Today is a strong day. Today I can write about this more objectively. Today I can admit to what’s really going on with me.
About a minute after the counting my blessings “life is grand!” post, I hit a wall of depression that I’m still not out of. Okay in all fairness, it didn’t happen right that minute. It was going on before that post for quite some times. That post was one of those “focus on the good in your life, damn it” moments to convince myself that I had something good going on and maybe if I could just focus on that and hold onto that goodness, I could beat down the growing-out-of-control-sadness inside of me. It also helps hide what’s really going on if you can push the good tot he surface. Still, the goodness was real and it was one of strong moments.
Unfortunately there have been many many weak, sad, numb, angry, and irrational moments since then. And before then.
When I was in my late teens/early twenties I was diagnosed with severe depression and went through a series of medications before finding the right one to bring me out of the haze. I spent years in therapy dealing with it and overcoming it. I also learned the depths of my OCD (not very – mostly internal thought processes) and how to cope with it. I also learned about my anxiety disorder but didn’t give much thought to that one because it wasn’t as prevalent in my life at the time. I beat my depression and slowly went off of medication. I learned how to cope with and make life easier with my OCD (very mild) and felt like I’d defeated a monster. Victory was a good feeling. Now I can say that once in a while I get the blues. Sometimes I get more than the blues. Sometimes I hit walls of depression that hurt. Sometimes it takes me down completely. But it’s always temporary and always feels surmountable. It’s never been something I talk about very openly because just don’t understand it. And to some depression sufferers, how I feel (the sporadic bouts of it) isn’t really depression to them. Some people think it’s just attention. I’ve come far enough in my life that I can respond to that with: Fuck you both. If you don’t know how this feels then I don’t need your opinion.
Lots of things have happened since my severe depression victory. My anxiety took over at some point and I focused on that. One day I discovered Xanax and life changed. I’ve had the problem ever since but it comes and it goes in random cycles. I am a stubborn mule and I don’t like to be medicated. I also know that sometimes it is needed. I fight the need for medication not because I don’t believe in it, but because I don’t like relying on it. I like to figure out what’s wrong with me and fix the root of the problem. However, the physical side effects of that need to be controlled and medication is sometimes the only answer. I’m okay with that, but it’s a last resort for me.
When we started with the fertility clinic, they told me I had to go off the Xanax. “It causes birth defects” and that was motivation enough for me to go off. It wasn’t easy and knowing I had to come off of it created its own anxiety, but with a lot of help from a loving husband and a gradual removal of the drug, I learned to get through it. I still have my emergency stash for the bad moments, but I’m getting through it.
So here I was feeling better about life and feeling like I’d finally beaten my mental health demons, when all of a sudden WHAM! The wall of depression returned. I know exactly what provoked it this time just like I did 10+ years ago. Back then it was my brother’s death, now it’s the lack of a baby in my life.
Having a baby has become the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I almost feel ridiculous saying that because I’ve been through divorces, deaths, rape, physical and emotional abuse, a miscarriage, and so many, many other things, but I’ve always come out on top. I react differently to situations than other people. I saw all of those things as a learning experience and pushed myself through it. That’s how I cope – I force myself to learn, forgive, and move on. But this baby thing? This is something I never thought I would ever have to deal with and it’s been insanely difficult for me to cope with, learn from, or progress with.
I never thought that something my body was biologically designed to do would be so difficult. I never imagined my God given right to reproduce would be in the hands of doctors that I have to PAY to make happen. I never thought it would cost so much just to get pregnant. Sure, I knew the baby would cost a fortune over its lifetime, but to even get pregnant costing anything? Unfathomable. What makes this all even harder is my weight and that is all fucked up because of my condition and because of how hard it is for my body to lose even one pound. Not only do I have to work 5 times harder to even get pregnant, but I have to work 5 times harder to lose just one pound. I have to work my ass off at my job, in my marriage, in my dieting, in my money saving/spending/budgeting and now I have to work this hard just to make a baby?
Meanwhile, I’m surrounded by fertile people. When you’re stuck on the one big flaw in your life, it’s impossible not to focus on pregnancies announced, people getting pregnant by looking at each other, accidental pregnancies, abortions, fertility clinic commercials on the radio. It’s all I see and all I hear. I’m happy for everyone who has made their decision and support each one of those decisions, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stab me right in the gut every time I hear about it. And there are two competing clinics in this area with large budgets, one of which (mine) just got on the Today Show and got even busier, and they’re financially duking it out on who’s better. I feel like I got lost in the shuffle. Like they assumed losing [the required number of] pounds would be a breeze and I’d be back in a few weeks. Except it’s been 3 months and I lost the weight… but gained it all back on my honeymoon so I’m back to square one.
Add to that my vulnerability to hormonal mood swings and we’ve got a depression cocktail. There is a part of me that hopes this is all because I’m on the wrong birth control. There’s a part of me that wants to call the clinic and say “hey umm, I’m really fucking sad, not losing weight, and really hate myself and my life. Maybe I need help? Wrong medication?” but the part of me consumed with the sadness and darkness cannot even pick up the phone. I know that I let myself fall down the rabbit hole. I know my warning signs. I ignored them all because it was just easier to be swallowed by this. And now I’m paying for it. I have no energy. I have no desire to do anything. My sex drive is moving in cycles of high or dead. I want to sleep all day or stay confined to my dark bedroom in the basement. I don’t want to go out. Everything makes me sad. Everything revolves around this central issue and no amount of forcing myself to do shit gets me out of it.
The worst part of all of this is that I foolishly tried to hide it. I let it manifest in anger and annoyance with my husband. I let it come out as frustration with my mom. I ignored everyone else. And then there was one of those fights with Dean that left me so defeated I gave up and told him to divorce me. I told him that I was useless and he didn’t need the dead weight so leave now. I wouldn’t fight it. Just get the papers and I’d sign. Yeah, that went over well. That turned into him shouting for a few minutes until he realized I wasn’t really even in the conversation anymore. When he calmed down, we talked and I spilled my guts. I showed him the paper journal I’ve been keeping (also hidden) and let it all out. I told him even the smallest things are impossible for me and he has to take control because I can’t anymore.
To his credit, he stepped up. He also got my mom involved. I didn’t want that, but he loves me, was terrified, and needed the help. I can’t be mad at him for that. It’s been a few weeks now of help from Dean and my mom and help from within. I’m having more good days now. I have found purpose at work and take full advantage of that to get me through the days. My mom and Dean are on high alert so they’ve been making sure I’m involved in things. I hate them for it sometimes, but instead of fighting it all, I’ve let them both help me. I’m too weak to fight it anyway and the bigger part of me wants to be free from this darkness so that part of me keeps me going. I miss being happy. I miss WANTING to do things and not just forcing myself to appease others or to further hide things. I miss myself. A lot. Inside of me is a very happy woman who loves her life. Knowing I exist inside of this mess is enough to keep me from falling completely. It was enough to finally break and tell my husband.
That woman inside of me wants to be freed and I want her to return.