One April morning, I woke up feeling exhausted and angry! I hadn’t slept very well as I had mostly fought a very annoying mosquito and then tossed and turned and even managed to work up a sweat in the process. I had gone to bed not too thrilled about the day that had been. I had gone to bed angry at myself, angry at the universe, really angry and for no good reason! The day that was, had been spent gazing out the window with an unsettled mind. I couldn’t get anything done without my mind drifting off to space and so it had been a day wasted and I was angry at myself for that too.
I opened my eyes and just lay there. I tried to get out of bed but I couldn’t. My bedside alarm clock was on its usual irritating vibe so I took it and threw it at the wall, pulled the duvet over my head and slept. After 30 minutes I felt guilty and got out of bed. I felt so frail as I dragged myself to the shower. I just stood there letting the water do its thing not really understanding what was happening to me. I managed to drag myself to work still on auto-zombie mode. The next day and the very many days that followed were very similar to this April morning if not worse and every morning the thought of going to work made me want to literally keel over… and die. And just when I thought the horrible moody phase would pass…bang!, the bread cravings started and I knew I was in big trouble. The thing is, I rarely eat bread but whenever I’m stressed out, my body craves bread and not just any bread; fresh bread…fresh as in less than 3 hours old.
One thing I’ve always been grateful for is that the fat gene skipped my family but when the bread cravings that normally last for two days lasted more than a week I became worried. Great! Now I would be known as the family’s first fatso because gain weight I did! When bread happens to you, it happens to you with all its white carbohydrates and empty calories glory.
My daily routine changed to Home -Work -Bakery -Home and I was in no mood for anything else. To try and help myself, I started working out because I happen to know a thing or two about exercise and endorphins and what they are capable of doing for your mood. I would skip, jog ,walk , hula hoop and skip some more but since I was working out in the wrong footwear, my right ankle and my back began acting up. Sigh! Now I was a cripple too? Ugh! Working out had to come to a sudden halt and my waistline went through expansion because BREAD. WAS. BAE!
I also found myself shutting everyone out including my inner self. I knew I had to snap out of it but I couldn’t even listen to myself. I stopped answering my phone calls and responding to texts and consequently my phone stopped ringing. Life was pretty much a blur. Monday mornings and Friday evenings-which meant everyone would be out there having drinks and catching up with friends- were particularly hard and they made me feel so all alone. The only good thing was that I still enjoyed reading and that I did with pleasure when my attention span could allow.
Nothing I did could lift my spirits. Not even indulging in wine which is considered a “superfood” in my house by the way. I tried retail therapy and that only helped in making me broke and more miserable! I tried going on dates but that taught me that men are just interested in one thing only…and I’m not talking about them being interested in hair and the available hair products in the market. Puh! I tried brightening up my house by filling every vase I own with fresh, colorful flowers but that didn’t help much. My favorite Dr. Stuart’s “Tranquility Tea” couldn’t handle the task at hand fully and neither did cleaning the house while dancing to really loud Beyonce music-which is usually very cathartic. My house was a mess but I was an even bigger hot mess. I was unhappy, lonely, broke, 5 kilos heavier and with a bad ankle! Wow! Those two rocks I was in between couldn’t have been any harder and closing in on me any faster!
Rushing home to go and binge on Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls and bread was my new life. And then I missed my period! I went through days of stomach cramps and back aches but no period just cramps and lots of it at that. My body was stressed too. What was happening? Or was I pregnant now? One day I went on the weighing machine and as if the weight gain, pants not fitting me anymore and a bad ankle weren’t bad enough, I found out that I was actually 5’3 and not 5’4 like I had known to be all my adult life. Life was surely lashing out at me…I was now the family fatso, probably pregnant (because where was my period?), broke, sad and an inch shorter! What next? Alopecia areata?
Then I discovered Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” and it was love at first hear. I think even my neighbors got to learn the lyrics to the song thanks to yours truly playing the song 1,067 times a day. I would still curl up on the sofa and refuse to move and on weekends pyjamas became my second skin. My mum who is my number one cheerer upper was away working on a project in the countryside the whole time and sadly she had taken her shoulders and bosom, which I occasionally weep into for free and without shame, with her. After this thing had gone on for too long I confided in my big sister and she assured me that these things happen once in a while. Then she told me that I was fabulous! That helped a little but after just a day it wore off.
One day, I decided that I needed a change of scenery. I called my sister-in-law and we decided that I should spend some time with them over the long weekend that was coming up. I knew that if I stayed in by myself, I would surely turn into pyjamas. My 4 year old niece Malaika was delighted to have me around. She was over the moon when she learnt that I would be spending the night and she even managed to convince me to spend two nights. You should have seen the sparkle in her eyes and the colossal smile upon learning that I would be bunking with her. I watched her very closely and realized that she still doesn’t have a worry in the world. I envied her but at the same time wished that it would remain that way for her forever. I observed that she has so much pure love and life in her. She made sure to include me in everything she did and her hugs and vibrant “Good morning aunt Maureen!” meant everything to me and all of a sudden… life came back to me. I smiled a genuine smile for the first time in a very long time. My niece had done the magic without even realizing it! My sister-in-law also treated me like one of her cubs and I realized that pure love can come from unexpected corners and just like that I was able to snap out of it!
From their home, I drove straight to hospital where for the first time in a very long time I cried in front of a stranger. I sobbed like a little girl to the doctor “…So now you see doctor, I’m fat and I still might be pregnant even though I know that I’m not.”I finished my embarrassing weeping session and noticed the doctor trying to stifle a laugh and then I laughed to encourage him to laugh too. I was finally out of the woods. When we were done laughing he reassuringly smiled at me and asked me how old I was. Then he told me that I had suffered a case of hormonal imbalance. He assured me that I was going to be ok and that this happened to most women especially at my age because of worrying too much about the unknown. He then sent me to the lab for a “pregnancy test” and other tests. He prescribed some happy pills (which I later decided not to take) and advised me to get out more often.
The next day I was awoken by cramps of the century and what do you know…periods! Instead of writhing in pain and cursing out at the universe which I do every month, I got out of bed and did a little jig then assumed my writhing in pain position. After winning the cramps battle I found myself going to work and it wasn’t just going to work, it was going to work while smiling. And for the days that followed I would get to work super early despite not being a morning person…I was back!
Sometimes the strongest among us are the ones who smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors, and fight battles nobody knows about.
Depression is real you guys and no one is immune and as it turned out, that was my body’s way of telling me that I was freaking out. I was freaking out because I was about to turn a year older and I hadn’t quite figured out a few things in my life yet that I was supposed to have figured out. For now I take each day as it comes and I’m happy to just smile, even for no particular reason.
PS: You can take this short DEPRESSION SELF-ASSESSMENT TEST to find out if you are in the clear or not.