If you have been following my blog or know me well, you probably know I have struggled with depression since I was in my teens (and probably before that). I think the best way to explain the experience of enduring depression is to that of wading through a pool in which the water is waist high. There is constant resistance to your movements. No matter how quickly you try to move your legs, the water prevents you from crossing even short distances with any ease or speed. Accomplishing even small tasks takes more energy than it is worth. You actually wake up in a mild state of exhaustion before your day even starts.
Aside from the physical exhaustion, is the mental cloudiness. A constant, heavy, thick low-hanging fog resides right in the center of your brain. Preventing you from seeing situations clearly. It is hard to get any perspective and your thoughts turn inward and all you can focus on is yourself. And usually you focus on your shortcomings. Or what you perceive to be your short comings.
As a result of the physical exhaustion and mental cloudiness, your relationships with other people suffer. You have little patience and even less kindness. This affects all areas of your life: family, friends, co-workers. But usually the people closest to you suffer the worst of it.
I started seeing therapists in my teens and found I had nothing to talk to them about. I cried, usually uncontrollably, throughout my sessions and I felt worse after each one. It seemed like I went through a cycle where I would try therapy like every 5 or 6 years. Usually, it was as a result of some incident at school or work that drove me to seek help that no one could give me. I have been on approximately 7 different antidepressants, either solo or in some dual form of therapy. I have been on medication since I was 15 or 16. I had tried to get off of medication various times but it never lasted longer than a few weeks.
They say hindsight is 20/20. I did not really realize it at the time but I would say I was wading through waist deep water from the time I was 15 years old until the day I gave birth to my daughter when I was 34 years old. Of course, there absolutely were periods of time when the water would only be knee deep but then for other periods of time (usually months) the water would be neck deep. Honestly, it didn't phase me much because it was my "normal."
I am not sure what happened the day I gave birth to my daughter but I knew I was different. I felt a change. At first, I attributed it to the newness and excitement of having a newborn again. Her whole birth experience and then the immediate post partum period was a breeze compared to the first time I had a baby. She actually would breast feed and I assumed I was one of those women that get a hormone rush from breast feeding and that is why I felt so energetic and my head was so clear.
As the months went on, I waited for the water to rise again. But to my surprise, it hasn't. I can breathe deep and move swiftly. I can make memories without a haze surrounding them. I have ideas and the energy to act on them.
And I have been medication-free for 4 months now. Longest ever since I was 15! I feel like I won a race, a marathon!
I started to wonder if I swung into a manic phase. With all this energy and motivation to do things. But really, I think I finally feel free to live. Finally free from that damn water that has held me captive. And I am really enjoying this:)
But with this freedom, comes apprehension. When will I relapse? If I lose patience with my kids and yell at them or had a bad day at work and get really irritated, I wonder if it is happening again. Am I ok? Is this "normal" behavior or the behavior of a depressed person? I hate that my mind goes there, but it does.
I guess I can either enjoy my emergence from the water, no matter how long or how brief it is, or live in constant fear I will go under again. I think I will chose to enjoy:) Why not?