When things take a turn for the dark

6 12 2009

I was diagnosed with anxiety 12 years ago, at age 13. I wasn’t diagnosed with depression until age 20, though I had been experiencing symptoms since late childhood. It took me until a year or two ago to admit that I do indeed suffer from these disorders.  I am not medicated for them. That is a topic for another post.

The first time I moved away from home was the first time I experienced an extended period of depression. I found myself isolated from everyone I knew and living in a very small town where the chances of making friends was slim to none. Each morning after my boyfriend would go to work, I would spend the first hour of the morning writhing in severe stomach pain, a recurring symptom of anxiety for me. I would then get up, conduct my consistent fail of a job search, then sit in front of the computer or TV for the rest of the day. Literally. I almost never wore anything other than pajamas. Some days I didn’t get out of bed at all. The only conversation I had was with my Siamese kitten. This went on the entire time we lived at that location, which thankfully was only three months.

The next time I went through a significantly long depressed period was after my husband, son and I moved to this state. We left all of our friends and family members behind and moved for a job opportunity when my son was six weeks old. Dealing with being a new parent is hard. Dealing with being a new parent in complete isolation is harder. No grandparents to fall back on, no relatives to step in and give you a break. Said husband working loads of overtime and traveling often for said new job. I went back to not getting dressed, going days without so much as brushing my hair. Not only did I stop losing the weight I had put on during my recent pregnancy, I gained it all back. Three months after my son was born, Aunt Flo started visiting me again. Not only did I start experiencing the most excruciating physical pain of  my life, which I still suffer from every month to this day, my depression took a startling turn for the worse. In addition to my baseline depression, each month at least one week before Flo’s visit, I would find myself extremely agitated 24/7. I felt so exhausted all day every day that it took every ounce of strength I had to hold up my son’s bottle as I fed him. I hated my life with a fierce urgency. I resented my husband and my new baby. I vividly imagined hurting them and myself physically. I felt like I was, without a doubt, losing my mind. I cut myself. I took myself to the doctor. I was treated with a popular antidepressant, which made me so ill with the first (half)dose that I discontinued it immediately. The next few months were hellish, but eventually I found a combination of natural treatments that kept my symptoms manageable.

I never went back to the kind of blackness I was in that day as I sat locked in my bathroom cutting my arms with a razor blade. But the darkness still descends on me from time to time. Usually every month around that same almost-time-for-Aunt-Flo week. Occasionally it will rear its head at other times as well. Sometimes I can feel it drifting in for days, like watching the dark, ominous clouds roll in ahead of a thunder-storm. Other times it hits me out of nowhere, and decides to stick around for a while. When that darkness settles in around me, it changes who I am. The normally level-headed, tough skinned, calm and rational person I am ceases to exist. She is replaced with someone insecure. Someone easily hurt. Someone in desperate need of validation. Someone I don’t even like. I watch myself overreact to situations that I would normally shrug off without a second thought, but I can’t stop myself from doing so. I watch myself demand reassurance from my bewildered friends and then get pissed off and self-righteous when they don’t deliver it in the expected form. Then I look back and feel stupid, embarrassed and guilty.

Usually I end up having to apologize to everyone I have regular contact with at least once per month.

Frankly, I want to bitchslap myself.

I know that the light will  shine again and I will look ahead at a better day.

Until the next time.

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