Depression forced me to face myself: Gratefulness project day 6
There are many things in my life that I’ve done as a result of my depression.
At the time I didn’t realize it of course because I didn’t know I was depressed. But I can see it now.
When my cup started running over and my breakdown was imminent, I barely knew what was going on around me. I felt so disconnected from what was happening that my mother said over Christmas that year I had no idea what needed to be done when our over 20 house guests were there for our annual Christmas gathering. I was sitting on the sofa talking and daydreaming when normally I would’ve been in the kitchen making sure everyone got fed.
At one point we were at the mall and I started feeling as if I were moving outside of my body. I felt shaky and sat down and asked my mother to get me something. I know now that was the precursor to a panic attack due to agoraphobia.
It was when I went back to work in January that my cup ran over. I was walking up from the train on my way to my office when I suddenly felt so nauseous I could hardly stand up. At the time I thought I was getting the flu and I returned home and went to see the doctor. She tested my oxygen level in my lungs and saw it was reduced and gave me a note for 2 weeks bed rest at home.
But after the two weeks I still didn’t feel better and that’s when my husband said, “You can’t sleep, you’re restless, you’re not eating, you’re depressed. We need to go see the doctor.” Amazingly and thankfully I listened to him and we went to the doctor the next morning. I filled out the depression questionnaire, and I was severely depressed with some suicidal thoughts.
That was when I knew I’d hit the bottom.
I felt as if I had a monster creeping up the back of my neck. It was the eeriest feeling I’d ever felt. Ever. As the anti-depressant started taking effect the nausea slowly subsided and the monster slowly didn’t feel as creepy. But I still felt very removed from my body.
I developed agoraphobia and couldn’t go out very far on my own. If I did, I’d start having a panic attack. I went to see a psychologist who specialized in depression and anxiety, and together, with her help, I got stronger.
There were so many decisions that I’d made in my life for other people, so that other people would love me, that I’d totally betrayed who I was. When I realized my husband had only married me for my security, my house, that was when it all came apart. I had opened my house to him and his three kids, I’d gotten a good job downtown to contribute and he’d stopped working and started leaching off of me. I’d gotten myself so far in debt thinking I was being a supportive wife, which of course he encouraged, that I saw no way out of the hole I was in.
That’s when I hit the bottom. And no wonder, I’d tried to be everything for everyone except myself.
I am far from there now thankfully.
I divorced my husband and I have dealt with all my debts so that they are no longer on my shoulders.
But I am still learning. Despite the fact that I am no longer depressed. I still make decisions for other people and one of them was moving in with my ex-fiance.
It happened too fast for me. I didn’t see it at the time, but I wasn’t ready to leave my son and I still hadn’t gotten my financial life under control. That caused me to hide things from my fiance, which caused a lot of friction.
Also I have a tendency to drink instead of expressing my feelings and I was doing that too. I believed he wouldn’t want to be with me if he knew what my financial situation was so I hadn’t told him explicitly. I understand why he was upset. I would’ve been too if he’d done the same thing to me.
I had never expected my fiance to support me, he had three kids of his own to support. So I rationalized it like that saying to myself, “I’ll look after myself so it won’t affect him.” That was very naive. In a relationship financial plans need to be shared and I wasn’t sharing because I was afraid. That led to shame and sometimes drinking more than I should have.
I see these things now in retrospect and I know I need to work on these issues still. Ironically I was spending time with one of my ex-boyfriends and I could just tell he was keeping A LOT of his feelings from me. And I was thinking how much better his life would be if he shared and opened up, and then I laughed and looked back at myself and said, “Yeah, Jackie, you’re talking about yourself here too.”
And I so was, and am. I am not good at expressing my feelings or asking for what I want or need. I know why I’m not good at it, but the abuse is over and I can express myself now, I’m an adult. F**k, I’m a middle-aged adult.
And so I wanted to say how thankful I am that I had my breakdown. It has taught me so much about myself, and also how strong I really am.
I believe I can learn to express myself more. It will take some practice and some time, and some patience on the part of people who love me because I likely won’t be good at it at first, but I’ll keep at it.
My breakdown was a big sign that I needed to honour myself by first telling myself the truth, and then other people I care about.
So that will be my mission for the upcoming year and onward.
I will find some good books and talk with my psychologist and work on not drinking to hide from my feelings.
I know I can do this and I’m so thankful I’m finally ready to try.
From the series, Because I’m a woman and because I can! by Jacqueline Snider, writer and editor
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