Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where I Lose Myself

I originally posted this back in May. It's one of my first posts, probably the most difficult one I've written. And the one I read the most. It reminds me of why I started writing this blog. I started it because I wanted to help. I wanted to tell someone, anyone, "You are not alone." And so I'm re-publishing this post today, in hopes that someone will read it and hear that they are not alone.


Depression is a slimy, black thing that slowly but completely takes over everything. I became someone I did not know. One day I looked in the mirror and was horrified at the person looking back. The woman looking back was completely unkempt. Her hair was dirty, her teeth unbrushed. Her clothes did not fit, were stained and mismatched. She was at least a size, if not two, larger than I remembered. Her face was red, bloated and tear stained. Her lips dry and cracked. She stood hunched up, her shoulders pulled in, her head hung low as though she were trying to disappear. And she was. The camera flashed and she jumped, startled, and began to cry again. The nurse led her to the bathroom and with the closing of the door, 'her' became 'me' as I lived out a horror I was sure I'd never know.

The nurse was gentle with me, recognizing that I was not a hardened criminal, but a severely depressed mom, wife and woman who had lost her way. She knew that I wasn't the type to be hiding weapons, but still. The process of checking in must be completed. So she directed and I obeyed. I took off all my clothes. I stood naked in a bathroom with a stranger as she catalogued my weight, height and body markings. The nurse also had to make sure that I wasn't concealing drugs. I was puzzled when she asked if I was hiding anything. I was naked wasn't I? I mutely shook my head and looked around for my clothing. She said there were two more things I needed to do. I listened, numb. Surely. . . no. But yes. So, naked and exposed, crying and shaking, I presented my back to her and bent over. She separated my buttocks. I was allowed to put on my t-shirt after that, but not my bra -- under wires you see. They can be fashioned into a weapon. Then I had to urinate into a cup in front of the nurse, so it could be tested for drugs, alcohol etc. After that I was able to get fully dressed, sans shoe laces which are another weapon. Sobbing, I was led from the bathroom to the community room. It was lunch time, 12:30. I'd been at the hospital since 9:00 a.m and had yet to stop crying.

How did I get to the hospital? Well, over a period of about seven months I simply stopped living. I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't shower, or dress, or brush my teeth. I found no joy in my children. None. They would do the most precious things, and in the very back of my mind a low, quiet voice would whisper, "This is really beautiful." But I could barely hear it for the loud, hammering, obnoxious voice that was screaming for me to get out of the room, I was a loser, a bad mom, a horrible wife, a completely useless person. Breathing required too much effort. Some days my husband had to stay home because I couldn't even pretend to get out of bed and be productive. So I'd just lay in bed, sleep and obsess about what a terrible mom/wife/person I was. Most days my husband would come home from work to find a snarling, yelling, freaking out woman who slightly resembled his wife. I'd shove the baby in his arms, demand he make dinner and declare that I was done for the night. Other nights he'd get ranting phone calls from me wanting to know just when he would be home, because by god I had had it. Maybe one night in 10 he'd come home to find that I'd gotten take out or pulled some sort of odd dinner together. That was probably a night that was starting my trips into insomnia. During this time, I was medicated. Hard to imagine, isn't it? So I really thought, well, this is me medicated, it can't get any better than this. Meanwhile I couldn't remember phone conversations, peoples names, or appointments I had. I lost the ability to talk with people, even family and friends. I avoided social settings at any cost because I feared that my quietness would be a dead give away that something was wrong to anyone who knew me.

Then one morning I just couldn't do it anymore. I somehow managed to get Violet off to school and my husband off to work, put the younger two in the playroom and went into my room. I laid on my bed and thought, "I just don't want to be here anymore." I began thinking about the meds I had in my bathroom. As I laid there and tried to calculate what I had and who I could get to watch my kids, I realized that this was a problem. I called a dear friend, Jen, who is also a nurse, and when she answered the phone, all I could say was, "Help. I don't want to be here anymore. I just can't be here." And sob. She yelled at me until I heard her and convinced me to call my husband, insisting that I then call her back. I did what I was told to do, and I believe she called my husband as well. He came home and literally led me to the car like a child. I don't recall what he did with the children. Maybe they came with us? I remember him talking to Jen, trying to figure out where to take me, as I cried and stared out the window.

I cried for 20 hours. On my first morning, I put a watery smile on my face and went to see my personal case manager, where I attempted to convince him that this had all been a mistake. I said, and I quote, "Listen, I watch t.v. I saw them take Brittany away in an ambulance and release her the next day. So that's what you can do here, for me." He smiled at me, I burst into tears and I'm pretty sure that's what kept me on 'in line of sight' status for another 12 hours.

I scoffed at the other patients who lined up for meds as if their lives depended on it. At my first med pass I was given an antidepressant, an anti-anxiety (which I was fine with) and then given a drug I was not familiar with. When I asked the name I recognized it though. I'd worked with special needs adults long enough to know it. A very high level sedative. I quickly succumbed to sobbing again. The guy behind me in line asked what they gave me. I told him. He replied, "Hoo, that's some good shit. You don't like it that way, crush it up and snort it. That's some really good shit." Without thinking I yelled at him, "This is helpful? I'm crying because I'm on such heavy drugs and you think "crush it up, it's good shit" is going to help me? Really? Shut up!" I'm sure that outburst did nothing to get me off the 'line of sight' standing. Within 15 hours I too would find myself lining up early for meds and vying for a forward spot. A mood stabilizer had also been added to my list of meds.

I stayed at the hospital for 4 of the longest days of my life. I should have stayed longer. But my focus wasn't on getting better, it was on getting out. A nurse, upon seeing me still crying, took me aside and told me I had to get control of myself or they wouldn't release me. She told me 'fake it 'till you make it.' And that's what I did. But I did it with deceit. Somehow, I still didn't totally get how deep I was into this disease. So they let me go, with my meds, and the order that I find a therapist.

9 months later I'd be back.

Still think you're alone?  Click here to read another story about PPD/depression. It's the post that got me blogging. And just a warning, it's difficult to read.

To read the second part of my story, click here. For more about my recovery, click on the tab, Depression and Recovery.