I’m afraid to write this. But I think that’s why I need to.
At this time last year when the azaleas were blooming and the days were getting a bit longer I didn’t notice. I could not stop crying. I could not eat. I could not sleep at night but I also couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I fantasized about going to sleep and not waking up. When I was really desperate I thought about driving my car at top speed off the freeway and into the river. I seriously could not get the song Crazy Train out of my head,
“Mental wounds not healing, life’s a bitter shame, I’m going off the rails on a crazy train…”
My work suffered, my family suffered helplessly watching me slip away. “Mommy don’t be sad. Mommy cry?” my sweet daughter in her limited vocabulary was trying to find the words to understand:
On her 2nd birthday I finally fell apart. My dear husband could not watch any longer and gave me the encouragement I needed to make a phone call and ask for help.
Why am I writing about this? I guess it’s been on my mind because my daughter’s birthday is coming up. Last year instead of planning a birthday party I was making arrangements to attend an intensive outpatient program, doctor’s orders.
The azaleas are in bloom again. The days are getting a bit longer. And this time I’m happy to be around to notice.
I wrote a little bit more about this experience here if you’re interested: Rogue Waves.
For more about how you can help yourself or a loved one here’s an online resource: Support Alliance.
Clutter the air
Obscuring my vision, hitting me in the face
I loosen my grasp
A slow smile creeps over me as
There are no easy answers, but getting stumped at the grocery store was not something I expected. Let me explain, the place was packed after work on a weekday. I swiped my card to pay and before I could process the prompt on the screen “credit or debit?” the cashier sternly said “Ma’am, please, paper or plastic?” with a get-your-head-outta-your-arse kind of expression on her face. From her body language and tone I take it she tried coaxing the answer out of me more than once by this point. “Paper or plastic…is she talking to me?…paper or plastic…she can’t be talking to me…credit or debit…there’s no way she scanned all my items that quickly…”
“ma’am, we’re very busy, paper or plastic?!”
I imagine that on most days the majority of people have no problem choosing between paper and plastic but when you are clinically depressed no one can see that you are drowning right in front of them and the question of paper or plastic becomes moot and tearful. The sheer act of showing up at the grocery store altogether and collecting the items in the cart in this state is a wonder. So at ease sergeant cashier lady!
I use the word drowning because in trying to process what this diagnosis means a childhood memory replays over and over in my mind. On a family vacation to Monterey I once ventured too far into the water, lost my balance and ended up beneath the waves. Just when I thought I’d figured out which end was up I realized I was moving in the wrong direction having touched the sandy bottom of the ocean floor. When I got it right and began groping for the surface I was struck by another wave that disoriented me all over again. That feeling of darkness, panic, and breathlessness that I experienced as a child is as close as I can get to describing this condition.
Oliva, this collection of notes on this blog is for you sweet girl. My intention is not to scare you but to make you aware, if you do wade through this clumsy electronic diary, of an illness that runs in our family. I am not always very good at finding the right words in conversation and have an easier time organizing my thoughts in writing so that’s why I’m sharing this way. I wish this were a lighthearted post. But in life everyone experiences darkness and light. Without the dark we wouldn’t have the moon. I know how much you love the moon. Love you sweet pea.