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the nasty beast

January 12, 2010
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depression sucks.  it really does.  not many people talk about depression, especially those who suffer from it.  there’s stigma attached to depression – people are crazy, can’t control themselves, schizophrenia, you will be on meds for the rest of your life etc etc all of which are complete bullshit.  i will admit that i was ignorant too – i didn’t know much about depression until i had it.  i knew people who had depression but i always thought: “oh, why don’t they just go on medication?”.  but depression isn’t only treated with medication – it’s a combination of medical and talkative therapy.

this post isn’t about educating you about depression – it’s about what i went through with my illness; what i still struggle with sometimes.

if you know me, i’m generally a pretty laid-back person (pre-motherhood).  i usually took things in stride, rolled with the punches, didn’t really worry much, able to cope and thrive in high-stress situations.  resourceful.  confident.  intuitive.   but depression is an ambiguous monster – it changes you completely.  it renders you helpless against…. everything.  when you were able to deal with small things that would happen, they suddenly become the hugest issues that you can’t get past.  the anxiety keeps you up at night and destroys your appetite.  your mood and behavior shifts from  happy and optimistic to dark and bleak; hopelessness and helplessness rules your every day thoughts.  it is impossible to escape the darkness or shake the feeling that you’re sinking and drowning.  when people who suffer from depression say there are days when they can’t get out of bed, it’s completely true.   the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness controls every aspect of your being that you just can’t get out of bed.  you are so tired all the time.  irritable.

yet, those with depression are, for some reason, afraid to get treated.  often, depression goes untreated for a long time because no one really wants to admit failure as a person; to admit that something like depression can take control of your life.  that is why it took me 13 months to seek professional help.  for over 1 year, the darkness that seeped into my life grew like a cancerous tumor, consuming and destroying my ability to cope, sleep, eat, live.  there were many many days and nights that i felt such utter despair or i’d be driving around crying and not wanting to go home.  never did any thoughts of harming kayla enter my mind but i don’t doubt that i was probably a few months away from suicidal thoughts.  i won’t even go into details about the horrible things that were going through my head at the time but let’s just say that you would be appalled.  this is why no one really saw kayla for the first year of her life.  this is why no one saw me for most of 2009.  i couldn’t eat or sleep; the anxiety was killing me; i would go through the day thinking: “just get through today, just get through today” and i just went through the motions of being a mother, wife, daugther, friend.  when the day would come to an end, i would then lie in bed anxious and dreading the next day thinking: “fuck, now i have to do this shit all over again in X hours” which would of course, rob me of sleep and the vicious cycle would begin again.

i was stressed out 24/7 for 13mos.  and everything would stress me out – everything.  most of my fears revolved around kayla’s eating and sleeping issues and that would be my prime focus on a daily basis.  it didn’t matter if anything good happened; if one little bad thing  happened, it would erase every other good thing.  i would try to predict what bad things would happen which would increase my anxiety and stress.  i was constantly analzying and looking for clues as to what bad things would/could happen and how i could mitigate them.  living in a world of constant fear of the unknown is frightening to say the least and the people whom i love the most suffed with me as well.  my relationship with my mother fell apart as did my relationship with my husband.  i yelled a lot.  cried a lot.  i was angry all the time and it seemed that nothing anyone did to help me was good enough.  only i knew what was best for kayla.  only i could feed her right, sleep her right, do her routine right yet i screamed and yelled that i had to do everything myself.  i was a prisioner of my own mind and my family took the worst of it.  what hurts me the most is that my relationship with my husband nearly fell apart.   my mom retreated into herself and stopped talking to me in fear of setting me off.  basically, i was a ticking time-bomb.  everyone was walking on egg-shells and our house that was once filled with laughter and joy changed into a house that was haunted by memories.  my husband – God bless him – stuck by me even though i treated him like shit; he said nothing when i lashed out at him and criticized him for not doing things right even though he did everything he possibly could.  he took time off of work – two times, i might add – to help ease the burden that i was carrying, risking his job but he didn’t care.  all he cared about was helping me get better and if that meant quitting or losing his job, so be it.  we fought all the time.  we rarely talked and if we did, it was about kayla.  we didn’t do anything fun anymore. we were like two strangers living in the same house.  my mom wasn’t any different.  she’s usually pretty opinionated as all older generations are but she began to keep to herself.  she rarely came out of her room and when she did, it was either to cook or get some water then she headed back upstairs and left me alone.  i can’t imagine what they were going through – watching me wither away and hanging onto my sanity by a thread. looking back at how i was, i’m embarrassed and ashamed that i was like that but such is the nature of the beast.  i am not defening my actions or behavior but i’m simply telling my side of the story.

it was only when i landed in the hospital with unknown and severe abdominal pain that shook me out of it.  i had known for a long time that something was wrong and why it took me so long to get help i don’t know but being in that hospital, feeling physically helpless and scared; the thought that i could lose my family made me realize that something had to be done.  it also scared the shit out of my family and the next day, they came together to talk some sense into me.  i didn’t put up a fight like i usually did either.  when they used to tell me that something had to be done or i needed help, i would shut down and push them away but after being in that hospital and the doctors unable to figure out what was wrong, i knew it was my body’s way of telling me that i had to get help.

i made an appointment with my doctor and got a referral to see a psychiatrist.  now i don”t know about you, but i was pretty weary about getting any sort of help from a mental health professional.  to be honest, i thought therapy was a crock of shit; i used to think: how could a complete stranger help me?  what could he/she possibly tell me that other people haven’t already?  if he can make kayla sleep/eat better, then i’ll go; otherwise all he’ll tell me the same shit that self-help books go on about.   obviously, i was wrong.  my psychiatrist saved me. i was diagnosed with major depressive disorder with OCD traits and high anxiety.  that was a lot to take, that first session.  i cried and couldn’t stop crying, even when i got home.  i don’t know why; maybe it was because i felt so defeated as a mother and person; maybe it was because i felt like a failure when i felt i excelled in all other aspects of my life.  whatever the reason, a huge part of the tears came from relief – relief from finally being able to see some light at the end of my dark, dreary tunnel; relief that maybe things can change but mostly, i felt hope – for the first time after 13mos, i felt hope that one day, i will be a good mother, wife, daughter and friend again.

i was lucky  that i found a therapist that i clicked with right away – many people have to go through several to find the right one.  i’ll enlighten you by saying that psychiatry is not how tv portrays it to be: it is not a person sitting behind a desk or couch silently taking notes while you jabber away with your problems.  it is not about some dude watching his clock instead of listening to you – at least my therapist isn’t like that.  he faces me, takes notes, listens.  he shares stories about himself to make me feel more comfortable.  he teaches me about my illness because when you know what you’re fighting, you become a better soldier.  he suggested that i go on anti-depressants and even though he gave me a prescription, he didn’t push me into filling it.  while i was afraid of getting ‘addicted’, i filled it because i was desperate to feel better quick.  let me tell you – those first four days of taking the meds were brutal.  i felt like utter garbage and was completely bed-ridden for those four days i shit you not.  i couldn’t eat or sleep, i couldn’t get out of bed at all, i was nauseous all the time and because of that, i lost even more weight (which brought me to 108lbs).  i had suicidal thoughts and felt even more depressed than when i wasn’t taking the meds.  basically, i felt like i was in hell.  i called my doctor multiple times crying and repeatedly asking when the side effects would go away; he said about a week.  i also called my pharmacist friend like, every 2hrs asking the same thing.  i really didn’t want to take them anymore because i was feeling so horrible.  but i was told to ride it out and on the 5th day, i felt a bit better.  over time, my doctor increased my dosage and continued with psychotherapy on a weekly basis.  now, after 5mos of treatment, i feel like my old self again.  i can laugh and smile.  i understand things where as before, my brain was all muddled and i had difficulty understanding even the most basic instructions.  my memory is a bit better.  i can feel things – emotions, love, joy, happiness.  the best part is that i no longer feel numb.  it’s a horrible feeling, that numbness – to not be able to feel the love for your child or husband or mother or sister.  to not be able to miss your friends or find peace and joy in spending time with those you love and care about.  to not be able to embrace the miracle of your baby growing and developing right before your eyes.  those 13mos can  never be recaptured but i can certainly make sure the rest of our lives will.

depression is a nasty beast but i’m kicking its ass.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Leesh permalink
    January 12, 2010 11:23 pm

    This post was tough for me to read but I read it all even though tears were welling up in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story.

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