Friday, July 12, 2013

Living with Depression: One Year Later

It's kind of insane when I think about it. It feels like it's been years since I've been diagnosed.

This whole thing is sometimes one big clusterfuck. I don't know what day it is, nor do I care; I sometimes feel like I'm under this huge cloud of imminent darkness that's never going to lift; I have no motivation to get the things done that need to be done, and I sometimes will sit down and cry for no reason other than I'm just sad and frustrated with my life at the moment. I hate it, and yet I know that I must come to terms with it in order to both maintain my sanity and function in my daily life. Sometimes I think back to before I was diagnosed and naively think "Man my life was so much easier when I didn't have depression."

Then I want to kick myself for being so damn stupid.

I've always had depression, I just never knew what it was. I used to think that depression was easily spotted, that it gave off some sort of symptom like a cold does. I never thought of myself having a mental illness because the term has so much negative connotation attached to it; Saying "Oh you have a mental illness!" makes it sound like you belong in a padded room with a straight jacket or so doped up  that you stare at the wall and occasionally blink. People with mental illnesses are those who are locked away, not me.

I can remember quite vividly what my life was like before I was diagnosed: I was moody, I would have long periods of melancholy, I wouldn't want to get out of bed, I didn't have any motivation, I had these random aches and pains when I would wake up, sleep became a fleeting thing, and I would have horrible nightmares about my molestation and about my mom. I thought I was crazy and I was ashamed. I hid everything from everyone because I thought I could handle it. And for a while I did....just in a terrible way. I drank in excess and began to smoke. I knew what I was doing to my body but I didn't care. I hid everything from everyone because I a.) didn't want to burden anyone or b.) I figured nobody gave a shit. Slowly I began to realize that this was taking a toll on my body, both physically and mentally. I noticed my melancholy was getting worse even with therapy I was getting from my psychologist; I had quit smoking the year before, and I remained dry but my sadness and helplessness was beginning to intensify. I started to have more graphic nightmares, I hated the dark because I thought I could see the face of the man who molested me hiding in the darkness, and my thoughts began to race to the point where I could barely control them. When I started getting suicidal thoughts, when the thoughts became so loud it was almost like someone was screaming at me inside my head, I knew then that I could no longer avoid it: I have severe depression. I need medication. I need help.

I began to take my medicine and seek therapy on a weekly basis. All the while hiding because I was so ashamed of my condition. While the therapy and medication helped immensely, there were still unresolved issues brewing. In September I checked myself into PRMC's Psychiatric Ward after having a panic attack that led to suicidal thoughts; I knew that if I had gone home instead of the hospital, I would have tried to kill myself. I spent three days there, focusing on nothing but why I ended up there in the first place; focusing on my pain, my guilt, and my emptiness. Between the hospital stay and my weekly visits to my therapist I was getting better.

It's been a year since I was diagnosed and almost a year since I was hospitalized. I still seek therapy and I'm still on medication. I know I still have a very long road ahead of me. This is not something that's going to just fix itself overnight and I know that now. I'm very slowly getting better, yes I still have my moments of deep depression but I now know why I have them and how to get out of them. This is a process, a journey; not one that I ever thought I would take but this is the hand I've been dealt and I must deal with it.

I will continue to seek therapy and take this medication. I may be on these meds for a few years or the rest of my life, who knows? All I know is they help. The therapy helps, and I look forward to every appointment because I know that something is brewing; someday I will be okay, someday I'll be the person I want to be. It's hard to remember that sometimes, but somehow I manage to put a pin in it and keep it in the back of my mind. I will learn to live with my depression, and I will be okay.

I will be okay.