It’s been a long time coming, I suppose.
I thought I was doing okay. I thought, at least, that I was doing as well as anyone could expect me to.
And I was.
I finally crashed. Right into the wall. And hard. Really fucking hard.
So, let’s start….
Some of you have been unnecessarily (though certainly unintentionally) hard on me. Suggesting that when I write something sad on my blog that I am filled with sadness. Suggesting that I should get over my sister’s death. Suggesting that I am dwelling on her death. Suggesting that I am strong and can deal with anything. Suggesting that other people suffer personal losses too and they find a way to soldier on, rather than have the darkness hang over them all the time.
When I have spoken to other people about some of these things, because I believed that maybe they were true, I’ve been told repeatedly that they are not. That I should tell the person/people who is/are saying these things to me to take a hike (to put it mildly).
You see, I know that writing something sad on this blog does not mean that I am filled with sadness. It simply means that I am a human being with feelings and I’m not afraid to acknowledge them. I know that I should not be over my sister’s death. She’s only been gone five months. People don’t get over these things quickly. And I know that it’s difficult to understand that, particularly for people who have never suffered a comparable personal loss. I know that I have not been dwelling on her death. Most days I’m okay. Every now and then, it hits me hard. Really, really hard. I know that I am not strong enough to deal with anything, at least not by myself. It’s okay to acknowledge when we are weak and need to lean on others. I know that everyone deals with grief differently and maybe those people who are soldiering on have not suffered a comparable personal loss, or they have a better support system in place, or they’re simply ignoring what they’re feeling and it’s going to come back to bite them in the ass eventually.
Even in knowing all of this, it finally happened. This morning, as I said, I crashed. Hard. Very, very hard.
It was a trying weekend. Really, it started with Erica’s birthday. Her birthday was difficult. Some friends came out on Thursday to try to distract me and it worked for the time that we were out, but I could feel it happening. Like the brakes were failing. Some more things happened Friday and Saturday to add to the stress I was already feeling. I felt the car swerving. Then, yesterday, M threw the most intense temper tantrum I’ve ever seen from her, and I rounded out the night with a fight with someone who means a lot to me. It was a stupid fight. We were both being stupid, and I immediately acknowledged and apologized for my part in it.
But, when I got home, I knew. It wasn’t just that the brakes were failing. It wasn’t just that the car was swerving. There was more to it than that. The car was completely out of control.
What happened during that argument was not me. I do not behave like that. It was a response to everything else that’s been going on. A response to all of the things that I haven’t felt safe talking to other people about, because I was being fooled into believing that I should be okay, all the while knowing I was not. Not at all.
Later last night, I was speaking with a friend, and this quote was brought to my attention: ”I’ve had some dark nights of the soul, of course, but giving in to depression would be a sellout, a defeat.” (Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011)
It resonated with me. And that scared me a little. I barely slept last night. Thinking about everything.
This morning – and you may have seen it published for a few hours – I wrote this blog entry:
Dark nights of the soul.
“I’ve had some dark nights of the soul, of course, but giving in to depression would be a sellout, a defeat.”
~ Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)
And so I continue to fight through whatever this is that I’ve been feeling for a couple of months.
I don’t know that it’s depression, certainly not clinical. I’ve been clinically depressed before, and this feels different.
My personal, education, and work commitments have me overwhelmed.
I haven’t felt good about myself – not really – for months now. I can’t seem to shake it. Instead, it’s getting worse.
I’m struggling with the kids, and feeling horrible about it. Much of what’s going on with them is beyond my control, but that doesn’t really help with how it makes me feel for them.
There are a couple of other things going on that I’ve been avoiding dealing with, because I know it will be painful. However, it’s become painful to not deal with it. The breaking point was reached weeks ago.
It would be easy for me to crawl into my bed, hide under the covers and not emerge for a long time. It would be too easy. But, if I do that, I would have to admit defeat. I would have to admit that life – and some of the people in it – got the best of me. I will not sellout to these feelings, no matter how easy it would be.
I will not give in to depression, because it would be a sellout, it would be defeat, and – most of all – it would be a disservice to the two most important people in my life.
Then, I got in my car and drove to work. I’m sure it wasn’t the song, but it felt like the song that was playing set me off.
I started crying. Crying and driving. Driving and crying. I couldn’t collect myself.
I tried calling my doctor while I was looking for a parking spot. He wasn’t in today. The secretary didn’t know what I should do. I knew I had to do something. And I had to do it now.
I parked the car and sat there. Trying to figure out how I was going to get out of the car and make it over to the classroom and face my students. I called the professor to ask her what I should do. She wasn’t in.
Then, I got a message from someone. I didn’t read it. I had to figure out how to get out of the car. Without reading the message, I replied and said I was getting help today.
I was desperate. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so desperate. And, although, I didn’t know how to do what needed to be done, I knew what needed to be done. I didn’t need anyone to tell me.
I went to my seminar and faced my students for about 20 minutes, then I made my way over to the department I work for. I completely broke down in the Department Chair’s office. She and the Administrative Assistant hugged me. Really, they held me up.
I tried to tell them what was going on. It was difficult to talk through the crying. But the Department Chair knew. I’ve always talked to her. She knew all of the things that I was facing this past year. She and the Admin Asst got me over to Student Health Services, told me they loved me, and that I was doing the right thing.
I won’t bore you with the details of the visit. Suffice it to say that although I said in the blog post I published and then deleted this morning that this does not feel like clinical depression, it is clinical depression.
For the foreseeable future, I will be on anti-depressants (which I find very upsetting, regardless of whether it’s necessary or not, because that screams “defeat” to me), and I will see the doctor, the mental health nurse, and the counsellor on a regular basis.
Regarding that blog entry above? Well, a few things:
Again, it is clinical depression. Depression is not like regular, everyday ailments. It does not necessarily present the same way every time. And I know this, but I didn’t want to admit it.
I am overwhelmed, and I don’t feel good about myself.
I am struggling with the kids. I worry about them. I worry that I am failing them.
I will stop avoiding what needs to be dealt with, regardless of how painful it will be. Not dealing with it is only exacerbating the other challenges I’m dealing with.
I will not crawl into bed and hide under the covers, but I will do my very best to take care of myself; to try to make proper time for myself. Taking time for myself, taking prescribed medication, and asking for help is not defeat (even if it feels like it right now). Strong people are also strong enough to recognize when they need help.
Not acknowledging everything I’m going through would be the real disservice to the kids. Not dealing with all of these challenges appropriately would be the disservice.
So here’s the thing….
It is okay for me to not be okay for a while.
The only way out is through.
Things can only get better from here.
And I leave you with this, because it fits for a few reasons: