Friday, September 26, 2008

Birthday time and depression

Normally I love, love, love my birthday. My friends from college might remember that my birthday, in my mind, is somewhere up there with the biggies like Christmas and Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the noticing by others that I had achieved another year of greatness on this planet.

This year it's just different. I'm quiet and I have stopped eating most of the things that I used to indulge in that would "make me feel better". When a fat girl gives up cake, something big must be going on.

I'm going to make a call to see if my Psychiatric R.N. can get me in next week and look me over in my currently depressed state. I need something, maybe a few somethings. I am on an antidepressant medication, which was doubled shortly before school started, and an anti-anxiety medication currently.

Without those two pharmaceuticals I wouldn't be working at all. (Oh, and add in the Ritalin which keeps me awake enough to get through the day in my own flat feeling way. I'm not ADD but take Ritalin as a prescribed stimulant after Provigil stopped working back in June.) These meds keep me a step above suicidal thoughts but they aren't far away.

If you've never truly battled depression then you, dear reader, are a lucky soul. It's been something I've wrestled with most of my life. I've been medicated for it for years since I had the staggering genius to call a close friend to take me in to the local mental health center when I was in the midst of a new job and working towards my divorce from an abusive husband. I was whispers away from another attempt as a grown up but I'm a coward and not willing to hurt myself enough to actually kill myself in a nasty effective way like hanging or a gun shot.

I don't mean this to come across in any way as kidding around and making light of depression. I spent my fair share of childhood years sitting in the back seat of my parents' car crying silently to myself because I felt so alone. I spend nights now sitting with head in hands, sobbing, praying that this will stop soon. This is a pain that goes to the core, to the soul, to the mind, to the heart. It sucks the good feelings away from you as easily as snuffing out the flame from a match.

I know there isn't any reason for me to not be depressed because I am no more or less special that anyone else on this Earth. But sometimes I wonder why does it have to linger so, why does it have to be so thorough, why haven't I reached my limit where it's been enough and it stops.

I teach students with multitudes of problems. I was one of those students at one time. Shocking news for most people. I'm a fairly intelligent individual who grew up shy and frightened to death of being left behind, left alone. Perhaps I felt the loss of my biological father at a young age and internalized that loss somehow. I was one of those kids who was homesick during sleepovers. I thought my mother would leave me behind. I needed her. Yet somehow, through all that needing, I guess I must have done something wrong because I always felt that way, never sure of where I stood or what I could to do to make her happy.

Deep depression began in the grade I currently teach. Imagine being nine or ten and wondering what it would be like to cease to exist. To just vanish. I felt invisible and my anguish grew.

Suicide attempts came in forms of pills and razor cuts. In middle school. My middle school was grades 5-8. The police would come, slide me in the back of the car, and drive me to the hospital. They would clean me up and send me home again with the promise to go to therapy. We'd go a few times and then stop because it was an inconvenience for "them". To stop working and take me to see a doctor to see why I wanted to hurt myself was simply an imposition. That's a powerful message.

There was one time in ninth grade when I stayed at a psych ward for 48 hours which become a week, then two, and then started heading into months. Imagine what it was like to be a child amongst a few other children aching that badly, mixed in with adults who had a variety of issues. I was promised things that didn't happen and I was basically removed in commando fashion by my parents who abruptly showed up one day and took me away. I recall feeling angry and deceived by the people who worked in the facility where I had been staying. They knew I was leaving and were instructed not to tell me what was to come.

I had to sit in the back of my parents' car with my brother's car seat on one side and my mother's husband on the other side. He was wearing a suit. I remember him sitting next to me and muttering and feeling trapped. I had finally started to feel better, safer, like I was making progress in my life being away from my family.

Then we went to another hospital where I briefly stayed and was cured within 48 hours. Then I went home and it started all over again.

If you've read the book or seen the movie (both are equally fabulous and haunting) Ordinary People, that is perhaps what feels the most authentic to me. Never being forgiven for that one thing, that surviving and not being right in any way. Except with me it was both parents who felt that way, not just one.

When you do things like that, you act out, you have your "trouble" as my mother calls it, you are never forgiven. No one mentions it except once in a while she might remind me that I gave them "trouble" when I was growing up. I don't say anything because I've already been told that what I remembered was wrong, that my feelings were wrong, that I was all wrong.

I turned later to bulimia, a slower way of trying to kill yourself I guess, but more acceptable in my household. I became thinner and more attractive. I've mentioned this before, the hours of exercising with thousands of sit-ups, diuretics, diet pills, and laxatives. More suicide attempts and another hospitalization in my sophomore year. It was almost Regents time, for those who live in New York state you know what I mean by that.

I studied for my Regents exam dutifully while locked up for a week. I was allowed to eat and vomit there unchecked. I got to talk about my feelings and then I went home cured again. I recall my family stopping on the way home to eat at a restaurant. I left the table to use the restroom and my father made a smart remark about my "bulimia". How thoughtful.

I was bulimic and angry and a mess for years. I repeated my ninth grade of high school due to the first aforementioned hospitalization and later entrance into a special program for emotionally disturbed students. People don't know that about me. All of this is highly secretive information.

The next year I returned to regular high school and was promoted to tenth grade even though I hadn't finished the prior year from about February on. I made the school put me back in ninth grade and redid the year with all new kids while the people that had been my peers whispered about me and made fun of me in the halls.

I still graduated seventh in my class. I was an honors students. I worked part-time during school and ran to stay thinner and smiled. I played along but hid the depression because there was no one who could help me. I had learned that lesson by then. Imagine being thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen and knowing that no one would ever come to your aid. No one would help you. That's another powerful message.

Some people just hurt all the time but they know enough to cover it up. I learned that to be a good girl, a better girl, I had to shut up and stay thin (no matter what) and smile and then maybe someone would look my way and throw me a morsel of kindness or attention now and then. I lived like that for a long time.

Most of the time I still do.

7 comments:

Merelyme said...

Hey there...

While I have not lived your life...I can relate to so many of your feelings. I grew up without a father...living in poverty in one of the most dangerous parts of town...under the sole care of my mother who is schizophrenic. I lived most of my childhood, teen years, and young adulthood living in fear. I had nobody to help me. I did cut my wrists when I just didn't think I could take it anymore. But then at some point...I thought...Yes I do want to live...I do want to find any happiness that I can.

Sometimes when things get difficult...survival is all we have...just making it to the next day...the next hour...the next minute.

I just want to tell you that you matter...you are important...and it is possible to feel better.

Please hang in there.

LISA EMRICH said...

Happy Birthday B. !!!!!

I'm so glad that you found something to laugh at. Jeri's a very funny lady, as are Ms. Cheese and Ms. Blindbeard. They often having me laughing my arse off.

And Merely Me is a wonderful gal who is a great person to discuss depression and emotions with. She's a trusted friend.

You may not have support there in right life, but you certainly have the support of many friends and colleagues online. You are not alone and you matter a great deal.

Two years ago I increased my anti-depressant to a level above the standard dose range. It helped tremendously. If that didn't work, the psychiatrist was ready to add a different anti-depressant on top of that one. You've been dealing with a heck of a lot of stuff.

I echo what MM said - you matter, you are important, and it is possible to feel better.

Heather said...

I'm curious as to where you live in NY state. I live in Upstate NY and am looking for a support group to start going to. There are none in my area. Do you by any chance go to a support group? I know there are some in Binghamton and Syracuse but I am right in the middle of both of those. It's too much for me to drive to them.

Hope you had a great birthday!

Weeble Girl said...

Thanks again for reading and commenting. I know that I can feel better, it's just a matter of finding the right conditions to make that happen.

Yes, it probably does mean a med change but it's a necessity for now. It's bad when even you notice that you're really depressed and it's not just your friends pointing it out.

I think between work (which is overwhelming now), and the cognitive issues and other MS issues, that it has just created the "perfect storm" for a newer depression to swirl in and try to sink my boat.

I appreciate your positive thoughts so much. Thanks again for stopping by and reading and offering support!

Hugs,
Weebs

Anne said...

Hi there:

They say the first step is in acknowledgement and the second is in seeking treatment.

Depression often kicks in for me around birthday/anniversary time -- September 16 through to the 30th. I venture to say you are not much different from other folks in that regard.

Happy Birthday and trust me, you are going to be all right. You have already taken the right steps.

Anne

Blindbeard said...

Ummmm, kind of embarassed to admit this, but I take 2 antidepressants at their fullest strength and it has made all the difference for me. One just wasn't cutting it anymore so they added another one on top of the Xanax I take 2 times a day, and the baclofen 3 times a day, and I can still feel when I hit a "low pocket" towards the end of the day. It sucks being so crazy sometimes, other times it gives me a good excuse for some of the things I do.

BeeDancer said...

Gosh, there's so much in your post that I relate to...I've done the therapy thing and these days I'm just working the meds...1/2 a xanax takes the edge off and lets me function

don't want to mouth platitudes, just want to let you know that somebody out here hears you