I think I can say that I’ve felt depressed—I mean really depressed, 3 times in my life. And depressed to the point of feeling suicidal once in my life—No, you don’t need to worry…I never got to the point of planning or taking steps to do anything.
I was fortunate, as help always came to me before I hit rock bottom.
Different things triggered the second and third bouts of depression, but the underlying causes were either to do with my relationships, my work or both.
My first spell of depression, however, was different and it was the worst. It began around 1996 or was it 1997? I remember being 30 or roundabout. This first period lasted about 3 years and during this time I went in and out of suicidal depression.
I think it was in early 1997 when a series of devastating events rocked my world and sent me spinning. First, my flat got burgled twice in one week, so I had to move in with a friend. A few months later my, my stepdad died, then Lady Diana died, then a few weeks after Diana’s death and most traumatic of all—my cat died
Looking back now, I think this was the most difficult period in my life.
It’s poignant that I should now be writing about Lady Diana’s death affecting me in such a profound way, being as it’s the 20th anniversary of her death this year. Watching some of the many tributes to her recently, took me back to the distressing emotions I myself felt around this time.
Of course, I never knew Lady Diana, nor did I ever meet her, but I like millions of others, felt such a strong connection to her, it was almost as if I knew her personally. For me, it was like a very close and dear friend had died. The intense grief and overwhelming sense of loss her death generated in me was inexplicable, but it took me many months to get over.
The sense of loss I felt over Diana’s death was heightened by the fact that a few months earlier I had experienced the loss of my stepfather. Actually, my mother and I were in Ghana, tending to his funeral when we heard the shocking news of Diana.
But the truth is I felt the loss of Diana more acutely than I did the loss of my stepfather.
The full impact of Diana’s death didn’t hit me until I returned home, and watched her funeral.
My sense of connection to her would resurface again later on.
When I returned home, more bad news was waiting for me…My 6-month-old cat Kes, whom I loved dearly, had been run over and killed.
Kes’s death was the final straw that completely tipped me over the edge. I couldn’t take another single thing—no further assaults on my emotions.
I completely broke down.
What is happening to me? Why is this happening to me? Why is everything I love and value being taken away from me? Why is life so unfair?
I felt life’s wrath kicking and stamping on me, it seemed to be totally against me and me alone. Maybe I had angered the gods and this was my punishment.
I was inconsolable and couldn’t stop the surge of unhappiness. I screamed at the top of my lungs… my friend (I’ll call her Mary) could do nothing to stop me…only watch me express my pain in the only way I knew how.
And every time I heard Elton John’s tribute to Diana “Candle in the Wind on the radio, I would burst into tears as my loss came tumbling back.
I, of course, couldn’t work in the turmoil and chaos I was in,
I spent weeks crying, not going out, not eating properly and feeling very sorry for myself. The weight of life’s struggles bore heavily on me. My face reacted to the emotional stress and poor eating by breaking out in painful, itchy spots and my mouth became full of burning ulcers.
I felt and looked a mess
Around this time I started having dramatic vivid visions that both shocked and alarmed me.
One morning I woke up and immediately had a vision—BOOM!! It flashed with a burst of images like a film, then it was gone.
I gasped with fear when I saw it.
Please be sure that although I had just woken up, I was very much awake and conscious. This vision was not my imagination…
I saw a body—my body hanging from the light fitting in the center of my bedroom. I was swinging and swirling gently from a tie around my neck. My eyes were closed and my head hung limply to one side.
I was dead.
“Oh My God!” I screamed
About 20 minutes later the same vision came again, just as vividly as it had the first time.
“Could I really hang myself?” I thought
This vision was not enough to curb my depression, however. It continued—without lifting an inch. It felt like everything was becoming progressively darker and more difficult and I felt myself spiraling more and more into the darkness, but there was nothing I could do to help myself.
One day about a week after the first scary visions, I walked into my kitchen and stepped into another graphic vision.
It exploded into view… POW!!
This time I was slumped against my kitchen wall unconscious, blood gushed from both my slit wrists.
Was I dead?
This vision was so powerful, it shook me to my core…I burst into tears. “Could I really do such a thing? Am I so down that I could really do this to myself”?
The problem was whom could I tell? Who could I share this deep level of unhappiness and hopelessness with? Who would understand these wild foresights without getting scared, think I was crazy or want to put me in a straight jacket?
I know many of you can relate to what I’m writing here…I’m sure everyone reading this has felt depressed at some point in their lives…. it’s such a lonely feeling isn’t it? You feel so alone, unable to tell friends or family what you’re really going through.
But worst of all— it’s shameful. It’s shameful to admit just how bad you feel isn’t it?
I felt so ashamed to feel this depressed and even more so, to feel suicidal, so that made it very hard for me to explain my true feelings to anyone.
I think it’s the sense of shame we feel that prevents us from seeking help before it’s too late.
The truth is I was quite worried about myself…in my state of mind, I honestly didn’t know what I was capable of. I didn’t think I could do any of the things I was seeing, but I really couldn’t be sure and that was the scariest thing of all.
During this dark phase of my life one more thing happened, which finally pushed me to seek help.
A few days after the kitchen vision, I was asleep in bed one night. It was dark and I had been asleep several hours when I suddenly woke up…I have no idea why I woke, but as soon as I did, I felt myself being sucked into the bed.
My bed was alive; it became a swirling whirlpool that started pulling me into itself. I panicked in fear, gasping and groping for breath.
I was drowning in my own bed.
Then quite unexpectedly the house phone sitting beside my bed started ringing…RING RING…. RING RING.
It was strange that the phone should start ringing like that. It was way past midnight…who was calling me at this time?
But you know what, I think this phone call was my saving grace; it shook me firmly out of the nightmare.
Whatever was happening to me stopped.
After the bed incident, I realised I needed to take fast action to help myself out of my mire. The visions were a warning, telling me I needed help.
I went to my doctor and was referred to a bereavement counsellor.
Later, Diana came to me in a dream…the dream was like a scene from the last supper. Diana was the Jesus figure and her disciples were young children of different races and colours, I was one of the children.
I sat at the foot of her chair on the floor. In the dream she leaned over to me and touching my shoulder she said, “Jacqueline don’t worry, everything will be all right.” I looked up at her and smiled.
When I woke up the next morning I felt much brighter…
Diana said everything would be all right and you know what… it was.