Depression: Round 4

Today I’m going to talk about depression. At some point yesterday, I felt myself stand still in a moment where chaos was unfolding in my home and listened to what my mind was telling me. I didn’t like what I heard. I have been watching since then, quiet and mindful of the words I’m using on myself. There is decidedly a part of my brain that needs to, quite bluntly, shut the fuck up. I’ve been here before. More than once. I’m sure this will not be the last time I am here again. This will be the 4th major depressive spell I’ve had in almost 34 years of my life.

This time is different, though. This time I have a certain quality of mindfulness that I didn’t have the last 3 times. This time I don’t have some defining moment where I take depression as a weird comfort, the apathy being a welcome difference to the deep, aching pain that had no origin.

Yesterday I was standing in the hall, as my daughter ran off from me in the middle of trying to get her dressed for the fifth time that morning while laughing and calling me all sorts of names, and I heard my inner-voice say, “Everyone would be happier if you were dead.”

There’s a certain quality of defeat I can’t even begin to describe over the moment where you are being verbally abused by a child and go there mentally. I don’t talk about my daughter.  I don’t feel like I have the right to talk about her life publicly; partially because I want to protect her. But my daughter was born of 2 adults who have ADHD and likely both are undiagnosed autistics. I have a wicked case of sensory processing problems, and she was recently diagnosed with sensory processing disorder while we wait on the 8-month-long waiting list to get an appointment to get her evaluated for behavioral health… I don’t talk about it in part because people don’t see the way she acts at home at night when she’s tired. They see a shockingly intelligent little girl who is absolutely gorgeous and sweet. They don’t see the nights where she’s beating her head against the floor, throwing her body into the wall while being unable to sit still, or gagging over each piece of food she tries to eat. They don’t see her at 3-and-a-half telling her mother she’s an idiot. They don’t see her refusing to have her hair brushed, struggling with potty training, or being unable to go to sleep on her own. And I don’t talk about it, because no one sees it or understands when I do. I know most of this she will grow out of, but there are things she won’t.

I wake up every morning facing this. I go to sleep every night worrying she’s going to fall through the cracks, that they won’t see it until she’s in her teens, if ever… I worry she’s going to have the same outcome of battling depression, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder that her mother has, because at 14 when I recognized I had ADHD and asked for help, I was told girls don’t get it, they just get depressed. I was “just” depressed. For some reason people still think women don’t struggle as autistics or have other behavioral differences… No, we’re just depressive. Hysterical. Irrational.

I have a reason to be depressed, but that situation isn’t letting up any time soon and is really just the spark that starts the fire. Some part of me had hoped that I would be able to hold out. Hold out until we get the phone call saying we’ll be seen soon. Hold out that my husband will get a residency and we’ll move back to a blue state. Hold out while I deal with the fact that my health is possibly declining more. Hold out…

Gods, please don’t let me crumble. Let me fight the stress of being poor, disabled, and a mom to the most magical little creature I have ever encountered.

There’s an ugly beauty to the depressive mind, a certain beauty to the art of being able to tear yourself down that only another depressed person will understand. In my experience, it slips in slowly at first. Depression pretends to be your friend. It understands your pain. It understands your suffering. It shows you the beauty of suffering. And for me there’s always been this defining moment in my episodes where I open the door and invite it in fully, seduced by that beauty. Where those little urges to harm myself cease to be quite as terrifying as they should be, because I’m too exhausted to ignore them anymore even if I’m present enough to not carry them out.

And there is a gift there. You get comfortable with the concept of death when you’re simultaneously wishing it upon yourself while fighting against that desire. You start to see the beauty in death. You, in short, get fucking morbid as hell.  That’s not necessarily bad… It’s the actively wishing to be dead part that is when, hey, you’ve got a life to live still.

But yesterday I was standing in the hall, listening to a 3-and-a-half-year-old tell me how stupid and scared I am, feeling like a complete failure, and when that little voice in my head said, “You’d be better off dead,” I stopped and named it.

Depression.

I looked over the months I’ve not wanted to do anything. The untouched tomatoes of summer that normally bring me so much joy. The unfinished art. The unstarted plans. The mess that’s my kitchen… The insatiable hunger and exhaustion that leaves me too tired to move. My friends who I’ve not seen in months. The dread of being responsible in any way, shape, or form of anything at all. The guilt over it all. So much guilt. Feeling like I’m not a good mother, a good friend, a good human… Desperate to be left alone.

Oh, Depression. You’ve been here longer than I realized. You sneaked in this time uninvited, and it’s taken this long for you to gather the bravery to really start talking to me.

This time I don’t have the luxury of breaking down. I don’t have the luxury of possibly swinging manic or even hypomanic. I’ve got shit to do and a life to live…

You aren’t welcome here, and you are not who I choose to be.  In short, you’ve got to shut up.

So I give myself a few days to get over this darkness I’ve found myself in, and then I have a psychiatrist picked out to start seeing if it doesn’t somehow magically lift… Because the “in case of emergency” plan for the unmedicated bipolar-not-bipolar-maybe-bipolar-who-knows-anymore person that is me has always been very, very detailed, and as soon as we got health insurance I picked out a psychiatrist in the event I needed one. Because depression never magically lifts. It magically implodes into all sorts of ridiculous fuckery that is not acceptable to me at this point in my life. Even if I had a 5-year remission, that threat of this happening has always been the elephant in my room just camped out in the corner smoking a hookah that I’m always aware of.  The what-if.  The please don’t let this happen ever, ever again, please.

Well, this time I’m not hitting rock bottom before I get help.

I’m going to practice what I preach, which is medication-based intervention is a completely acceptable and sometimes needed route to go.

Why did I decide to talk about it? This is my personal blog. Because people need to be open about this sort of thing. Because I refuse to hide this part of me due to stigma.

Also because it makes me feel better to write, and even better when I hear that what I’ve written touched someone else. So, if you’re that person needing to hear it… You aren’t alone, and neither am I.

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14 thoughts on “Depression: Round 4

  1. { } Oh,how I understand. I’m depressive with anxiety disorder as my kicker. What you describe has been all too true for me as well. I didn’t take one of my meds for a while (ran out). Within a week I knew why I still had to be on them. Physiologically and anatomically, the brain does change when you have a mental illness because of the various natural chemicals which we produce. (I am a retired psychiatric librarian.) Meds help to straighten out things; but, even then it doesn’t always work. { } Hugs go to your beloved daughter, too.

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    1. Thank you! And yes, we’ve been baffled for the last 5 years really on how I managed bipolar II without medication and no major episodes. I’ve learned a lot over the years to manage things, but at this point it’s not enough.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing. It opened my eyes a bit to the lingering threat of my own depression. Know that I love you and you are made of awesomeness. Always in my thoughts and prayers. ❤️🙏🏻

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  3. Thank you. Even though my depressive suicidal episodes were in my teens and twenties for the most part and less frequent now I think it is oh so important that we all see each other. That we see and know each other and have enough compassion to change to a society that will nurture protect and help each of us, no matter what our personal demons are.

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  4. ❤ A couple years ago, I had a PTSD flare, and like you, I decided that I was going to pre emptively ask for help instead of waiting it out or hitting rock bottom. So ((hugs)) – I don't cycle like I used to, but I do get PMDD. I hope you get as good a care as I did, and know that if you need an ear, I'm here for you. (and so are a lot of other people)

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  5. i have not seen a more eloquent description of how depression gets its hooks in you than what you just shared. i too struggle with depression. (i got diagnosed with bipolar 5 years ago and it has been a wild, often unpleasant, ride since.) as hard as it can be, don’t give up. getting help when you need it is the smartest and most hopeful thing you can do when you’re at your worst. you are incredibly brave for sharing this, having a plan to get help, and being prepared to act on it. i know how depression sucks the light out of the room and grinds you down, so the fact that you can keep going despite it is to be commended.

    i also have two autistic boys. they didn’t get diagnosed until a little over a year ago. (they’re 6 and 8.) if you need someone to listen when it gets to be too much, don’t hesitate to contact me. it is really frustrating to be on a long wait list for services that you hope will help but are not really sure if they will. it is scary to watch your child struggle and have meltdowns. and it is really hard to reconcile what you see at home with what everybody else sees outside of the house. but you are putting things into place to help your daughter meet the challenges before her. that is huge and the fact that you’re working to do so now rather than waiting until she’s in school is incredibly smart. you are doing all the right things, even though it may not feel like it. and it will get better. even the potty training thing. (my youngest didn’t have it down until the beginning of kindergarten, but it happened. and it is normal as per the kids’ pediatrician for potty training to take a while and there are some kids who are not on the spectrum that struggle with it until they get into kindergarten.)

    tl:dr – you are brave. you are not an idiot by any stretch of the imagination. you are doing all the right things on a number of really difficult fronts. ❤

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  6. You are a very courageous and beautiful person. May the Powers you honor lift this mantle of pain from you. Astrologically, this coming Sunday we’ve got an intense “blood moon” total solar eclipse in Aries opposing the Libra Sun, and I believe many are feeling the effects already, myself included. Aries urges us to pursue courageous acts in the name of self-care, while Libra reminds us to act with a high degree of emotional intelligence and factor other peoples’ needs into our decision-making. It’s a delicate tightrope walk straddling the needs of Self and Other. Be good to yourself. ((Hugs))

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