Life · mental health · Uncategorized

Finding a Bright Spot (Or, a black-and-white one)

**Trigger warning: Depression, Suicidal Thoughts

In an earlier post I alluded to the fact that this year has been a challenging one. It feels silly to even say that. So many people have been struggling, for one reason or another, that it feels too obvious to even point out. (“Oh, you mean dealing with a pandemic, social unrest, and numerous political monstrosities has been a sucky time for you? No shit, Sherlock.”) So many people have had it worse than I have, too. Hence the reason every time I’ve tried to write the post I deleted it for fear of sounding whiny. It’s good to get things off your chest though, isn’t it? So here goes…

I haven’t shared much about my year, minus a few quarantine tips. Like everyone else, I started off this year hopeful and excited about what lay ahead: vacations booked, cons to attend, stories to write, etc. Then, in March, most things in North Carolina shut down due to the rapid spread of COVID throughout the state. I started working from home most days of the week, only going in to the office when absolutely necessary, and Boyfriend and I had to adjust to sharing the same space 24/7. Not to mention, his daughter was with us half the time, attending school remotely. The house, which was already on the small side, never felt more cramped and uncomfortable. Alas, we tried to make the best of it. Our Spring and Summer trips had to be cancelled. Every convention I had tickets for was postponed or became virtual. My in-person yoga and Pilates classes were cancelled. By the end of the first month, I was stir crazy and bored to tears, not having much to look forward to in the near future. But, we sill tried to make the best of it. By June, little had gotten better. Things were still closed, people were still getting sick, and I hadn’t had social interaction with anyone outside of the house or my team at work. I went from feeling stir-crazy and bored to lonely, to extremely lonely, to super anxious, to depressed. My insomnia went from being an occasional issue to a nightly problem. My appetite decreased and my exercise habits went up (a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of control over something). I felt myself slipping further and further down into a pit of despair, self-loathing, and hopelessness that I eventually snapped.

Eventually I had to face the uncomfortable truth: I relapsed. Those who struggle with depression and anxiety often struggle with it on and off throughout their lives, like I have. Over the last 15+ years, however, even at my worst, I always knew that it could be worse. I’d seen rock bottom before, but at least I could always say I wasn’t that bad anymore. Until this summer. I found myself staring in the face of a full-blown relapse. Not just with my depression, but with my anxiety and eating disorder, as well. I was losing weight and became so obsessed with food again that meal times literally sent me into panic mode. I had no motivation, no desire to take care of myself, and my brain felt like it was “fuzzy” all the time. On more than one occasion I contacted the suicide hotline, desperate for someone to help me find a reason to keep wanting to live. My medicines had been changed multiple times and my psychiatrist almost checked me into the hospital on two occasions. It was bad. I was as low as I remembered being in the past 15 years. And I didn’t even care.

Fast forward a few months: I am much more stable now, thanks to the countless sessions with my therapist, psychiatrist, and regular doctors. It turns out that some of the medication I had been put on was making me suicidal. It’s a scary and unfortunate thing that happens sometimes. I’m still seeing my therapist, because things aren’t perfect by any means. I still have a lot of shit to work on and really need some less destructive coping mechanisms. I’m still working on my relationship with food and trying to evict my eating disorder. It’s been a slow (and often frustrating) process, but I’m getting there. I wish I could say I was proud of how far I’ve come over the last few months, but I’m not quite there yet. One day at a time.

One good thing has come out of this year that I am grateful for…

Meet Noddy. I adopted Noddy about two months ago and he’s been a huge help in keeping me focused on getting better. It’s been almost two years since my last dog, Beaker, passed away and my therapist told me that it might be time to finally move on. You know, she was right. Noddy is two years old, but he never had a home outside of the shelter, so he’s like a giant puppy. He’s been a lot of work, but we love him and he makes us all laugh. (The cats did not share these same feelings, however, when we brought him home. Fortunately, Merlin has finally warmed up to Noddy and they are slowly becoming friends.) If being forced to go back into therapy is what brought me Noddy, then maybe it’s not the worst year ever, after all.

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