I don’t know the exact date of when it started, but I know I was very young the first time I knew I was a little different from everyone else. I didn’t always feel the same way everyone else seemed to feel. Sometimes, I didn’t feel at all. I would go long bouts of time with nothing. No motivation. No sadness. No happiness. No feeling. Nothing. And if I did feel something, it was rarely good, and it was always magnified. Everything “bad” in me was multiplied ten fold. If I made a mistake, I was inept. If I had a blemish, I was ugly. If I gained a pound, I was morbidly obese. If a loved one was unhappy, it was automatically my fault. If I was recognized for doing a good job, that was a fluke or it was no big deal. These moments would go in fits and spurts. Sometimes I felt like a perfectly normal girl. I laughed, I loved, I smiled, I cried, I railed at my parents when I thought they were being unjust. But then the “dark” time would come. I never knew how long it would last, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It didn’t always feel like there was a trigger. I didn’t know when to expect it. It was almost like a switch inside my brain would flip and I would be different. I wouldn’t be me anymore.
I was very young the first time it happened, but I was twenty-two the first time I let someone give a name to what I was going through. I was twenty-two the first time I sat down, looked at myself in the mirror and seriously said, “You need help.” The months leading up to that moment were awful. I was constantly fighting with my husband. I could not get myself out of bed unless I had to go to work. Little things sent me into fits of anger. I was bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. At first I attributed it to my husband being away on military assignment. I waited it out – hoping that as I adjusted to him being gone, I would settle into a more “normal” me. I didn’t. It got worse. So I did something I had never done before up until that point. I reached out to a friend and told them I needed help.
I was terrified. I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared of so many things. Judgment, censure, anger. Out of everything that was going on in my head, an intense fear punctured through the fog. Even when I sat down with a counselor, I was terrified to let down my walls just for the period of an hour to discuss my feelings. Why did this person care? Why should I make myself vulnerable to someone I had only just met a few moments ago? But I did. I expressed what I had been feeling and I talked about my past history. I discussed some of my darkest thoughts – and I let her in. She was one of the very first people to say the phrase “mood disorder” to me. That moment was when it clicked. When I left her office, I made an appointment to be seen by a doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with Depression (not a mood disorder by the way) and prescribed me medication to treat it. I had been silently suffering for many, many years – walking out of that doctor’s office was like walking out a new person with a weight lifted off of my shoulders (although I will have to say I walked out with a whole new set of fears – would people still love me if they knew? was I damaged goods now? would I tell people? how would I feel on medication?).
Medication helps. Talking in a professional context doesn’t often help me. I tend to try to tell people what they want to hear and that is a mighty hard habit to break. If someone asks me if they can borrow money, my instant gut reaction will always be to offer whatever they need. If I only have one piece of candy left and someone wants it, I’m more likely to give it to them than I am to keep it for myself. I’m a people pleaser. I have always been one and I will continue to be one. Which is probably why when someone asks me if I’m “okay” I’ll always tell them “yes”, mainly because I want to make people happy.
I wrote this entry today because I have been struggling. It crept up on me slowly this time. Out of nowhere, I was in it. I wasn’t feeling anything and if I was – it was magnified and it wasn’t good. I have not been motivated. My house is a mess (for me) and getting out of bed has been a chore. Whereas a month ago, I was chomping at the bit to get out the door for a run a few times a week, these past few weeks have been a struggle to get even one 40 minute run in. I’ve been hard on myself. I’ve been plain mean and hurtful to myself. I’ve said things to myself that I wouldn’t say to someone I disliked. I preach being kind, loving and wonderful to those around you – but I have been the exact opposite to myself. I’ve been struggling to get out of it. I want to talk to someone – but I’ve been struggling to find the strength/bravery to be that vulnerable with anyone. When I’m not in one of these “periods” talking about my Depression can be absurdly easy. When I’m stuck in one, talking about it can be the most painful and frightening thing I could possibly do.
So I am writing about it. I’m getting it out – lying it on the table – wearing my heart on my sleeve. I’m still not sure if I am going to hit “publish” because I am thinking about the possibility of the judgment, censure and anger that might come from this. But I suppose I’m risking that. Not because I want a volley of “I love you”, “Feel better”, “it will be okay” or support. Not because I want people to worry about me or pity me. I’m writing this because I need to get it out – and right now, its the only way I know how.