My Way Back from Depression
Last week, I was out of my little white happy pill. The pharmacist had to call my doctor, and I knew they would play phone tag all week. I've been out of my Lexapro before, and I knew what was going to happen...
One morning, I wake up feeling sad for no apparent reason. A sadness that has nothing to do with any tragedy I've experienced. I'm never sure why I am feeling sad, but I sink into it. It lays over the top of me for a day or so, until it worms its way deep into my heart and mind, festering, slowly turning into anger and despair over every. little. thing.
Anger at all the things I can't seem to control.
And then it resides there, refusing to leave, affecting my every thought, every action.
My patience with my sons quickly wears thin. I snap at the smallest mistake, yell over the tiniest indiscretions. I take out my anger and feelings of worthlessness on them, innocent victims incapable of fighting back. I scream and yell and say regrettable things that I know I will never be able to reverse.
I yell at my four year old to 'Hurry up!!' We are late for preschool again. We are always late. Why can't I ever be on time for anything?
The baby is getting into everything, and I yank him away making him cry.
With every angry reaction I think, 'I'm a horrible mother. This is how they will remember me.' This plunges me further into my pit of self-pity and negativity. I can't believe how quickly I have descended this time.
When Hubby asks me about my day, I don't even want to talk or even let him look at me and see the sadness and anger in my eyes. I am ashamed of myself.
My head is jumbled. I can't think. I can't remember anything. I can't organize my thoughts.
I haven't written my weekly post for Her View From Home, and I can't think what to write. I write sentences that make no sense and then delete them in a frustrated and angry tirade. I know I should write a new blog post, too. But why should I? No one reads it anyway. Every e-mail I get from other blogs I subscribe to makes me angry and depressed. Why does this blog have so many followers? Why did everyone comment on this post when no one comments on mine? It defeats me. I think, 'I am stupid to think that I can write, that I have talent, that I have anything to say that anyone wants to hear.' I resign to just give up writing altogether, thinking only of the pieces that have been rejected.
'I am a miserable failure at everything.'
I don't return phone calls, I ignore e-mails and texts and messages on Facebook. I don't feel like subjecting anyone to my negativity. At my son's soccer game, I set up my chair far away from all the other parents. I can't be social. My friend Katie walks by and asks how my day is going. Near tears, I tell her, 'Not good,' and when she gives me a tight hug, I bristle. I'm angry with myself for letting people see me like this. Seeing me weak and ungraceful.
At the next soccer game of the day, my friend Heather sets up camp next to me and babbles happily in her enviable way. I wonder if she can tell; does she know how I am feeling? She has said that she needs to run every day. It is her sanity. What is my sanity? Why is my sanity a pill?
At baseball games later that day, I get a rush of joy seeing my six year old make a good hit and run to first base. My heart warms watching my four year old play for the first time, seeing his short legs run the bases and follow directions and laugh happily.
On Sunday, Hubby asks me to help plant annuals in the flower garden. The hard work satisfies me for an afternoon. I'm unsure whether it is because I am learning more about something I've always wanted to know or that Hubby and I are working side-by-side on a project, but it brings me temporary reprieve.
But later, I want to be alone with my thoughts, away from everyone. I know this is dangerous. I've been alone with my thoughts too many times in my life. Alone with the thoughts that tell me I am worthless, I'm a bad mother and a terrible wife. I can't cook or write or take care of my house or maintain friendships. I'll never be able to run a race or write a book or complete a goal. These were the same thoughts that plunged me into a scary darkness three times in my life.
Once in high school when I was so paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy that I stayed in my room wallowing in misery, sure that I was so far beneath everyone else that perhaps I shouldn't even exist.
Next, after I graduated from college and couldn't find a job. I hated substitute teaching, so I stopped answering the phone at all. I stopped getting dressed in the morning and stayed on the couch all day.
And when I desperately wanted a baby after I was married, and everyone but me seemed to be getting pregnant. I stopped talking to my friends and avoided social situations. I remember crying to Hubby, begging him to let me stay home from his high school fund raiser because we would be seated at the same table as someone who was pregnant, and I didn't want to stare at her swollen belly all night.
Hubby would often come home from work, and finding me in tears and on the couch would say to me, "You sat home and thought all day, didn't you?"
It feels like the cartoon image of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other. It's the classic battle between light and dark, which both reside in all of us. But in someone who suffers from depression, the dark mostly wins. That little devil tells me awful things about myself, and I believe him.
In my twenties, my doctor suggested I see a therapist. I carried around the name and number for about a year before I threw it away. It was just another thing that made me feel inadequate, that proved I was a failure. I always thought it was something I had to live with. It wasn't that bad, was it?
But as I look back, it was. It did paralyze me, it does keep me from doing the things I want to do - mainly loving my family and friends and pursuing my dreams.
Monday, I picked up the pills, and took two right away. Slowly my head cleared, but I was still screaming at my sons and deleting every blog update from my e-mail. I got back on my pattern of taking five milligrams every other day. Any more makes me feel like a fuzzy-headed zombie; any less isn't quite enough.
I have found time to use my treadmill a bit each day this week, and when I am tired, I have gone to bed before exhaustion hits.
This morning, I gave gentle reminders about backpacks and glasses and dressing for preschool and laughed when Baby E took the dirty clothes out of the washing machine. I feel like my sanity is slowly returning and lightness and calm are winning once again over darkness and anger. I feel like I am returning to the person I want to be, that I know I am in my heart and in my beautiful mind.
I have three, maybe four posts I want to write, and I am reading all my favorite blogs again for inspiration. The words are forming themselves in my head, and I can't type quickly enough.
I do hate that this sanity and clarity comes from a pill, but I thank God I can recognize this. I thank God that I can recognize when my mind is jumbled and crazy and the darkness is winning. I thank God for giving me a situation that forced the introduction of the medication. I thank God that I will never be a Susan Smith-type mom who does the unthinkable to her children because she didn't realize that she needed help or refused to seek it.
I vow to never let my prescription lapse again. I vow to not care if society thinks I am weak or lazy for taking antidepressants. I vow to never think that they are the only answer for these dark feelings. I vow to take them for as long as I need them, for myself and for my family.
Most importantly, I vow to be honest about my use of them for other women who might think as I used to - that they just have to deal with that devil character on their shoulder telling them awful things about themselves and believing it. I vow to talk about it because if I had known anyone else felt this same way long ago, things might have been different. Different as they are now. Better.
All I have ever wanted was to be happy; but I have to fight for it, and I always will. The more I fight, the more I learn. The more I learn, the better I get. If that means I need some medicinal assistance, then so be it. That little white pill and I will just keep knocking that devil right off my shoulder.