“The only devils in the world are those running in our own hearts.”
– Mahatma Ghandi
I almost got through this week without crying.
I almost got through this week without losing my temper with Chris or Pea.
So what? You may be thinking. But for me, that’s huge.
I knew something was wrong when I spent almost everyday crying.
When I lost patience with Chris and Pea at the drop of a hat.
When I would get so frustrated, I thought I could literally feel my blood boiling under my skin and there was a fire in my throat.
Then came the insomnia. Staying up until 12, 1, 2 o’clock in the morning- aimlessly searching the Internet or watching TV because I couldn’t sleep.
I probably couldn’t sleep because of the bad dreams. Some people have one dream a night. I’m so lucky to go through maybe six. Some are horrible- I was woken out of my sleep at 2 a.m. a few nights ago when I dreamt (God forbid) about something bad happening to my younger brother. So, I get on Twitter and Tweet him:
Me (at 2:18 a.m.): Hey, is everything good? Just checking in w/you. Be careful when you’re out partying. K? Love you!
Jr:yep everythings good… love you too sis! i just got home.. party was sick!
Me: Okay. I just worry about you out on the streets late at night. lol I know you’re 18, almost 19. (that’s what sisters do)
Jr: LOL 😀
I stayed up for another two hours and was able to fall asleep at about 5- which is usually (lately) when Pea is ready to wake up.
If I am really having a hard time falling asleep, I take Excedrin PM, which works really well for me. Tylenol PM just never really cut it.
Because of all of this I drag- all of the time. I am so tired- period.
Then the nausea- everyday, all day, for about one month. Dry heaving at every turn, loss of appetite because everything looked disgusting. Four pregnancy tests later, I knew that wasn’t it.
Then there’s the lack of interest in leaving the house- at all. It takes a lot of energy for me to leave the house. I usually just don’t. want. to go. I don’t want to go walk around the mall, I don’t want to go out to eat. I just want to sit here- in the house- and do nothing.
There are really high days- almost too high- like the day when I came home and baked cookies AND muffins.
And there are really low days. Like two weeks ago Tuesday when I was talking to my friend Marita on the phone and went into hysterics, then Chris comes home from work finding me sobbing and spends two hours trying to pick me up off the floor.
It’s embarrassing, it’s frustrating, it’s annoying, it is so. real.
Yup, I said it.
It’s become so taboo to talk about it. People become embarrassed, afraid of being judged- and so many people who do have depression are never diagnosed because of this fear of being ostracized.
Did you know that studies say that depression is expected to be the second most debilitating disease worldwide by the year 2020? (Heart disease will be number one)
Did you know that thirty thousand Americans commit suicide every year?
I am not looking for sympathy, a pat on the back, or an “oh, I didn’t know.” Because really, you weren’t supposed to know. I have an image- a front- a facade that I need to put on for the world:
Confident. In charge. In control. Funny. Fun to be around. Talkative. Social. Mommy. Wife. Friend. Sister. Daughter. Cousin. Aunt. Whatever-
I need to clean the house, make dinner, keep up my blog, keep in touch with friends/family, take care of Pea- I need to. I NEED TO.
I. NEED. TO.
No one is telling me that I need to do any of this.
So why? Why do I feel like I need to do… everything?
My friend Marita said to me (in between my sobs) that I think that I try to be Superwoman, I try to do everything but I can’t and I don’t need to.
My therapist, Pam- the best person in the world that I have ever known- says that I’m performance driven. And in my most recent sessions with her she said to me- “You need to realize that there is no have to. You don’t have to do anything- one day at a time.”
Let’s go back a little bit.
In October, I went to my Doctor with a list in hand (I am a HUGE list maker) and told her I am depressed and I need medication or I am no longer going to be able to function.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I sat at my computer to type an email to my old therapist back in Florida telling her to PLEASE call me.
When Pam called me she said that she was going through her old files and for some reason, she didn’t put mine away. She said God knew that I needed her.
Within the first few minutes of the phone call she said “this is clinical depression” and “you don’t sound the same.”
I basically told Pam: I feel like I don’t know who I am.
This is the story of my life.
Everyday I struggle with the negative thoughts in my mind and the negative emotions that I feel.
By the time I got off of the phone with her I knew things were going to be okay. Pam has a way of making me feel confident and at ease. She instructed me to call my doctor and tell her that the meds I’d been taking since October (Pristiq) were not working and she either needed to up the dosage or prescribe something different. After 8 weeks on a med, according to Pam, one usually feels better.
I, on the other hand, continued to spiral down hill.
I took some notes that day while talking to Pam, then pinned them up on the bulletin board in our guest room next to my desk/piano. Here are some of my notes:
- Being performance driven is self-defeating
- There are no “have-to’s”
- Set realistic goals for myself
- Depression can and will start to manifest itself physically (hence, my nausea/dry heaving)
- I have to: eat, sleep and take care of Pea- that’s it!
- We are powerless over our thoughts
– This is temporary
– There are always options
I’m no expert on depression. I can’t offer you any advice on how to cope, because really, Pam is trying to teach me how to cope now. I asked her this week “will it ever end? will it go away? because I feel like I am going to have this and be taking these pills forever.”
I can, though, offer you some words that I have found helpful:
I’ve been reading this book, Beyond Blueby Therese Borchard (I wrote about it here) and it has been really helpful in getting me through. She wrote this book to let other depressives know that they are not alone. Depression is a disease that can make you feel lonely and isolated. In reading this book, I felt like Therese put into words so much of what I was feeling and what was happening in my life- had she been looking in my windows?
In it, she says “depression is a yawning pit with no exit, rope or ladder in sight, which is why it’s so terrifying on top of being repulsive, repugnant, repellent and all the other adjectives in my thesaurus beginning with R.”
She is so right.
Therese says that she has dedicated her life to “making mental illness less scary for those who live it and to educating as many people as I can about mood disorders so that we can permanently remove the unfair stigma associated with depression…”
She says “a person can’t begin to appreciate the harrowing darkness of depression unless she’s been there.” I think most depressives don’t want to talk about it with anyone because we know that they won’t understand. They will listen and (maybe unintentionally) have that look of pity in their eyes for you.
The Black Hole
You know when it gets so bad that you feel like you are one step away from going over the edge? Yeah… that’s what my black hole feels like.
Therese has a piece of advice that she thinks all depressives should be reminded of when stuck in the Black Hole: “the person underneath the illness never goes away; she only waits for proper treatment in order to surface again.”
“Psychiatrists have learned that depression is progressive, and there is widespread agreement that we need to interrupt it very promptly and decisively to prevent further deterioration.”
I believe mine started out as Post-Partum Depression (PPD). I was a horrible pregnant person. I was grumpy and miserable. After Pea was born… around March I went to see my doctor because I thought that I might have PPD, but she brushed it off. So it went unnoticed and was allowed to run rampant in me for about 8 months before I went to seek medication. I was fully damaged by then.
“Only one in three people with depression ever gets diagnosed or treated for depression.”
When Pam said I was performance driven, I just said “okay,” then I read something in Therese’s book that absolutely hit home with me:
“When I couldn’t contribute my skills toward some project, or volunteer my time toward a noble cause, or gain the respect of folks around me with some publishing accolade, I fell apart, into an abyss of anxiety and depression.”
Ahhh…. performance driven.
I guess that’s why I love my blog and spend so much time on the Internet.
Therese recommends starting an SEF (Self-Esteem File). In it you place every compliment a person gives you or anything positive that someone may say to you or about you.
Interestingly enough, I already had a self-esteem file without even knowing it. I tend to keep things… especially notes, letters, papers. I had to sort through them all a few years ago because I was drowning my husband in it and kept the most important ones in a file folder- which now sits in my garage. I’ll share some snippets with you that I just pulled out at random.
This is from a card that I got from my sister, Nicole for my birthday back in ’07. In it she wrote:
“…I used to guard you with my life and wished anyone would mess with my sister…til this day I still have your back and always will…”
This is a note from my friend Kelly that she gave me back in college: (Yeah, I have stuff from college)
“You have a wonderful way of being honest and loving at the same time… that makes being your friend something very special.”
Here’s a snippet from one I got from an old friend, Nicole, whom I haven’t spoken to in ages:
“…you always listen without judging me and that means so much. I have been judged my whole life…”
There’s just a whole bunch like these and reading them just now made my heart smile.
Therese’s therapist told her to “rely on my family, my friends and my faith… I might feel worse before I feel better…”
This is the part where I tell you how wonderful my husband, Chris is.
He is so patient, kind, caring and loving- he is an awesome Dad. He deals with my shit- my impatience, my anger, my attitude. He takes Pea when I need him to. He is trying his best to understand this… thing- this depression. He peels me off the floor when it’s necessary. He hugs me for as long as I need. He’s okay to come home and have me say: “change of plans, no dinner today- I’m not cooking- not in the mood.”
Last night I said “Honey, I’m at a ten with her and I can’t.” He fed her, gave her a bath and made her bedtime bottle.
I- sat in the room at the computer in silence.
He. Is. A. Blessing.
All of this is to say: I want to get better. I need to get better. I want to show up in my marriage for Chris and be an awesome mother to my daughter.
This post has been therapeutic. I hope you were able to make it all the way through, sorry I didn’t throw in any pictures to ease the eyes. I hope that I’ve been able to help or reach out to someone else who has depression.
You are not alone.
You are not going crazy. (Though, trust me, it feels like you are)
And we will get through this. (I think)
I’ll leave you with some words from the Big Man Upstairs:
“I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, and they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you- you of little faith!”
– Luke 12:22-25, 27-28