Depression has disappeared since my daughter was born. I don’t know if it’s gone for good – it probably hasn’t, and it would be daft to celebrate too soon – but it’s not here. There is tiredness, and tiredness, and sleeplessness, and exhaustion, but no depression.
I’ve rethought what depression is. It’s a kind of purposelessness. A feeling that you aren’t able to do all the things you should do, or aren’t doing the things you should be doing, a sense of overwhelming failure and dejection. But that isn’t here, not now.
For one thing, I’m too busy to think. I get the odd five minutes to be agitated or restless, but then it’s gone. She wakes up. Something happens. I need to do something. There is always something to do. There is always something that needs my attention. No boredom. No time to dwell or ruminate. Just time to do. All I can do is do stuff.
I’ve said before how important it is to do something. Sometimes that something is anything. When you have a baby around, that something is make sure the baby is okay. That takes all your energy, sometimes more energy than you thought you could possibly have had. You keep surprising yourself with how much you can do. You can do more than you thought.
Having had depression means you’ve trained yourself to be stronger than you wanted to be. You found those depths, and in those depths you found the strength to keep going. Because you’ve been there, you don’t need to go back. You know that you can hurt, and hurt, and hurt, and not break. You know that you can take a lot. You know to be wary of how much is too much.
All the times I felt I couldn’t do anything. Gone and finished and mocked out of my mind – no time or point in feeling that way now. All those times I failed and failed and got back up. That needed to happen. It all needed to happen. Maybe. I wish it hadn’t, but it did, so it needed to.
I’m not advocating having a child in order to get rid of depression; it’s just that this is what’s happened, so that’s all I can describe. Being depressed made me stronger, made me harder, made me softer, made me better. It isn’t gone forever, but it is gone for a while. This isn’t the end of that, probably, but it is the end of some kind of restless feeling that had haunted me for years. What was my purpose in life? What should I have been doing? Now I don’t have to ask. I don’t need answers.
All that stuff that happened before, all the stuff and worry and pain, is gone, and finished, and means nothing. Next to me, asleep, is someone who smiles just to see me, who relies on me, who shows love, even though she has no words, in the eyes that fix on me, keep me in view. A chest rises and falls, the breath of life.