Only when I accepted that I DO matter, that my life matters, can I say I was truly able to start living again. I was able to start treatment of this depressive disorder. How did I get there? One may wonder – allow me to share my story. This may be a story you’ve heard before, you may be perplexed by what worked for me, but in any case – hope you find some hope & inspiration.
I don’t remember the start of my depression journey – and what a bumpy ride it’s been. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’ve been depressed for a while. I can shed a light on moments where a Psychiatric degree was not needed to recognize the symptoms of this very depressed young lady – it was as clear as the ocean blue. Drinking was no longer a social thing so much as it was an attempt to block out all consciousness. I couldn’t bare the emptiness I felt deep within. i couldn’t stand the void staring back at me in the mirror. I didn’t recognize her. I stopped loving her. I stopped caring about her. Her life had effectively ended – without the death certificate.
I do however, and very vividly so, remember my first panic attack, as if it were happening as I am sharing this with you. Of course, had you asked me at the moment, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what was going on with me. It was a weekend, and I was bartending. I wasn’t feeling too well. I wasn’t physically ill, but I had an uneasy and unsettling feeling before I even left the house, so I didn’t drive myself to work. About 10 mins after I started getting ready for the evening rush, I started getting this tingling feeling creeping slowly from my fingertips. From God knows where, my hands were sweaty and trembling; my heart was racing so fast and beating so hard I could discern the rapid thuds in my ears. I started feeling lightheaded and then my whole world was spinning out of its axis. I wanted to scream but I didn’t know why. That tingling feeling manifested into painful tonic spasms. My fingers couldn’t be pried open – and try they did. My whole body cramped. At this point tears were streaming down my cheeks but I wasn’t crying. The faint sounds of sirens in the background were deafening to my ears. I don’t know when or how I ended up in an ambulance. The only thing I thought then I knew for sure is I was having a stroke. Rushed to the hospital by paramedics, a whole new world of pain opened up to me.
I AM DEPRESSED – what’s next? I had stopped caring. A long time ago, some part of my brain decided it didn’t matter whether I existed or ceased to exist altogether. It didn’t make a darn difference. So why even get medical help? Why plan for my financial future while a future is not something I saw for myself? Why make the effort to live & love & enjoy life? I had nothingness waiting for me – and so nothing is what I did. I waited for the day when this pain will be no longer. I waited for a time to come when I wouldn’t have to make an appearance. I didn’t fight the hopelessness; I didn’t fight to find my place in society, my place in this world. This “surrender” I was so content with met a force greater than myself. A force I struggled to keep at bay, and today I thank God I lost to that force. My FAMILY. While I had quit on me, they didn’t. When I didn’t care, they never stopped. It didn’t matter how much I pushed them away, how much I wanted to be left alone to my despair – in one way or another, they made sure I knew they were there, even from a distance I felt how strong the love they had to offer me was. I wanted to be left alone to my miseries. It was easier to lock myself away in a dark room. Easier to shut the world out. Easier if I was never there. They were not in consensus. I was alone in this feeling. Suffering alone was less and less of an option every day. While my family didn’t push me to be okay, they were okay with who I was then until I was okay to be who I wanted to be.
So I sought medical mental health support. I was seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist. I was put on medication for depression and anxiety. I did it because I knew a world when this wasn’t me. When I felt it not working, I continued because I knew I wasn’t hurting alone, I knew my family was suffering along with me, I knew my pain was causing my mother a world of hurt. I finally stopped because it – plain & simple – just wasn’t working for me. Prescriptions didn’t do the trick. The Xanax felt numbing, the Ibuproprion could have very well been sugar-pills. The therapy was not therapeutic. I wasn’t going to do it alone, that much I wasn’t delusional about. So I started sharing & caring.
Opening up about my feelings to the people in my life I loved & who loved me made it bearable. I could be functional again. I didn’t always need to lock myself in a dark room to be left alone with despair, I could step into the light now. It wasn’t as frightening as it was before, I wasn’t walking alone. I always had a hand to hold by my side if I needed it. It was okay if I felt anxious. It was okay if the world was upside down & overwhelming at times. I was no longer an island. I was truly NOT ALONE. And everyday since, I’ve made a choice to step into the light. I have made a choice to live, love and appreciate myself. I chose life. My life matters. I have, since then pushed all suicidal thoughts aside. Do I still get them? YES. Will I attempt to act upon them? NEVER AGAIN. It can be an ugly and lonely world. I now make the choice everyday to live in a world that loves and appreciates me. Medication and prescribed therapy is no longer what I turn to to feel “normal”. I share. I care. I listen. I laugh. I love. Most importantly, I LIVE.