The Big D

That’s enough you guys, heads out of the gutter.

Let’s play spin the wheel of mental disorders! On the wheel we have Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression, PTSD & Generalized Anxiety.

OK now go ahead and spin and if you land on my mental disorder, you win a toaster.

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning, Spinning, Spinning… And it lands on…

All of them, DUH. 

Let’s get a few out of the way with quick explanations. I was born in Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My therapist maintains that this is not possible, but I maintain that it is. Some of my earlier memories are of panic and shortness of breath when outside of my comfort zone. This has lasted my whole life. It ebbs and flows, but always remains. Do your best not to sit next to me on an airplane.

PTSD. Let’s file this under ‘No Shit, Sherlock.’ Breast cancer at 35, no warning signs, caught on a fluke, mastectomy, chemo, other surgeries and infections. I think you guys get this one.

Seasonal Affective Disorder for me is less ‘darkness and cold’ and more ‘bah humbug.’ I was also born a curmudgeon (my therapist would like me to state that this is not true, but, um, it is). The holidays make me sad. I don’t know why, but as everyone else ramps up the joy, I slide into a misery foam pit. The darkness doesn’t help.

Now to the Big D, Depression. I haven’t been sure that I would be able to/would want to, write this blog post. It seems altogether too personal. But then I remembered that I have posed nude with drains hanging out of my body for this blog and remembered that people will read this and commiserate so, here we go.

I started to feel myself sinking a few months ago. I hover at 48-63% joy under normal circumstances so I didn’t have too far to fall. It is entirely possible that the fall into depression started when I began processing cancer with my therapist, but who knows if it would have crept in regardless?

I started noticing that I was feeling far less social than usual.  I was becoming irritated at a much faster rate than normal. My goal for every day was to slink through and get to 8pm when I could sit in quiet darkness in my bed. Depression was painting a pretty clear picture for me.

Last week during an argument with my husband, I was saying (maybe screaming), that I needed him to help me be happier, to which he replied: ‘How can I help you do that when you are too miserable to even be around?’

Ouch.

The worst part was that he was right. Yes, it sucked to hear from him, but he is an eternal optimist and dealing with me during a depression is just outside of his pay grade.

I fell apart. Weeping, gasping for breath, rocking on the floor. Unfortunately, my modus operandi is to flee. To get out of the situation by literally exiting the building. My terrifyingly cunning brain was able to hatch an entire Ocean’s Eleven escape plan within seconds. I asked for my husband to give me a little time alone and had packed a comprehensive bag and had tiptoed out of the house within minutes.

I didn’t know where to go. It was 10:20pm on a Thursday. I pulled over to think about it and quickly decided that what I needed was peace. I drove to a local hotel and checked in, probably presenting like a very rundown runaway.

I spent the next 36 hours in a hotel room that I never even saw. I didn’t see it because I never turned on the lights or opened the curtains. All I ate was half a hamburger that whole time. I lay in bed and either slept or cried. The whole time.

This is not at all a logical coping mechanism for a mother of 3 young kids whose husband is in the busiest time of the year at his place of business. But it was all I had. It was truly the only thing I could imagine doing. And you know what? When I was there, even though I may have been crying, I was content. Really content. The most content I had been in weeks (months?).

When I got home Saturday morning, I lost my shit yet again. So much so that my husband wasn’t comfortable leaving for work without my mom AND sister in the house. Thankfully they came with haste and I spent an unknown amount of time sobbing into my sister’s lap on the basement floor. I was allowing in very dark thoughts like, ‘Maybe my cancer was supposed to kill me. Would everyone ultimately be happier if I was gone?’ This was my rock bottom.

During this episode I was in touch with my therapist and my psychiatrist. They covered all the bases, reminding me to go to the ER if I felt at all like hurting myself, etc. The psychiatrist upped my dose of anti-depression meds and they both started suggesting out-patient treatment programs.

4 days have passed since the acute phase of this crisis ended. I feel much more even which I associate with the up-tick in drugs. I also think I am emotionally tapped.  I also think (fear) I am reverting back to my laser-sharp skills of burying the feelings because I just have to function for my children.

The question is, what is next? I am exploring out-patient depression programs, but this is A LOT of work which exhausts me. Calling these places and telling your whole life story over and over has become too much.

For now I just need to be extremely present in my feelings and trust that my support net of family and friends will be here if I need them. My mom is obviously very concerned about me and said to me today, ‘If you need to go to France for 3 weeks, we will make that happen.’ Hmmmmm…

I decided to share this with you because my stories don’t always end with a silver lining. This one surely doesn’t. Depression is real and depression is excruciating for everyone involved. I am muddling through finding my way, but for now, I am allowing myself to just be (insert: weepy/destitute/overwhelmed/melancholy/pissed/________). I will lean on my people and find comfort in knowing that I can just be.

If you are reading this and are suffering from depression, know that I walk beside you. We don’t walk alone.

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Lindsay says:

    I am honestly blown away by your bravery to share. I can relate to this far too well. I wish I couldn’t. It is easy to share bad things through the lens of a tough skin or positive voice. It is far harder to be truly honest while you’re in the thick of it. Hoping the meds give you some peace and that life eases up on you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Thank you Lindsay. I always appreciate seeing that you have read my nonsense. It sucks that you know what I am talking about is this one, but isn’t it nice to know that we aren’t alone? Amen for the meds.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lindsay says:

        Absolutely! Meds can make a big difference, so I’m glad your docs are on on it. I’m so sorry you have to go through all of this on top of everything else. Sometimes life is so unfair. Sharing, however, is a game changer. Until I met and talked to others who have experienced trauma to mine, I was a wreck. Talking to others and knowing that they actually understand how you’ve felt… its a game changer. Or at least it has been for me.
        Much love, and happy holidays 🙂

        Like

  2. Emily Boccia says:

    This is me….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Hugs

      Like

  3. Aunt Judy says:

    I’m so sorry Gracie that this is happening to you now. I understand everything you wrote and I do support you even tho from far away. And I love you so much.

    Like

  4. Cindy says:

    Thank you for writing this. Sat past was a yr from my diagnosis. I had my mammogram that tues., havent heard so no news Is good news..right.. 👍🤔. But what I wanted to say is hugs. My hubby if I read this to him would totally commiserate as he suffers PTSD, anxiety and depression. When at his worst he too just left. I would come home and he’d be gone. Finally figured his fuge state as drs said was from one of his drugs. But oh it was hard for us all. Hugs to you on this journey and please give your hubby hugs from one whos watched her loved one be similar. My heart goes out to you both.❤️☮️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Interesting to hear from the perspective of the partner, thank you for sharing Cindy. I feel baldy for my huz all the time. What a nightmare for his optimistic soul to have to handle.
      And yes, no news is good news. Fingers crossed!

      Like

  5. Caroline says:

    Depression is very real and hard for others to understand as it is what is in your own head. Continue to find an outlet whether writing or talking to specialists. And it will get more manageable.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Iridacea says:

    Sending love. All the crying seems like a necessary detox. You will get to the other side of depression. The year after my treatments was very difficult emotionally. Like swimming through darkness. It has improved, and I’m in a much better space now. During the thick of it I felt like the big magnet of Wile E. Coyote, only instead of the Eiffel Tower I was drawing “evidence” from every corner of my life for why my life sucked, and then building the case for why it would continue to suck permanently. My sister who has dealt with depression her whole life was super helpful. “This is processing, Not the new normal.” The days are getting longer again starting today, may the returning light lighten your heart. Xo iris

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wow Grace- thank you for sharing your story. I too have struggled with this my whole life and yes the holidays do generally suck. My father is dying- maybe today, could be tomorrow… in a strange way this has lifted my mood because I have someone else to focus on. I know that he is going to join our Heavenly Father and be with my mom. I will continue to pray for your healing- God loves you and won’t give you more than you can handle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Holy cow I am so sorry about your father. Are you with him? I lost my dad to cancer a few years ago. It was so hard because it was so sudden and because it was just, you know, hard. I know what you mean about distraction, even a sad one, being somehow good. I was physically sick with a sinus infection and it was a welcome distraction from my mental state. I hope you can find some joy Anonymous- Grace

      Like

  8. Nikki Dicks says:

    Thank you for sharing Grace. I suffer from MDD, GAD, and OCD for as long as I can remember now and most days are good but the bad ones feel like they last forever with no end in sight. I love reading your posts because your words are raw and full of truth and emotion. I stand with you girl, this too shall pass. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Anonymous says:

    Grace, as others have said- so brave in the midst of vulnerability. And I use the word vulnerability specifically, because I’m referring to Brene Brown and her work on shame and vulnerability. You are “Braving the Wilderness” – and will get through it. And 3 weeks in France… hmmm… Much love to all of you in Grancerland…

    Like

  10. Pat says:

    Hello Grace, and thank you for your courage to write so openly. Please understand that you are being prayed for each day. In a book of daily reflections (“God Calling”), the entry on Dec. 20th contained:
    “Fight fear. Depression is a state of fear. Fight that too. Fight. Fight. ‘Depression is the Impression left by fear.’ ”
    — Amen.

    Stay strong Grace.

    Like

  11. Mrs. Michael Fahl says:

    Wow! Thank you for your honesty and bravery! My daughter, Izze, struggles desperately w/everything you have mentioned! She has been in remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for 2 1/2 years and is now fighting her biggest battle ever. As her mom, my heart breaks to watch my nearly 16 year old, old soul, beautiful, creative, compassionate, daughter, giving up! I’ll continue to find the help she needs and will never give up!
    I’m struggling, too, w/the big D and anxiety, also getting help.
    I just happened to learn of your blog and documentary, you are amazing! I’m hoping to see the film, I live in Kalamazoo, and live day by day. I can’t always make plans, but I’ll certainly make an all out effort!
    Thank you for sharing your journey! Your blogs are brave, honest, and have helped me immensely! I hope Izze and will meet you someday!

    Like

    1. mygrancerblog says:

      Oh my goodness you have really been through it! And I am so sorry that things continue to be hard for Izze though honestly, I can’t imagine how a growing young mind could just ‘move on’ without massive emotional ramifications. Please tell her that I think her cancer odyssey with make her the coolest chick in any room she enters. She will ‘know things’ and have ‘seen things’ that will give her the perspective to be by far the most enlightened person in her peer group. Sometimes we just have to re-frame cancer and something we were ‘lucky’ to have because it has made us stronger, better, more grateful creatures. Us cancer survivors need to stick together and remind each other that we have come out the other end bionic. Love to you both-
      Grace

      Like

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