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 – 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 – I was not a brilliant student to start with – 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 couldn’t explain. My best friend, Sarah, peeled me up from the sheets and dragged me – nearly kicking and screaming – out into the beautiful sun for the mainstay Seattle event called Folklife Festival.
I don’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 Dean’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.
“That’s pretty significant,” Bryan said last night when I told him my thoughts. And it is, but in so many ways that he doesn’t even know. Education is important to me, and I want my children to finish college. Realizing that maybe I wasn’t such a fuckup after all, that it wasn’t just an issue of my failure or lack of initiative, but that I was drowning in undiagnosed depression… 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 “laid off,” or whatever they choose to call it at the time (THAT’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 I’ve heard fish oil can be very beneficial for the brain, especially in conjunction with regular anti-depressants.
So, I guess we’ll see what happens.