a reason to celebrate
Date: 10/19/2005 9:44:51 PM ( 11 y ) ... viewed 1224 times
i just realized that it has been almost precisely three years since my first full-on breakdown.
spurred on by my lack of job prospects and an abnormally cruel rejection from someone about whom i cared very deeply (read: thought i would probably marry), my first full-blown episode of severe depression left me totally incapacitated.
at the time it struck, i was at my parents' home on vacation. though they have a relatively large duplex, my younger siblings (adults, as well, but younger than me) were also living there, and so there wasn't a lot of space. i had just finished my yearly summer assignment on my dream job, and i was high on my success. i was ostensibly just staying at my parents' house while i made other plans. i had come back to my hometown in order to strategize my next step, visit with family, and perhaps most importantly, be together with someone i loved. we had never lived in the same city at the same time, and, while it might seem naive, i was certain if we did, it would work. i am not the hugest fan of my hometown, but i was considering staying there for that particular reason.
things fell apart astoundingly fast. i went from casual, fun-filled (and starry-eyed with love) visitor to unable to get out of bed in less than a week. my beloved went from wining and dining me and making grand proclamations about the future to refusing to take my calls and telling extremely mortifying lies about me to our mutual friend who had introduced us (one of my oldest and dearest friends, which only added to the level of humiliation). i totally lost it.
when it became clear that i wouldn't be leaving for a while, to give me privacy, my parents set up office cubicle walls in a second dining room. literally, they were green cubicle walls brought home from their work. inside my cubicle i had a bed, a desk, and a curtain over the "doorway."
for nearly a month, i rarely left that bed. i heard my siblings goofing off with their friends, coming and going at all hours. my parents came to check on me every once in a while. i refused calls from friends and family. i remember, bizarrely, that my entire week hinged around the NBC thursday night lineup (!!). for some reason, i fixated upon it, and for three hours each week, i was somewhat less abjectly miserable. it always ended too fast. i read the noonday demon over and over. it gave me some small measure of comfort. i hid a knife under my pillow and practiced pressing it to my veins (fortunately, i was too squeamish to ever press hard enough to even draw blood).
i was lucky, though, that i had two friends who were also in town, and who were also in the midst of depressive episodes. all three of us had graduated high school together, and all three of us had formely been overachievers. all three of us had gone to "good colleges" and done well there. all three of our families had great expectations for us. and all three of us had totally fallen apart. they were the only people i would talk to, and i owe both of them so much to this day. i hesitate to call what they provided "comfort"--as i was really and truly inconsolable. but that no doubt precisely what it was. i remember going over to one of their houses (actually, his friend's house--he was living on a friend's couch as he was unable to get a job or pay rent) and just playing yahtzee over and over for hours. though my friend had told me he wasn't a fan of yahtzee, he rolled the dice endlesslly, never, ever complaining. we rarely spoke, and he just kept playing as long as i expressed an interest. he had an even longer history with depression than i did, and so my bizarre obsession with yahtzee wasn't something he questioned. i think he sensed that it was the only thing that would even vaguely dull the constant suicidal thoughts i was experiencing. it seems so simple, what he did that one day, but when i think about it, i am totally overcome with gratitude.
my life at the time seems so miserable now as to be almost comical. i am absolutely grateful to my parents (i might have lived in a cubicle in the defunct dining room, but i didn't have to live on my friend's couch) for all they tolerated, and my fellow depressive friends who shared their grief with me and let me do so with them. without them, it is possible that i might not have lived through the experience. however, it was ghastly all the same.
i continued like this for about six weeks. at my very worst point, i called a suicide hotline, and was fast-tracked into therapy. for about a month, i went to therapy and was on a waiting list for free psychiatric care at the local mental health center. i made minor progress in therapy, if only because i left the house once a week. i was scared to get in the car, but i forced myself, and i never missed a session. though my therapist was helpful, my condition was biochemical. i sorted out a few emotional issues during my sessions, but my overall condition stayed constant.
in early december, i finally made it to the top of the waiting list, and went to the psychiatrist. however, i had to go through an intake session first. i assumed that i would go straight from the intake session to the psych session, but the case worker informed me that i would have to wait another six weeks at least before i could see the psychiatrist. i remember totally breaking down in his office. as i sobbed hysterically, i tried to explain that i had been holding my breath in the off-chance that medication would work, and i just didn't think i could wait six more weeks to begin it. somehow he managed to get me in within two and a half weeks, just before christmas.
my psychiatrist was a little strange (i ended up having some problems with her during later sessions), but she gave me precisely the drug i needed. though psych medication is supposed to be cumulative, i felt the effects within hours. maybe it was the placebo effect. i kind of doubt it. something about it just felt right (the same way it now feels wrong). but whatever the cause, i felt better. i felt that there was hope for my recovery. i remember going to the grocery store that day with my mother to do some shopping for the holiday meals. in addition to actually leaving the house, and i actually felt a glimmer of happiness.
it is difficult to fathom just how much my life has changed since then.
yeah, i work too much, and i have gained more weight than i could ever have imagined. there are elements in my life that are still missing. but, oh my god, my life is so much better than i ever could have pictured during those days. i have a job that offers me the unique assets of total flexibility and good pay. i have a lovely house in a lovely town. i have a boyfriend who might struggle with his own problems, but who is absolutely devoted to me. most of all, he is a genuinely good person, and he truly loves me for who i am and cares about my well-being. he is astoundingly patient with my many problems and helps me however he can.
i am overwhelmed by my good fortune.
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