It is not every day your 3 year old son drops his jeans in the middle of a very busy post office, and asks a bewildered and slightly fearful 80 year old man, if he wants to see his ‘little balls.’
And for this, I am grateful.
It is every day, at the moment, however, that I wake up and face the very real possibility that I am truly losing control over my mind.
“And do you have a protective factor?’ the psychiatric nurse with a penchant for fruit gums asks me glibly, as he pops a green one in his mouth and begins to chew like a wide mouth cow.
For the first time in my life I feel ashamed of my illness.
I am cringing inside as I say it.
I am sorry.
I guess, I have come to realise it is easier to be a stigma crusader when you are not in the thick of it.
‘A protective factor?’ I question him crunchily.
I hate this nurse.
He is not James my lovely and kind, understanding and phenomenal therapist.
I have not seen James since June, since I ‘got better’ and we fell out.
‘Yeah,’ he continues chewing, ‘ A protective factor, something to stop you, you know, from doing something stupid.’
I want to punch him in the penis.
‘I presume you are talking about suicide when you say something stupid?’ I sarcastically intone ‘and not dressing up in a clowns outfit and heading in to work…’
He has the decency to look reprimanded, but his sensitivity does not last long.
‘I see your brother died in 2007, do you have any other siblings?’
‘Pardon?’ he fiddles with the silver paper on his fruit gum packet.
‘My brother, he died in 2005 not 2007 and no. No I don’t.’
For the first time since Addison was born, I feel truly frightened.
I am out of my depth.
I feel as if this… shadow… in my brain has evolved and come back with a promise.
It seems I was wrong.
I hadn’t beaten it.
It wants revenge.
All pointers indicate that while i was off enjoying my life, victorious in my recovery, getting married, prancing about, teaching my son about various parts of his anatomy, loving work, making new friends, figuring out what is really important to me and working towards peace, it wasn’t actually dead at all.
It had instead, unbeknownst to me limped back in to it’s dark, damp and cramped workshop (I have been watching far too much Iron man with Addison- can you tell?) and was busy transforming in to something far more terrifying, working out, doing press ups, enjoying a movie montage of itself preparing for another round with silly little victim me.
I will get you next time, it was whispering while I smiled for the photos on my wedding day.
And here it is.
I am ashamed.
I am broken down in agony and I am completely stuck and bewildered.
The party is definitely over.
It’s first onslaught.
I don’t want anybody to know.
I have never felt so ashamed in my life.
I want to take it all back, everything I shouted about from behind the high walls of the hospital, all the help and advice I offered out, all the times I told people they weren’t alone, all the times I prattled on about ending the stigma.
All the help I received.
All the support.
I want to erase it all from my memory because I am a fraud.
Because right now, the very thought of going out in to the world and having to be honest, the idea of facing anybody after they have read what I am about to say, is going to be excruciatingly embarrassing and horrifyingly awful.
‘It’s not like i am depressed or anything.’
I actually said that yesterday while shrugging my shoulders and avoiding eye contact.
‘It’s not like I am going mad.’
I actually said that.
I said it.
I am ashamed of my illness.
And of myself.
For the first time since my diagnosis.
I hate the stigma, I always have, that is why I do what I do, put it all out there, take risks being honest, but never more have i felt it around me than I do right now.
And it is I who is creating it.
Because I want to be happy so badly, and I am losing it.
I am losing the dream.
And the stigma will ensure that.
Where have the thoughts, the voices and this new fear bloody come from?
It used to be circumstantial.
This round seems to be more overwhelming.
What is the point in living in a world where such cruelty exists?
Unspeakable cruelty and injustice?
How do we carry on?
With this world wide grief, on top of the voices, the insecurity, the hell…
I did not see this coming.
I have been blindsided.
Where is my movie montage?
It was only supposed to be Post Natal Depression.
‘I didn’t ask to see his balls!’ the panicking and clearly embarrassed granddad whispers furiously at me in horror while covering his eyes with the palms of his hands and blundering in to the granny behind him. ‘He just showed me them!’
I pull Addison’s pants up and take him by the hand.
For the love of god son.
He is looking up at me, his eyes wide with mirth.
‘Did he not like my nuggy’s mummy?’
‘Yes.’ I answer the psychiatric nurse clearly as I leave the office covered in scars and bandages.
’Yes, I do have a protective factor.’