"Depression...a state of feeling sad, anger, and anxiety. A mood disorder marked by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies."
I looked up that definition. And thought, how many people could fit into that category? How many people that I know. So many! So many of us, just keep moving forward. So many of us, pretending that we're OK.
I'm the Queen of the "I'm Fine" game. "How are you feeling?" "Fine." "How is everything going?" "Fine." "Do you need help with anything?" "No, I'm fine." Because that's how I was raised. To be OK. Not to bother people with my problems. To show people, from the outside looking in, that I was OK.
Until the day...that I wasn't. I can't really explain what happened. How it happened. Or why it happened. I just know, it happened. One day, I was OK. And the next, I wasn't. Not many people know this. But I'm about to share with you, one of the darkest times, of my life.
I was in college. A lot had been happening. I was away from home, for the first time. Hours away from my family. About 2/3 of my friends had moved away. To pursue work, in a bigger field. I had lost 5 pivotal people, in my life. Had 2 major car accidents. One in which, I almost died. Had a major operation. That would alter my life. I wouldn't tell my family about that. And had been held at gunpoint...more times than I can count on my hands.
Life was a little stressful. And I wasn't sure, who I could turn to. I didn't want to damper my friends' spirits. They were so excited about these new adventures. Moving, touring, having the best time. I didn't want to disappoint my parents. Or burden my family. I was falling apart.
And on this particular Thursday morning, I walked into my psychology class. Like I had so many times before. Sat down. And waited for one of my favorite professors, to start teaching.
What I didn't realize was, he was watching me. Studying me. That entire 110 minute class. He knew something wasn't right. When class ended, Dr. D asked me to step into his office. I remember my heart racing. What could this be about?
I would spend the next 4 hours, sitting in a chair, in his corner office...crying. Uncontrollably. He was the first person, to see me fall, completely apart. He saw all the signs that day. Things I would have never imagined. Things he'd watched over the last two weeks. But suddenly, they were screaming at him.
Dr. D would cancel his last class of the day. To talk with me. To make sure, I was OK, to go home. Alone. That I wouldn't hurt myself. He called colleagues of his. To insure, I'd have a doctor the next morning. He set up, all of my care.
I still get emotional, thinking about it. Knowing, this man saved my life. My favorite professor, who talked for days and days. This man, that I'd see at various school functions. That without a second thought, I'd see him and his wife, every single Saturday running up A Mountain. He saved my life.
Dr. D was the person that stopped my train wreck. From the outside, everything appeared to be OK. I went to school every single day. I had straight As, and was on the Dean's List. I worked at the hospital. And doing gigs. Everything seemed to be going great.
But inside, I was broken. Completely, 100%. I would call my parents every day. And for 30 minutes, I'd tell them about all the good things. I made it home, about once every two months. No family visited me. Not even my parents. And it was working out OK. I could hide from everyone.
Now, I was faced, with this demon. The one living inside me. Weighing me down. Eating me alive. Tearing me apart. On that Friday morning, I went to class as normal. Dr. D called the hospital for me, and was able to get me out of work. For the weekend. I went to Dr. D's office. Not only was he a professor, he had a private practice. That is where I went. And where I'd meet Dr. M and Dr. E who would walk this journey with me.
I was going through all of this. And living with chronic pain. In my back and neck. Due to cheerleading. And those recent accidents. I was also experiencing a ton of hip pain. I was not being treated for anything. Didn't even take a Tylenol. I didn't drink. Or do drugs.
All of a sudden, I was in a room. With three professionals. Letting everything out. Telling them about my life. Past and present. I have never cried so much in my life! All of a sudden, it was like the dam had broke. And I couldn't keep anything in. No matter how hard I tried.
I'm a strong person. One that shoulders a ton of responsibility. And every one's problems. But rarely, did I deal with my own emotions. Until that day. By 7PM, I was exhausted! All I wanted to do, was go home. But these three, had other plans for me. They'd rent a hotel suite...and I'd spend my weekend there. We each had our own room. But they could watch over me.
During this weekend, I talked more, than I've ever talked in my life! I cried. I let these people, into my life. In a way, that I had never let anyone else in. And on Sunday evening, we made a plan. One that included 2 hour sessions of therapy, 5 days a week. And prescriptions. The only way, they'd let me go home, was to agree to check in, 3 times a day.
And for the next 6 months, this is what I did. No breaks. No days off. Just dealing with all of this. Learning tools, that I'd use for a lifetime. Tools that would become essential, for my basic life.
I'm grateful for their help. For 10 hours a week, I could be honest. Without being judged. I could just be me. After 6 months, my sessions were reduced. To 1 hour, 5 times a week. It was still a lot. But it was what I needed. I remained on this program for 18 months. For the 6 months that followed, I was weaned to 2, 2 hour sessions a week. A year later, I'd go to therapy like a more normal person. 1, 1 hour session, every other week.
I still take medication. Albeit, it's a lot less. Maybe 1/10 of where I started. And I still have a rough day, from time to time. But I spent a LONG time, dealing with my emotions. Working through my problems. And learning, how to deal with all these stressors.
It was a TON of work! But something I will always be grateful for. When I look back, on the last 7 years, I would have NEVER made it...had I not had this experience. I learned how to deal with all these things. And when my Dad got sick, I needed those tools. I needed to deal with things as they were coming. Emotions and all. And I needed to know, it was OK...to put some things, on the back burner.
Life has not been easy for me. But it has been something, that I learned how to deal with. I can tell you about countless days, were I'd cry on the floor of the shower. When my Dad was sick. Or the hopelessness, I felt when he died. Or the overwhelming feelings I experienced, when my Mom got sick.
But I learned how to deal with my problems. Have there been times, when I scared myself? Yes! During my darkest days, I can remember that familiar drive back and forth. Three hours one way. And going over the large bridges thinking, "Life would just be better without me." Honestly, I felt that way. It's one of the reasons, I was so willing to seek treatment. Those things scared me.
I never actually tried to hurt myself. But I did think things like this. I often wonder, had I not gone through treatment, how would it have ended? Would I have driven my car, off of one of those bridges? Would I have done something worse? Could I have hurt myself?
I don't know. And honestly, I'm glad I'll never know. Because it scares me now. To think of the things I could have done. To think I could have hurt myself. I could have even killed myself. What would that have done, to my family? My friends? And my parents?
It took me, years to let my parents in. To let them know, I had this weakness. This issue, that I had no control over, when it began. But something I worked hard, to deal with. My parents never judged me. Never thought I was less than. They were only supportive.
Have I had relapses? In some small way...yes. I've continued with medication. Like I said, at much lower levels. I've also found other ways of coping. Running, baking, crafting, volunteering, writing letters/notes to people, working on our foundation, work in general, meditating, praying, through music, and with my pup. It's all been helpful.
But even now, I will Skype with one of my 3 doctors...at least once every four months. Just to make sure I'm OK. To talk through issues, I might be going through. To just work through stuff.
When my Dad was sick, I could feel myself slipping. Back into those patterns. I'd live in sweats. Didn't care if 2 or 3 days would go by, without showering. Stopped caring about my appearance, if I ate, or even slept. It was getting rough. The last 6 months, of my Dad's life, I was losing myself.
One day, in the hospital, I saw myself. I'd lost 10 pounds. Didn't care about my appearance. Or about anything other than my Dad. It took me back, to years prior. When I'd been 93 pounds. Alone in my home. Without any cares. I wasn't sleeping. And I just didn't care. It scared me.
During this time, I knew I was losing my Dad. I knew there was nothing I could do. I also knew, life was about to change dramatically. For about 9 months, after my Dad's passing, I was just trying to survive. I was using coping skills, that I'd learned. And just trying to work through all the emotions I was feeling.
Had I not had years and years of therapy, under my belt, I probably would have cracked. Had some sort of breakdown. Who knows what would have happened. But being that raw, didn't scare me. I knew, I could work through it. I had a whole bunch of tools, that I could turn to.
I guess, the reason I wanted to write this post...is to be honest. To let you know, it's OK. If you're going through this, it's OK. There are people willing to help. There are people that have gone through the same things, and come out the other side. Most of all, there are people that care.
Contemplating suicide, at any level...is a real emotion. It's raw. It's difficult. But honestly, it should never be an option. There should ALWAYS be someone to turn to. Someone to help you. Someone, that is on your side.
I think now, how selfish it would have been, for me to drive off of a cliff. But at the time, in a three hour drive...I'd think about it, at least 10 times. Now I realize, had I done that...who would have taken care of my Dad? Or now, my Mom? Where would my crazy dogs be? My family would still miss me. And so would my friends.
But when this disease, has you, in the palm of it's ugly hand...you just can't think straight. If you are struggling. And reading this...send me a message. Let me help you. I WANT TO HELP YOU!!!
People always think, they can yell at you. Get you to snap out of it. Like you are just sad. But you're not, just sad. It's more than that. And you need help. You need a caring hand. Someone to just listen to you. Sometimes, just to sit with you.
Will this be a lifelong battle for me? I'm not sure. I'm nearing a monumental point in my journey. Stopping all medication. But continuing to journal every single day. To meditate. To work on my illness, in other ways. I'm excited. And scared. Scared to death, that I might have some sort of relapse.
But it's definitely time, for me to do this, without medication. To trust my body. And work on my mind. To know, that it has been years, since it's been really bad. That those days of not eating, not caring, and spending all my free time sleeping...are well behind me.
It's a little more complex for me. I was diagnosed with OCD, when I was 7 years old. It's something that I've had to work through. It explains why instead of playing, I'd spend hours organizing my books, as a child. As a teenager, I'd rather hangout alone...than deal with the chaos that too many friends made. Or why in my home, every single thing, had a place. No dish, or spoon, or hair tie was ever out of sorts. Every single surface was scrubbed clean. The yard, looked like I had a gardener.
But when you mix that with depression, it's tough. It makes your mind feel like, a complete world of chaos. All the time! Little things trigger, anger and frustration. Migraines, are just something I deal with, because of all these issues.
But all of these things, don't overwhelm me. They've changed the person I am. And maybe when I do things. Like avoiding Walmart...like the plague, on the weekend. Only doing my grocery shopping, early in the morning. Or just staying home. Because for me, the triggers are stress, chaos, and crowds.
I also know, I want to live. I want to live a long life. A successful life. And I productive life. I know that one day, I want to have a family of my own. And I want to have these issues, under my belt. Not in the forefront, of my life. As hard as some days are, they are worth it. Just to know, that this is not always my life. I'm full of hope. That tomorrow, I'll be stronger than today. ♫