I was diagnosed with depression for the first time when I first moved to Johannesburg almost 15 years ago. I’ve had it in varying degrees for a very long time and will struggle with it for the rest of my life. Aside from this last bout, the worst time was after Ava’s placement. You’d think after such a long walk with depression, I’d recognize the signs and symptoms of a downward spiral by now. Truth is, I don’t. There is something about my walk with depression that means I don’t actually realize I’m struggling with the black dog, until I start recovery. And this usually entails something that will shock me into getting medical assistance.
In 2010, it was the demise of my marriage that got me to finally recognize I was not ok and needed help. This time, it was my full blown breakdown that finally forced me to get help. The irony is, I didn’t actually realize my depression was out of control until… well, until today. I know my Dr told me last week it was. But somehow, I am inept at recognizing the signs and symptoms for myself.
I think this is partly because of how my depression manifests. I know its different for everybody, but for me, personally, depression is like a brain fog. It leaves me lethargic & listless and not wanting to participate in any aspect of my life. It literally paralyzes me and separates me behind a glass wall, from everyone and everything in my life. Even the simplest task become near impossible for me to complete. I don’t want to blog, I don’t have the words (how many times have I blogged that topic in the last few months) I don’t have the energy to cook, clutter around my house starts piling up or shoved into a corner or under a bed, so long as I don’t have to deal with it. Bathing my girls, packing lunches, literally being present in any aspect of my life becomes a chore I simply can’t do. I may seem present but I withdraw, present on the surface but completely absent on the inside. I become forgetful and hugely unreliable, I can’t remember my commitments, forget social engagements. All I want to do is escape into a book. Even when I’m not at home, it’s all I can think about, how I can sit quietly and read when I get home. I become like the walking comatose and still after ALL these years, I’m unable to recognize when I start to free fall into the dark pit of my depression.
It was a startling realization for me today. My medication was changed exactly a week ago and I was thinking about how productive the last few days have been for me. Granted, I’m still stressed AF, especially at work, but I seem to be coping better. On the home front, I’m getting shit done! The last few nights, I’ve gone to bed after 11pm getting stuff sorted out. Stationary orders for my girls for 2016, blogging, freelance writing assignments, lunches packed, bags and clothing prepped for the following day. I even sorted through some of the clutter build up from the past few months. And I was thinking about all that I’ve achieved in the past few days, going to bed late and waking early, but actually sleeping, and getting stuff done, stuff I’ve been unable to face for months.
And it was like a huge a-ha moment today, realizing its the change in medication that is kicking in and breathing me back to life. It was the same during my recovery from post placement depression after Ava’s placement, I didn’t even realize I was getting better, getting more control, until about two weeks in when Walter commented that he felt like he was slowly getting his wife back. Well, the exact same thing is happening right now and I can’t tell you the relief.
To remind myself that I’m not a lazy slob, who’d rather live in a pile of clutter, eating a stale sandwich for dinner and reading a book, totally vacant on the inside, but that I’m sick and I need the help of medication to to get well, it’s a huge relief.
As a side note, I am really proud of my progress, I even look different, my skin looks clearer, my eyes brighter and my face less bloated. I have also not touched a single drop of wine, or any alcohol for that matter, in 3 days, another sign that I’m getting well and not relying on a crutch to cope, or escape, or whatever.
So here’s to this continued healing. To getting well and being present in my life once again.