Friday, June 2, 2017

Living Without Asterisks

Writer's note: I am aware that the main focus of this blog is supposed to be 'life with kids.' But as my very wise therapist says, "You can't take care of the kids if you don't take care of yourself." With that in mind...

I am a person who hates medication in any way, shape, or form (for myself.) I've skipped taking meds after c-sections because I'm so anti-medication. I like to be in control of myself. I don't like the way medications make me feel.

For that reason, when I began to spiral into a really bad clinical depression, I thought I could handle it myself. I've "managed" my symptoms for years--I'm an incredibly high-functioning person, and the worst thing about the perception of depression is that people think it only has one face. But in the span of ten minutes, both of these have been the face of depression:

I also have moderate-severe anxiety with agoraphobia, so there are days where leaving the house literally feels like it will kill me, but I'd gotten used to fighting myself to get out that door, despite that it was sending my mental health southward.

When it got to the point that I was missing more than I was enjoying, I went to a therapist, and found a great one. She didn't push me into medication, but she could see how badly I was doing and gave me every technique to combat it. Cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy, and mindfulness activities are wonderful things...and they helped, to an extent.

But they only stalled the speed of my descent; they failed to reverse the direction. Or maybe I did.

When I finally took that plunge and began medication, the world changed. This may not be the right medication--I won't know that just yet--but just in taking an SSRI for a few days, I already feel the "weight of the world" off my shoulders--as in, yesterday, I felt the sun on my face and I *enjoyed* it. I went to a volunteer cosplaying event and didn't have a panic attack on the way. I woke up this morning before the kids went to school and interacted with them before their day began. I took out the trash myself, walking in and out of the house several times without having to fight my repulsion of that damn hallway door.

I'm not at 100 percent yet...I still had an anxiety attack on my way to an appointment and I can't say I'm completely ready to roll out the door at the moment. But in that moment, feeling the sunshine on my face, I realized how much sincere joy has been missing for years. Every happy moment was happy, but with the underlying weight of depression. Every triumph had the nagging voice telling me it wasn't as good as... Every morning, every night, every special moment contained an asterisk. And if the good moments had an asterisk, the bad moments were bold and italicized with exclamation points.

I'm a sucker for punctuation.

I'm ready to go forward with no parentheses, no ellipses, and no quotation marks, only the occasional oxford comma to stop and enjoy the text.

Revising is never easy, so I'm not expecting instant success, but like any other project, the story is all the better for it.