only really waking to eat occasionally or when the shaking became so intense that Carl needed to give me another dose of the sedative. I flitted between dreaming and being awake and the line between the two became so blurred that I often couldn't tell the difference between my imagination and reality.

I recall the fresh wave of humiliation I felt every time the phone rang. I knew it was a concerned family member, friend or someone from work ringing to get an update from Carl, but I hated that they ‘knew’ what was happening to me. I was overwhelmed with shame and the firm belief that I was nothing more than a complete failure, because that's what my ignorant interpretation of depression was - something that happened to someone who failed to appreciate life.

What mother or wife does this? Loses it so badly that she can't even hold a cup of water or get out of bed? A mother who has failed - that's what I thought. Oh how I wish I could take back those thoughts.

The guilt was one of the hardest parts to swallow. And it wasn't just my guilt at allowing myself to become so useless. It was the guilt that others were feeling too that wore me down. The guilt that my friends and family and my boss and colleagues were all expressing as they talked about missing the signs. There was just guilt every where I turned.

It goes without saying I wasn't able to work, I could barely function and do the basic human things let alone be in charge of a multi million dollar business channel.


For seven months I lived in a dark dark place I hope never to see again. 

didn't feel like me, I wasn't me. The truth was I didn't even know who I was anymore. 

Throughout this period I was paranoid and afraid. Paranoid that everyone was talking about me and afraid I would never ever return to normal. I took the medication I was prescribed, adjusting the doses as directed to try and find the right balance between calming the anxiety or being completely numb and dead inside. 

I couldn't sleep, I didn't want to be around anyone and yet I was frightened of being alone.

For months I couldn't tell the difference between dreams and reality. I had conversations in dreams that I was convinced had taken place in real life and visa versa. I was confused and dazed the majority of the time. 

My memory was stuffed. I couldn't even remember my own phone number or people's names and we had to change all my passwords and pin numbers because all of them were gone from my memory. Apparently that happens a lot to people who suffer from depression, memory loss that is. Basically your brain is unable to cope with too much information and so like an overloaded hard drive, it deletes anything that isn't absolutely necessary for it to function on the most basic level.

During this time, our court case was coming to a head. We were trekking into the city to meet with Barristers and Lawyers pretty much on a weekly basis now, and I sat through those meetings not hearing a single word they said. I was tranquillised to the point that I could barely speak, and yet I could tell you how many bricks were in the wall behind the people on the other side of the table or how many red cars we passed on the drive in there. It's strange the things a depressed mind processes or chooses to ignore.

My Doctor organised for me to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I have no idea what she was technically called, but I did know that I didn't feel a connection with her. In our first meeting I told her how I was convinced that everything that was happening to me and to us was my punishment for something. She laughed in what I now presume was supposed to be a reassuring way and told me that it was my anxiety and depression speaking. 

All I heard was her laughing and immediately my guard went up and I decided I did not like her. I was convinced she was laughing at me, just like everyone else was.

I also managed to talk myself into believing that she was being paid by the ‘other’ legal team to mess with my mind and so I began to engage in my own mind games with her. Such was the way I had become, completely paranoid that everyone was in some way or another out to 'get me'. 

On my third meeting with her, she suggested hypnosis and I was sure this was all part of her 'plan to undo me', and so I pretended to be under when really I was awake and alert and thinking “pffft asshole! I know what you are trying to do and I won't let you”. 

I didn't make an appointment to see that Dr again.

Eventually I tired of all the games. The games my mind was playing with me, the games I was playing with those who were trying to help me and the games that were being played between my legal team and the other side. 

I hated feeling so disconnected to everyone around me and I wanted nothing more than to be happy again, to laugh and to feel joy in something, anything. 

I just wanted to feel something other than so dead inside.

I can’t imagine how awful this all was for my husband and kids. Sometimes I try to put myself in their place and imagine how it must have felt for them to lose their wife and mother for a while, but it is so fucking painful to think of how much they must have been hurting. 

Knowing that I caused that pain is what hurts the most, and so I have buried it deep as if I can pretend that those seven months never really happened.

It is a selfish way of coping, I know this and trust me when I tell you how ashamed it makes me feel, but I just can't bear to think of how much I caused them to suffer.

Under the care of a new psychologist who I liked and trusted and with the correct doses of medication finally kicking in, I began to feel the fog lift. 

Little by little things improved, sleep became easier and not so blurred with my waking hours and I felt less desperate and lost. It was during a visit from a friend one day who told me how happy she was to see some life in my eyes that I noticed the shaking had stopped. 

The end of the shaking was enough to ignite a flicker of hope and just like that I found some strength and made the decision to fight back. And fight back we did.

I can’t tell you when the nightmare actually ended. I don't recall a defining moment when things returned to normal. I wish I could because then I could neatly package that part of my life up and peg any memory of it as far into the distance as possible. 

The end of the court case was certainly a pivotal point. Years of legal proceedings accumulated into seven straight hours of mediation and at the end of those seven hours we were triumphant. We won. The 'other side' admitted blame and acknowledged the extent of my injuries and we agreed on compensation. It was over.

Walking out of that building in the city, my husband and I were in shock. Three years of legal battle was over, the stress of it all left behind in that little boardroom and our future once again belonged to us.

Crossing the Harbour Bridge the reality hit and I turned to Carl and smiled, and then a noise escaped my mouth which took us both by surprise. I was laughing, and then we were both laughing and it felt like the world was lifted from our shoulders.

We celebrated with a family holiday and when we returned I began working from home part time, building up over the coming months to full time hours again. The company I worked for fitted out a room at our house as a fully functioning office with everything I needed to allow me to work permanently from home.

But the spark was gone when it came to my job. I could no longer travel and the dreams I once had for my career were no longer realistically viable. 

Despite this, I worked hard. Probably too hard as I felt like I was paying off some kind of guilt debt and all the while I was trying to convince myself that the passion I once had for my job hadn't died and would eventually return.

But it didn't.

Every morning I would kiss my boys goodbye as they and my hubby left for the day and I would walk into the office in my nightie and begin to work. I made multi million dollar deals sitting in that room in my damn nightie and yet my heart just wasn't in it. I no longer felt the buzz when I pulled off the deals and whenever I thought about work, I thought of my accident and my breakdown and my resentment grew along with the anxiety again.

The problem was that work was now in my home and my home was in my work and I could no longer separate the two. I felt trapped, like someone who was living ground hog day, every single freaking day.

It was around this time I started my blog and all be it accidentally, I discovered my love of writing. I fell in love with the freedom to express myself in a way I couldn't verbally, the joy of creating something out of nothing and connecting with others around the world through words alone.

By day I would work on my job and at night I would blog and in between I would be Mum, Wife and everything else. It became a juggling act as I tried to find a balance between it all and instead of feeling grateful for the fact that I could continue doing my job from home, I began to resent that my job had me trapped in my house and I was missing out on so much that was going on outside in my kid’s lives. 

One day I woke up and realised my priorities had changed - my career was all but over by my own choice, it was only my ego that was refusing to let go.

The more I fought against my new reality, the more I allowed the anxiety in. With the anxiety came the panic attacks and they would hit me out of the blue - in the middle of the night when everyone was sleeping or moments before a big phone conference. 

They would strike when I was out doing something as simple as the grocery shopping, forcing me into a cubicle in a public bathroom where I would hide trying to control my breathing and stopping the panic from swallowing me whole.

It was 2am on the 23rd April 2013 when once again I found myself on the very edge, staring down at the abyss of nothingness below me. Except this time something stopped me from losing control. Something held me back from falling over the edge. 

Maybe it was a fear of the heartache that I knew would surely follow? Perhaps it was the comfort and security of my husband’s arms around me as I sobbed? Or maybe it was something bigger than any of us could ever hope to comprehend?

Whatever it was, it was the birth of a new journey, a journey I had never planned or even contemplated. A journey that would end a lifetime of me fighting against myself and with myself.

You can read the post I wrote the day after that night I stood on the edge here, and I invite you to join me next Sunday for my concluding post of The Good The Bad & The Scarred.