sometimes i think about my worst week during the time i was sick. remembering it almost always makes me cry – tears of joy that life got better, tears of sadness that life got so bad.
i had just gotten out of the hospital for the second time. i had just quit my job, knowing that my recovery would take so much longer than i could ask my boss to wait. i had just finished my last stint of partial hospitalization because my insurance wouldn’t cover any more. and i had just started an abrupt medicine change.
the first night that i couldn’t sleep unnerved me, but i attributed it to stopping a medication and told myself that the next night would be better. the second night that i couldn’t sleep scared me, because i figured i would have been able to get some rest. after the third night i started to panic – my already-overpowering depression and anxiety started to snowball. i called my doctor and he told me to “push through it” and “be positive.”
after the fifth, sixth and seventh nights i felt like i was losing my mind. i was delirious with fatigue and anxiety. my day was one long nightmare with no relief, no rest. my mind raced and i ruminated, over and over and over again, about what my life had become. what is happening to me? how can i ever get better? how did it get this bad? the panic i felt was out of control – i was shaking and crying with fear all day and all night. terrified, i called my doctor and he told me to “just relax” and to double up on another medication to contain the anxiety. it didn’t work. i felt so powerless – it seemed that nobody, myself included, knew what to do to help me get stabilized.
after the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth nights i was barely hanging on. at night i would sit up in bed, my husband sleeping next to me and my dog curled up at his feet. i would stare into the pitch-black darkness, my eyes wide open, the darkness staring back at me. make it stop, i would think, make it stop. it’s too much, it’s all too much. just end it.
fighting for my life – i was truly fighting for my life.
all night long i would make mental lists of pros and cons of staying alive, and always came up with more cons than pros. i felt i was out of treatment options. i felt that medication didn’t and wouldn’t work for me. i felt that i had put my family through hell and that they would be better off without me. i felt that my life had reached its end, that my time had run its course. i felt that i couldn’t take one more second of the unrelenting mental anguish. make it stop stop stop stop stop make it stop.
but i would always come back to this truth: you can’t try again after you die. no more chances. i was so terrified that i would never feel better, but somehow that fear meant that somewhere deep inside i was still holding out hope that i actually could feel better.
so i stared down the darkness. i stared it down. i held on tight to that shred of hope and i took my chances. i tried again. and again. and again and again.
and guess what?
in time i slept again. and in more time i functioned again. i loved again. in even more time i worked again. i smiled and laughed again. and in more time i felt self worth again. i felt confidence again. i dreamed again. in time, in time i lived again.