girl drinks glass of wine self medicating for depression

My most personal post yet.

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For anyone who has ever told themselves they are not good enough, please take the time to read this – this is my story.

This post took a few tears to write and some serious guts to press “publish”…’s my most personal post yet and brings up that old fear of rejection and judgement we humans have. Shoo- inner dialogue you are not welcome here today. I share this with the hope that it helps others.

I remember telling my mother at the age of seven that I felt very sad and that I didn’t think I liked many people – the first signs maybe that life wasn’t going to be all beer and skittles…

The first time I contemplated suicide was at the ripe old age of 14 (and now as I write the tears begin). It was the end of a particularly shitty year. My Dad had passed away from a very long illness, we moved to Perth, I started at a private girl’s school where I felt like a fish out of water. I remember the day very clearly. It was a ‘casuals’ day and I had been given a hard time for wearing a tennis top. I then got my period on the bus home, arrived home only to realise I didn’t have a key to get in and there was letter waiting for me from school….’Marnie is not making a concerted effort’.

The bleakest, darkest of moments. I knew where Mum kept her valium, it was Thursday night – we always went shopping and shared a baklava. I’ll just tell her I don’t feel like going and that will be that. Fortunately she didn’t buy my story and we had a long chat. Back in the eighties, counselling wasn’t really a thing for kids – you were just expected to ‘get on with it’.

This was the starting point of a major battle with depression that lasted, on and off, for nearly 20 years. I self-medicated myself through my twenties with alcohol and other ‘stuff’. I was the fun, party girl but deeply unhappy. As a result, my family relationships were quite fractured  as I dealt with my anger and bitterness with the world, but mostly myself (more tears). Hopelessness, in my mind, is the worst of all human emotions, and I felt it in spades.

I’ve always been a seeker. At age 25 I took my first Vipassana course (a ten day silent meditation retreat), in the hope that I would find the inner peace and wisdom I craved. I didn’t, I was still me! Vipassana was the catalyst for change in my life though. From there I packed up my life in Perth for what was to be 10 years and headed out into the world. I still suffered from depression, just in more exotic locations!

The year 2000 was when things really started to shift for me. I was working in China, ready to head off to Pakistan to run tours with holiday makers. I became crippled with anxiety and depression. I quit my job and moved to Israel to live with a man I had met in Tibet (I told you I was exotic). That year was awful. I gained weight like never before. I would get up in the morning and by 11am decide that was as much of the day as I could face and go back to bed. If I caught sight of myself in the mirror, I would be so disgusted with what I saw, I would go back to bed. I constantly verbally abused my boyfriend who, by the way, is one of the sweetest humans you could ever hope to meet. I hated him because he loved me. Who could love such a wretched human? What a loser!

At some point the veil lifted and somewhere in there was a moment of clarity. Is this what my life is going to be? So caught up in my own suffering that I never feel like I have the ability to enjoy what is happening? What did I do? Back travelling, for another five years. It became more of a spiritual quest after that. What do people do to get peace? How can I make my glass half-full? Depression still visited, but less frequently. Always as intense and always a surprise when it did. I still self-medicated, but things were changing.

In 2005 my second Dad, Gordon, died suddenly and I returned to Perth. It was then I decided to study naturopathy – initially to save myself! I still drank and smoked way too much, but the seed that had been planted so long ago at Vipassana (I had done a second one in Nepal) suddenly started to sprout. This over-riding thought and driving urge became, ‘I don’t want to look back with regret’. Thus begun years of counselling to unwrap all my stuff, the accumulations of belief about myself. This a hard one to write, but I used to tell myself a lot “you are a loser Marnie and a stupid bitch”. Can you believe that? Would you ever talk to another human like that? NEVER!

Eating well, herbs and supplementation also became tantamount to my recovery. If I go off track too much these days I notice a difference in mood very quickly. So I tracked along quite well, moments of depression and anxiety along the way, but learning to deal with them (always intense, but never for as long and further apart).

Fast forward to 2016. Annus horribilis. I had to move my clinic very quickly and I stopped looking after my head space. Alcohol and carbohydrates crept in, sleep became ‘just someone I used to know’, I stopped coping. To the outside I put on a great ‘front’. I kept dispensing advice and love, but stopped showing it to myself. Old tapes started to play again (I thought I’d deleted those!). I tried hypnotherapy once, it’s ok. Twice, I feel wobbly, oh so wonky! Then collapse. It’s a Tuesday afternoon late in 2016 and clients are done for the day. I sit down, look at my mother and say ‘I can’t go on. I don’t feel like me, I don’t think I can stand up anymore’.

Two phone calls later and a plan is in place. I go to visit my amazingly, wonderful friend and colleague Tara that evening. We talk and she massages and chats and does her ‘thing’. I’m going to be alright, I think, but I’m not yet convinced. The second call is to Leigh Milne, I’m going to try hypnotherapy one last time. Friday comes and I schlep up to Joondalup to see her. Hopes are not high…. we do the session, I get up and thank her and then something remarkable happens. A shift. I suddenly feel this sense of hope again and it stays like that, one month, two months, four months….and counting. Do I still get anxious? YES, but I don’t feel so attached to it. I just say ‘hi’ and move on. Do I still suffer from self-doubt? Yes, but it does not cripple me. Do I like me a whole lot more? Hell yes!

The theme for this International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. I urge you not to look back with regret. Don’t travel the path alone (thank you Tara and Leigh and of course my beautiful mother, Lesley). Let’s Be Bold together and build a community where we build each other up and help each other when we fall. Love is all there is – it is the beginning, the middle and the end and it starts with you loving you. This scene from Angel-A sums it up beautifully (it’s about telling ourselves “I love you”).

This is my story and this is why I am a naturopath.

Much love to you,