Friday, April 11, 2008

the black hole that consumed my life*

I can't remember when it started exactly, but I noticed it when it became increasingly difficult to get out of bed in the morning. A light sleeper usually, my head felt heavy and my feet felt like two large bricks preventing me from getting out of bed when the alarm rang. On days when I didn't have to work at the Crap, I just stayed in bed, leaving it only to eat and use the facilities.

The sadness was too strong to ignore. It was like this gray cloud of misery that traveled with me every where I went.

Instead of going out with friends, I would make up excuses to stay in. The last thing I wanted was company.

When the signs and symptoms persisted, I knew what it was. I was depressed.

A few short months before then, I had done a major paper and presentation on mental illness and the connection to homelessness for grad school. I was educated enough to know that I was suffering depression. And as much as I tried to just 'get happy,' I couldn't.

I felt unhappy, all of the time. And even when I recognized the persistence of unhappiness, I just couldn't will myself to be happy again. Was I happy to begin with? How could I be sad all of the time? And since I could recognize it, why can't I stop it?

The trigger was my dropping out of grad school when I lost my scholarship. I couldn't afford to go so I just stopped going, hoping to return someday. I thought that Hope was something I could hold on to. But it faded quickly when I realized what a failure I was. I couldn't even make my dreams come true. What kind of person am I to have goals and then stop short of realizing them?

It was all downhill from there.

I was a perfectionist my whole life. A goal setter and goal getter. A dreamer who made those dreams come true with hard work and dedication. And then it all came to a halt. I didn't know how to deal.

Somehow, I knew that all of this didn't make sense. But my body felt differently. The sadness was too much to handle. Pretty soon, the depression became pretty obvious to my friends.

An intervention was staged. I did my best to convince everyone that I was going to be ok. Sure, I spoke those words out loud but didn't believe them. I convinced myself that being sad over dropping out of school wasn't a big enough concern to take to a shrink. So I didn't go.

I'm not sure when it all came to an end. It took a lot of coaxing from friends and lots of late night conversations with the VIPs in my life. Slowly, but surely, I pulled myself out of the black hole that had engulfed my life. And I rediscovered that Hope to go back to school.

But not everyone has that kind of safety net. If I didn't have so many caring individuals in my life, I'm positive I would still be dealing with depression now (suffering from depression AND anxiety is fairly common).

And my life now would've been completely different.

*This is the second in a series of honest and personal posts about mental
illness. The series will culminate on April 16th, 2008, the one year
anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech.


Mme. Meow said...

I'm glad you did. Sending a hug over the internets.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

Concur with meow.........
great post and it sends a great message.

One of the bad things about my career and job, we are too scared to get help for fear of loosing our job - isn't that hocus pocus?
I suffered from severe PTSD after 9/11 -- had to go through it on my own without a doctor for the fear of loosing my job.

lizzie said...

madame meow: thanks for the support. virtual hugs are the next best thing to real ones. :)

CH 20210: i'm sorry about what you went through following 9/11.

hmmm...that's what bugs me about mental illness. it's a disease like any other (with a biological basis for which you can take medication and feel better). yet, there is a stigma about being mentally ill and seeking treatment. so it's better to suffer in silence or to endure it alone?

if you were diabetic, would you be ashamed to seek insulin? no. and i long for the day that mental illness will be seen in the same light.