Reclaiming My Life
This past year seems to be about reclaiming my life and getting some control over my depression. I have suffered from depression since I was in my late teens although it wasn’t until I was 30 that I was diagnosed with depression. When I was in my mid-teens my mum was in a serious car accident that drastically changed our family and our lives. Among other injuries she suffered a head injury. This injury vastly reduced her thought process, concentration levels, and she lost the ability to filter out background noise. I’m not quite sure how to describe it but she went from being a highly intelligent woman that could talk circles around you to someone who could no longer read a book because she couldn’t remember what she read previously. If you interrupted her during a television show the rest of the show was a write off because she lost a chunk and didn’t have a hope in hell of filling in the blanks. She would also usually go ballistic at that point. Needless to say life became a minefield. There was lots of yelling and many arguments, lots of walking on eggshells, and a lot of confusion.
It was never really explained to us what brain injuries were like for a person. We didn’t know what to expect, what kind of recovery there would be, or if she would get better at all. We just kept waiting for her to get better but she never did. When I clued in to this I realized that my mother died in that car accident and I was stuck with this other person. And I didn’t really have anyone to turn to and talk about what it was like, couldn’t share the confusion and anger I felt. My older sister was living in another country, my dad wasn’t a one-on-one kind of guy, my grandparents weren’t exactly the lovey-dovey type of folk, and aunts were either estranged or just far away.
I guess this was when the low self esteem and self loathing started for me because I remember feeling like no one cared about me at that time. I remember times where I was just so incredibly sad and not really understanding why. I would go through these depressive states and not really have anyone to turn to for support. Over time I learned how to stuff things down, bottle those emotions inside. It was the only way I knew how to get back up.
I was in my early 20’s when family members started passing away. In a few short years I lost both parents, both sets of grandparents, and an aunt whom I was quite close to. I felt very alone in the world. I had no idea how to process things; I couldn’t cope and I was on my own. So I stuffed. I stuffed those pesky emotions right into that bottle. My analogy. I stuffed and moved on. But those damn emotions kept wanting to come back out, and when they got their way it usually resulted in me going into those dark depressive states. I would cry all of the time for no apparent reason. I couldn’t focus on anything, my thoughts raced, I felt highly agitated and twitchy, experienced a lot of self loathing, painful loneliness, a lot of hopelessness, and feeling a lot like I didn’t want to be around anymore. I never talked about it to anyone; I suffered alone. Somehow I managed to muscle through it each time, however the next time was always worse than the previous one.
Jumping ahead, I got married to the most wonderful woman in the world. We endured a lot of battles and hardships together but always came out stronger for it. But then we were thrown the mother lode of curve balls. After long years of suffering from chronic health problems and misdiagnoses, my wife finally found out what is wrong with her. She has Lyme Disease. Treatment was hell. She deteriorated quickly, had to take a leave of absence from work, and needed a lot of care. So I stepped up and did what I could to take care of her, continued to work full time, did extra contract work on the side (because we needed the money), did what housework I could in between. The stress of everything triggered another episode. I knew what was coming. Only this time it was different. This time I said “Fuck that! I don’t have time for this.” I had someone depending on me to take care of them. So I sought help.
I went to my GP. He set me up with some antidepressants and something for sleep. I also started seeing a therapist, which was a big leap for me as I have never done therapy before. The first time I saw a therapist was with my mother a very long time ago. It went very badly so I avoided that route for quite some time. But this time it’s going well. I quite like her. We jive well. It’s the first time I had someone to talk to openly and candidly. She started giving me tools to use during situations. I later learned through all the copious amounts of blog posts by fellow Stigma Fighters that it was CBT. My panic attacks started to reduce and I started to stabilize into a more mellow state. After about 8 months I’d thought I would take a break from the therapy as I was feeling pretty decent. That only lasted a few months before I started to slip back down. I was fighting anxiety on a daily basis, as well as a lot of dark negative thoughts, self loathing, and thoughts of suicide. It was very clear to me that I still had a lot of work ahead of me with my mental health.
So I bypassed my GP and went to my Naturopath to discuss a medication change. (Note: Naturopaths can write prescriptions in BC. Apparently that is not the case in other places) I really like my Naturopath. It really feels like she is in my corner and cares whether I get better or not. I’m also back to seeing my therapist on a regular basis which will most likely be a long relationship. I’m getting my exercise by biking to work and recreationally but I still have other lifestyle changes to make.
2015 is about reclaiming my life. My life needs to be lived differently because of my mental illness so I need to reinvent.
Sarah Sorensen is a 41 year old living in Victoria, BC. She is a UI/UX designer for a green tech company, and is amazed that they pay her to make pretty buttons and icons all day long. She has been married for 7 years and counting, no kids but plenty of fur babies to compensate. She likes to bike, exploring all the trails that the South Island has to offer. When she isn’t biking she is either hiking or binge watching Netflix while she plays video games. (Yes I do both at once).