Yesterday a few cogs dropped into place and opened a door in my mind. It was like that episode of Lost when Claire begins to remember what happened to her during the two weeks she was kidnapped â€“ the Ah-Ha! moments came throughout the day, each triggered by another thought or something I saw.
Since my struggle with post partum depression began last year I have maintained that I do not struggle with depression in general, that this has been an isolated incident that took me by surprise. But yesterday I re-interpreted two events from my past.
In the Spring of 1992 I struggled in my college classes. I had always struggled â€“ I was not a brilliant student to start with â€“ but at this point I became paralyzed. I remember lying in my dorm room, lethargic, overwhelmed, unmotivated, and pinned to my bed by something dark and mysterious that I couldnâ€™t explain. My best friend, Sarah, peeled me up from the sheets and dragged me â€“ nearly kicking and screaming â€“ out into the beautiful sun for the mainstay Seattle event called Folklife Festival.
I donâ€™t have any memory of what happened the rest of that day, only that in the days and weeks leading up to it I felt exactly like I do now, and I am positive now that it was depression.
The ramifications of this are huge, because it was this episode that led to me failing a class, having a breakdown in the Deanâ€™s office, and ultimately dropping out of school. I had always attributed that event to a crisis of purpose, not know where my degree was taking me. But knowing what I know now, I am positive it was depression.
â€œThatâ€™s pretty significant,â€ Bryan said last night when I told him my thoughts. And it is, but in so many ways that he doesnâ€™t even know. Education is important to me, and I want my children to finish college. Realizing that maybe I wasnâ€™t such a fuckup after all, that it wasnâ€™t just an issue of my failure or lack of initiative, but that I was drowning in undiagnosed depressionâ€¦ well, that is very significant to me.
My next epiphany involves an incident more recent. The winter after Bryan and I were married, 2001-2002, I gained 20 lbs and became lethargic, unmotivated, and overwhelmed. I sleep-walked through my job and spent my free time on the couch doing nothing.
During that time Bryan left a partnership and moved the contents of his office to our home, dumping it all in our living room to be sorted out. Normally such a thing would not have fazed me, but I froze. Again to the rescue, Sarah came and led the way through the sorting and unpacking. She thought for me and made decisions for me and I just did what she told me to and the mess was cleaned up. (Thank you, Sarah).
Knowing what I know now, and remembering how I felt then, I am positive it was an episode of depression. And again, I believe this attributed to my lack of performance at work which ultimately led to my being â€œlaid off,â€ or whatever they choose to call it at the time (THATâ€™s another story).
Yesterday I was in a Funk. My house caved in on me, I was stinky, and the pajamas I wore were like a favorite blanket comforting me. I did nothing but lie on the couch while Ruthie and her friends played and watched t.v. It was during this time that I reflected back on these memories, and was able to see them in a new light: I, indeed, am a woman who has suffered waves of depression.
This changes everything. It does not push me further into my dark hole, but changes the tactic by which I fight this war. You see, I keep waiting for this Thing to go away, so I become confounded and discouraged by its lingering. Now I know it will not go away, but I must learn to embrace it and manage it, much like the realization I had in this post the other day.
After the kids woke from their naps, we walked to the health food store around the corner and I bought a strong, food-based B-Complex vitamin and some fish oil capsules. I remember the B-Vitamins helped dig me out back in 2002, and Iâ€™ve heard fish oil can be very beneficial for the brain, especially in conjunction with regular anti-depressants.
So, I guess weâ€™ll see what happens.