Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Other Side of the Mountain

"I need help."
There are few things that feel truly impossible to do. Most times, when we feel that something is impossible, it's just a matter of not wanting to do it for myriad reasons. Sometimes, however, something does feel absolutely impossible.
Swallowing your pride and admitting that you need help is one of those things.
And I did it. I hit that point where I barely recognized this person living within my skin. And I realized that she had been living there for quite some time. True, I had controlled her for a while, kept her at bay with jokes and sarcasm and self-deprecation and creativity. But she was there; I have only to look back at my journal entries over the past few years to see that.
And I didn't like her. I very nearly loathed her. She was anxious and fearful. She felt this continuous spiral of being out of control. She was so very sad and felt so very worthless. She questioned everything about herself. And she just wanted to curl up into a ball, curl up tighter and tighter until she disappeared within herself.
I couldn't live like that any more. I have too many blessings in my life to allow myself to feel that way.
So I turned to my husband, who had been waiting for me to come to that moment when I was willing to admit that I needed to so something. I went to the doctor and got my first round of anti-anxiety medication. It made me feel better, but it also made my heart race like all four valves were open. I switched to another medication and began to feel a little better. My heart stopped racing in fear; the bands of anxiety stopped tightening around my chest.
But I still wasn't feeling that respite that I so desperately longed for. That voice in my head (I heard it deemed the "bad roommate" once, an apt description) was less anxious but the other feelings hadn't dissipated. And because I was less focused on my anxiety, the depression--for that's what it was--came to the foreground.
I found myself crying. Often. And uncontrollably. I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to face anything. I was on the verge of being unable to function at more than a base survival mode. I hid it, cried privately and tried to put on my brave face. Hoped and prayed that I would just be okay...
And on one of the days when I very nearly gave myself completely over to this virus within my mind, a friend--a dear, sweet, blessed friend--looked at me and said, "You're not okay."
It was what I needed to hear. I called the doctor's office that afternoon. I was in his office the next day. And I burst into tears as soon as the words were out of my mouth: "I am depressed."
Just those words, just saying them felt like an invisible pair of scissors had cut this wire that had been attached to me. I started an antidepressant that night. Part of me cringed, for this all felt like weakness, but I know that it is weaker not to seek help.
Two weeks later? I'm more me than I have been in a very long time. I still have my moments, but they are just moments. I'm laughing more than I have in a long time. And my laughter is genuine again.
I turned to my husband the other day, tears in my eyes, and I told him that I hadn't realized how far off I had been. It's like a personal renaissance. I'm feeling creative again and indulging in a wonderful round robin art experiment with two of my sisters in creativity. I'm feeling like a wife and mother and daughter and sister and friend again.
Jenny Lawson, known to the Internet world as the Bloggess, speaks frankly about the battles she faces with her own demons. She says often, "Depression lies." She's right; it does. It lied to me for a very long time, and I am so relieved to be free from its spell. I have a long way to go, but it is so very beautiful to be on the other side of the mountain. The view from here is spectacular.