Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Healing From Depression Can Be Like PTSD

I've NEVER felt like this before, that the healing can feel so intense. This morning I was plunged back in time so fast and with such power that I was left breathless. I was struggling to breathe, almost panting with the effort.

Why? Oh, something so simple, so mundane that saying it out loud or typing the words will look weak and ridiculous to anybody else.

So what happened?

John spilled a box of cereal. He picked up the box from the island and it slipped out of his hands, raining an entire box of Chex onto the kitchen floor. And even as he began to cry, as I repeated to him, "It's OK, it's OK, John. We'll clean it up, we have more ...you're not in trouble, you know that, right?" I was instantly sucked back in time. Thrown back to September 2009. Back to a quiet morning, where Violet had gone to school and I was plodding through another day with Sarah and John. A day like all the others for two years. A day during which I I felt like I was drowning, I lived to put the kids in bed so I could nap, lunch time was difficult and dinner impossible. Laundry piled up on the dining room table, beds unmade, toys scattered throughout the house that hadn't been picked up in months. A day where I wouldn't get dressed until 2:30 when I had to pick Violet up from school, and even that was iffy. I wore pajama pants, a sweatshirt, no bra and greasy hair to pick up more than once. I often dressed the little ones right before my husband got home, or declared that we'd had a 'fun pajama day.'

I was mired in the depths of depression, wasn't fully aware of how deep and had absolutely no idea how to claw my way out. I have few memories of this time in our lives.

Then, on that September morning in 2009, I broke. I was doing something in the kitchen and heard the sound of cereal raining down onto the floor. Sarah and John had taken two boxes from the cabinet, and at 18 months and almost three, this was great fun. As I was cleaning up the cereal I heard a crash and saw my favorite pie plate lying in shards on the floor.

And that was it.

I took the kids upstairs and put them in their cribs. I went into my bathroom and started counting pills. How much did I have and what kind would work? Counting the bottles and pills. I'd been pretty medicated for a while at this point, to no avail, so I had quite the supply of anti anxiety, antidepressants, and sleeping pills. As I sat them out I was thinking,"I just need to sleep. If I could only sleep a good sleep, a deep sleep, then I'll be OK. It will all be OK."Only it wouldn't, and somewhere deep inside I knew that. And as I started to count the pills into my palm I thought,"What will happen when Sarah and John wake up? Nobody will know I'm sleeping until I don't show to pick up Violet. That will scare her. And what will Sarah and John do? They're in their cribs ...." The thought of them crying for me is what stopped me.

I went to my room and called a friend. I crawled into bed and told her over and over, "I just want to sleep. Sleep and not wake up." She kept me on the phone while she called my husband. He came home immediately. She told him where to take me. He drove me there, with two of my kids in the back, to a rehab/mental health facility.

I cried for 48 hours. Then I ignored medical advice and came home, where I plunged back into the cancerous cave of depression.

In July 2010 I'd be back.

And all of this, all of these memories and emotions, the hurt, the immense and overwhelming guilt and sadness, it all came screaming back as cereal hit the floor five years later.

I was caught off guard, having not experienced any sort of flashback for at least two years. The one thing that helped the last time was to write it all done so I could go back and examine it, see what happened and if I needed to be careful about backsliding after such intense emotion was thrust upon me.

I'm OK. It was frightening to be sure. But I'm still good, I'm safe from those emotions pulling me down and hurting me.

But what a way to start the morning.