Last week I was so excited! I thought that I had found a miracle. I thought that treating my attention disorder (as Dr. Head Doctor calls it) was going to be the solution to all that ailed me. I felt so much better for four days. I felt better than I had in two months! I had energy! I could get things done! It was fantastic! I think I talked a lot! With exclamation marks! Day five was when the crash began to hit.
If you have read my previous post, I have alluded to the emotional “stomach virus” that I have been living with for the past two months (or maybe I should call it a “heart virus,” but that sounds really terrible and life threatening). In two months, I can count two good days. I spent them in New Orleans with my darling, supportive, loving friends. Even those days were bittersweet and I absolutely crashed on the drive home. Some days that have been tolerable; I get by. Then, there are the bad days.
On the bad days I wake up thinking about the germ that caused the “stomach virus.” I think about the exact moment it entered my body, wrecking havoc. I think about how good things appeared to be before it struck. Sometimes this starts at a normal-ish hour (when did 5:30 a.m. become a normal time to wake). Other times it happens in the middle of the night. On the bad days, I know that the second that my brain is empty, the virus is going to attack. When the virus attacks, the tears will start. On the bad days, walking across the house is a chore because my body aches and is so very, very tired.
Since I started taking medication to manage ADD last week, I have found that I am better able to focus on tasks and get one thing done at a time— even on the bad days. However, I still find that I am not as efficient on these days. I flit a bit more. I work more slowly. I focus, but probably on the wrong tasks. I can’t really prioritize. The medication does allow me to escape into work, but then I find myself working until there is nothing left of me. I try to escape the building without anyone seeing me because the tears are starting to well up in my eyes. By the time I get to the freeway, I am sobbing. Sometimes it passes, and others it goes on all night.
I recently read that many people feel better after a good cry, but people who suffer from depression often do not. I remember when I was a young teenager, I would watch Beaches or Steel Magnolias because they would always bring on a good, stress relieving cry. As time went on, and depression took hold, crying was no longer stress relieving. Now, when I start crying, I cannot stop; I am not in control. It is like being forced to run emotional sprints several times a day. It is embarrassing. On a bad day, I never know when my mind is going to take the opportunity to drift and and I am going to end up fighting back tears in front of others. I don’t know when someone will ask or say something that strikes a nerve and the sprint starts—figuratively the tears, and literally to find a way to hide.
As a teenager, I fell into a state of chronic depression, but did not receive treatment or support. I began seeing a therapist and taking antidepressants in college and mostly got it under control. In my late twenties, I was also diagnosed with anxiety and a medication change really helped. I have spent years off medication and done fine. However, an antidepressant which also helps with anxiety just makes it easier to be me.
All of this is to say, it has been a very long time since I have been in this low a place. I had forgotten what it is like for a low to last this long. I said that there are good days. When I started taking medication for ADD, I suppose it made me feel so much better. For a few days it shut up the part of my brain that kept yelling at me, “YOU ARE SAD!!!” There were times during those four days that I really laughed, not just chuckled, but laughed. I thought, “Maybe this is it. Maybe I’ve turned a corner.” I wanted to see people and get out and do things. I cleaned the public areas of the house for the first time in a month (spare rooms will have to wait for the next round of good days).
Day five, I woke up and felt the exhaustion. I still met friends for lunch and a massage, but the “sad” hit during the massage. I came home, curled up on the couch, and started watching Grimm (we need more shows about killing monsters— but that is another post). It is now Wednesday and I am still waiting for this to let up. Who knows— maybe it is just work that makes me feel this way— come on weekend!
Why am I writing this? I hope that eventually I will be able to write about something other than how I am feeling, but right now this is what I have to get out of my brain. If I don’t sort through this, I can’t write stories about fluffy cats and unicorns. I hope that eventually some part of my story will reach someone who needs to hear it. Also, I am claiming that this will pass. It will take time to recover from having something I wanted and thought was good taken away from me, but I will recover.
I am lucky because though I know mental illness, it has not prevented me from getting an education or doing my job. Through my latest experience, I have had a few more limitations. I can only drive limited distances and I have to substantially limit my social interaction. There are somethings I want to do like go to church, but I am afraid of that much public exposure. In spite of those limitations, one aspect of my depression that I have overcome is the lie that I am worthless and unlovable. For many years that lie haunted me. I might be a hot mess right now, but one thing I am certain of is that I am worthy of love, friendship, and most of all, respect. If you are reading this and happen to be doubting your worth, please let me inform you that you are quite valuable— and I might be right.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Matthew 10:29-31
What should you be doing right now?