I was 23 the first time the world ended. Alone, lost, confused, I climbed into bed and succumbed to the darkness. Sleep was my escape from depression, binge eating was my answer to anxiety. Miserable, I made my first trip to a psychiatrist who stabilized me with medication and tried to match me with a therapist. So began a journey that apparently will never end. Because there is no cure, only treatment, so I get to navigate these dicey waters for the rest of my life.
Over the years I've ridden a roller coaster. Never quite as bad as that first bout, but other times where my world has felt like it was ending. Where I was just that hopeless. Periods of time lost to my symptoms, sometimes foreseeable (right after having a baby), sometimes not at all (waking up one morning in a blind panic for no recognizable reason). There have been therapists, though none that I have ever really truly connected with. There have been medications and side effects and honeymoon periods and adjusted dosages and oh, the money I have spent trying to find the right cocktail to keep me from going back to the dark bedroom.
I didn't want to blog about it. For one thing, others have blogged about the issue so beautifully and honestly and thoroughly. What do I have to add? For another, I didn't want it to become who I am or what my blog is about. I'm already a cliche - a mommy blogger. And a mommy who not only drones on about my kids but also whines about her mental health issues? Who needs that? But, here's the thing - it IS who I am. And obviously it affects my writing - look at the date of my last post.
I withdraw. It's my pattern. I don't answer my phone and sometimes I don't even listen to my voice mails. I overeat, I don't eat, I sneak bowls of cereal when the house is sleeping. I cry and get overly emotional at songs on the radio. I snap at my kids and criticize my husband. I start blog posts and don't finish them. I self-loathe for not being able to finish my blog posts. I drive everyone around me crazy. I realize I drive people crazy and so I withdraw further.
All these years later I still find myself wondering if some of these habits are actually mine or if they are symptoms of the illness. Or if it even matters. I hope I never get back to the darkness of 23. I've spent the last 16 years trying to make sure I stay out of that particular forest. But still, I withdraw.