Now the title of my blog is called Life Love and Hiccups, so the name itself suggests that life doesn't always run like an episode of The Brady Bunch. So today, I am feeling rather brave and in honour of the National RU OK? day on September 15th, I have decided to share one of the biggest Hiccups in my life - my own battle with Depression.
A smile can hide a multitude of emotions. For many (including me) it can be a mask we put on to face the world and hide away the turmoil that is really going on inside.
I can remember very clearly walking out of school one day with my kids, and I had another mother come up to me and say - Wow Sonia, are you on drugs or something? You are always smiling! That same day I went home and cried my eyes dry, because although she had meant it in a lovely way, she had touched on something very deep. Yes - I was on drugs ...... Anti Depressants!
From the outside, my life looks as wonderful as any one could hope for. And truth be told for the most part - it really truly is. But an event that happened six years ago, triggered something that was lying dormant in me, and opened me up wide for a visit from the Big Black Dog.
Many people wont know this, but as a child I endured many operations on my troublesome legs. Over 30 I believe in total, that required long periods in hospital. But by the time I started working and met my wonderful husband at the ripe old age of 18, those painful operations and troubles were in my past.
I was lucky enough to marry the love of my life, move forward in a successful career, have 3 wonderful children, a lovely home, supportive family and of course my fabulous friends. I no longer allowed my mind to visit those days of pain from my past.
Then on September the 1st 2005, my world came crashing down. In an accident at work, I badly broke one of my legs. Not the normal bone kind of break, nope I managed to completely destroy all my ligaments and tendons in my knee, and dislocate my knee cap among other things. I had a 4 year old and a 6 month old at the time. What followed was two very painful operations, 6 months in a wheel chair and 18 months of rehab to get back on my feet. But at last I was mobile again. Sure the leg was now very painful, but it was worth it to be able to walk with my kids.
I went on to have another baby and I worked sooooo hard during that pregnancy to stay out of the wheelchair the Drs told me I would be in by the 7th month. And I did it - my hubby and I were blessed with a 3rd beautiful little boy.
When my youngest was about 3 months old, my leg started playing up and giving way on me. One day when I was home with the kids whilst my hubby was having a well earned surf, my leg gave way and I fell....... Now the other leg was dislocated and even more damaged than the first one.
OK by now you know the drill, surgery, wheelchairs, rehab. Throughout all this I had THE most incredible support in my hubby. He cared for me, he fed the kids, he cared for the kids, he bathed the kids and me, he got up in the night to feed the baby. He shopped, he cleaned, he drove me to Drs and physio. He did so much for me. The only thing he didn't do was complain.
Now don't get me wrong. My whole world didn't really fall apart throughout all this. I still had my family, my friends and my job. I worked hard to get back on my feet (again) and I was determined to ensure that I didn't let this hiccup destroy the life my family and I deserved.
Life went on post accident, but it was now that much harder to keep that smile on my face. I went about doing all the things a mother / wife / employee needs to do, but my legs now hurt so much everyday that I could cry.
And one day I did cry and I didn't stop crying for over a month. I really don't remember what happened that day, why I gave in to it. But that bastard of a dog well and truly showed up and bit me on the ass. I won't bore you with more details, but what followed from then included some major life changes for me. Dr's, drugs, therapy and the embarrassment of admitting to those who were close to me, that my life was not all I had made it out to be.
The sad thing is I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and worthless. I was a fraud in many ways. Every day I had put on my smiley armour and pretended to everyone that nothing was wrong.
I was one of the lucky ones. Once I was honest with myself and others I had the most incredible support team to get me through it and I am here today to tell the story.
What breaks my heart is knowing that as I go about my day, there are millions of people out there who are battling this dog alone, because they too are ashamed or frightened or they just don't know how to ask for help. This disease - Depression, it does not discriminate. It attacks the wealthy, the poor, the middle class. It goes after the new mum, the lonely teenager, the dad who is doing it tough trying to care for his family. It could be working its number on one of the people closest to you and you just may not know, until in some cases ..... it is too late.
R U OK? Day is a national day of action which aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones.
On that day they want everyone across the country, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to ask family, friends and colleagues: "Are you OK?".
Staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and well being. Feeling isolated or hopeless can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses, which can ultimately result in suicide. Regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love.
It's so simple. In the time it takes to have a coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life.
I didn't write this heavy blog as a sob story. I don't need sympathy and pity. I need to make a difference. I need to give somebody the courage to ask for help and I need to encourage others to look behind the smiles and check in with your friends, family and neighbours and ask if they are OK.