Feeling The Winter Blues

Depression is not a word or feeling to be taken lightly. There is a big difference between “feeling depressed” and actually having Depression and I found that out the hard way this winter.  It snuck up on me and I didn’t realize what was going on until I started crying in the shower for no reason other than thinking of my kids. My brain began to try and process what on earth was going on and after a few minutes I came to a heartbreaking conclusion: I was very, very unhappy but I had no idea why. For me it felt as though my life was just awful; I had no energy to get through my day and the thought of having to attempt to act normal was enough to have me practically curling into a ball on the sofa and wishing I was invisible, however I had to keep going because of my two kids. I had to try and keep pretending I was OK and stop being so silly. In reality life was good, everyone was healthy and happy, there was nothing going on to warrant that horrible darkness that surrounded me.

Here is a small glimpse of what I went through: For weeks I had felt like my feet were made of lead, my body wouldn’t respond quickly and my brain was numb. My thoughts were all negative towards everything and everyone yet at the same time I had this overwhelming sense that something horrible was going to happen. Fear would consume me without any rhyme or reason and I would desperately try and figure out what it could be that was wrong but I never could come to the conclusion. I also felt guilty all the time but there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that I could attribute to that feeling. Every morning I would wake up and think, ‘how the hell am I going to get through the day?’ It became more worrisome last week as it was March Break  and I had promised the kids we would do fun arty activities. As the day dragged on I would pray constantly for it to be over so I could get back into bed and sleep, however sleep wasn’t always available and I spent many nights wide awake but feeling exhausted. How irritating is it to feel tired and want sleep but it never comes?! I didn’t laugh, I didn’t smile, I existed as a semi-lifeless form wishing to be somewhere other than where I was. Later on my husband told me I stopped giving eye contact when I was spoken to, I would talk to the floor and my replies to questions were always one word answers. My life, it seemed to me, was doomed to darkness and sadness and guilt and worry and nothing was going to help get me out.

I was saved by my children. It may sound soppy but once I came through the darkness I realized they had helped me, even though they were completely unaware of what their mummy was going through. Without them I am sure I wouldn’t have left my bed or sofa and I probably wouldn’t have eaten when I did. March Break was tough but I had my kids to think of and they were so exited to do fun activities I felt I couldn’t let them down. I was also pulled out from the depths by my husband who had noticed a serious change in my behavior but, at the time, had other pressing matters of his own to deal with. I had wanted to talk to him but felt I couldn’t as it would be unfair to dump my problems while he was busy dealing with his work demands. (He later told me never to do that again!) Finally he managed to get me talking and a few hours later I had told him everything. He sat and listened and I couldn’t have asked for more at that time. I poured out my heart to him and once I was done I felt relieved but also very confused – we both thought it would be best if I sought help and he recommended I see our family doctor which I did. A few questionnaires later she diagnosed depression and anxiety, although it wasn’t in the serious stages that needed pharmaceutical intervention.

I am lucky enough to be able to fight this myself but I can’t do it alone – my family are a huge source of relief and support. Just the simple act of talking about how I felt, my emotions and my thoughts was enough to begin to climb up out of the gloom. I have family members who suffer depression and hearing their stories and being able to relate was a huge boost. I will also be talking to a counselor in April so we shall see what that produces but for now, I’m concentrating on being aware of my feelings and making sure I persuade my wonderful husband that I really am doing alright!

My symptoms are fairy mild and the simple act of talking to people and getting advice had a very positive effect for me. I’m not sure yet if I have all year depression or SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) so I am going through the process of monitoring to see exactly where I stand in this. I know it’s not always that easy for others who suffer a more serious form of depression to just talk their problems away but knowing you have support, I think, can be worth it. If you have read this post and can relate to what I have written then please think about talking to your doctor or family about what you are going through. It might help shine a much needed light into your life.

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Family and WWII: The Beginning of a New Passion

I will freely admit that I have more than one passion in life; photography, music, bookbinding and embroidery to name a few, but I recently gained a new found passion for learning all I could about WWII brought on from my yearning to know more about my family’s history and the part they played during those 6 long years. Once I started combing through the always insightful YouTube videos and webpages I became entranced by everything that had happened, especially to London, and now I am fixated on finding out more. I figured the best way to gain good knowledge was to start from within my family so this is the beginning of my learning experience.

Spring 1916: Officers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. Winston Churchill and commanding officer, Captain Sinclair as Second in Command
Spring 1916: Officers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. Winston Churchill (right) and commanding officer, Captain Sinclair, as Second in Command

I’ve always known our family had an RAF background during the war. My great uncle was in the RAF and I think he flew the glorious Lancaster. My grandfather, Robin, was a Mosquito pilot during the 1940’s and flew reconnaissance missions through enemy territory. My great-grandfather, Sir Archibald Sinclair, was Secretary of State for Air under Churchill and helped put into place many of the air raids that the RAF conducted. He was chosen for the position in 1940 by Churchill himself and worked closely with him up until the end of the war in 1945.  The two had previous dealings with the Germans during the first World War so Churchill knew he could count on Archie to be his ally and a firm friend in his war cabinet.

Archie and Marigold with Catherine (left) Elizabeth (right) and baby Robin
Archie and Marigold with Catherine (left) Elizabeth (right) and baby Robin

My great-grandfather was a strong and determined man who definitely knew what he wanted to achieve and jolly well went for it. A good example of this is when he met my great grandmother, Marigold Forbes, and they were married within six weeks of meeting each other. It was instant love and they were married in 1917 and celebrated 53 years together until his death in 1970. In his private life he was said to be quite content with pottering around his family home in Caithness with his four children; Catherine, Elizabeth, Robin and Angus, Robin being my grandfather. Although his political life and his family life were like chalk and cheese, he was devoted to them in their own ways and dedicated time to each in a harmonious manner.

His dedication and fierce devotion to his country meant he was always committed to peace rather than going to war however he also knew that Britain would need to be strong against the rising threat that Hitler posed during the 1930’s. He voiced his concerns to the members of parliament and fought Neville Chamberlain tooth and nail over the dealings he had with Hitler, but very few people believed things would go badly and it wasn’t until Czechoslovakia was completely taken over by Hitler that all of my great-grandfathers predictions started to become a reality. Too little, too late though and by September 1939 Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war against Germany and Archibald was thrust once again into the destructive force that was WWII.

I now spend my evenings travelling back 76 years in time to 1939 to immerse myself in London life; the music, the people, the danger and heartache. I am also learning about the RAF, the WAAF (Women Auxiliary Air Force), The Blitz and everything else in between. There is a fascinating documentary called Blitz Street which was produced by Sir Tony Robinson. You can find the videos here and he details just how destructive the various bombs used by the Germans actually were. Starting with the SC50 he proceeds to destroy two rows of purpose built townhouses until they get to the very last and biggest bomb within Hitlers arsenal, the V-2. Watch for the milk bottle…

As I go I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I eventually hope to use the information I gather and the knowledge I learn to write a book. I don’t know exactly the type of story yet but there’s something there that my brain has decided is worth doing! What I would love though are more stories; if you or any of your family were involved with the RAF, the WAAF, or were just civilians trying to get through the dark days in London I would very much love to hear from you. Stories of everyday life, routines, adventures and experiences. Please email me at louisatheauthor@gmail.com  Thanks!