It’s 3:30 am on a Thursday morning and I can’t sleep

So, the next best thing I can do is try to clear out my head by compiling lists of things I need to get done in order to figure out what I’m doing with my life. One thing I’m doing this year – for sure – is participating in Nanowrimo, the annual “write a novel in 30 days” challenge that begins November 1 and runs through the end of the month. I have no idea what my novel will be about, but maybe it will help me get my butt in gear and actually accomplish something productive for the first time in what seems like forever.

I’ve had a bad week so far. So many things have gone wrong in so many ways, I can’t even begin to explain why it’s bad, but I’m sure part of it is the impending arrival of November and December. Those are always really bad months for me, emotionally. October usually isn’t great either, but I can usually muddle through it with only occasional spells of depression. This year seems to be worse in terms of my mental health, and I don’t see that improving much over the next few months. I’m just desperately hanging on until things get better. I hope they get better.

Every day, my desire to get out of San Diego grows stronger and I feel the melancholy ache of knowing that I don’t belong here. This is not my home. (Most of) the people here are not my people. I need to be back in the place where I was happy. I’m trying to figure out all my loose ends so that I can wrap them up, so when that magical day comes when I am finally released from worker’s comp hell, I can load up and head east. The longer I stay here, the more I realize that it’s slowly killing my spirit.

The depression is really strong right now, and I think it’s going to get much worse before I can drag myself out again. Lots of Xanax and chocolate, hugs from my cat, and occasional messages from friends are all that are keeping me going right now. I’m lost. I’m alone. I want to go home again. Is it too much to ask the universe to just kick a favour my way just once?

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Cars, music, and broken abandoned things

I was in a discussion recently with a great friend (whom I’ve yet to meet in person) who lives in Detroit. She’s an amazing artist and photographer, and through her, I’ve come to appreciate the forgotten city. When people think of Detroit, it’s often in relation to the breakdown of the automotive industry and the horrible recession/depression that destroyed so many livelihoods so quickly. I jokingly commented that I relate to Detroit, because the three things the city is known best for is cars, music, and broken abandoned things. I have a deep and abiding love of cars, music runs through my soul, and anyone who has read any of my past posts knows that I am a broken abandoned thing.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong at the broken places.” I’ve not had the easiest life, but I know others who have had it much worse than me. I grew up with the knowledge that I would only ever be second best, behind my sister. It didn’t matter how well I did, how smart I was, how much I tried. I would never be the golden child. That was the first crack. I started dating and discovered that I am drawn to abusive men, either physically or mentally. More cracks. I’ve never been good enough, and because of this, I get cast to the wayside. I am a broken abandoned thing. I’m still waiting to find out if I’m stronger at the broken parts.

Here’s the irony: broken abandoned things can be beautiful. Looking at photographs of abandoned factories in Detroit, I see all the years of history and feel the pulsating energy that once filled those buildings. I don’t see rubble, I see memories. I try to look objectively at my life and see the beauty, and that’s a lot harder. Some breaks can’t be fixed. How do you get over hearing “you’re worthless” and “you’ll never be good enough” continuously without it slowly eating away at your soul?

My answer is a little 10 pound charcoal tabby and white cat affectionately known as Tiggy. He’s also a broken and abandoned thing. He was handed to me through a car window, and the woman (girl, really) who handed him to me promptly drove off, leaving a very scared cat in my arms. I took him home because I was still devastated by the loss of my previous cat Moo. Three days after bringing him home, he started peeing outside the litter box. That’s a common sign of a urinary tract infection, so I rushed him to the vet and it was confirmed. She also told me that during her scans, she discovered that he had a history of untreated urinary tract infections and that his bladder, kidneys, and urethra were terribly scarred and that he would be an expensive cat to keep because of these medical problems. She also told me that he had fractured ribs (and I recently discovered that he also had broken vertebrae in his back which have since fused and cause him to hunch over when he sits). At that point, he was literally a broken and abandoned thing.

I had a gaping wound in my heart from the loss of my Moo, so I told the vet that he was my cat, he needs me, and I would do whatever it takes to make things right for him. Thankfully, a proper diet has solved his UTI problems, his ribs healed on their own, and he loves me unconditionally. He’s no longer broken, and he’s definitely not abandoned, but that’s because the universe set out to put him in my path at the time I needed him most, and he needed me most.

I don’t think I’ll ever get past the feeling of being broken and abandoned. Too many harsh words, too many physical wounds, too many people walking out on me when I needed them most. Until then, I listen to a playlist of musicians who make me happy and I seek out cars that lift my soul. I try to remember that breaks can be repaired, but those repairs will always be imperfect. I try to accept that I am me, and to shut out those people who don’t like me or want to change me.

I look forward to finding happiness again someday. Lately, that’s been difficult. I disappeared from writing for a long while because my life had become so painful that metaphorically slashing my wrists to let the poison run out was too much to bear. The past month has been a roller coaster of emotions. The ascent so high I felt like I was flying, only to be followed by the let down that reminded me that I am a broken and abandoned thing who doesn’t deserve happiness. My depression is lying to me again. I do deserve happiness, I just need to remember that it comes from myself, not from anyone else. I’m sorting through a lot of emotions and dilemmas right now, and flowing words are how I function best. There will probably be many posts over the coming days, weeks, months, even possibly years. Many of those posts will conflict with each other as I argue with myself, and many will probably be repetitive. I apologize in advance if you’ve gotten this far.

Thing(s) that I am grateful for today: Driving around in a light drizzle with the top down and Matt Nathanson blasting on the radio. The soft, extra fluffy white belly that my cat loves to have rubbed. Dark chocolate M&Ms.

What we want, what we get

That’s a favourite song of mine, by Dave Barnes. It’s an oddity to me because it’s a breakup song, but the lyrics call to me in a way that not many songs do. (I highly recommend searching out the song and listening to it sometime) The gist of it is that what we want is not always what we get – in case you didn’t figure that out by the song title. I think we all have those things that we want, that we know we’ll never have, but which doesn’t stop us from wanting them regardless. Sometimes even selfishly.

When I moved back to San Diego in July 2008, I told myself that it was a temporary thing while I sorted out several life altering things that had turned my world upside down. My goal was always to get back to the place I loved. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is back in South Carolina. Well, here I am 7 years later, and I still haven’t made it back “home.” I’ve gotten to the point mentally where I question myself as to whether I love South Carolina because that is where I truly was at my happiest (barring a couple really bad months) or if I’m fondly remembering a place that my mind has altered to seem better than it really is, simply because I despise San Diego so much. And I do despise San Diego that much. The only things I love about this place are a few people who have made my life richer by being here.

Everything happens for a reason, and right now, I’m extremely torn. It looks like I will be given the opportunity to relocate back to my beloved Carolinas as soon as my knee is completely healed, and that is screwing me up mentally. I loved the Carolinas very deeply. Maybe because it was my first taste of true independence. I basically threw a dart at a map and ended up there by chance when I had the opportunity to escape San Diego back in 2004. I drove for three days with a two year old and two crying cats, arriving in the middle of a hurricane. Ivan, if you care. From the very first day, I was in love. I’d never seen a place so lush and green, with water everywhere and gorgeous old buildings.

The longer I stayed, the more I loved it. I met some incredible people and found my way to a job that I actually really enjoyed, and at the end of the day, I could dip my feet into a lake or stream and mentally escape. It wasn’t all wine and roses though. Towards the end, some things happened that caused me to move back to San Diego. I started regretting that decision almost as soon as I started driving west, and by the time I reached the California border, I had to pull over because I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see. I hated myself for moving back and swore that as soon as I could afford to, I’d head east again.

Then, the doubts crept in. Do I love the Carolinas or do I just despise San Diego and anywhere else would be better? I flew back to Charlotte for my birthday the following February, and said that the only gift I wanted was to see snow. It almost never snows in the Piedmont, so I knew it was a long shot, but minutes after I collected my rental car and started driving to my friend’s house where I would be staying, the flurries started. It felt like the Carolinas were welcoming me back with open arms and begging me to return. Getting on the plane to return to California hurt even worse than driving away. I told myself then that I couldn’t return unless I was returning for good. It was like running into an old love from whom you parted amicably. Best not to spend too much time or mental energy chasing down all the what ifs. And there are a lot of what ifs.

So, what’s next for me? If everything falls into place, do I return to my true love knowing that time changes things and that the enchantment may no longer be there? Heraclitus once said “You cannot step twice into the same river” and that is true. By your second step, both you and the river have changed. I just don’t know how the changes I’ve undergone over the past seven years will affect my love of a place that once filled me with happiness. Perhaps I should consider a new place to call home, so I’d be out of my hated San Diego, and can keep my fond memories of the Carolinas as fond memories. Maybe I should stay in San Diego and remember that the people I love here outweigh the hatred I have for the city. I’m lost. I’m confused. I’m even a little bit scared. This is something I’ve wanted so badly for so long that I no longer know if I actually want it or if the wanting of it is just a mental twist. Sometimes, having mental illness really sucks. I can’t trust my brain to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. A niggling thought in the back of my mind is yelling to GO FOR IT! Even if it’s no longer the perfect oasis that I remember, I still have a support system there, and it would be better than living somewhere I hate.

There is one distinct advantage to having chronic insomnia

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had some screwy weather around here. It’s been super hot and muggy more days than not, which means that personal productivity is slightly higher than a tortoise galloping through mud. However, since I’ve been dealing with nearly two weeks of insomnia this time around, I figured I’d put it to good use.

I’ve been spending a good portion of the evening, night, and early morning to clean and organize my house. It’s relatively cool, considering the nice breeze from the fan that’s blowing on me, so I just put on some music and get stuff done. In an ideal world, I’d like to have my room completely organized before my knee surgeries.

I knocked out a big chunk of my to do list today by doing some remodeling in my closet. I hung up a new clothes bar with a shelf over it, so that I have more room to store things, and I plan on adding some additional shelving in there as well. I’ve also dismantled part of the Elfa system that was in my room and reconfigured it to make it more user-friendly for me. By the time I’m done, I should have an actually functional room that will be easy to maintain and look a lot less messy.

I love the satisfaction of writing out lists of things I want to accomplish, and being able to check things off once they’re completed. I guess that’s the super-organized overachiever part of my personality. I don’t like when things are messy and I can’t find what I want. It drives me nuts. I’m also taking the time to do some more crocheting. Again, it is immensely satisfying to see the progress as I stitch together whatever the hell it is I’m making.

Yesterday (September 7) was the one year anniversary of trashing my knee, and I’m getting to the point where reading is getting boring. While I was out of work on full disability, I was reading an average of 600 pages a day, because I just wasn’t able to do anything more than go to the kitchen or bathroom, or to the doctor’s office or physical therapy. Slowly but surely, things are coming together. I’m still waiting on whether or not my surgeries will be approved; I plan on calling WC tomorrow (today?) and trying to get an answer from them. The new claim rep that has been assigned to me doesn’t have a direct phone number listed, and I can’t find him in the company directory when I try to call. If I can’t track him down, I’ll call my previous WC admin and see if she can get me his phone number. There are things I need to discuss with him in addition to trying to settle the surgery plans.

I’m just so ready to move on with my life now, so I can start the next chapter and see where it leads me. I feel like I’m walking up a down escalator. One step after another, with no forward progress in sight. Fortunately, I seem to be keeping the depression at bay for now, which is making things a lot easier for me. I still have just the edge of anxiety gnawing at my subconscious, but I’m doing my best to ignore it, and mostly succeeding. The not knowing what’s happening next is the hardest part of the whole situation.

I’m feeling a little bit topsy turvy

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

 

I think my feeling of being “off” started on July 24th when I walked out to find my roof slashed on my car. Nothing was stolen, but it still felt very much like a personal violation. My car is very special to me. He symbolizes the grown up me who is supposed to be fun and spontaneous instead of dull and boring. I feel good when I sit in my car. I enjoy the attention I get when people comment on what a nice looking car he is. (It never extends to what a nice looking driver he has, but I’m quite okay with that)

Things started to get better once I was finally able to get to the claims adjuster to inspect the tear and get a check to pay for the new roof. I felt like I was finally making some progress. Then, the following Saturday, I suddenly lost fifth gear. Thankfully, I have a dual clutch transmission, and was able to utilize fifth gear by switching into manual mode. Once again, I fell into stress mode, worrying about what this was going to cost me to repair it, even with my super awesome bumper to bumper warranty. At this point I was looking at a $250 deductible for the roof, plus a minimum of $250 deductible on the transmission repair. Since I’m still on disability, this meant that I was going to have to save up for a very long time before I could get either repair done.

I returned to work on a modified schedule, working four hours a day. After the first two days, my knees hurt so badly that I could barely walk. I made an emergency appointment to see my surgeon’s PA and he cut me back to 3 hours a day to see if that would help. I’ve discovered that if I keep my legs elevated at work, they don’t hurt nearly as bad, but I’m still having to ice them for several hours when I get home.

My check arrived from State Farm and I called the auto upholsterer that was recommended by State Farm (and more importantly, but a very close friend of mine whose wife used the same company on her beloved Miata) and found out that the cost of the roof and labor was the exact amount of the check I was given. State Farm forgot to back out the $250 deductible that I was supposed to pay. Oops. I called them and asked, and they informed me that the check was correct, so I was went with it. I ordered my new roof . In the meantime, Morgan (my 350Z) decided that he was going to use fifth gear again, and hasn’t had any shifting problems since. I still want to get it checked out, but it’s not on the urgent list anymore.

Then I went to see my surgeon. He told me that he’s done all he can do with arthroscopic surgery, and the next thing to try is a procedure called “autologous cartilage replacement.” Basically, they do a quick arthroscopic procedure where they harvest some healthy cartilage and send it off to a lab to grow into a patch large enough to cover the two condyles on my tibia that are crumbling. Then, he’ll go in and do an open surgery to essentially sew the new cartilage onto the bone, where it should theoretically grow into healthy cartilage and be just like new. Finding out I need two more surgeries put me over the edge again and I spend a good portion of Monday crying and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that this means I’m stuck here in San Diego for at least the next two years, and possibly as many as four. I’m trying to stay optimistic and think of how wonderful it will be to not have pain and grinding/crunching in my knee every time it bends, but it’s hard to stay positive right now.

I did get my new roof on my car installed on Friday, and it looks very nice. It’s driving me a little nuts that I can’t lower the roof until tomorrow afternoon, because it needs to stretch properly so that I don’t have issues down the road, but that’s a minor inconvenience that I can live with. Also on Friday, I got a surprise visit with my son, as his father had some business to attend to here in town.

At this point, I’m so mentally turned around and upside down, I don’t even know what I’m feeling anymore. I’ve been having panic attacks again since finding out about the new surgeries and I have a pervasive feeling of anxiety that I just can’t get rid of. I try so hard to stay positive and always look on the bright side, but sometimes it’s just too hard. I feel like I’m bogged down; stuck in a city I hate, for the foreseeable future, and every time I try to make any plans to leave, something else comes up to hold me here longer. I should have never moved back. I haven’t been completely happy since returning, and I’m brokenheartedly homesick for the Carolinas. It’s getting to be time for the leaves to change color, and the air to turn brisk.

I feel like I’ve lost control of my life, and that I’m surviving on the whims of others. The depression is creeping back in, and so is the anxiety. No, they’re not the same thing. I’m trying to do the one coping mechanism that generally works for me, and that is taking control of one aspect of my life and setting it right. If I can control just one thing, then I know I’m not helpless. Inside, I’m still screaming though.

Today is the final day of “Mental Health Awareness Month”

I’d written previously about how May was designated as the official “Mental Health Awareness Month” and how I felt that it should not be limited to just 31 days out of the year. I, of course, still feel that way. For those who have not been following my blog regularly, or have just started reading it recently, I’ll give a brief overview. I have two forms of depression: Borderline Personality Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. I also suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. If you’d like to read more about any of these subjects, the NIMH website is a great place to start. It gives a detailed overview of the various types of depression, as well as a comprehensive explanation of what it all means.

Unfortunately, every person is different, and everyone’s presentation of mental illness and ability to cope will be different. I hide behind the walls I learned to put up after 6 years of drama school, and most people don’t realize I have any mental issues unless I intentionally share them. I’m trying to share them more now, to try to lessen the stigma of what it’s like to have mental illness. Most people think that the mentally ill are those homeless people who stagger around mumbling to themselves and panhandling. A great many of them are, but only because they haven’t had the opportunities I’ve had to seek help. I have had two excellent doctors who have helped me tremendously with finding the right course of medication that helps control my depression and allows me to live like a “normal” person most days.

I go through cycles where everything will be going great, and then some little thing will go wrong and I spiral down into depression. Lately, it’s been my knee issue. I feel like I’m taking two steps forward and one step back on a regular basis, except for those times when I’m only taking one step forward and two steps back. I deal with a lot of pain in my day to day life because of the bone spur in my C5 vertebra that is pressing against the nerves and causing a “migraine” that has been with me every single day since about April of 2006. Thankfully, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, as I’m opiate resistant, so narcotics don’t help me at all.

At one point, I thought that I might be bi-polar, because I’d go through such intense mood swings, but I never truly hit mania and I never fit the other symptoms, according to my doctor. It’s just the regular cycle of depression. You start out okay, and then something triggers it and down the drain you go. Eventually, you fight your way back out of it and live normally for a while, and then you start the process all over again.

I don’t claim to be an expert on depression of any kind. I only know my own. I worry that my son will follow in my footsteps, so to speak, so I’m happy that he lives with his dad, who is a more stable individual. A person whom I consider to be a very good friend of mine wrote online today that she can’t take it anymore and felt completely unloved. I know it is the depression talking, and I sincerely hope that those who are (physically and mentally) closer to her can help her get through this. I know she is deserving of love, and I love her dearly, as do many of our friends. It’s so hard though, when the depression is lying to you and telling you you’re not good enough, or not pretty enough, or thin enough, or not deserving of love, because you are. Depression lies. It lies to you constantly and makes you doubt your own feelings until you don’t know if what you feel is true or if it’s just your illness making you feel that way.

Earlier this week I had a severe mental breakdown because I felt that my knee wasn’t getting any better and that I was going to have to live with yet another permanent pain in my life. I allowed myself to cry for a day and feel sorry for myself, and then I talked myself into believing that everything happens within its own time, and that I just have to be patient and let myself heal at whatever speed that is. I know I push myself too hard, and that’s one of my weaknesses. Unfortunately, pushing myself too hard on a newly operated knee can result in causing more damage than good, so I’ve had to go back to being a lazy lump with an ice pack  and elevation to try to get the swelling down, and to not walk any more than possible. I hate it though, because I’m not the type of person who can just sit around and do nothing all day. There’s only so much reading or crocheting I can do before I go batty.

 

May is “Mental Health Awareness Month”

I’ve never understood the reason for dedicating certain months to certain “causes” or “illnesses.” Shouldn’t we be a more vigilant and caring society where we are aware and understanding of others every day? I’ve gotten a lot of private messages from people lately who have lauded my openness regarding my mental issues. For many years, I was taught by action and word that depression is something that you have the choice to either have or not have. THIS IS NOT TRUE. True depression (not just sadness – everyone gets that occasionally) is an actual disease that is caused by an imbalance in your brain. Yes, trying to be cheerful may be of some help, but deep down inside, I know the depression is still there, and it’s fighting me to get back to the surface and cause more grief.

I am completely open and honest on this blog. I’m not out to change the world, but I do sincerely try to educate people on depression, and other anxiety disorders, because if no one talks about them, then no one thinks there’s a problem, and then no one works to find a cure or a solution. Burying your head in the sand is not going to help anything, except perhaps to give you a temporary reprieve.

Here are some facts about me, that may or may not come as a surprise to anyone with depression, as there are certainly “triggers” that can cause a mild problem to blow up into a huge, life-threatening situation.

In 1991, 19 days after my 16th birthday, I was raped. He was renting a room at my friend’s house, and I was spending the night over at her house when he attacked me sometime in the early hours of the morning. He told me that if I told anyone, he’d kill me. I believed him. At the time, I was living with my grandmother, and when I went home to her, I told her what happened. She took me to my pediatrician (whom I’ve always disliked, because he was very misogynistic and obsequious). He told me that it wasn’t rape because I knew the boy who did it, and I must have given him some indication that “I wanted it.” I believed him. He told me that I should never spread such lies around, because it could ruin the boy’s reputation. I believed him. I was just 16 years old. I didn’t know any better. There was no such thing as date rape back then.

Soon after that incident, I attempted suicide for the first time. I downed an entire bottle of Tylenol (because that’s what we had in the house) and chased it with a bottle of tequila. Bad combination, because it made me throw up and it obviously didn’t kill me. To this day, I cannot stand the smell of tequila.

That began my downward spiral into depression. You know you suck at life when you can’t even kill yourself properly. I started engaging in dangerous behaviors like driving fast (at that time, I think the fastest I ever went was 120, but cars just didn’t have the horsepower then that they do now) and shoplifting. Since I never got caught, I figured that my behavior wasn’t that bad.

In 1995, I got engaged (much too young) to a man who was several years older than me. We moved in together, preparatory to actually getting married. One day, I came home sick from work and found him in bed with a girl whom I thought was my best friend. Obviously, she wasn’t. I turned around and left and went to my mom’s house to sleep for a while. When I came home, he was gone, and so were his belongings, and I haven’t seen him since. I did eventually forgive her, and we did become friends again for an all-too-brief period of time before she passed away.

That was my first realization that I suck at relationships. I expect truth and honesty, and open communication if something is going wrong, and that just doesn’t happen – at least with the men I’ve dated. I’ve had a horrible history of dating “the wrong men.” I’ve dated men old enough to be my father, and 10 years younger than me, and everything in between. They all have the same thing in common: they are unable to commit. Somehow, subliminally, I always choose men that I know will not commit to me, because subliminally, I’m looking for someone like my father, who did not want to commit to me. I was the antithesis of a daddy’s girl. He would probably describe me more as daddy’s pain in the ass, entirely too much trouble to deal with, girl. When my parents separated, I was about 7* (yes, I know I’m jumping around) and for the first time in my life, my father chose me over my sister as the child he would list as his dependent on his taxes. I later figured out that it was because I was the younger child, and so he’d get the child tax break an extra two years than if he had chosen my sister. My father was always deserting me, either to spend time with my sister, or to go out on dates, or whatever he chose to do. When he wasn’t going out, he wanted to watch his TV shows and didn’t want to communicate with me at all. I don’t remember a single meaningful conversation with him that didn’t relate to cars in the first 13 years of my life. When he decided to marry his current wife, we all sat down together to have a “family meeting” and discuss the issues that we had, because our “family” was very warped by this time. One of the things I remember telling him was that I don’t ever remember him telling me that he loved me. He told my sister, and he told his wife to be, but he never said it to me. He said that I should just know, and it shouldn’t have to be said. Somehow, this is the type of man I kept finding and dating. Men who could not or would not love me, and would not commit to being even semi-permanent in my life.

Around this time, I attempted suicide for the second time. I tied a rope to the bar in my closet and tried to hang myself. I managed to suffocate myself to unconsciousness, but the rope broke, and I ended up falling back to the floor. Yeah, I have either really good luck or really bad luck.

After the fiance incident, I dated several other men who fit my profile. A couple of them were already married, some just had girlfriends, others weren’t looking for any kind of commitment, and then there were the abusers. Some were verbal abuse, and some knocked me around. One held a knife to me neck and told me he’d kill me just for the fun of it if I didn’t do exactly what he said. I tried going the Tylenol route again, but this time, I chased it with straight water instead of tequila. I ended up throwing up again instead of dying, and I’m sure I’ve done irreparable damage to my liver by now, even without heavy drinking.

By this time, the pediatrician that I hated had his practice taken over by a new, younger doctor who had more modern sensibilities and was open to listening to me. In 1998, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia, a chronic, low grade depression. I was prescribed an anti-depressant, and it worked for a while, and then a different one, and then a different one; each one working for a few months or a few years before I’d be back to suicidal again. By this time, I’d learned that trying to kill myself is obviously futile, so instead of actually attempting it, I’d just fantasize about it. I’d think of all the different ways I could do it, and what I’d need in order to accomplish it. I think if I had access  to a handgun at that point, I would have actually succeeded, finally.

After having my son, I suffered from Postpartum Depression, although I was unaware of it. My husband was not very good at helping me with anything. He didn’t clean, he didn’t cook, he very rarely took care of his son (and when he did, he called it babysitting, which pisses me off. You don’t BABYSIT your own child, you PARENT them.) And yet, he was constantly critical of everything I did. The house was never clean enough, I didn’t have dinner ready for him, etc. It didn’t matter that I was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep every 24 hour period. During my entire pregnancy and through the end of breastfeeding my son, I wasn’t allowed to take any of my anti-depressants, which didn’t help at all.

Skipping forward over several years and more of the same, I separated from my husband and he and our son moved to a different state, which made all of us happier. Around this time, I started getting really bad headaches. My doctor diagnosed them as migraines and put me on migraine medication. Just like with the anti-depressants, they’d work for a little while, and then the next time, they’d do absolutely nothing. It took 5 years to diagnose the reason for the severe headaches is a bone spur in my spine that’s slowly pinching off the nerves. Eventually, without my even trying, it’s going to likely kill me.

2012/2013 were terrible years for me. I once again got involved in a relationship that didn’t work out. Things seemed great in the beginning, even to the point where we moved in together. Unfortunately, it was the moving in that caused the undoing of our relationship. On the day we were scheduled to move, we ended up spending the entire day moving his belongings, and then had to return the rental truck. I ended up having to move my own belongings to the new place a few boxes at a time, whenever I had the ability, because he wouldn’t help. Then, I went up to Fresno for a friend’s wedding, and was coming home on New Year’s Eve. He knew I was coming home that day, and we had planned to go out and do “something” although that was never defined. I sped down from Fresno only to get a message from him when I was 20 minutes from home stating that he decided he was going to go hang out with his friends and he’d see me the next day. He pulled a similar stunt on my birthday  6 weeks later by refusing to ask for time off from work to spend any time with me. I didn’t even get a card or a “Happy birthday” from him. The closest I got was, “well, you knew that I close on Saturdays, so if you wanted me to be able to go, you should have planned on  Sunday instead (with him in full knowledge that I was starting a new job on Monday and didn’t want to go out partying the night before I started). After that, it all just fell apart. He decided he didn’t even want to sleep in the same room with me, so he took to sleeping on the couch in the living room. When it came time to move out, again, he moved all of his belongings and left me to take care of all my belongings by myself. I am pretty capable, so I did manage to move all of my stuff, a couple boxes at a time, to either storage  or to my mom’s house.

November came around, and for some reason, all of a sudden, the depression came back like a major slap in the face. I went back to see my doctor, and he said that I’ve now progressed to Major Depressive Disorder.

* I’ve actually blocked out most of what happened in my life for several years, and haven’t been able to get those memories back, because they are too painful for me to face, still. What’s the difference? With the Dysthymia, I was always just a little “bummed.” All of a sudden, I hit this wall where it took all of my energy just to get through a day without crying, and as soon as I got home from work I’d crawl into my bed and cry myself to sleep and stay there. Some nights I never got up at all, until I had to go to work. On my days off, I’d stay in bed all day, sleeping or reading, and trying to ignore the outside world. My doctor gave me a new prescription to see if it would help me, and it has. I still have days when I start crying for no reason, or don’t have the energy to get out of bed. I’d binge eat. Some days I wouldn’t eat anything at all, and other days I’d gorge myself until I felt I couldn’t move.

This is probably more information than you’ve ever wanted or needed to know about me, but this is who I am. I have depression. I have panic disorder. I have mental illness. Not just in the month of May. This is a battle I fight every single day. I know I’m not alone. I’m tired of the misconceptions surrounding depression. “Just be happy” is not an option. I am a generally happy person on the outside. You just can’t see the cracked container on the inside that I’m desperately trying to hold together. I have attempted suicide 4 times, and thought about it at least 400 other times. I’m no longer at the point where I want to kill myself, there are certainly plenty of times when I want to die. This is what depression looks like from my perspective.

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