I am very proud to be able to bring you this story. Through my work I have developed an extensive network, especially through Facebook. One of the friends that I have made, but never met, is Jo Russell.
Jo is the mother of Meghan. Meghan has severe autisim. I often see Meghan referred to as the Megsta in Jo’s post. Last year Jo had a battle with severe depression. She told her story today on Facebook. She has given me permission to print her story here.
Thank you Jo. We hope by sharing this story it will help others to realise that they are not alone. I give you the wonderful Jo Russell.
So this morning I thought I’d have a chat about my battle with depression. Only because I’ve had several people message me privately, and it appears it is more common than people would think. But I promise I won’t be talking about it every day, and perseverating on the same topic, it would get tiresome and repetitive.
I first felt the sting of depression about a month after after Megan’s tenth birthday which was last year in mid March. I remember waking up with a start in the middle of the night with a panic attack, the trigger was Meg’s birthday, and the stimulus was the realisation that in spite of my best efforts, I hadn’t “fixed” Meg, her autism was still highly prevalent.
From there, the slide downhill was quite rapid. My brother Greg who is a master of solving problems, came to Kalgoorlie, and organised for me to be admitted to Perth Clinic. I booked in there in around the middle of March. I was quite confused and astounded that I had fallen prey to such severe depression, it was foreign and debilitating, and I didn’t like it at all. My little(!!) other brother (who stands over 6ft tall), Paul Rogers, arranged for me to occupy a private room, rather than sharing with someone else in a double room. Although our medical insurance didn’t cover the full cost of admission to the clinic, Paul contributed the difference.
Whilst in Perth Clinic, I attended group therapy and learned about strategies and methodologies with which to combat depression. After four weeks, I flew home to Kalgoorlie. My mother stepped into the breach of caring for Megan whilst I was hospitalised. Otherwise, I would have been stuffed.
Greg escorted me home – I was the beneficiary of significant family support, which I was very fortunate to have available to me. I felt reasonable upon discharge from the clinic, and was ready to deal with life again. I failed however, to realise how persistent and all compassing severe depression can be.
I was functioning okay and holding down a part time job up until the middle of June. But once that was ceased, I slipped into the guts of a severe depression again. I decided to see the psychiatrist, and electro-convulsive therapy was suggested. I had been on medications of about 4=5 different types, in quite large doses, with no appreciable effect.
Once again, I returned to Perth for treatment. I undertook a series of ECT, approximately 12 episodes, which is the standard number for treatment of depression. There were quite a few people ;who thought ECT was similar to how it was portrayed on One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. But these days, ECT therapy is applied much more scientifically, and is done under general anaesthetic by a trained psychiatrist. A muscle relaxant is also administered to prevent unnecessary contraction of muscles when the shock is applied.
Once I had received my “package” of twelve sessions, I flew home to Kalgoorlie, keen to remove myself from a situation where I felt as though I was a leper. Unfortunately, I may have jinxed myself with my rapid approach to ECT of get it done, and get the hell out, as I was barely home in Kalgoorlie for 4 weeks, before I was already struggling again, and seeking help.
I was admitted to Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital in September, with a noticeable slide in mood and affect. My mood was low, and my outlook bleak, very bleak in fact, and I battled to find anything uplifting or encouraging. Whilst I wasn’t in the situation of being one of those who self-harm I could absolutely understand why people do. It was as though a black scarf of depression had been cast over me, and there was absolutely no crack of light or relief in sight.
After a week in hospital I was discharged, and went home, not awfully improved to when I was initially admitted. I elected to stay at my mother’s house, as I felt uncomfortable about going back to my own home, The reason why I felt like that, I can’t really say, that was just how it was.
Naturally my mother had been caring for Megan, and then took on the task of caring for me. I ‘m not proud of that period of time, but again that was just how it was at the time. After around 4 weeks, I returned home gradually, although Megan remained in the care of my mother, as I was barely capable of caring for myself, let alone a young child with severe autism.
I struggled along, with no noticeable improvement in mood or outlook. The world looked very black and very black and very black, that’s how bad it was. My brother Greg once again came to Kalgoorlie to lend what assistance he could. Again I felt lousy, as he had come back from AMERICA, for goodness sake, so I was fairly close to completely detesting myself. In spite of his best efforts, by December I was significantly debilitated again, and another admission to hospital seemed to be the only appropriate solution.
I was admitted to Hollywood Clinic, for another series of ECT. My father accompanied me to Perth, and came in every day to see me, and take me out of the hospital environment for some light relief. My mother once again stepped in and took care of Megan. I was also aware that SP, Daniel and HMC were affected by these episodes, which seemed relentless and neverending. Some assistance had also been given to me by my friend Diane, who visited me every day, and made sure I was eating properly, and that I was at least interacting with others, and removed from the black hole I was living in, for a period of time each day.
The first two weeks of December were pretty much a blank. I was being treated with ECT again, but the current had been amped up and the placing of the electrodes had been altered, so that it was more effective. Along with ECT, I experienced a transient memory loss and some vagueness, which is a common side effect of ECT. Of course we had a break through the Christmas period, ;whch was kind of annoying, but necessary.
Again I felt guilty as the boys and my husband were left in Kalgoorlie over Christmas, and Megan came to Perth with my mother. On Christmas night Megan had a seizure, which my mother and father had to deal with, as I was still resident in the clinic. I felt even more guilty that this episode was put upon them.
It was after Christmas and into January that the ECT was recommenced. Somehow I was noticing a recognisable change in my mood. I was starting to feel more like the person I usually was. I felt more social, and more open, and got to know several other patients quite well. From that period on, I just got better and better. By the time I had got to the final session of ECT, I felt that I was living in my own skin, and that I was the person I had previously been. Thank fuck!!!
I flew home once again, and it felt excellent to be home. HMC funded my flight, and Daniel was very conscientious in asking what he could do to support me in my recovery. SP was obviously happy that his wife was the person he had known. We stared a program of transitioning Megan back home, a program which is still in place.
Tomorrow I will talk about how the road of true recovery is magnificent. I’ve covered quite a lot of space in this post, and enough is enough. I determined very early in the piece that I would be very open and transparent about my depression journey, as it feels therapeutic to share my story. But that’s it for now, time for another coffee tongue emoticon