Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let’s Talk ...

Taboo. It’s hard to think that, in the 21st Century, taboo is a word that is still associated with mental illness. Growing up in Lower Sackville, a suburb of Halifax, mental illness was not something that was talked about in my family. I was first diagnosed with depression in 1997, and it was then that I realized that I had experienced my first depressive episode when I was in high school, back in 1990. But because mental illness was not something that we talked about, I didn’t know that it was in fact depression that I was suffering from.

Today, I’m participating in Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk initiative because I believe in the importance of breaking down the barriers associated with mental illness. That’s why I’d like to share a blog post from January 2011, “And the Walls came Tumbling Down,” when I had to, once again, confront depression.

And the Walls came Tumbling Down
First posted 14 January 2011 on my blog, An Unscripted Life of Words

For the last four days I’ve been holed up in my apartment. I’ve let the phone ring and go to voice mail. I haven’t returned calls. I didn’t even check for mail. I’ve written about this before — my current battle with depression. I thought I was coping well, and that I had done the right things: recognized the signs, sought professional help, ensured I was keeping physically active, established a support system among my circle of friends. Despite my best efforts, despite trying to stave off depression, but still my walls came tumbling down.

Well before the Christmas holidays I felt myself slipping away. While I was getting up early to write before heading to work, not much was happening. I knew that it was more than writer’s block. I couldn’t hold my focus. I couldn’t gather my thoughts. I was agitated, nervous. There were moments when I panicked for no apparent reason, often on the verge of tears. I felt completely overwhelmed, the weight of the world on my shoulders, like I was spinning, spinning, spinning. I spun right out of control.


My head throbbed with pain. I had barely slept the night before. I was exhausted, and I couldn’t do anything without feeling like I had run a marathon (without training!).


I felt like I had an eighteen wheeler parked on my chest. I roamed about in a complete daze, the migraine from the day before still lingering on the heels of a second restless night. I tried editing a piece of writing, but it was like I was circling, trying to come in for a landing but always overshooting the runway.


When my alarm went off at six o’clock, I dragged myself out of bed to feed the cats, meowing outside my door for close to an hour. Like on that first cold day of winter, my engine wouldn’t flip. And when it finally started, I couldn’t get it out of first gear. I didn’t have any energy. In a matter of speaking, I had flat lined. I crawled back into bed and stayed there, fading in and out of consciousness until I was able to talk myself out of bed at 3:30 p.m.


I left my apartment for the first time in four days as I had an appointment with my doctor. I had involuntarily disconnected myself from the world. When my doctor asked me how I was doing, I had to check my tears. The new medication I had switched to just before Christmas was working slightly better than the previous one, but my head, as was my heart, was still heavy. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through this difficult period. I was at a loss. How had I arrived at this point? What could I do to get past all of this? How long would it take? My doctor listened patiently to my litany of complaints. Together, we decided on a course of action.


I woke up this morning tired, and still feeling a bit lost, but hopeful. Chuck T. Falcon asks us to “Remember sadness is always temporary. This, too, shall pass.” I am determined that depression will not have dominion here.


That was me three years ago when depression had a mighty grip on me. Things are much, much better now. I’m no longer on medication. I am back to work. I feel good, and safe in the knowledge that depression does not have dominion here. The hope is to remain healthy. But, you know, when I’ve had to battle depression, I have been so fortunate to have the support, love, encouragement and understanding of friends and family. They saw me through the good times and the challenging times, and, for me, that has made all the difference.


1 comment:

  1. You are so well-loved! And I am very proud of you for sharing your story.