I didn’t want to be here right now. After a year and a half of hell of dealing with a mental illness that wasn’t my own and dealing with the aftermath of that; of trying to get my abdominal pain resolved once and for all and getting partial resolution (which I’ll talk about another day); of dealing with more doctors’ cluelessness about seronegative Sjogren’s and the realization that I’ll have to go it alone; and of coming face-to-face with the fact that nobody could treat me with less kindness than me — I wasn’t ready to have another bout with major depression.
The signs of depression were there: insomnia; the desire to fall asleep and never wake up; the endless crying (although in my defence that was a new symptom for me and was bound up with the aftermath of events described above); the almost reflexive retreat to thoughts of self-harm and suicide (again, in my defence, those symptoms are often there and I have the techniques to dismiss them); and finally, formulating a plan to end it all. Urghh – that’s the kicker isn’t it? That’s when you know your brain has taken it to the next level.
I’ve known in my heart this was coming. I increased my herbal meds to prepare for it. I even scheduled an appointment with my naturopath last week to discuss it (bypassing the GP because I don’t trust her with my health). My ND checked in with my medication levels and said I was going too high (risking serotonin syndrome), and then she proposed another treatment — an intravenous vitamin therapy to address the mood issues, but one that seems to address several other issues relevant to me. I was interested (because how could you not be interested when someone cares more about your recovery than you?), but I also realized that I had sunk to a certain level of hopelessness.
When the ND suggested that we should work hard to find a treatment because I deserved to stop suffering and feeling this way, I found myself saying, “After 23 years of depression, I find it hard to believe I could ever recover.” Ouch. Yes, there’s lot of pain, but there have been many moments of joy in my life, especially since finding my way to the side of my better half, Mrs. Blackbird.
Mrs. Blackbird thinks I need to brave my way back to the GP and ask for Prozac, due to its history of returning me from the depths. And because I’ve had a break since September 2012 using alternative therapies, there’s a great likelihood it will be very effective. My counsellor, bless her soul, checked in with me by email and when I revealed what was going through my mind agreed with Mrs. Blackbird. She reminded me that, “The depression is not you, you are light and joy, it is the brain tired from all of the stress you have been under.” Yes, she’s awesome, and it’s a message I’ve tried to spread far and wide, and perhaps it’s time to bring it home to myself, being tied up with all those acceptance problems I’ve been struggling with lately.
In part, I struggle with the thought of failure that I need to return to the meds that ruled my life for 20 years (of course, negating the success of the last year when I managed on alternative therapies during the possibly most stressful and harrowing time of my life). I also worry if I’m giving up too soon on the alternatives, which must have been helping to get me this far. But then, I have to take into account the plan I’ve made — a plan I’m not willing to upend by sharing with anyone just yet — and a plan I’m not willing to take charge of myself and dismantle as I have so many times in the past.
That in itself tells me that I have to take the step I’d urge anyone else to take in my position and use the meds as they are supposed to be used — as a tool to help us out of that darkest place until we can feel stronger and take more active steps for ourselves. I have to remind myself that it’s not a failure to accept help, and it doesn’t mean I can’t return to these alternatives when I’m able to.
It sucks to be having to deal with yet another issue at a time when I hoped to experience a time of calm and rest. I had hoped during this month to begin writing again — the books, reviews, guides and other things I had been dreaming of for so long, but which had been interrupted so often by one trial after another. Five years ago, during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, if you’ve not heard of it before), I wrote the first 50,000 words of a novel I feel extremely proud of. Not only was that a major achievement, I’d hoped it was a beginning – a beginning that has been derailed so often in my life interrupted – by my own health, and by life events over which I had no control. That novel remains unfinished.
I hoped this November would be a new beginning. During my trek Down Under, I bought myself a necklace at the Auckland airport. It has a beautiful silver spiral, backed by paua shell. The design was called “New Beginnings”. So many times my hand drifts to my neck and touches it, and those words go through my mind. At the moment I have trouble believing them. My next task is to find a way through to my hope again, and I believe it starts here by acknowledging where I am. This is my new beginning.