I have been away for well over a year but I can safely say I have not sat entirely idle in all that time away. I was out and about "walking my black dog". What do I even mean by that? This post may help to explain but for readers' sakes I will keep it as brief as possible.
Coming to the end of 2014 and into 2015 I hit a rather rude emotional bump in the road. I was ready to give up on life. I had no motivation and very little inspiration. I started, with all good intentions, the National November Writing Month in 2014 but after four days I ran out of steam and stopped. By the beginning of 2015 I hit rock bottom completely. In the following months, my marriage was announced as having ended amicably. This 'end' had been on the cards for many years previous but the realisation and the actuality of it further compounded my already fragile state of mind. I wanted out.
What followed can only be described as the elephant in the room. The black dog. Depresssion. I was put on suicide watch and medication. I was given the option of psychological treatment but I declined. I couldn't face yet another round of sitting opposite a stranger, banging on about my troubles (yes, I have had counselling in the past but more about that later). I tried to "cheer up" and "keep calm and carry on" but inside I was at the end. I turned to the one thing I knew best (but I didn't know it at the time); my thirst for knowledge. I turned away from genealogy and family history, books and novels, blogs and online guides and turned my attentions to a whole new realm. Japanese idols. This may sound very strange but wait, bear with me.
I have long enjoyed listening to Korean and Japanese pop music (known as K-Pop and J-Pop) but my interests grew deeper and more focused by the start of 2015. One particular artist had caught my eye and I was hooked. What I didn't know then though, was that these artists had been around for 16 years! What I know now (thanks to somebody pointing it out to me) was my thirst for knowledge kicked in and I began a whole new research venture. After all, I had 16 years to cover! I threw myself whole and soul into finding out their back catalogue of music, concerts, as well as their individual and group acting pursuits of the last 16 years. The artist I speak of has five members in it, so that was five lots of work I had to investigate and immerse myself into. Suddenly, I had no time for anything else. I stopped reading books, I stopped writing, I stopped blogging!
In July of this year, I hit another intense low (the reasons for which I shall with-hold here) and a visit to my Doctor had me back on suicide watch but this time a mental-health care plan was firmly drawn up. I had no option left to me but to explore the elephant in the room once and for all, and talk to a psychologist. I swallowed my pride and made the phone call I had resisted making for well over a year. I will admit I was still reluctant but a tiny voice resonated deep within me. The voice of my ancestors.
When I go back and look through my family tree there were those who suffered the most devastating emotional blows. Families torn apart by death and disease, families shamed and sent packing with no financial or emotional support, women who had no choice but to send their children away only to end up dying alone in a workhouse, boys sent to reformatory school and one who was even sent to Australia for menial larceny crimes. My ancestors have lived through and braved the odds that were stacked high against them, all throughout time. Today, they still stand silently by me and I strongly believe they have done since I was born. I was meant to tell their stories, and I was meant to write. I just forgot about that for a little while. I made a diversion in the road but I am grateful for that diversion. I cannot say otherwise.
Now? Well, I am still in therapy but I am no longer on suicide watch. I am reading again, every day. This past month I have even read books I bought years ago and never touched. I have recently been on the Find My Past website and unlocked houses on the 1939 Register. I have pulled out boxes full of research books and files and put them on my writing desk. I am working on my second novel again. I am blogging again!
The moral of this post is don't ever be ashamed of depression. Take that meddlesome "black dog" out for a long walk and stretch its legs, and don't be afraid of the elephant in the room asking for acknowledgement. There is a wealth of options for help out there. Options our ancestors never had, never spoke of, never thought of.
With this blog post, I humbly celebrate my fifth bloggiversary with all of my ancestors who are walking right beside me. There are still so many stories to be told!