As I was lying in bed this morning hoping the world would stay asleep all day so that I could too, my brain started ambling around certain notions....
Depression? Is it something you're born with or is it something that is nurtured along depending on what comes your way? Or is it a little of both?
Depression is an illness, and some illnesses are genetic and therefore passed from generation to generation aren't they? But then that said I know personally that I have ups and downs dependant on life and what it's throwing at me so it must be a bit of both surely? My mind then set itself to pondering when I 'caught' my depression?!
I ambled casually through my memories trying to recall a time when I was content and well... not suffering from anxiety. Now that was tough! I've always been a miserable cow! A glass half empty type of character.
I think the period of time when I first joined the police back in 1989 was probably one of the best in my life. I was achieving something, I felt worthwhile and I had friends. Well friends...my squad became my family. I was posted to a rural backwater and onto a squad of men. Mostly older men. I was 20 years old, a slim and very young girl. Utterly naïve.. but I seemed to have the confidence to find my way through training college and my probation. When I reflect back now I wonder how I managed it? I don't think I could do it now. There were women who were the age I am now who joined with me, who left children at home whilst they were at training college and I look at my life now and I just wouldn't have the drive, the motivation or even the psychological or physical strength to even contemplate it.
I'm not saying it wasn't difficult even at 20 years old. I met my first male chauvinist pigs and I started to cultivate a life long chip on my shoulder about being a female in a male dominated world. Now I need to qualify that comment. It's an odd thing to try and explain. The squad banter, being called a 'strumpet whore' ...the commandant at training college who always called me 'missy' ...in fact I remember on one parade during an inspection he said to me 'missy, will you ever be a real police woman or are you always going to be the course mascot' All these derogatory comments weren't necessarily an issue. Male or female officers were hounded with insulting banter. It was a sign you were popular and accepted. I didn't mind the banter. I think the chip is more about how hard I had to work just to be accepted as opposed to male colleagues, how I considered and perceived my own lack of physical strength let me down and caused the older male officers to look upon me as a weak link. That wasn't fair in my mind because I couldn't change it. My squad sergeant who touched me up and the fact I did not feel able to say a word about it or against it as he was partly responsible for assessing my probationary period. I also know I'd be shunned if I had spoken out. Things were different back then....but were they? If I'd said anything back then I would have been openly treated with contempt by my squad and other officers. I think you are now encouraged to blow the whistle on wrong doing, however the contempt has just been driven underground. It's still there. The old boys network, protect our backs at all costs mentality still exists without a shadow of a doubt.
But I digress, I was happy and accepted and I was achieving and doing well. I think then perhaps the first time I had my first experience of anxiety and depression was 1993 when I was posted out of the blue from my lovely rural backwater to a major conurbation. I had been lucky enough as a single officer to have a police house to live in and had two dogs by then. I had taken immense pleasure from walking hour upon hour around the beautiful countryside with my pooches. Even then though I never had a social life. The move meant I was to lose my home and lifestyle. I would have to find myself somewhere to live in a new built up area. Back in those days any property you wanted to live in had to be approved by your supervision and the local command team. I found the wrench from rural to urban horrific to contemplate, I found the task of finding an acceptable property in the sprawling metropolis quite daunting and I found the prospect of 'losing' my squad quite appalling. This was where I first felt the angst. I also had a relationship end very painfully at the same time and all in all this transitional period was quite a low time for me.
What actually happened in the end was that a lovely Chief Superintendent who has sadly since passed away called me to his office and asked me about the impending move. He took pity upon my plight, probably seeing how stressed I was. He arranged there and then for a further police house to be allocated to me. Which was a major coup d'état as on the dark 'urban' side of the county they were only supposed to be allocated to married couples!! I often wonder what would have happened had he not eased my way with such kindness. If you didn't serve back then it may sound odd for me to be so grateful for such a relatively small act of kindness. Trust me back then for a Chief Super to have even spoken one on one with me was like getting an audience with the pope! For a Chief Super to put himself out to do something unnecessary and yet so kind for a lowly WPC was nothing short of astounding. Put it this way 25 years later and I'm still grateful and amazed he did it. What a guy. RIP x
Actually I think I'll leave writing about my next 'job' phase ...the urban jungle... to the next time I post x Adieu x