I forgot how much this hurts

This is a tough post to write. First I didn’t have the energy for it. But then I was afraid to write it. To try and put into words what it feels like when your brain’s been hijacked by itself. To adequately explain what it’s like in the depths of darkness.

So here goes.

I have been over the max dose of my medication, so it was time to try a different one. The idea was to wean off the first while building the second.

And everything went to hell.

I felt like my brain was mis-firing on every level. I had symptoms of withdrawal from the first drug, and side effects from the new one.

The fatigue was overwhelming, and my body felt like I had the flu. Headaches raged for days at a time. I felt nauseous, dizzy and dumb. My concentration was shot and I had no appetite.

And those were just the physical symptoms.

My brain is kind of s shit show right now. I can feel ok and think about a goal, and the next feel so exhausted I have to sleep for the next 12 hours. I cry about being a burden to my family and my inability to be there for them, and I get numb with complete apathy for anyone or anything. I second guess everything until I have to mentally shut down and go into safe mode.

About ten days ago, on a Tuesday, I actually had a pretty good day. I sang to the radio on the way to work. I laughed sincerely. I asked students questions and really wanted to hear the answers. I joked around.

I felt like I was maybe turning the corner.

And then the next day, I had less energy. I tried to play it off, denying that I might not be as well as I had hoped. By Friday, I was about as low as when this all started.

And I felt hopeless. Defeated. Weak.

My poor colleague took one look at me, asked what was wrong and I burst into tears.

It sucked.

I haven’t run since spring break. I haven’t left the house unless necessary. I have buffers with me wherever I go— I bring Ginger, or keep score, or have one of the kids, or my parents. I have pre-planned places to escape if needed. There are some nights where I just can’t do anything but be quiet and stare at my iPad.

Otherwise it’s too exhausting.

I’m afraid of going backward, afraid this medication won’t work, afraid I’ll damage the kids, afraid I won’t be able to finish the school year, afraid I’m too much of a burden.

I’m afraid I’ll never feel well again.

But I haven’t lost hope.

I snuggle cats, hold Ginger close, pour my fears out to Bill, take my medicine and stay in constant contact with my doctor. I take a day off, let the grading slide, lie in my bed and push the snooze button. I go to track meets and baseball games and work and function as well as I can.

The fact that I can write this shows I’m a little better.

But I’m not sure these are the right words to communicate what’s going on. How depression makes your soul hurt. How it steals the belief in everything that’s good with your life and replaces it with numbness and pain. How it tells you you’re worthless and without value. How you question the point of your very existence and wonder why anyone bothers with you.

Just typing this— and it’s taken all day— I feel the fatigue closing in and the ache in my arms.

But I still believe it will get better. I have to. Because the alternative would drive me to madness. And I need to get better because I still believe that being a mom in my current state is better than not being a mom at all.

I don’t even know how to end this, except “to be continued” because it’s not over. It will never be completely over, that’s not how depression works, but it needs to go into remission. Slowly, I hope to pack it away— a little tighter, a little more carefully— so it can’t escape again.

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