It’s been two months since I came to accept that I suffer from depression, three weeks since I started treatment on Zoloft, and over two years since I’ve felt this light, this happy.
I don’t know what stopped me from taking care of my mental health for so long. I guess it was a lot of things, really. Stubbornness in admitting I had a problem, and the unwillingness to admit I couldn’t fix this all on my own. I also think I really didn’t even fully understand what was happening inside my brain. Did I really have a problem? Am I over exaggerating everything? And worse: am I going crazy?
There are still so many stigmas attached to mental illness. It’s a topic that remains largely taboo, and I think this adds to so many misperceptions and misunderstandings of what mental illness looks like in all its various forms. I mean, even I, who was dealing with it, didn’t even know what it was I was experiencing. Didn’t everyone feel overwhelmed, out of control, hopeless, and despairing all the time? Oh, they don’t? Shit, I guess something is wrong with me.
But it’s this very statement that shows that even I maintain some semblance of ignorance of the complications of the human brain and our conditions. Nothing actually is wrong with me. Is my brain chemistry different than others’? Yes. Do I need to cope with some different things than others because of it? Yes. But does that mean something is wrong with me? I don’t think so. This is just who I am. And I’m starting to realize that it’s ok. I’m not going to be ashamed of it. I’m not going to hide it. I’m not going to be like the pharmacist at Target when I picked up my prescription and whisper, “Zoloft” as if it’s something illicit. I’m depressed, and I’m on ZOLOFT! Will I always need this medication? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. But if I do, I’m ok with it because it has helped to bring me back to my former self, something I truly could not do on my own.
I don’t really know if I can even explain the ways being on Zoloft has helped me. And I don’t think that if I did find the right words, you would even be able to understand fully because you can’t be inside of my brain. Here’s what I do know, and what I can say: my brain is finally cooperating with me. Instead of flying out of control when stressed, snapping at my children for little reason, feeling dizzy and like my mind is underwater, and ultimately shutting myself off from reality to cope, I now see whatever issue is pressing and deal with it. I can think objectively. I can problem solve. I don’t ruminate on upsetting things like I once did to the point of making myself physically ill. I can walk around Target with the kids by myself and not freak out every few seconds about them talking to me or walking too far away or worrying about how many people are there and figuring out how I’m possibly going to get through the insurmountable task of picking up a few things from the store.
Now I come home from work happier. I have patience again. I’m reading to my kids at night again. I’m happily cooking dinner. I’m not overwhelmed with physical contact from others. A simple kiss from the hubs used to feel like just another thing that others were demanding of me, and I simply couldn’t give anymore. Now I remember how nice it is to feel his lips and face and look into his eyes. When my kids crawl into my lap it no longer feels like suffocation, or like bugs crawling all over my skin. Conversations and noises don’t make me want to scream and hide in a dark closet.
This is not to say that things don’t bother me anymore. The difference is that I can cope now. I can rationally work through everything without the most minute incidents becoming world-ending. And if I do get angry or annoyed or upset, it doesn’t last long, and it certainly doesn’t push me down a spiral of despair into my zombie-like trance. And when I feel myself slipping back into what would lead to a depressive state, I can actually sense my mind working around it, almost as if it’s telling itself to stop and not go there. It’s really nice being a part of the world again. I really didn’t realize what I’d been missing until it was restored. I will never let myself feel like that again without doing something about it.
I really appreciate everyone who has supported me throughout this. All those who have had to deal with my mood swings, anger, irrationality, sadness, absence of self, and did so while still loving me. It couldn’t have been easy. And it won’t likely always be easy in the future. Depression is not really something that will just magically go away in a month because of medication. It’s going to be a process, something I may have to deal with the rest of my life. But I now know that as long as I have the support system I have and the treatment that I’m receiving, I will be fine. More than fine. I will be me. Wonderfully me.