Tuesday, May 26, 2015

this isn't really a disclaimer...but i wasn't 100% sure about making this post public until I realized that May is Mental Health Awareness month. I'm tired of being so oddly protective of my depression, as if not talking about struggling makes it less real. If you don't like that sort of thing or only come here for the pictures then stop reading.

Last week my brain broke.

This is a term I've used very rarely: my brain broke. It seems to be the only way to describe how depression can disintegrate my emotions, my thoughts, how the outside is processed internally. Think tumbleweed of short fuses and broken apart cookie.

The last time this happened: fall of 2009. I was sitting at my work desk mid-week. Each day leading up to that one presented a steeper pitch, a descent picking up speed. The evening before I saw my therapist--he was a nice enough person, encouraging me to say to myself "I am a lovable person; I am a valuable person" each time I walked through a doorway. This was something I honestly had trouble doing--I wouldn't allow myself to believe it. That evening he gently suggested I get an emergency evaluation if I wasn't feeling better. I don't remember much else about that session, other than crying a lot.

The next day I was sitting at work trying to read a paragraph on my computer screen, and I couldn't get past the first sentence. My brain couldn't make sense of it, or at least my brain didn't see any point in making sense of it. I felt panicked and broken at the end of the day, and instead of going home I walked myself up the hill to get an emergency evaluation at Western Psych. I didn't feel that I needed to be hospitalized, but I needed the broken feeling to stop. I was afraid that it wouldn't. I wanted to be told that what I was feeling wasn't okay, but that I would be alright. I met with a few doctors. My visit lasted nearly five hours. I went home. Plans were made for extensive therapy, and I was put on a new antidepressant.

I was on my antidepressant for five years, and happily so. The medicine took the layer of dark away and reintroduced me to my ability to function. I was okay. I still had to work on casting away negative thought and loving myself. It was not a cure or some magic thing but I was able to make sense of how I felt through clear glass instead of some muddy, distorted view. It leveled my light and dark. I did things. I worked and played hard. I fell in love. I traveled.

At the end of April 2014 I started tapering off my med. I did this on my own, weeks before going to see my doctor to let him know. He raised his eyebrows when I told him. He knew I was moving away, eventually to Egypt. He told me he didn't think I should go off the meds, but supported my decision. It was mine to make. And now, looking back, I see train wreck in my logic. My logic then was: you are losing your insurance, and you are moving to a place where this medicine might not be available. I didn't want the prescription to become a headache. I thought I was extinguishing a potential problem before it started. My intentions were good, but poorly timed: I left a place I knew as home for 13 years, moved back to my hometown for 7 months, then I moved to Egypt. All while bidding farewell to a medication that worked.

It took a while for me to taper my meds down to nothing, but I did it. And that feeling of hopelessness was waiting in the wings. Steadily, the dark layer came back and everything I built ended up submerged beneath it. And now it's here, and we are back to: my brain broke last week. It is that rare, other level type of wrong. Since then I've felt...two dimensional. Half here. Lost. I don't have the words. All this to say I am having a hard time again.

I tend to stay sort of private about these things, but right now I don't feel like it's best for me to keep quiet. I am hurting.
Life in Egypt has been incredible, but also difficult. It is a truly challenging place to be.I talk with my family often. I send email updates and pictures to friends, but when you're this far away it's hard to know what people truly want to hear from you. I can take pictures and describe certain quirks of Cairo, but when do I talk about feeling lost, displaced, forgotten? Dare I even mention it? How fortunate I am to experience this part of the world...I know this. I know this. I don't want to take this part of my life for granted.

But depression doesn't care where I am, and I believe it would've returned regardless of my place on a map. Being here just makes it a bit more inconvenient. I would love to say that I can do this without medicinal help, but maybe I can't. And that's okay. Now is not the time to be stubborn about what works. I recognize the dark and I feel the balance tipping. I know I need help. I have an appointment to see a doctor this weekend. While it's a bit daunting to be starting this process again, I realize I'm doing the right thing. It's self-care now or never. Despite the challenges right now, I am hopeful. I hope you are too.

1 comment:

  1. I know that feeling all too well. I hope your doc appt. goes well and you feel better again soon. I'll be thinking of you :)

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