"The most I can do is shower." I tell my therapist, sitting on that corner of that brown couch I've known for eight years. We've been through this depression. Years through the burrows and dark-dank caves. He changes my medication. He says we're moving forward, always moving forward, even when my illness isn't responding to shit. It's a stubborn depression, they call it treatment resistant. I call it hell.
I wasn't depressed for awhile. After ten years of being depressed, suicidal, paranoid-anxious constantly. When it lifted, it was amazing. Then this year came around like a slick sailor (the month of March to be specific) and took me back under. I've been depressed ever since. Face in the mud, sucking in shreds of air through worm carcasses and pebbles.
It's slimy down here. It's real dark. No one is here but me. I'm in a filmy membrane and the world is outside, moving and chugga-chugga-choo-choo. I can't function. I'm no train. I am bedridden. Our couch turned into a second bed so I can change my view. Agoraphobia is finally here. I can't leave the house unless R is with me. I can't sleep, but I do but I don't feel it just like in The Bell Jar.
I'm a nightmare fighter and we have plans. This new medication, my doctor says, "give it some time.". I'm giving it time and the time is unbearable because I want to die and my brain won't think of anything but darkness. Then if this doesn't work we have Lithium to go to (again). I hate that drug, it gave me the shakes, I have to get lab needles stuck in my wobbly veins, people ask what's wrong with me when they see me tremble and I don't want to tell them "I'm on a medication that is keeping me from killing myself." so I don't.
The next option is ECT. Yeah, that shocky thing. The thing Sylvia Plath got that didn't save her. Her tender temples, her brain scattered. I know it's different now but she is my baby and I live in her life and she in mine. I don't want to end up head-in-the-oven. If you want to know what depression is like, read her journals, it's all you ever need to know of the pain, and I hope you never experience this labyrinth of hell.
ECT is so much more effective and safer now. A small electrical pulse gives you a seizure and you are asleep and don't feel a thing. Doctors don't even know how it works, but it does so they use it. The only thing that shakes is your foot just a bit so they know when the seizure has ended, none of the out of control seizing with bruises and broken arms like in the past. ECT is extremely safe. It can even be done during pregnancy.
The thing is...stigma. If I get ECT I think "That does it. I am really crazy.". Even in the mental illness community being on meds means you are weak, therapy is "oh good girl, get that help", but meds are a crutch, try the green smoothie and exercise instead. And I am on so many meds. And I know it is bullshit. If I had cancer (and depression can be as deadly) no one would doubt me taking meds, actually they write articles in Time Magazine about cancer patients who don't, because it is so unbelievable. That's how normal it is. No one would doubt chemo. But ECT. A potentially life-saving treatment, "well fuck it all you are crazy!" You are Sylvia, and ice baths, and ready to be handed over to an institution. Stigma makes me angry. And I care what people think.
I wanted to talk about this because maybe it will help someone reading to know they aren't alone. I'm going through the same things and I don't know if I'll get through. I can't give up though and if ECT helps then I'll do it. Stigma hurts. Depression hurts. But fuck it, I'm not letting it kill me.
We left the hotel without brushing our teeth. I was still in my pajamas, sobbing and breaking down. We threw all our clothes in the suitcase and headed home. We had plans for our last day of vacation in Monterey but I couldn't do it. I couldn't look at the beach for one more second. It hurt too much.
Just a few weeks before our trip, we had decided to move to Pacific Grove, the lovely slow beach town next to Monterey. We had been dreaming of moving there for years. I was scouring houses online, we figured the commute would be tough for Ronald, but doable. The ocean has always been my lifeblood and so it would be worth it. All the time we would spend apart, Ronald in the car and me on the beach, seemed manageable.
We were so excited when we left the house for our overnight stay. We knew what neighborhoods we wanted to drive through and all the places to explore. We had already spent time on Yelp, planning what Starbucks and restaurants we would go to when we lived there. We looked into the school districts and crime statistics. The drive was the only struggle, but we could do it, or so we thought.
By the time we arrived at our hotel, I knew we couldn't do it. My gut and heart told me it was too much. That night in a dark-lit restaurant we talked about it and decided the move was a no-go. Too much time apart. I actually felt relieved. I can't believe I felt relieved.
The next morning we snuck a glass bottle of champagne onto the beach and had mimosas in the cool morning with the waves swaying. My heart broke. We went back to our room and I started to cry. I told Ronald I had to go home, right now. I had to go home. I couldn't bear it for one more moment. We rushed out and headed home and I cried for hours.
I'm totally devastated. We may move there one day, but not now and it feels like another dream I thought would work out didn't. I'm shattered. I've had too many of these moments for one lifetime. Sometimes I wonder if my life is just about loss. Then I see Ronald and I know I have one good thing to lean on. One promise. Those pups are pretty good too.
Now we are regrouping and resting through the holidays. Perhaps next year we will sell our house (which I have hated for years even with all the renovations and design projects), and start something new. For now I'll cry.
It's been a long time.
I don't really know how I feel about blogging anymore. But I'm here writing a post now, so let's just take it one day at a time...
I sleep less and feel more. I need to start writing again. I need to pick a novel off the bookshelf and get reading. No novel sounds good, unless it's about Paris, but that hurts too. I don't really think about that as much anymore but it still hurts. And you have no idea what I'm talking about...Paris, of course! Croissants, and la vie est belle, and I need it.
I'm thinking about reading In Search of Lost Time by Proust but it's so big and scary I doubt whether my noggin' can handle it. I can try though. I used to read complicated books but since depression has taken over my life reading gets complicated. I miss my old bookworm ways, like a lot. When I read I worry about panic attacks, and all the anxiety comes in and it's real scary. I still love reading though, and usually it goes fine, so I can't give up.
I have to stop thinking about sad things and everything bad that could happen. But that's a big wish with an anxiety disorder and depression. This morning I woke up almost ok with being alive...almost. That's, as Donald Trump would say "biggly".
It's really hard to move forward with your life when you are in a 3 month depression that doesn't want to leave, dealing with intense chronic pain from fibromyalgia to the point that you can hardly function, having sky-rocketing anxiety that isn't responding to medication, and a PCOS flare. Well, that's exactly where I'm at and I'm moving forward anyway.
Even though I may be stuck on the couch most days due to pain, I'm reading books that are helping me define who I am and find more happiness, I am also making jewelry that I hope to sell on Etsy and am enjoying being creative. On days I can stand and move a bit I doll up and go on solo self-love date where I grab a coffee and journal and then treat myself to a thrift store run. I also am slowly learning to bake (and burning things quite frequently), but not giving up! I water and care for the garden every day and am planning on creating a gorgeous rose garden, I love my life and even if it hurts I'm taking care of things. I am loving Ronald and trying to be more and more vulnerable and open with him (I hate being vulnerable HATE). I'm also reaching out and trying to make some new friends and I have intensive therapy sessions twice a week. I'm also returning to writing which is so hard and lovely at the same time. I've been seriously ill for 12 years now and I just want to move forward and live a simple and happy life.
Ronald and I have struggled so much. It's very isolating and we've lost a lot through this struggle. We are trying to take our lives back and get me better. Ronald is an amazing support for me. He has taken over all the chores while working 50+ hours a week, he comforts me and reminds me that my illness is just that, an illness and not a character flaw or who I am. I just adore him more and more. We have been married nearly 13 years but lately things feel so new between us. I think it's because I am able to see some light at the end of the tunnel so we have a new way to connect. It's exciting, it's scary, we keep moving.