Today I’m going to open up about something terrifying – something I’d really rather not share online. But I think that sharing is part of my healing process, and more importantly, I truly believe that when we share difficult experiences, we can give other people hope – even if depression is a nasty thing to talk about.
So here, in the midst of my hopelessness, I offer my heart and soul and mind to you, my reader.
I am grateful that you care enough to read, and I hope that you will spare me the judgment I give myself on a daily basis. Read on to learn about Effexxor side effects, the depression of losing a job, and what it feels like to be drowning in depression.
The Time Before Depression
I’ve always considered myself an intelligent, kind, and creative woman. Sure I’ve struggled with my fair share of anxiety and self-confidence issues, but nothing that seemed to impact my daily life. And when my life fell apart in 2015, the counselor I saw for a few visits said I was surprisingly well-adjusted. I couldn’t help but agree.
In August of last year, I married the love of my life – my best friend – my business partner. It was pretty much the pinnacle of my happiness. We’d just gotten married, brokered an excellent deal on our dream house, and I was working at a high-powered job that pushed me and gave me opportunities for growth. Our business was booming, and we were on track to really make some big leaps.
I was energized – so ready to take on the world and change it that I seriously considered running for mayor of our small town.
How Depression Starts
When a close friend offered me an opportunity to work with a local non-profit to make the world a better place, the INFP in me dove soul first. But the job didn’t turn out to be what it was supposed to be, and after quitting my other position for a significant pay cut, the position was changed to be even less stable.
We had just signed a contract on a house, and the steadiness of that job (which was assured by my friend) was the only reason I could afford to quit my other position. When that steadiness was called into question, depression seeped up from inside of me. We had money then, but I knew the slow season was coming.
At one of our festivals, I had a weird encounter with a guy. It made me feel unsafe enough that I ran away, and though nothing happened – it probably triggered some issues in my past.
I felt myself shrinking in on myself, felt my awareness shifting, my productivity lacking, my motivation dwindling. All I wanted to do was sleep.
At some point, I became a shell of myself. Time passed, but I wasn’t really living. I wasn’t shipping out packages. I wasn’t keeping up with my writing. I was completely forgetting entire conversations I’d had, random people inquiring after my well-being because I didn’t recall key conversations we’d had together.
All I could focus on was the job with the non-profit and my inability to get things moving in a meaningful direction. I didn’t understand why they weren’t giving me direction, why I couldn’t come to the office they’d promised me. I worried that the job was not as stable as they’d let on. I worried that I’d quit an excellent job for a shaky foundation. And I knew the slow season was coming.
Getting Diagnosed With Depression
Our business suffered. My husband’s health suffered as he tried to keep up with the full weight of the responsibilities we’d taken on together.
In November, I sat in the closet rocking back and forth in tears because I didn’t know if we were going to be able to keep our house, and I loved it. I knew it was my husband’s dream house, the one he’d wanted forever… and the day we moved in, I sat in the middle of the floor crying because I never thought living in a house like that was within my grasp or realm of possibility. I didn’t even know it was an option.
By November, I realized that maybe it wasn’t an option – at least for me.
Maybe I didn’t deserve it, some voice (not a literal voice, just the thoughts in my head) whispered in my ear.
My husband asked if I needed help with things. I wanted to be strong enough to handle my responsibilities, and my good intentions made a liar of me. I’ll ship it tomorrow. I’ll take care of it later. I need to do that when I’m at the office. I need to do that when I’m at home. I’ll do it the next time I run into town.
At the beginning of December, I spoke with my supervisor at the nonprofit, and she assured me everything was fine; there’d be more work in January; things would get better; they were just going through some transitions. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with depression, primarily brought on by work instability. They put me on a medication, and I started taking it with high hopes that I would get better.
Effexxor Side Effects + More Trauma
The medicine, Effexxor, just made things worse. The next few weeks went by in a blur. Around Christmas, my ex was released from prison, and despite numerous requests for no contact, immediately started posting about inside jokes on social media and stalking my husband and my social accounts. He emailed my husband and asked to set up a time to meet with me – sent me long rambling emails. He posted in a Facebook group of his supporters about how he and I had strayed from doing the things we needed to do spiritually before he was arrested, basically blaming my supposed spiritual negligence for his actions.
A neighbor saw a strange car outside of our home with a young man looking in binoculars. Neighbors started posting on Facebook about someone peeping in their windows.
I no longer felt safe in my own home.
The Mormon Church’s leaders were less than helpful. The police said there was nothing they could do. An attorney said he was walking the line of what was legal and that I’d just have to wait it out.
The day after New Year’s, I had a breakdown. For more than 24 hours, it was like I was a different person. I can’t even bear to repeat all the things I said to my husband that night – but suffice it to say that they were the worst possible things a wife could say to the husband who loves her. At some point, I completely snapped out of it. It was like I woke up from a nightmare, but the damage had been done.
We called the doctor and started working to rebuild our relationship after the hurt I had caused and neglect I’d shown our business – our baby – the empire we were building together.
Drowning in Depression
The doctor changed me to a different medication, but not before I spent half an hour sitting in the car writing a song about drowning in the lake. I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would feel like, the cold water settling into my lungs. I contemplated these things with a cool detachment that scared me – but the numbness kept me from expressing the fear. It’s not really being suicidal if you don’t plan to do it, right?
But I thought about swimming to the middle of the lake that couldn’t decide whether it wanted to freeze or not. I guess I thought I could let the universe decide what it wanted to do with me. I’m not a strong swimmer, but maybe I’d make it back to the shore.
Part of me wanted to drown, but part of me was hoping the cold water would somehow wake up the part of my brain that wasn’t working.
It didn’t really matter… I was too paralyzed to walk outside, let alone jump into a freezing lake, but I thought about the stones in the woman’s pockets. I wondered how heavy they must have been. I wondered how long she spent sewing them in.
The Depression of Losing a Job
In January, I found out that the nonprofit never should have hired me in the first place – that both of their program’s grants were under investigation when I was hired (one federal, the other state), and that all the internal issues that kept changing my job duties and postponing my ability to work were actually a whistleblower legitimately trying to keep her employer in compliance. So in January, right at the beginning of our slow season, I lost my job – with no notice.
The doctor switched me to a different medication, and this one amplified the fatigue of depression. I slept for hours during the day and fell asleep sitting at my desk. I couldn’t think clearly. I couldn’t do anything.
And finally I just decided I couldn’t stand it anymore – that even living with the depression was better than sleeping my life away. So the doctor said I could quit the medication. I hoped that the coming spring would make things better. Maybe the sun would help.
The Depression Is Still Inside
Some days I wake to myself and see how much time has passed, how little I’ve done in the past six months, how barely I’m surviving.
It’s spring, and the darkness is still here inside of me.
This deep darkness that strangles my happiness and keeps me from living. It’s paralysis and petrification, an inability to exist in the world and an inability to remove myself from it. The truth is that I don’t want to die. I want to live; I just want to live like I used to… but it’s like a flip switched in my brain… and my ability to thrive has been dampened.
Off of the medication, I’ve been more aware of the internal processes I’m experiencing. I’ve started paying attention to what it feels like when things get bad. I think I may have PTSD because a lot of what I’m experiencing feels like dissociation… which is terrifying to admit and even scarier to feel.
Allow me to explain…
What Dissociation Feels Like – To Me
Whenever I get upset, and I mean even minimally upset, but especially when faced with major stressors like many of the ones we’ve been dealing with this year, this is what I experience. It feels like a lot more than depression, and honestly… it’s scary when it happens.
The tears come first, along with a desire to stop them from flowing. I feel weak. I feel helpless. I feel hopeless. My brain gets stuck on a certain thing – maybe it’s a single thought, a phrase I wish I could make my mouth say aloud – but usually it’s the sound of the fireplace or the washing machine running, the brightness of a single light and the strange shadow it’s casting on the back of the couch, the knot in a grain of wood.
If my eyes are open, they unfocus and glaze over as I stare at a single spot, the image filling all of my mental capacity. My body feels numb and slightly cold – but not uncomfortable. I don’t feel separate from my body, but I don’t really care about it either. The only place I seem to exist is in the very front of my brain, right behind and above my eyes. I feel the buzzing of my brain in this spot, the chemicals rushing around my body.
I feel the calm settle in, but it’s an irrational calm, the calm that doesn’t care what happens next because I have no control over it.
If I close my eyes, it’s a lot like that space between awake and asleep. My mind is blank. If someone asks me questions when I am like this, I am rarely able to respond. If I do manage to speak, the thoughts are jumbled and unfocused. I leave sentences unfinished. Words hang in the air as my glazed eyes search for the rest of the thought. My breathing is slow and shallow. I feel like I can’t move my body, though if I really pay attention, I can. When I freeze like this, I usually end up in an uncomfortable position, but it takes me quite awhile to even recognize that I’m uncomfortable because I’m stuck in the emptiness of my own brain.
Moving Forward From Depression
The truth is that I don’t know what is wrong with me, and it scares me. I’m either suffering from an incapacitating case of mental illness that has left me incapable of living my life or there’s an underlying physical health issue. Regardless, I’m scared of what it means for our future. I don’t want to be unable to think clearly. I don’t want to be unable to work. I don’t want to struggle with basic day to day living.
My doctor is finally setting up an appointment for me to see a specialist, but it’s hard to feel hopeful when it will take 6 weeks to be seen.
I’m coming to terms with the fact that whatever this mess is, it’s a part of me now, an albatross I have to fight and conquer or learn to coexist with.
I’m lucky to have a partner who understands that this isn’t the real me and who has been patient with me through all of this.
But it’s been 6 months since I’ve been a fully functioning version of myself. And in that time I have done great damage to myself, my business, and my husband. And in the midst of all the internal struggles I’ve been facing, I’ve been dealt a nasty financial blow on top of it – at the hands of a good friend.
There’s a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now. We’re probably going to lose our house, and I’m scared that our business won’t recover.
But more than anything, I’m scared that I won’t be able to find the person I used to be – the person I’m supposed to be.
How You Can Help
I’ve thought about what I can do to earn money while I’m in this state, and the truth is that most days I’m just not capable of doing much. But I have been writing more, and even though it’s a garbled mess most of the time, maybe there’s sense in some of it.
I know writing definitely helps me work through the depression and figure things out in my mind.
So I’m going to be posting more regularly. And I hope that you’ll take the time to read and share what I write.
If I can help one person feel less shame about their mental illness or feel less alone in the midst of a trial, then maybe the pain is worth it.
Receive the Newsletter
I know you want to stay in the loop. Learn about exciting news, posts, and giveaways.