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Down the Rabbit Hole of My Depressive Episodes

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People say it’s a type of darkness. Inescapable. Irrational. Deeply painful.

For me it feels like I’m tumbling down a rabbit hole, just like Alice. Only my rabbit hole is pitch black and lined with thorns that prick my skin as I fall farther down. I don’t feel the scrapes on my skin — I’m too numb for that. I feel them on my soul and the pain is impossible to describe.

I’ve been dealing with this madness since I was a youngling, as I come from a place of long-term childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse. My first anxiety medication was prescribed at age 10 and my first anti-depressant was prescribed at age 16. Today I am 41.

History tells me, that, I will, eventually, see the sunshine again, but at this point, I can’t even recall the feel of the sun on my face. All I feel is the darkness enveloping my…everything. My husband tries so very hard to help me because he recognizes what’s happening, but I cannot think of anything to tell him that will help me overcome this torture.

It feels like the deeper I go into this pit of depression, the less likely I’ll ever escape. I know that once I pass a certain point in the rabbit hole, no amount of coping skills will be helpful because I won’t have the energy, want, attention span or simply the ability to utilize them. I know I need to call my psych doc but just trying to do that feels like a Herculean effort.

I ask myself, “Will this be the time that I don’t make it out?” I honestly don’t know the answer, because I’m still falling, minute by minute. I look forward to bedtime, because I hope that when I wake up, I’ll feel even a tiny bit better. Any improvement is enough to generate hope and hope is in great demand.

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If I let myself become totally consumed by the darkness, secondary issues will appear. I’ll most likely become agoraphobic — to the point that I can’t even retrieve the mail from my mailbox that is approximately 20 yards from my front door. My obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) will become a problem and I’ll begin to have severe anxiety regarding the exterior door locks and whether they are locked before I can settle my brain enough to go to sleep.

I am fortunate to have a partner that becomes my caregiver during this time. He makes sure that I eat, brush my teeth, take my meds, calls my pysch doc to set up an appointment and then he takes off work to go with me to my appointment. I realize that not everyone has that in their lives.

I added to my caregiver list by sharing my mental health diagnosis with two of my very closest friends. I’ll admit — it was terrifying to have an open and honest conversation about my bipolar type 2 depression episodes. The fear of losing friends or having them treat you differently is real. Their response was, “Everybody’s got something!” and then asked how they could help.

Until the miracle pill, procedure or magic bean is invented that will stop this spiraling cycle, all we can do is continue to live our lives and learn to recognize the early warning signs. If we can get help and change our thoughts before we reach the point where we’re using all of our energy to claw our way out of the rabbit hole, maybe the next time won’t be so bad.

We can always hope.

Getty image via francescoch

Originally published: October 6, 2020
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