This is dedicated to Kristen Johnston, who gave me the GUTS to share my darkest secrets and Reina, my darling friend that gave me the GUTS to publish it.
It's the worst thing you could ever feel. Nobody understands that hasn't experienced it. I am not talking about your "run of the mill" sadness, but the "I don't want to get out of bed" type. I am at my lowest. I don't think I've ever felt this low before.
I keep having dreams that a gun is put to my head. I can feel the hard steel as if Death himself is poking his finger into my head. I hear the echo of the "click" and I wake up. I can't see the person holding the gun, I don't know if it's me, or someone else. I can't even see the gun, just feel and hear. I know what it is though and it frightens me. Is this a warning from my subconscious mind? A warning from an other-worldly place? I do not have the answer to this question but I wish I did. Usually my dreams are stories and I can evolve them into something wonderful on paper. This is literally a 30 second flash in my head. Unlike what the experts say, I can remember my dreams fully and they are what allow me to create, to draw out the written word. I don't like this dream. I don't like that this is now the fifth night of having it creep through my mind.
I know why I am depressed, I am no longer me. I move along through this world in a different body than two years ago. Two years ago, I could move mountains! Of course, not literally, but still...I was able to do and to get done what I intended. I cry when I think of all I can't do. Between the lack of energy and the desperate sadness taking hold of my being, I am lucky to walk down the hall. I really don't want to move, I don't want to leave my bed, I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to be left alone, forever. Yes, that is my mindset at this point in time. I miss the old me, the girl who would bubble-forth as she went about her working day. The girl that would make people laugh. The girl that would do things with her children.
Yes, I am not the only one suffering, my children are at the mercy of this monster as well. It's nearly been one year since I finished my cancer treatments. They are still taking care of me. I do make dinner for them when I feel up to it. I try to cook something as scrumptious as possible, making what seems to be their favorites, to try and make up for the lack of mothering. I still discipline, but the constant hovering, playing games, and general "fun mom" is no more. My toddler is content playing and reading with me on the bed and I am grateful for that, but I do know she needs more. I should be running and playing with her outside but I lack the necessities both mentally and physically to allow for that. She is being denied everything my older children had in me as their mother when they were the same age. I am capable of caring for her, although bathing her takes my very last speck of energy. I am grateful that one thing has not left and that is my ability to love. I love each and every child with all of my heart and soul, and tears fill my weary eyes as I wonder what we could be doing together as a family instead of what is the norm around here.
It pains me to write this out. If I decide to publish this, I will be shocked, for I am allowing my deepest and darkest secrets to be revealed to any that shall read this. I have never chained my hands from writing, nor have I locked my mouth from speaking, alas, this may have to remain in the "unpublished" folder.
What do I fear most? Judgement. All people that suffer from a mental illness have one thing in common, they want to hide it. Human-kind has made it impossible for us to feel normal, and yet we are. We are the same as you, we just suffer from a different malady. You have a cold? Well, we have a "cold" in our minds. Oh, so you caught the flu? Our "flu" affects our brain. For centuries, the mentally ill were locked in institutions for something that is now treatable, yet the stigma remains. We carry the burden on our shoulders daily and worry that speaking up will get us locked away. We sit in silence and long for the day when we might actually feel a bit brighter, a bit hopeful. We mourn our old selves, wondering where along our path we lost us. We are afraid of you, for you are the ones that tease and torment, you fear what you do not understand. Many of you won't go to psychiatrists, psychologists or counselors because of that stigma. You think you will be labeled as "crazy" or "not normal". Normal? Please tell me the definition of normal, because I see many troubled souls as I look around this world and I know of many that seek out help for how they feel. With that in mind, now tell me who or what is normal, it seems that WE are the normal ones now, doesn't it?
I once asked my psychiatrist if he thought I was crazy and his response was, " Who isn't? Have you looked at this world lately?" Therefore, please spare me any judgement you might have against those who are looking to find themselves again. You may not even realize you are lost, but one day your path will turn into a forked road and you will not know which way to go. I promise you, everyone will be touched by the cold hand of depression at least once in their lives. It may not be to the level I, or someone else have explored, but you will. You might even bounce back from it much easier than others and I pray you do find yourself back on your life journey better than ever. For some of us, it's not that easy and we must seek help. We do not need your opinion on what we should do for it either, just be there to listen and support. Once we get to a certain point, we will know what to do from there. However, if you find a loved one is NOT making any attempts at healing themselves and you see all the warning signs of severe depression, you may need to gently speak with them about talking to a professional. You don't know the warning signs? GOOGLE THEM! With the Internet at your fingertips, it's pretty damn easy to find a plethora of information concerning depression, anxiety, and support groups for everything under the sun. There are even "help" pages for family members of those that suffer.
Depression affects every single person. It affects YOU. No? Really? Do you have a loved one or family member that seems down? Yes? Then, my friend, it does affect you. Now, what are you going to do to be supportive?
My issue? I am tired of support. I had to be supported throughout my battle with that bad-ass disease known as cancer. I would rather be able to move on with my life, having kicked cancer to the curb. I can't. It has left me broken far worse than I was before. I got my hopes way too high while fighting with my every breath. I was positive once I was cleared and pronounced "cancer-free" I would be back to being me. No more weakness, no more aches and pains and no more treatments! I got one thing right, no more treatments. I sit and feel guilty for surviving, even. I watch my friends lose their loved ones, watch my friends lose their lives and I HATE MYSELF FOR SURVIVING! Why was I spared? Why was I one of the lucky ones? What purpose do I serve? Don't tell me it's for my children, for these people not only had children, but spouses as well! I am very aware of survivor's guilt and I am trying to deal as best as I can, but it eats at me daily, so much in fact, that I have had to shy away from a wonderfully strong lady I consider a sister. I love her desperately, but I survived and her husband didn't and I find it difficult to communicate with her for that one simple fact. Somewhere, deep inside, I know she hates me for surviving. I know a lot of people do that lost a loved-one and I shall never shed that feeling.
Money is another evil in my life. I have never truly recovered monetarily from being out of work for so long. No one understands just how far behind I was, just how hard it is to raise 5 children under one roof with little to no funds and keep your head afloat. I have had the most wonderful support in this area and they know who they are and now much I love them for making sure there was food on the table, clothes on our backs and bills paid. God Bless my son for finding a job and working his ass off to make sure we make it from here on out, but I should be the one working. Living on disability at my age is an embarrassment. I have worked since the age of 16! I am no slouch, well... I am now. I love working, providing and being the strong one in the family. I am humiliated at taking money from the government to provide for us, I am humiliated at taking money from friends for whatever else we need to get by. I am horrified that I had to sell my prized possessions to pay for what medical needs I still require that are not covered. I love my friend that bought them and know they are in good hands and will be cherished like I once did.
Depression comes from deep-seeded roots. It does not come on suddenly, but very slowly, like a snake hunting it's prey.
Understand one thing, please. I was NOT like this one year ago. It's been a very slow moving process that brought me to the pit of destruction, that turned a glorious triumph into an evil loss. Honestly, looking back, I would NOT have done treatment and enjoyed life for as long as I had it. Knowing what I know now, I would not have let the toxins and radiation drag me to this point. I had more life and energy in me BEFORE I won my battle, now the battle scars have run deep and I wonder... what would life be like now if I had my old self back again.
If someone you know is suffering from what appears to be constant sadness, please research support groups, warning signs, and local therapists.
If you know of someone suffering so severely that you are worried, please contact the SUICIDE PREVENTION HOT LINE at 1-800-273-8255.
If you have not read GUTS yet, by Kristen Johnston, I suggest you do. It's funny, emotional, heart-breaking and raw. I love my smart-ass friend! Follow her on Twitter @kjothesmartass