The Dark Stalker – Part III

At night, I would lie in bed wishing I was anyone but me, praying my life would end to avoid facing the following day. I couldn’t think straight and I felt there wasn’t a way out of my situation. The constant negativity at work mirrored the endless pessimism pounding my head. My spirit had been completely deflated to a point where I just wanted to run and hide from the rest of the world in an effort to numb the agony. The darkness that haunted me was now coupled with severe anxiety. I struggled sleeping, I’d often endure nightmares, waking up in a cold sweat, my chest tightening. Having to deal with work caused panic attacks, making breathing difficult. Yet, I had to hide my fear, meet and greet editors, publishers, graphic designers, copyrighters, photographers and clients with a forced smile on my face, knowing in my mind I was ready to break down and crumble.

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The walls were closing in and the burden was increasingly too heavy to shoulder. In the end I quit. But the relief was only short lived when inevitably, I had to confront the reality of finding another job. I could barely function with the day-to-day routine of living. Getting changed, showering, brushing my hair, doing the groceries – simple tasks were all too hard. I avoided going out. I wanted to isolate myself from friends, family and the entire outside world. If I gathered enough courage to venture out, I would stare at the pavement and avoid any eye contact with other people. I didn’t want anyone to see right through me and the shame, embarrassment, or the failure that I felt I was. I internalised my fears, buried them deep within, trying in vain to erase the dark memories of the past in order to move forward.

After several months of being housebound, struggling silently in my own inner demons, I eventually garnered enough strength to return back into the workforce. The process took numerous therapy sessions, supplemented with medication, to manage my thought processes and to minimize the negativity controlling and dominating my mind. I was encouraged to exercise to force myself to step outside the home and practiced meditation in order to relax. After some contemplation, I opted for a simpler role with less responsibilities at an up and coming public relations firm, to help ease myself back into the corporate jungle. Despite the fact that the job doesn’t have the high-flyer status or the glamourous perks of my previous position, I am more content. Go figure!

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My saving grace is my current partner. If it wasn’t for him, my life would be empty. He’s supported me throughout this journey. His patience, kindness, generosity and love has carried me through the toughest of times. I take each day one step at a time. Every day is a mountain I climb and conquer. I sometimes have to write a ‘To Do’ list of basic chores which act as motivational steps to soldier on. My condition is still managed with daily medication and I cope with the ‘blues’ with the occasional therapy session. However, I am one of the lucky few. Sadly, there are many out there who suffer depression significantly worse under more severe circumstances than me and my heart goes out to them. The thing is, you’re not alone. One of the initial things to do is to acknowledge something is wrong, but harder still, is having the strength to seek immediate support and to keep moving forward and to battle through the daily demons. On a positive note, there is HELP out there.

** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

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The Dark Stalker – Part II

My condition only exacerbated with the strain of unstable relationships during my twenties, a string of not-so-great partners who came in and quickly left my life further bruised my fragile state of mind. I was so ashamed of being single. I looked for companionship with any guy that showed me an ounce of affection. These men weren’t looking for a deep connection, just easy one night stands with no strings attached. I had no respect for myself and I was a magnet for men who had no respect for me.  Constant heartbreak lead to unbearable pain and the crushing fear of loneliness. At this stage, I knew I required more than therapy to help me claw out of the mess I was in. My psychiatrist ultimately prescribed me with medication. It was the first time I finally admitted to myself that I suffered from depression, which was a further blow to my confidence.

Despite the depths of despair I was suffering, I discovered that my inner pain would only deepen and slip further into a dark abyss. Triggered by work related stress and the lack of support from management, I quickly found myself spiralling out of control with thoughts of failure. The day to day bullshit at work was a relentless grind that was truly paralysing. A sluggish economy, stagnant sales results coupled with a change in ownership and an inevitable structural change, led to a pressure cooker environment. The workload more than doubled consequently, I was working overtime every day as well as weekends. It became the norm rather than the exception.

Sane Australia

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My supervisor never recognised the additional hours required to meet deadlines. Yet, when things went wrong, as they inevitably did, he would unleash hell! He would bully, threaten and push me to meet his demands. He would often wash his hands clean of any problems and handball all accountability to his team members, leaving us hanging out to dry.  The business turned a blind eye to the passive aggressive management style fostered by our team leader. As a result, my direct manager took delight in abusing his power and authority, regularly delegating his own responsibilities to his subordinates while he ‘worked from home’.

I couldn’t turn to anyone. The company had an unwritten rule of backing up senior management rather than the staff who busted their balls to achieve results. The fact is, Human Resources are paid by the company and at the end of the day, their overall mission is to support the business and the bottom line….the rest is all collateral damage.

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** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

The Dark Stalker – Part I

I’ve known Lisa since we were immature, pre-pubescent kids running amok in primary school. On the outside, Lisa is an articulate, bubbly girl who oozes confidence and charm. With her classic good looks and a glamorous job in advertising, she had what seemed to be an envious life that involved overseas trips and socialising and networking with high flyers of the corporate world. But her smile was a façade that hid a painful secret which she only recently revealed. Lisa suffers from depression. This is her journey….

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Depression is a dark shadow that stalks my everyday existence. The paralysing feeling of hopelessness is like a sombre mood that constantly lingers over me. From the time I was 16, I had noticed that I didn’t have the strength to cope with the curve balls that life threw my way. However, as the years passed, my inner struggles only worsened as I faced the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing a career in public relations, being hit with financial pressures and the heart ache of rocky relationships. I hit rock bottom in late 2001 and the depth of despair was beyond overwhelming.

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Initially, I associated my mood swings with the highs and lows of growing pains during my teens. Unrequited love, peer pressure, the awkwardness of puberty, teenage angst and rebelliousness culminated in a roller coaster ride of emotions which I could usually dismiss and move on from. Yet, by the time I began university, the stress of perfection, exceeding parental expectations, my obsessive desire to succeed academically but never quite reaching my goals caused further strain on my already low self-esteem. It was the point when I first realised I needed professional help. But after two visits to a psychologist, the embarrassment was too much to stomach given the taboo linked with sufferers of mental illness.

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au