i have been diagnosed with depression for 12 years, and have lived with it for most of my adult life. before this past year, depression didn’t have a major impact on my lifestyle. i pushed my symptoms off to the side and lived what i considered to be a “normal” life – i worked hard, went out with friends, traveled, dated, got married. i experienced undercurrents of depression – negative self talk, guilt, sadness – but kept that part of me out of sight, even from myself. every so often my depression would rear its head and i would have a sad period of a few weeks, and then it would lift and i would keep going. manageable.
all of this changed one year ago. i was going off my medication (under direction from my doctor) because we wanted to have a baby (we’ll save that for another post) and once i was completely off of my meds i crashed. i had a massive panic attack that wouldn’t relent and wound up hospitalized for the first time in my life.
i spent the next 10 months trying and failing to stabilize. i experienced debilitating anxiety. i was paralyzed with fear, both physically and mentally. i went through depression as i had never known it. i didn’t want to leave the house. i wouldn’t eat. i couldn’t stop crying. i wanted to die. i saw no way out. this was a completely different beast from my usually tame depression.
it has taken one year to get back on solid ground. a year is a long time to step outside the bounds of your life. so i had to make decisions and i had to let things go. i had to quit my job. i had to let go of my professional identity. i had to go on disability. i had to accept the reality that we won’t get pregnant now and possibly not ever. i took a big step back from many friends and acquaintances. i felt like i was watching my life slip through my fingers like sand, too frozen to stop it.
i am thankful that today i am in a safer, stronger place. i have worked incredibly hard to recover. through medication management and therapy and yoga and mindfulness and the support of my family and sheer willpower i have clawed my way out of the black hole. but i still have dirt under my nails. my eyes haven’t adjusted to the light. i don’t have my bearings. i feel the loss of the many things that i had to let go of.
i am sure that in time i will have some perspective on these events. i hope that i will create a new life that is more balanced and healthy. i want to be like the caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly, vibrant and colorful, light as a feather, soaring to new places, reaching new heights.
but right now i am still crawling around in the dirt. i feel anger. i feel grief. i feel envy. i feel relief. i feel scared. i feel hope. i feel lost. trying to find my way around this new normal.