This isn't easy for me to write because it's forcing me to relive the last month of absolute hell that I've had to endure. The downward spiral finally commenced on March 16, 2017 when my mind decided that I was more of a burden than a blessing. I wanted to end my life.
The hopelessness. The guilt. The absolute misery. I had become convinced that my husband, my son, my family were better off without me. For days, weeks, and months, I've forced myself to go through the motions of everyday life. I could properly secure my "mask," to cover any signs of how I truly felt on the inside.
It is nearly impossible for me to imagine a time when depression wasn't looming in the background of my life. I started therapy and my first anti-depressant when I was 16 years old. For years prior, I regularly isolated myself, and accepted that to be normal.
Over the years, I have been through brief depressive states that seem to disappear as quickly as they come. Hardly anyone had noticed when I was going through a difficult time. I was able to hide it pretty well.
Panic attacks were another "normal" for me. My parents, my brothers, my boyfriend/fiance (now husband), my friends . . . they were hardly phased when one would erupt. They knew how to handle me, and how to bring me back. If I had one at school, I called it "dejavu" for those that didn't need to know what they actually were. My breathing would increase, the trigger would be lingering, and I would be swept over by a brief period of panicking.
After I was in a car accident, which resulted in my head making contact with my steering wheel, since my vehicles airbags didn't deploy. From then on, the panic attacks became much scarier. It wasn't until the familiar panic began to rise one day that I knew that it was different. I blacked out.
I woke up on my parent's hardwood floor, face down, in a small pool of blood. One of my top teeth had managed to pierce through just below my bottom lip. When I managed to rise to my feet, I stumbled into the bathroom to see that I had 2 black-eyes, and several broken blood vessels across my face. My face had met the hardwood floor without any buffer.
My panic attacks were no longer just random bouts of shallow breathing, and extreme panic, but they had manifested into full on seizures. I didn't even know until I finally came-to at one point, and found paramedics standing over me. My husband was so shaken and distraught.
After that final episode, I started my 2nd anti-depressant medication, which had felt like an answer to my anxiety and depression. I could not remember another time when I had ever felt that good. The panic attacks were gone, and a heaviness had been lifted.
The period of contentment ceased when I became pregnant with my first baby. I had to stop taking my medication, and go cold turkey. The transition had been easier than I anticipated because I was met with several distractions. Buying a new house, pinning ideas for a nursery, baby showers . . . My mind didn't have the power to overtake my mood and thoughts because my attention was averted.
When my baby boy finally arrived, my depression made a massive reappearance. My cup of life was supposed to be spilling over in utter joy and love, but instead it was void and bleak. Holding my own son was a challenge as I was in a persistent state of regret, guilt, and melancholy. I welcomed the opportunities for someone else to hold him.
I missed my life. I missed my state of tranquility. What the hell had I done? I wasn't equipped to care for this innocent little life when my own life was falling apart at the seams. As soon as the visitors stopped, and my husband had to return to work, my panic would build. When the door would close, my eyes would swell, and as I held my newborn son I could only mutter to him how sorry I was that I had been chosen to be his mother. He deserved better than me.
I finally cracked one evening while my parents were visiting. As they were preparing to exit, my shell completely dissolved. My husband and my parents saw the pain. They encouraged me to contact my OB/GYN the following day to start a breastfeeding-friendly anti-depressant that would hopefully help me.
Zoloft. Paxil. Wellbutrin. Effexor. Viibryd. Lexapro. Trintellix. Buspar. Clonazepam.
All of the medications that I have tried over a period of less than 5 years. Of these 9 medications, 7 of them have been prescribed to me at different times only over the last 2 years. Each with their own side effects ranging from agitation to numbness to nausea to weight loss to weight gain.
On March 16, 2017, I had had enough. The first thought that I had was, "I'll just crash my car." I sped away from my house, my husband and my son with the idea lingering in my head. However, my auto-pilot kicked in, and once I was a few minutes away from my home, I turned on my audiobook that I had been listening to for several days.
It wasn't until I pulled into the parking lot at work that I realized that I failed to complete my mission. My husband, Colin, was frantic as he tried calling and texting me endlessly because he knew I was in danger after how I had taken off.
I finally responded to him at 8:14am.
I'm not cut out to be a mom.
I have no idea who I am anymore.
If I were to leave now, Everett wouldn't even remember me.
Within a minute, Colin responded.
Don't even say things like that.
That's ridiculous and absurd.
I can't do this!
I'm a terrible mother!
I miss my life!
This morning, I didn't care if I crashed my car. I welcomed it!
You're not a terrible mother.
Were you trying to?
After nearly 2 hours of relentless messaging, I finally gave up. Once my work day was over, and my "mask" was lifted, I didn't speak as I entered my home. I took to the stairs, climbed into my bed, and I didn't get out until the next morning. That morning, I barely spoke, and I didn't kiss my husband or son good-bye, I just left.
At 8:16am, I messaged him.
I'm not a good wife. I'm not a good mother. I'm not a good daughter. I'm not a good friend. I mean, why me? Why am I being condemned to this mind?
It's not fair.
Life is too hard.
At 8:17am, he replied.
I asked the same thing this morning. Why you.
Within seconds, I followed up.
Yet this is me. Crowded by these inner demons, and I don't want to do it anymore.
I just make your lives miserable.
Two minutes later, Colin responded.
That's what scares me, when you say those things. Lying down and giving up is never the answer. If you don't want to do it anymore, then you have to seek help.
WRONG! You complete our lives. The three of us make a whole, and if we didn't have you we'd be incomplete.
By 9:20am, Colin had arrived at my work to try to talk me down. He was visibly shaken and very upset. He was refusing to give up on me. I was unable to talk long as I had things that needed to get done, but within a few hours of him leaving, he messaged to tell me that he made an appointment with my psychiatrist.
When I left work that day, I hadn't a hope in the world. When I met with my psychiatrist that next Monday, her immediate reaction was to hospitalize me. Colin was called to escort me, and was instructed to call the police if I refused. So I went. I sat in the waiting room, impatiently, anticipating my name to be called to be evaluated.
I watched as several people that were being admitted and discharged lingered in and out of the waiting area. Finally, I stood up, and I walked out. Colin was hot on my heels, but I was outside before he spoke. I couldn't do it. Not because I didn't want the help, but because the only resolution I saw in myself by being in that place was worse than I already was.
My psychiatrist eventually ordered me off of work for 3 weeks, prescribed me a new medication and referred me for an outpatient program, which didn't offer to be a good fit either. I spent those 3 weeks off in and out of psychiatry appointments, seeing my therapist, reading, researching, and being numb.
When I was left alone at home, I was trying to reacquaint myself with myself. If I had become too fatigued to research anymore, I chose to read instead. For fun. The movies that I had wanted to see, but was unable to watch before, I watched them. I hardly moved during the day, or ate anything, because I didn't want to lose anymore time with myself.
I had become so dependent on Colin, and he was functioning as a single parent. He did the housework, he prepared meals, he changed the diapers, he dropped off and picked up from daycare, he did the grocery shopping . . . He had to do it all. I was incapable. However, as the time passed, I started to feel a bit of a spark being ignited in my brain.
The suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. My mood had started to shift from grief to tolerable. Perhaps not all was lost.
I finally managed to laugh again when I was only days away from returning to work. It may have surprised my husband as much as it shocked me. That was when I saw it. Hope.
"I want to take Everett to the park this weekend." I blurted out. Colin simply smiled, and told me that he thought that was a great idea.
So far, this story still doesn't have a happy ending because I'm trying to rebuild what I have lost. Having depression is war against yourself. Unfortunately, it'll always be there, and the best I can hope for at this point is to try not to ignore the signs and to not allow my body/mind to be taken over again.
This is a battle that I'll always have to fight. Somedays I'll have to fight harder than others. But what I can't do is give up.