I Thought I 'Didn't Have Time' to Have Depression
Since my diagnosis of bipolar disorder over a year ago, I have done well. I have maintained my medication regiment, therapy schedule and overall health: until I didn’t. When I learned I was pregnant in March, I quickly stopped my medication. Unfortunately, I did not restart them after my miscarriage in April, assuming everything would be OK. I had convinced myself maintaining medication was unnecessary, and that as long as I continued to receive therapy I would be fine.
I have been struggling for some time now with an unrelenting sadness. At first it was fleeting and in my mind manageable. The occasional feeling of pain and worthlessness, brought on by the loss of my unborn child, was nothing I couldn’t handle. When the sadness would emerge, I simply pushed her back down, containing her deeply within my soul. “I don’t have time for this. I have two children with medical needs who need me. I have a job that demands my attention and focus. I have a life that requires I keep going,” I would tell myself. “I can manage. I can manage. I can manage.” This was the beginning of my slippery slope into depression.
Foolishly, I ignored the early warning signs, chalking my feelings up to exhaustion, mourning, or simply having a bad day at work. The more I pushed the sadness down the more pervasive she became. As my sadness increased, so did my irritability and anxiety. Panic attacks would become frequent and crippling. Slowly the bad days have begun to blend together into weeks, and the exhaustion has become all-consuming. Before I knew it, I would become submerged in the darkness of a full-blown paralyzing depression.
One day I simply couldn’t face the world anymore. So, I didn’t. I closed myself off from everything, the panic rising in my chest, permeating every thought. Breathing has begun to take great effort as does keeping the self-destructive tendencies and suicidal ideation at bay. Most days I sleep, aided by newly prescribed medications. Other days, days where I am brave enough to rise from my bed, are filled with agitation, anxiety and panic. The pain cuts deeper than anything I have ever believed could exist as I barely make it through a shower before retreating back to the safety of my comforter.
Lying in the cool darkness of my room my thoughts racing: “Failure, Weakness, Failure,” whispers my depression. Tears stream down my cheeks as the intense feelings of guilt surge to the surface. I try to block out everything, but I cannot. Reaching for the newly prescribed anti-anxiety medication I succumb to sleep.
Opening my eyes hours later, I can see the sun fighting its way through the tightly closed blinds. I rise, opening them ever so slightly, allowing the light to break through the darkness. I breathe deeply, inhaling the fresh air gently blowing through the open window. With my last ounce of energy, I make my way to the mirror. Glancing at my reflection, I cannot help but wonder, “Where did she go?” The vibrant, confident, happy woman I once was? The woman who took on the world with a smile and a laugh? She seems to be a distant memory these days. Staring at the mirror, I wonder who is this person that replaced her? This self-blaming, anxiety ridden, emotionally devastated being staring back at me? I do not know her, yet she is me. She is the manifestation of my depression and anxiety. She is the reflection I will face each day until the light finds its way into the tightly draw curtains hiding my soul.
She is the me that I will battle little-by-little until I can finally see a smiling, confident woman looking back from the mirror once again.
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