(I’m certainly not meaning to sound full of complaints – I am trying to share what I’ve been through, in the hopes it may touch one person, and pull them back from that edge…)
Sixteen or so years ago, I spent a good amount of time in a psychiatric crisis. Later, it was determined it was my inability to get, and stay, sober that was influencing me… and making it appear as if I suffered from Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. However, the anxiety has kept me company since, and lives on my chart. (and the ADHD diagnosis made so much sense with the self medicating….)
Tuesday, that changed. Severe, recurrent major depression is back on my chart.
I told the truth to my primary care physician.
How my husband and son waited, on Sunday, for me to get dressed to go for a hike in the woods; for over an hour.
I tried. I really did. My husband came up to check on me, and found me, curled in the fetal position, wrapped in a comforter, crying. I was a puddle on the floor. Socks – picking out socks was just too much.
The tears have been so free-flowing lately. I am normally not a crier.
I try to hide them from my son – I don’t want him worrying. How do you explain a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters to a five-year-old?
Depression is awful. It may just be one of the worst things in the world.
The most realistic way I’ve ever seen depression portrayed was in the movie “What Dreams May Come”
That movie is beautiful, and a study in contradictions. From my own descent into major depression, and back again, years ago; my giving up back then… it resonated so much.
To this day when I feel myself slipping, causing those arguments where I push everyone away so I can wallow in my own private hell… I am reminded of Robin Williams character trying so very hard to help his suicidal wife… and I don’t want that. I don’t want to be that wife. That memory pulls me up, and out – sometimes.
And Robin Williams undying love, and efforts to save his wife? Remind me so very much of my husband, and his efforts. And I try. God, have I been trying.
I usually hit the depression in the springtime. By the time summer rolls around, we have tweaked my antidepressants, and it’s smooth sailing; at least until next spring. Beach, barbecue, rinse and repeat. We didn’t do that this year….(My father pointed this out to me the other day… and I realized how correct he was). I’ve been carrying this black-and-white, life-sucks-mindset all year. Nothing is working.
I went to my primary on Tuesday. I see the same nurse practitioner who I have been seeing since I was 15. She knows me, I trust her; we have an amazing relationship. I’d booked the appointment to discuss my options.
I had my sister with me. I had to have another person with me at all these appointments this week because I don’t trust myself as a reporter. Things get so fuzzy when I get down.
She asked what was going on. She listened, watching me, as I explained how hard it is for me these days.
Pain prevents me from motivating in the morning to get out the door. Then when I finally do rally for my husband and son? I’m a mess and make us push the leaving time to the last possible minute. I’ve worked out if I leave with 20 extra minutes, my son has an easier (less meltdown, just weepy) transition at school drop off. Each tear that falls down his cheek? Hurts, hurts me to my soul.
I explained the YMCA afterschool program, and how he needs far too much 1:1 to continue; so I had to give notice at my job. The best employer I have ever had – I cut my hours from 35-40; down to 15. We will re-evaluate in November.
This nurse Practioner? She shared her son’s success story with me. Can I tell you what a difference that made for me? He has the same diagnosis, went through the same difficulties, and is now graduating college with honors.
I cried. I needed to hear that. (As one who was diagnosed ADHD at 38 years old; with no college degree, but 5 full years of schooling at a community college; it was wonderful to hear some with this diagnosis actually succeed in applying their intelligence… and follow through, completing a degree).
She knows the IEP fight. She had some great advice to share, and was so very supportive.
So, I abandoned my post-it pile of things to discuss, and asked if I could talk to her truthfully, without being committed. (I am NOT; nor was I, suicidal; or considering hurting myself).
I told her how in the past two weeks: I have pushed away just about everyone important in my life. My husband was #1 target – as he was all summer. You know, the guy who texts me 10 times a day, “what can I do to help you?”
Yeah, that black and white thinking all summer? I either idolize and love him with all my heart (which is how I truly feel for this solid rock of love and support) or, I blame him for everything. And I mean everything. The dishes piled in the sink? Those are his fault, even though since day one of our relationship I have been the kitchen one. The cat poop that misses the litter box? Blame him for that one too… see the pattern?
(I was a psych major for two plus years – and have always been fascinated with psychology — so I step back from this – which mind you, is damn near impossible when I get this low – and see how unhealthy and unproductive my mind loop is… but don’t know how to redirect/reframe)
So, there’s the husband I’ve tried to push away for a month now (thank god he’s stubborn)….but I pushed everyone else away, too. I picked the end all be all fight with my parents last week. Blew a simple question up; into the world’s largest argument… we didn’t speak for almost a week.
I haven’t seen my best girlfriends in months. I’m afraid of going out… Don’t know why?
I made plans with all these mom’s to get together for my son’s birhtday, but never followed through. I’m scared. I don’t think I’m a good friend right now. I fear my weird will affect my son’s friendships.
I blew off therapy. Completely. Through all this … I never once picked up the phone.
So my plan, created with my nurse practitioner?
- get back into therapy with my amazing therapist
- increase my dose of antidepressant
- clear my schedule of unnecessary stress
- focus on
my son, and myselfmyself, so I can be well for my son.
- really consider going to a partial hospitalization program for “intense group therapy so I can repair all the valuable relationships in my life”
- follow up with my psychiatrist for a different ADHD medication; and do not discontiune without first discussing with HIM
- exercise. even with chronic nerve pain to the legs and back, a half mile walk with benefit me
- EAT HEALTHY. (this will be hard – I have NO drive to cook. In fact, over the summer? I developed a strong dislike of cooking. It’s been about four months since I cooked meals consistently….)
- I contracted for safety. Yes, as 38 years old, I contracted for safety with a medical professional. (Been here, done this. And am so
disappointedokay with this. I WANT to be here for all the days, really.)
I look into those twinkling ice blue eyes of my son… which remind me of so many of my family on my fathers side – they are almost always smiling at me – and my heart melts. I can center. I was able to get up off that floor, drop the comforter, and get dressed.
I may have been on autopilot for part of the week, but I was able to get everything done. And I owe it all to my husband. Do you know how he got me back? Just by asking me to “come back to him. Don’t push him away, don’t shut him out, too.”
And this song. He played this for me. He understood exactly where my soul was, reached into YouTube and gave me this gift:
From wiki: in the liner notes to the 20th anniversary reissue of The Joshua Tree, writer Bill Flanagan stated, “‘Running to Stand Still’ is for anyone who feels trapped in an impossible circumstance by overwhelming responsibility.”
Sounds so simple, but I heard him. And I did come back to him.
Do you know why? We have had the absolute most beautiful summer, us three, but especially he and I.
We connected like we haven’t, in so many, many years. I don’t know what it was… or what it is. But we have each other, and our strength back. And one beautiful little shining star of a son. We live on a dead end, with a large yard, in a rented cottage… with wintertime views of the sea; and year-round sea scents dance through the windows on the breeze….
Living through all of this, is the little boy. I have been trying, as has my husband, to shield him from mama’s depression.
So yesterday, our first official pick up at 2:50 with mama’s new schedule? It was in the mid 70’s, beautiful ocean breeze, puffy white clouds. We picked up his aunt, and went down to Bearskin Neck on an adventure. (we were looking to find an elephant ear pastry for him to try, but were sidetracked.)
Mama went way out of her comfort-zone. One of those mom’s I mentioned? She owns her own shop down there… so I asked my son if he wanted to stop in. Serendiptiously, they were open, and her son was there. My heart warmed, exclaimed her little one: “Seamus! My best friend!!” big hugs “I love you!”
It was just what this mama needed. He and I spent close to an hour visiting with the two of them… I thank those forces that made that happen.
Here’s to getting outside the comfort zone. That just may be the best antidepressant out there. Surprises, love and joy await.
“And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was
Said I gotta do something
About where we’re going
You got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice”