Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Lifelong (unwanted) Companion

I can look back and see depression littered throughout my life. I can remember hiding in our front room in the couch cushions just wishing that I could curl up and disappear. I must have been 10 or 11 at the time. At 12 I had an 'episode'...that until this moment only one other person has known about...where I began pacing my room and my hallway muttering things under my breath. I felt alone, sad, and I kept thinking how I 'screwed everything up.' My best friend followed behind me asking what was wrong. I knew it, I could hear her...I just couldn't stop myself.
Thankfully that has never happened again.
I was always the quiet kid. Read too many books that none of my friends had ever heard of, engrossed myself in movies and pretend worlds, listened to classical music and opera. I was the thoughtful person...who watched people long before she chose to interact with them. While these things do not classify me as being depressed...they do show that I was a bit of a loner, too old for my age. And I was very aware of it.
While we lived in Alabama (years 8-15) my father was diagnosed with a rare lung disease called Sarcoidosis. It was a product of work environment, small lungs, and the lime plants that were in our area. My best friend and go-anywhere-anytime dad suddenly had to have oxygen 24/7...and missed work for the first time in my life. I began writing poetry (or what I call poetry) that had nothing to do with him but I see now that it was a product of all that was happening. Many other changes happened to my family and life at that time...most of which I can not write about here because it would tell at least one person's private story, and I love this person too much to write about things that I have no business writing about.
Between the ages of 15-16 I was raped and dated a man that I consider the devil incarnate (more on that at another time as well).
At the end of 2003 my father's health took a nose-dive when Pulmonary Hypertension was added to the list. I also began suffering from anemia - and didn't know it. I worked for a daycare (as center director) with a woman I considered a good friend and second mother. One day she told me she had noticed I had gained weight, was not pulling helping out enough with the construction of the new daycare center (because all my free time was being spent with my dad)...and that I needed to get my priorities straight. When I found out in December that I was pregnant I informed her that I would be leaving. I had gotten my priorities straight...just not in the way she was thinking.
I took my father to dr's appointments, listened as the doctor told him there was nothing more they could do, and watched everyone else be able to tell him goodbye. I didn't...I thought if I did he would realize it was the end and let go. My mother didn't as well...and that has been our bond since he left. (I will write about her on a later date.) I waged a war with my father's side of the family when I told them he wanted to be cremated...in the end he was not.
In February 9th of '04 he passed away. My mother, her children (who my father loved as his own) and my fathers other children sat on the side of the mortuary chapel...alienated from my father's side of the family. I was aware I was responsible but my mother and I sat there with our heads high and let the tears come as we said goodbye. We knew him, we loved him, we were there through the sickness and the good times.
In August my daughter was born, the daughter he would never meet on this earth, and I spiraled. It had been a hard pregnancy and after she was born I finally allowed my body to grieve...but it pushed me further into depression than I have ever gone before...and I didn't know it until late in '05. I didn't want to work, I only wanted to sleep. I had no desire to go anywhere and my house completely fell apart. I screamed at everyone...my kids and Sean included. I did not want to talk to people and was often rude, not being able to stop myself. Which just made everything worse because I would fall apart later. My husband was not supportive, could not understand and just told me to 'get over it' or 'snap out of it' and lived on the computer content with his online war games. He did not 'believe' in medication for things like depression or bi-polar disorders...he felt it was just a state of mind. He has since learned that is not the case. My mother moved in with us...then moved out a bit later.
Around June of '05 I discovered the internet game-chats....made friends and had fun. I felt free, happy...and it nearly destroyed my world. Sean and I came very close to getting a divorce, until one night we both lost our minds. We cried, we talked, we finally said everything honestly and openly. I talked to my doctor about what was going on and she told me I had depression. I didn't see it that way. We talked some more and it was like the lightbulb went on and I could have dropped right there. We tried one drug...it didn't work for me. Then she prescribed Cymbalta...one I had seen on tv. It totally changed my life.
But...as with all other medications, I had a hard time remembering to take it. It was during the time of 'relapse' that I would realize just how different I was without it. I saw the extent of the change and tried to take it as often as possible.
Since we've been here I've not taken it until the other night. I could hear myself yelling at the kids, needing a cigarette every 5-10 minutes, wanting to run out of the house for a few hours and just leave them all here...I would not have done that, but I have wanted to. I have not wanted to go anywhere or do anything...the deer was getting closer to the car. It struck the other night and I collapsed on the porch. My husband wiped a tear off my cheek and went to look in the garage for my medicine. I realize now how far he's come. I know it has not been easy living with me (trust me, he's not always a peach :)).
It is a daily fight, it is a disease and it can destroy you. It affects people differently.

I have felt an overwhelming urge to share this for a few weeks. I don't know why...maybe someone else needs to read this. Maybe I just needed to write it....

7 comments:

Bri said...

Thank you for sharing. Sending you another hug through the blogosphere, you made me cry.

TJ said...

Wow. You've been through so much and it's amazing how open and insightful you are about it all.

Depression is absolutely awful, I understand completely the hideous ride it takes you for.

Jennwynn said...

Two things: 1.) Congratulations for being open and honest.
2.) Take your medication. :)

If you ever need incentive to do so, drop me a line--I'm related to someone who is bi-polar, and I am *extremely* supportive of meds...

Hugs, hugs, hugs...

~wynn

Buzz said...

Courage is a beautiful thing....a thing that I don't always have. The beauty (and ugliness)of the internet is that people only see what you allow. Thank you for having the courage to allow others to see you. That, in itself, is inspirational to a degree that you don't likely realize. Big hugs!

-Buzz

Kendra said...

Thank you so much everyone. I appreciate the comments and you have encouraged me. :)

Melissa said...

Catching up on your blog (This is how far behind I am!)

I'm sorry you've lived with all of this, and I think this is an incredibly brave post. I know most people try very hard to hide this type of stuff from the world.

I'm glad you found a medication that works (when you take it! ;) ) and a husband who seems to be "getting it." Most people seem to understand cardiac patients, or diabetics without having to have a heart attack or diabetes themselves, but I've met very few people who understood and "believed in" depression unless they had it themselves. Very strange to me. I'm glad your husband has been coming around.

If you have trouble remembering to take your meds, try putting them by something you do first thing in the morning. Keep the bottle in your instant coffee container or something ;)

Marylin said...

thanks so much for pointing me to this post Kendra... I've been feeling quite a lot of this recently, especially the yelling at other people, wanting to leave the house to just get away, and wanting a cigarette, something I havent had in a looong time.
Hopefully I will get the meds on tuesday and then I can start to feel back to normal within a few weeks...