Monday, February 21, 2011

This, this one was hard to write

Kristine over at Wait in the Van does this Product of Silence series, and I connected with her theme and wanted to write a piece for it. Here it is, be gentle.

**

Depression.

This is such a heavy word. It takes the air out of a room. It makes people uncomfortable and squirmy. Why? I don't know.

I was "sad" a lot as a kid. I don't know if it was depression, but my heart ached. I was never comfortable in my own skin and was a complete worry wart. A couple of years ago I was flipping through an old notebook and found entries from when I was 9 or 10 about how sad I was. To read that my child-self was so sad and so lonely was extremely upsetting. What makes children so sad? Children are supposed to be happy and dance around the maypole with flowers in their hair.

Then, my teenage years. All of my emotions were amplified. I would range from being deliriously happy, to feeling a deep anger and rage, to utterly depressed. My moods owned me, possessed me. I felt alone. I had no idea why I could not control my emotions. There were a few times where I almost dropped out of high school because I couldn't handle it. I've never told anybody before. Luckily I had parents who refused to let me give up. It wasn't until I was 16 or 17 that my cousin told me that depression runs in the family. She'd gone through bouts of depression, my aunts had, and my mom had. My mom? The woman who watched me fall into black holes and saw me crumple to the floor? I was furious with her. How could she keep this information from me? I had felt alone for years and had no idea what I was going through and she had experienced the same? She told me she didn't want me to rely on pills like some people in my family had. But I should have found out from her that I wasn't alone. I was completely against taking medication that alters the chemicals in your brain anyway. Just knowing that I was not alone helped a bit, knowing that I wasn't a freak, that genetics had a small role. I saw my first psychologist and she was amazing. She taught me how to deal with my anxiety before it was too much to handle. How to see the warning signs and proactively stop an oncoming anxiety attack or bout of depression.

Then I started university.

There are certain things that I am still too terrified to say out loud. But I have to, for the integrity of this piece. It's easier to write out anyway, right? This is extremely difficult to write.

There were points in my teenage years were I had fleeting thoughts of suicide. But first year university brought on a whole new low. I spent a few days locked in my bedroom with the lights off and barely got out of bed. Around the time that first semester exams came around, my parents got a terrifying call. They could barely understand me through my sobs, and I was miserable. I wanted it to end. I couldn't deal with the pain anymore. I was tired. I'm sure my parents never imagined they would have to talk me down from the ledge. My parents called a suicide hotline and got them to call me. I had to describe my feelings, had I thought about suicide before? How did I imagine ending my life? Did I have a plan? It made me realize that I didn't want to die. Not yet. The next morning I was sent to see a doctor and prescribed medication. I started seeing a psychologist again. I was told that medication evens out your moods, levels out the highs and lows. I didn't want my highs to go away. Turns out they didn't. That's how high my highs are. The meds helped with the depression and anxiety that I couldn't control, the therapist helped me understand how to deal with it and prevent it.

I still deal with bouts of depression and anxiety, but I can see out of them. I've become very self-analytical and am aware of every single one of my feelings. I enjoy a good cry. I eat a lot when I'm sad. I still have highs and lows. But I have a lot of highs. I feel comfortable in my skin. Maybe too comfortable. I don't walk around naked, but when you see me, you see the real me. You see all of me. Good, bad, and terrifyingly weird.

When I hit "Publish Post" I will probably have an anxiety attack. I just told you my innermost darkest secrets. Not all of them, but some of the more heavy duty ones. And your reaction?

12 comments:

Kristine said...

My reaction? Is that you're pretty amazing, strong, and inspiring. And you're most certainly not alone. (Or a freak, or weird, or any of those awkward, weird things.)

Love, love.

mizzbrizz said...

My reaction is that you are not alone. Your story is much like so many others...my own included. Thank you for sharing this so others know they are not alone, too! You are courageous!

Renee (eatliveshop.com) said...

This was a very brave post and I'm so proud of you for having the courage to publish it. You are certainly not alone with these feelings and this post can help others see that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. When you're feeling extremely down, it won't last. You've showed that here :)

andrea said...

Lexi, I'm so glad you posted this. I've gone through the same thing my entire life as well and it's such a lonely feeling, sometimes even when you KNOW you're not alone. Depression makes you feel isolated and it's intensity can make others feel isolated from you out of fear, misunderstanding or just plain confusion.

I think it's wonderful how open, raw and honest you've chosen to be. It's just one stop closer to us living in a world where people understand depression for what it is: a serious condition that needs to be treated not just through medications and psychologists, but through love and community support. :)

This made my day, and I'm so thankful for you!

lex [lexinthecity] said...

@ Kristine - I really have to say thank you again. Between your post and writing mine, it's made me think about helping teens cope with depression and know that there's a way out, it gets better
@ mizzbrizz - I'm so glad you connected with this.
@ Renee - Thanks, I love you. :)
@ Andrea - You are so right, depression is very misunderstood as a disease, but I think it's starting to get more attention. :)

Sarah P said...

Know what? Me, too, and I'll scream it from the rooftops. The stigma drives me crazy, so I've decided to help eliminate it by speaking as frankly about it as people do about their heart conditions and knee surgeries. Yup, I take medication and I saw a therapist to help. Just like other people take medication and see physical therapists.
I saw a brain therapist, and he was wonderful and helpful, thankyouverymuch.

Ley said...

Oh sweetie, you are incredibly brave for having the ability to put yourself out there like this. Depression is a very hard thing to talk about and deal with, most people don't understand that the medications aren't there to turn you into a zombie, they are there to help turn you back into a regular person.

Thank you, so much, for letting go of your fear and anxiety and hitting publish. So many people need to know that there is a way to deal with depression that can give you your life back. That life can--and will--get better.

jerrod said...

I know what it means to put something very private and very real out on a blog for everyone to read. I know it has the power to help other people, but I think it also has the power to help you too. At least it did for me. You are easy to take notice of, and I can't wait to learn more and more about you! Thanks for this. :)

lex [lexinthecity] said...

@ Sarah P - Oooh a brain therapist? Did you get a lobotomy? I'm with you, I can't keep it all in anymore. I need to be honest. Much to many people's annoyance.
@ Ley - You are welcome, it was extremely terrifying but there was a weight off my shoulders once I knew it was out there. Sort of.
@ Jerrod - I'll have to find this very private and real thing you put out there. So I can learn more about you!
:)

andrea said...

I just found your blog today and this post has won me over. I am still unable to write about depression in such a direct manner, so I made a visual zine about it. You'll be added to me google reader. Thanks so much for sharing your experience

laurenne said...

YES! This is my favorite. Doesn't it feel good to get it out?

I'm so so so so so so so so happy you didn't kill yourself. You are beautiful all around and it would be more than a shame to not have you sharing Earth with me right now.

Things always get better, right? I wish we could always remember that when we're in our lows.
Life is hard! And that's why it's fun too.
I've been on the fence about volunteering at this suicide hotline, and I think you just convinced me to do it! YAY!
thank you for writing this!

lex [lexinthecity] said...

@ andrea - one day, when you can look back, then you will be able to write about it. Even if it's just something to write for YOU.

laurenne - it did feel good. I've been wanting to help out at high schools or somewhere, or just DO SOMETHING to help teens out because when you're in that spot, it's hard to see out of it. I hope you do decide to volunteer! :)