Over the course of the past 6 months or so, I have confessed many, many things in this blog. If you are keeping up, then you know that I have committed wrongs against animals, my husband, my children, my father, and the U.S. Government, among others, and that I have habits that defy predominant perceptions about how one is to behave. You know that I’m a forgetful mother, a procrastinator, I suffer from road rage on occassion, and that I fantasize about life wherein my co-dependent high maintenance dog is replaced with luxurious area rugs. You might also remember that I’ve given up on having a clean house, an empty sock bin, and a healthy relationship with my children’s teachers. You should also be aware that I deal with stress via escapism. And don’t forget last week’s Confession Thursday, which I nonchalantly posted on Friday without realizing what day it was. I can’t be bothered with linking all the past Confession Thursday issues, so if you’ve missed any of these, you should click on the “Confession Thursday” category and read up.
You might be convinced at this point that you know all there is to know about me. You are wrong, though.
Here’s today’s confession:
I went through a bout of severe depression when I was about 23 or 24. I had two small children at that time and Zohrhubby and I were having what I will describe as a “rough patch”. Instead of going to talk to someone about it, I suppressed it. I wasn’t able to have that kind of depression you see on tv: The pathetic looking person who is frowning and peeking through a drawn curtain or lying in bed all day. No. I had to work. I had to get kids to/from daycare/school, I had to cook and clean and take care of a house that I didn’t even want to be in. It built up until I nearly burst. I thought long and hard about how to get out of the situation I was in. It wasn’t the kids, it was the whole package. It was a life that I didn’t think I wanted to lead anymore. I was not suicidal, but if I could have made myself magically disappear, I probably would have.
This built up and built up until one morning when ZH came home from working the graveyard shift and we had a huge argument. I got in my car and drove to get away from it. I drove around for an hour. I wanted to run away. I had at that moment the worst headache I’ve ever experienced. It felt like my head was going to split open. I didn’t want to go home. I couldn’t deal with it, and I couldn’t face a family member or friend to talk about it because I felt so irrational at that point. I drove myself to the local mental health hospital, and checked myself in.
Now pick your jaw up off the floor. It’s not that dramatic.
Once the deed was done, I began to realize what I was doing, and I tried to back out of it. I told the admitting doctor that I made a mistake, that I wasn’t crazy, and that I had to go home to take care of my children. They wouldn’t let me leave. They wanted me to call my husband and tell him what had happened so he could make arrangements to take care of the kids for a few days, at least. I was scared to call. I thought I had made a huge mistake, I felt ashamed of myself. I made the nurse call and tell him, instead, and then I got on the phone. He was shocked, as was I. He made me feel worse than I already did…like I had put our whole family in jeopardy. I don’t blame him now and I didn’t blame him then. It’s probably an appropriate response when you have no idea that the person you’ve lived with for the past 5 or 6 years has been depressed.
I stayed there for about a week. I met drug addicts, suicidal teenagers, and downright crazy people. (And I mean DOWNRIGHT crazy people.) It was just like you would imagine, or like you’ve seen on tv. We had group therapy, where I learned entirely too much about these people’s lives. I won’t go into details, but one guy, who appeared to be in his mid-to-late 60’s had been admitted because of several episodes where he had been caught with farm animals. And he wasn’t milking them, either. I had sporadic conversations with other patients, who seemed lucid and normal, and moments later they would jump up in a rage over what someone across the room said, that didn’t have anything to do with them. It was scary at first, but by Day 3 or 4, I just started studying each of them. I was fascinated by what I saw and learned about these people. I realized that depression can be treated and helped, but these poor people had a lifetime of problems, doctors, medications and inpatient stints ahead of them. It was sad.
This is something that I’ve not told very many people. I have felt ashamed about it for a very long time now. For a long time I thought that it was a mistake. While clearly I was not a “crazy” person (SHUT UP!), I did need it at the time. I was depressed to the point that I was not thinking clearly or logically, and I could not cope. When I left, I was better. I have had periods of time where I felt depressed since then. I have better coping mechanisms now. And I feel more comfortable talking about them, instead of letting them build up and fester.
Here’s why I decided to tell you guys this today: There is a stigma that goes along with any sort of mental health issue, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or something more serious. If people don’t seek help, then they suffer in silence, or they do things that otherwise they would never do, in an effort to either get attention or try to fill a hole that they feel inside. If any of you reading this is experiencing anything like this, don’t put off seeking help. It’s a lot more common than you think, and it’s about chemical imbalances, not about weakness, as you might have been told. It can be better, and you deserve for it to be better. If you know someone who you think might be having problems, talk to them. Ask them questions and offer your help.
Now, feel free to think of me as “unstable” and “crazy” as you always have. You won’t hurt my feelings. I’m gonna own it.
You could quite possible know all there is to know about me now. That’s pretty freakin’ scary. For the both of us.
NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN.