There are days where giving up doesn’t feel like an option, but instead feels like an obligation. These days it feels as if the grey overcast encases not the city, but just myself, my individual body, in a soft coffin of my own, inanimate despair. Through the fog I can see others, I can hear others, but I can never reach them, I can’t touch them, and even if I could, I wouldn’t be sure how to. These days are boil over into nights which simmer into more days.
Today was one of those days.
. . .
I could have ended the post there, and I would have, had my night ended differently. Many of you already know my struggles with depression, as many of you have your own struggles with it. Welcome to the club, we have cookies.
I’ve been on a steady dosage of Effexor XR, which returned my energy to me. I pay out of pocket for it, as well as my psychiatry appointments, and since my psychiatrist decided to raise her prices tremendously high, and since I know she gets kickbacks for each prescription she writes, and since the cost of the medication would run over a hundred dollars a month, I’ve decided I can’t do it anymore, not until I get health insurance. So, I’ve run out of pills and have been struggling with the withdrawal.
I’ve heard this is one of the hardest drugs to come off of. I’ve only been on it for four months, perhaps three weeks at a dosage of 150 mg, and I am swayed by how shitty this experience is. The dizzy spells, the hot flashes, the head aches, the tremors, the brain zaps, all of it.
I’ve steadily been more depressed. I awoke this morning in tears, and remained so. My kitten came up to me, pawed away my tears, and licked my cheek as if to say “it’s okay”. The phone rings and I get called into work as a late notice. They could find no more on-call staff, and I was the last option they had. I went in because I thought maybe it would be good for me. It was.
A woman tonight, who had had a very bumpy entrance a few days before, asked to speak with me. She said she was happy I was there. I smiled. She began crying. And crying. And crying. I would never disclose personal information of one of our guests, that’s just unethical, but the jist of her message was that she’d never been surrounded by people who could be this kind, this gentle. She’d never known she had peers. She’d never been so understood, so part of a community like ours. She said we were all ourselves here. And I agreed: we certainly were.
It’s not easy to be yourself. It’s even harder when people place a stereotype on you because of a mental health struggle. We agreed all of it was a journey.
She was overwhelmed with the shock. In that, we shared much in common. I had felt the same my first day at this place; the day of my interview. I was terrified of the kindness, it freaked me the hell out. Being told that these strangers were here to support me, that they understood, honestly left me stumbling down the stairs of the house back to my car like I’d been clocked in the temple by a fucking bear’s claw.
We talked for a half an hour or so. We shared stories and views. She couldn’t have known that half of the day I’d had to stop and bend down to stop myself from being dizzy. She couldn’t have known that half of the day while I was having a random conversation with my coworker, I was also listening to random voices echoing out of no where telling me equally random bullshit. She couldn’t known that that entire day I’d been horribly depressed.
Now, if there’s one thing I know about antidepressants, it’s that when you stop them, you become much more depressed. It messes with the chemicals in your brain after all.
So what this tells me is that conversation, connection, this thing we call “peer support” has more of an influence on the chemicals of our brain than some of the people in psychiatry would care to admit, or would care to research.
To be clear, I’ve never had a conversation ever, ever, pull me from a depression. I’ve been fighting urges to finish this shit, kill myself, for the past week, ever since I had to drop from 150 mg to basically nothing. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know my depressions dive swiftly, and deeply.
I will remember this conversation for the rest of my life. I will cherish it for the rest of my life. Because in that moment, in that brief amount of time, one woman realized she didn’t have to keep anything inside, she realized she didn’t have to hide herself, she realized she could be happy with who she was and I realized, once and for all, that I’m not insane. I realized that this pain that haunts me can be shared, and not to burden someone else, not to look for a solution, which everyone tries to give like they’re fucking Mother Theresa and knows everything there is to know about mental health, but to connect. I realized that I need to reach out.
That’s my goal. Her goal is to learn to be happy with herself. My goal is to learn to reach out and trust, regardless of the stupid excuses I make for why I don’t talk to people. I do have trouble expressing myself verbally, I can’t follow conversation, and it makes me feel dumb. But I’ve been using those struggles as an excuse not to ever talk. I’ve been using them as excuses so I can stay prideful and keep that weird, warped mindset that because I’m a peer counselor and have struggled with my mental health for longer than I can remember, I shouldn’t struggle anymore.
I shouldn’t be the one talking to myself.
I shouldn’t feel depressed.
I shouldn’t be anxious.
And most of all, I shouldn’t feel embarrassed to talk about all of the above and more because I preach self confidence and I believe fully that these things people call mental disorders, these things I call experiences, are just a different perspective and integration of life rather than the result of a “broken” or “sick” brain.
I’m not supposed to feel embarrassed.
But I do. A lot. That fuels the anxiety, so I tell no one about anything because I’m terrified of their reaction, even people who have been through similar things.
It’s taken a long time just to admit THAT, for fuck’s sake.
This is going to be a long fucking journey.
Thanks for letting me vent, blogsphere.