Is This A Crisis?

This morning I misunderstood something my friend Audra said, and ended up saying something that I shouldn’t have.

She very gently pointed out what I’d done, and I apologized.

Over. And over. And over.

By the end, I wasn’t even apologizing for what I’d said; I was apologizing for annoying her, for always being wrong, and for just plain being myself. This, amid protestations from her that it was fine, that she wasn’t upset, that she hadn’t communicated clearly in the first place.

Finally, I said, “I’m just awful, and I’m overwhelmed, and I’m not doing enough to help myself because I don’t know how.”

All of that was true, even if I hadn’t meant for it to come out like that.

She asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I balked and asked why. I didn’t see any reason to go to the hospital – I was fine, just having a bad day. Well, a string of bad days, really. Maybe a bad month. But certainly nothing more than that!

“I think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do in a crisis, love,” she said. “I feel like you’ve been in a crisis for a bit now.”

But how can I be in a crisis when I seem perfectly fine to everyone else? How can things be that bad if no one else has noticed?

What does a crisis even look like?

When I asked Audra, she said, “Like, I feel like you’ve got the brain equivalent to not being able to breathe, you know?”

Yes. That is exactly what it’s like right now.

Maybe a crisis looks like weeks and weeks or maybe even years of not sleeping.

Maybe a crisis looks like letting my son watch Fraggle Rock after dinner so that I can pass out on the couch behind him, because I can’t stay awake for one more second.

Maybe a crisis looks like waking up shaking and sweating at night and not knowing why.

Maybe a crisis looks like not being able to focus on any one task long enough to complete it.

Maybe a crisis looks like not allowing myself to eat, or have fun, or relax until I’ve finished my work as a pathetic attempt to motivate myself, and the beating myself up when I can’t get anything done.

Maybe a crisis looks like never being good enough, never being smart enough, never having enough hours in the day.

Maybe it looks like my hands shaking as I try to make a cup of tea.

Maybe it looks like crying alone at my desk for no discernible reason.

Maybe it looks like taking everything way too personally.

Maybe a crisis is all of these things taken together; maybe its more than the sum of its parts.

Maybe this is a crisis.

I don’t know how to get out of this. I’m trying all of solutions that I know, like medication, therapy and yoga, and none of them seem to be doing much good. I feel like I’m doing my best, but I’m not sure how to proceed if it turns out that my best isn’t good enough.

I’m scared.

To be honest, I’m not even sure why I’m writing about this publicly. Maybe because it’s easier than talking about it face to face with anyone; maybe I’m hoping someone else will tell me that they’ve been here, and that’ll make me feel less alone, or make me feel like I’ll be able to come out the other side mostly unscathed. Sometimes it feels like talking about my depression on here was like opening a Pandora’s Box, and now I just can’t stop. Often I worry that I’m being awful and attention-seeking. I tell myself that I’m helping combat stigma, but is that true? Or do I have other motives in place?

Is all this negative self-talk part and parcel of my depression? Or am I just being rationally critical of myself? After years of living like this, how do I untangle my actual self from the disease? Or is it just a part of me, part of my personality now?

It’s taking every ounce of my self-will not to apologize for writing this, for annoying you, for being a bad person. Even writing that is a sort of apology; it’s a compromise that I’ve made with myself, a way of showing you how bad I am without actually saying the words I’m sorry.

Is there even any point in getting help? Sometimes it seems like the hope that things will get better is even harder than the depression itself; not only do I feel rotten, but I also have to deal with the disappointment of each successive doctor, medication and therapy not working.

I don’t know what to do.

But I think that this might be a crisis.

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