What do depression and anxiety look like? I just looked in a mirror and saw for myself.
That’s where I’ve been. I think I am very fortunate that I saw the signs. I knew something was not right.
It is so hard to explain. And I was real, I mean REAL good at hiding it from the Chief. But not so good hiding it from my daughters, my best friend, or my SIL. Even now I struggle to find the words to describe it because it is almost indescribable–it just is.
I got the house decorated for Christmas in record time. The girls and I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed Black Friday shopping. I was listening to Christmas music since Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the candlelight tour of homes with my BIL and SIL. It wasn’t the typical “has the person lost interest and enjoyment in the things they once loved to do?” No. It was an overwhelming sense of dread and confusion and inability to make a simple decision. On the days I had to sub, I could get right up and get going… but when I got home from school I’d still want to curl up in the fetal position. Actually, the first alarm bell was the day I didn’t want to go to the gym. Not because it wasn’t enjoyable but because I had a day’s worth of activities following that I panicked over and worried about and couldn’t make a decision on.
I didn’t write my year-in-review letter. I had made a Christmas card with our beautiful family pictures we had taken in October. But I didn’t see a point to the letter. If you were in my life you knew what a year it was–tonsillectomy, ruptured L4/L5, subbing, surgery, camp, personal relationships in turmoil, my dad’s cancer… who wants to read all that and have a Merry Christmas?
And I didn’t want to host New Year’s Day. I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t know when the Chief was going to be home and I felt the world closing in.
One night the girls were fighting. T2 was pulling a stunt her sister had at that age, wanting something and not letting it drop–some absolutely annoying thing–right after I had shelled out $60+ to take us all to the movies. I will admit that as loud as I could reasonably do so in the theater lobby I called her a spoiled rotten brat. I drove them home and let them out and then drove away. I went less than a mile away and sat in my car at the park. I texted the Chief. He called the house to check on them. I played Sudoku for 2 hours. The oldest texted and I told her to tell her sister to go to bed; her too.
Then there was an incident over text messages with the Chief. Out of respect for him I won’t air the dirty laundry–we’ve already talked about it. But I stopped functioning. I sat in my car so that I wouldn’t curl into a ball on my bedroom floor. The girls were scared. A numb fog surrounded me. For days. Even the day he came home. I was ambivalent.
I described things to the Chief in these terms: anxious, fogged, as if every nerve in my body was on fire–I couldn’t handle loud noises or touch beyond the gentlest of caresses, an inability to see beyond the next minute let alone the next hour or day and if I had to think about it the pain and anxiety came back in a vicious cycle.
I had already made the decision to ask my therapist and GP to start some kind of antidepressant. Now it was just a matter of making it through the holidays until my appointment. I didn’t host New Year’s… getting a nasty case of Strep throat and a sinus infection was the perfect excuse. I had hoped the Chief could have gone with me to my GP but he had to leave for a class. We decided to start on Cymbalta for a couple of reasons–it is used for pain management and doesn’t seem to have a weight gain side-effect.
It took about 10-14 days for me to start to feel normal again.
The Chief has honestly said he doesn’t know if it is making a difference–I was REALLY that GOOD at hiding it from him. I guess that’s a hazard of this lifestyle. But he has been so supportive and understanding once we really had a heart to heart. I haven’t had the courage to talk to the girls about it to see if they’ve noticed.
I’ve been on Cymbalta for 40 days now. The Chief has gone back to sea. I feel fortunate that I was that aware of something wrong. It was gradual … two years building up with one kick after another… but I think my dad’s cancer scare left me so raw that the misunderstanding between the Chief and I just highlighted how broken, how out of balance I was.
Do I hope I’m only on Cymbalta for a short time, like when I had post-partum depression? Sure. But I also know it may be a long-term solution.
The day I didn’t dread going to the gym was the day I knew I was turning a corner. I guess this is another corner in this journey.