I feel like it’s time for me to start being honest. I have a hard time keeping up my blog because I have a hard time with the whole idea of the public persona. I once had a blog where I wrote weekly, at least. I deleted it because I was about to publish a book, and I didn’t want pictures of my kids to be quite so accessible. Then I started a new blog, and it was filled with my writing. I liked it, but I had chosen an expensive web builder and I took it down after a year. I started a blog here on WordPress, but then I reformatted my website and took that down too. Since then, I’ve just been thinking about this piece of the web I’ve been keeping empty.
Here is the truth. I am so depressed. I was diagnosed with depression 20 years ago when I was in grad school. I was lucky. Before that I had been travelling with my boyfriend, who is now my husband and the father of my children. We had a blue 1971 Volkswagen bus and we were driving it across America. It overheated, so we had to travel at night, then try to sleep in the heat of the day. It was uncomfortable and sometimes scary, and I was living my dream.
I had just come back from Europe, where I had spent a semester abroad, then taken a bit of time to backpack alone on the continent (That’s what people in the UK call the rest of Europe). Now I was back with the love of my life and I was traveling with a guitar, a few books, and a journal. It should have been bliss. Instead I was crying all the time. I was having panic attacks and waking from my sleep completely certain that I was going to die. My boyfriend, who like me, didn’t know anything about depression, would tell me to “lighten up.” This would make me cry harder, feel worse. Most of all, I remember mourning for my old self, because she was gone, and had been replaced by this heavy husk. I felt asbestos and chalky dust in my lungs with every breath.
But then someone, it might have been my boyfriend, suggested I go talk to a therapist. I did, and she was lovely, and she sent me to a psychiatrist who prescribed me Celexa. I was reluctant to take it, but finally they convinced me and I started it. I will never forget the feeling, about two weeks later, when something awful inside of me clicked and died and just like that, I was myself again. The drug didn’t make me happy, but it made me me. It was wonderful.
I will always be grateful that the first drug I was prescribed worked. I went off it during both my pregnancies and I felt that infiltration of asbestos and chalk, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel because at 35 weeks, I could go back on and become me again.
Luckiest of all, I never experienced post-partum depression. That, I know, was a great gift.
But then something started to happen. The Celexa stopped working. In a panic, I bounced from drug to drug. Sometimes the drug would help and I’d be able to feel numb, which was preferable to flat out depressed. Sometimes the drug made me so sick I’d have to stop taking it after two nights. Once, I took something that numbed me out but also brought me deeper into darkness. Suddenly I found myself contemplating things I had never before considered. Not suicide, but a certain longing for relief, in whatever form that came.
So here I am, today. Still on Celexa, which keeps me stable, but experimenting with the help of my psychiatrist, trying to find that perfect “cocktail” that can bring me back to me. I don’t even know if such a cocktail exists. Sometimes I think about going off everything all together. Maybe it would help with my writing, I tell myself. But it wouldn’t help with my parenting and that is always my number one priority. If I can be a decent parent and never write another word, I’ll choose being a parent every time.
So. I sleep. I cry. I have terrible anxiety and an occasional panic attack. I feel partly dead inside. I am living a blessed blissful life and I hate that I feel this way. I count my blessings and keep a gratitude journal. I practice meditation, yoga. I walk. I have crystals for fuck’s sake. I make my singing bowl hum. I tell my kids I love them. Depression hasn’t taken that from me.
Last night I was talking to my husband about depression. He mentioned my writing. I thought he was going to say that I should take a break. Several weeks ago, my mom suggested the same thing. That the writing, the pressure to write, was making me miserable. Both times I began to panic. The writing is my food, my fuel. Only I don’t always know what to do with it, because I am such a private person.
So as I was falling asleep, I decided to start writing it all down. Here. No more holds barred. No punches pulled. Just me, pressed flat against the wall. Asbestos and chalk dust in my lungs. My heart a butterfly trapped in a glass.
Ready to start being honest.