We’ve all heard that old saying, “The sun will come out tomorrow” but we never feel like tomorrow comes soon enough. Depression is a thing that a majority of people will go through at some point in their lives and it can be mentally and physically draining. Waking up each day while in a depressed rut can be one of the toughest daily tasks one can deal with on a daily basis. Stress in my life is the main cause of depression which can be caused by even the simplest things such as our job, our significant other, debt, or even the type of food you ingest. It can be a lot to deal with especially on your own.
There are ways to deal with depression and I don’t mean going to a specialist and spending a ton of money on multiple visits a month because that solution doesn’t work for everyone. It’s always good to find someone who can bring out the best part of you and can motivate you to try. Trying is the key to starting on a happier life but you have to be willing to do it because your life won’t change unless you do. There are different ways to “try.” It can be as simple as getting out of bed with a smile. No matter what you “try” to change, you need to know that you have to believe in yourself more than anything and that will lead to others believing in you.
Like the name of this post, every storm runs out of rain but it does take time. It’s not going to be an over night change but you’ll notice one day when you’re walking down the sidewalk looking up at the sun that you’re smiling on your own for no reason. Maybe someday you could be the reason for someone else’s smile and even the reason they themselves aren’t suffering from depression. Keep your head up and remember that if nobody else does, I believe in you.
It starts really small…just a thought even. Then without even realizing it gets bigger and bigger. You keep just pushing along making it larger and larger but what you don’t realize is the huge, steep hill just below you. Everything is so white, so big, these little pushes can’t amount to anything – but then it drops and the snowball is accumulating more speed, more snow and debris and becomes huge, almost unstoppable. You are left at the top of the hill screaming for everyone to get out of the way and for the snowball to just stop before it crushes everything in its path…everything that you love…every piece of who you are.
That for me is the easiest and most precise description of a “break down”. Yes there is that “trigger” that may set the whole thing in motion…but I promise..there were little steps to get there…little flakes of “crazy” that were at the time easy to ignore. Once it all hits that final hill, and no one is there to slow it down…it rolls down faster and faster getting crazier and crazier.
You see life choices, DNA, environment all played into my breakdown. Yes, my family has a STRONG history of mental illness – but the choices I was making – i.e. the bad ones…didn’t help. I didn’t have a healthy way to communicate pain, disappointment, sadness. I bottled it up…then drank the bottle. No I wasn’t an alcoholic – that would be way to easy to explain away. I was just miserable and lonely. Then add some major hormonal changes and BAM! Off to the races of hating myself and being too afraid of what was happening to get help. I was afraid to be around my daughter – the one person in my life that I loved unconditionally. Then instead of making better choices…I did everything I could to run away from it. Hoping that if I did something daring enough that I could “shock” it away.
I didn’t talk about what was really in my head. It was terrifying. Thoughts that I didn’t want – they weren’t mine. So on the outside it just looked like I was shirking my responsibilities as a mother and “partying”. I can’t blame them…that is what I was doing, but only because I was scared and wanted to protect my little girl from me…or whatever was happening to me. You see I didn’t realize it was a severe form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) or that Zoloft would make it stop. Nope…just kept wishing the snowball would melt. They take a REALLY long time to melt…so what you need is something to stop it in its tracks and bust it open.
So before you judge someone just realize that there may be things they are going through that you don’t know. Does it make it right that I wasn’t there for her like I needed to be for that 2 years? No. But I have asked for her forgiveness and explained it to her. I have fought to get better and have fought to help others do the same. I can’t get back those years…but damn it…I will do everything possible to make sure that every year that I have matter. And I am so blessed that my baby girl and I have the best relationship that a mother could ever wish for. Just keep in mind…I had to FIGHT for it. I love you Lydia!
I woke up and it was like it had never happened. Everything was right with the world – it was after all, my birthday. I made my way to the kitchen with my daughter Lydia, who was 2 years old at the time, and had great breakfast and “happy birthdays”. I decided just to brush it off as a horrible nightmare that was finally over and that I could go back to the routine as usual. I wanted to take Lydia to the movies that day but was disappointed that the theater on base wasn’t open. But I remember loving the fact that I could hold her hand, hug her, love her, tickle her and just enjoy our time together. The three weeks prior were just hell and I had felt so far away from her and from reality. I thought about the visit to the base psychiatrist who suggested medication. It petrified me and my family to even think of medication – that was for “crazy” people. I refused the help. So on my birthday – September 1, 1997 – I was just glad it was gone – the black, dark, heavy cloud that had taken over. It was a wonderful day and saved my life more times than I can remember. You see – later that night it all came back. The fear, the depression, the insane thoughts and that feeling that I wasn’t really here at all. If I knew then what I know now – I wouldn’t have gone back to “the normal routine”. The normal routine consisted of denial, anger, self-loathing, partying, holding it all in and denying help. What I would have done is went back to the psychiatrist and did anything in the world to help me so that I could be me. That day of clarity would have been just that – but I didn’t know. My mind slid back into the muck, grasping at the low hanging limbs and torn grass, and remained there for years. The thing that held me above and kept me reach was That One Day. That One Day reminded me of exactly who I am and how I could once again be me. A gift from God? A break in insanity? My brain healing if for just one moment? I don’t know – I was just thankful for it even in the darkest of moments.
I got up that night crying and praying. I was so sick of thinking about the same thing over and over. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t make it stop. I thought maybe I’m just weak, or crazy, or making a big deal out of
nothing. At 14 years old I didn’t know who to really ask if it was normal – thinking about the same thought from morning till night. When I thought of something going good…it would come. “It” was its own entity. Creeping in to steal any joy from the day. I prayed – even hoping that my Aunt Sue could hear my dilemma from heaven (at least that is where I hoped she was). I finally broke down and told my mom about it – well some of it. I didn’t let her know how long or how often – just that it was bothering me. She could only give me advice based on what I told her…”just think of something else and pray about it.” Oh God if it had only been that easy! The thought…for the past year…everyday…was DEATH. I couldn’t escape it. If I thought to myself…”Wow I did a really great job on _______” the next thought that intruded was “But you are going to die one day so it really doesn’t matter.” Yes all day, everyday. I was so tired of it.
It hit me one day while talking to my boyfriend about dying. AIDS had really just started scaring the pants off people (no pun intended) and it made me think, really think about dying. From that day – us standing in the sun after church – the thought got “stuck”. I kept waiting for it to fade…go away…something. But no – it just built a little nest in the back of my good thoughts and I hated it. This was far from counting to 8 when the refrigerator door shut.
Two years prior to that my Aunt Sue had died very suddenly. I remember her vibrant, red hair. Her wonderful smile and her petite hands. She had fire in her belly and she would take me and walk with me as often as she could. Sometimes confiding in me things she shouldn’t but I’m now glad she did. I had no idea up to that point she had suffered from severe depression her entire life, threatening here and there to take her own life with aspirin. When we got the news…then it was very clear that she had struggled alone with much of it. She shot herself…in her home after lighting fire to the kitchen. I was and am still devastated. I will elaborate on this much more in depth later…but I feel this was a trigger for me to an already fragile mind because of self esteem, past family history, and current living conditions with my alcoholic father. So…I had hoped she could give me wisdom…from wherever she was – she always did.
So…I dealt with it, I cried over it, and finally it really just faded away over the next few months. Its like a storm had come and passed. I didn’t speak of it anymore…but what a warning it was for events to come. I was just happy it stopped so I didn’t think too much on it after that. No one knew that they should think about it for me…
It’s funny to me how people always talk about the long road to recovery from mental issues. They describe it as a long, drawn out, painful, seemingly impossible feat. It doesn’t matter what they are recovering from really – addiction, abuse, depression, obsessive disorders, etc. What they talk about is very true don’t get me wrong – but I rarely hear them talk about the road to the actual thing they had to recover from. Most people don’t wake up one day and think, “Man – my life is great – I think I’ll go ahead and get addicted to Meth – who needs teeth” or “I’m so happy all the time – great childhood, great life – let’s change it up..I’m going to be really depressed today – so back to bed!” No – it doesn’t happen that way (usually – there may be that odd ball statistic out there that says otherwise – but I’m going with my gut on this one.) Typically – as it was with me – it is a very long road to what I lovingly call “crazy”.
Crazy is what I claim. I know – there are all kinds of people out there really trying to get rid of that word because they believe it is too derogatory. Well guess what – I’m going to print a t-shirt that says – I’M CRAZY BUT I TAKE ZOLOFT SO I’M COOL. Do you have any idea where that comes from? My defiance to bottling it in some “pretty” label? It comes from the fact that I am so very NOT ashamed of my mental issues. I have no problem with the fact that I had a nervous breakdown, that I struggled with severe anxiety and obsessive thoughts since I was 6 years old, that it took me years to finally find the right equation to fit my life to equal sanity (or my definition of sanity). Why you ask? Because mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of – but it is something to face head on – take seriously – not hide – and something we must actively work on so to keep our minds as healthy as they can be. You see – shame doesn’t help anyone to be healed or deal with their issues. Actually it’s just a tool to keep people down. Shame sucks. So I threw it out the door – screaming.
My “road to crazy” started when I was born. I was born into a family where both my father and mother’s family histories were wrought with stories of severe mental illness, addiction, abuse, suicide, depression, etc. Now I’m not going to argue whether or not it is inherited completely. I’m not a doctor. However as much as my parents tried to shelter me from all of the issues of our family and their own issues – the “crazy” crept up on me – slowly. The earliest thing I remember was trying to count to 8 before the refrigerator door closed – and if I made it to 8 – then the rest of the day was going to be ok. Most could brush that off as a silly thing a little 6 year old girl might do for fun – I did it every day for quite a while – but at that age I didn’t know that I should probably let someone know that this was the way I would get through my day. 8 comforted me I think because I loved music and singing – so counting in “4’s” seemed natural. Crazy right?
Flash forward 15 years when horrible, unwanted thoughts were crowding my head. It was like a cloud of Hell over my head and in my soul. The “real me” was there – fighting and exhausted. I withdrew from the ones I loved for fear of hurting them. From morning to night I had the same, awful, intrusive thoughts over and over and over. I stopped caring for my 3 year old daughter when it happened so my parents had to take over. They didn’t understand why I couldn’t just “snap out of it”. However I didn’t tell them how vivid and terrifying fears had become. How I couldn’t even imagine giving the little girl that I loved so much a hug because in my mind my hands and arms became razor blades. So even imagining being near her was terrifying. I drank to make my mind slow – had sex to numb my body. All I really wanted was to be the mother I was before I broke completely.
Now from 6 years old to 21 years old – I didn’t live this perfect, untarnished life. It was my road to crazy – a very long one. One that I will share bits at a time. My recovery however was a leap onto the highest mountain – screw long roads – sometimes you just gotta take a bull by the horns.