I don’t often remember my dreams. Not too long ago I read something to the effect that you have to wake up at the right point in the sleep cycle in order to remember what you dreamed, so I must usually wake up too soon or too late or something. However, the other night I had a terrible dream. The details are really fuzzy, but for some reason we had to give Dexter up, or he got hit by a car or something equally heartbreaking. For some reason beyond our control, he was no longer the coolest, furriest member of our household (then it would be a tie, haha). I woke up feeling soooo saaaaad. Like, could have cried a little bit if I wanted to. I realized that I hadn’t felt that sad in quite a long time, for a reason encountered either in real life or in a dream.
After the miscarriage in 2006, I was depressed. Seemed like a reasonable reaction to me. I remember remarking to a good friend that I didn’t feel like doing anything at all other than laying on the couch with my head in Mike’s lap and staring at the television, occasionally sitting up to consume either chocolate or other junk food or alcohol. I figured it was okay to do that for a while rather than try to keep up a facade of denial, but I ended up staying in that frame of mind for way longer than necessary, probably at least a year, maybe two. I was semi-functional, going to work and doing whatever else I absolutely had to do, but not much else. At first, the sadness and anxiety were near crippling. I remember one chilly day when we still lived in Springfield, Mike had gone to run errands or hang out with a buddy or something, and I just couldn’t be in that house by myself anymore. So I went for a walk, pacing as though something or someone was chasing me. I couldn’t get away from it. I just wanted the panicky feeling to stop. There was nothing to panic about, yet I felt like my heart was trying to escape from my chest and I could throw up if I only concentrated on the physical sensations rather than the emotions and irrational thoughts for too long.
Eventually feeling like that daily subsided into total numbness. Funny things didn’t make me laugh. Something hilarious would maybe get me to crack a lopsided smirk. Sad things couldn’t make me cry, even though I’d always been one to have watery eyes at a sweet song or a cheesy commercial. I’d cry only in frustration, either at my job (though only once actually at work – how embarrassing) or how hopeless everything seemed to me. From all the pregnancy/baby loss and infertility blogs I’ve read, I had put myself in a somewhat rare situation. We hadn’t really been trying to begin with, and there was no point in trying again anytime soon because we were just shy of broke and I was obviously in too poor a mental state to even consider such a thing. It’s not that I wanted to try again soon, just that having no idea at all how many months or years I would be limited to remembering that experience as my first and last…it killed me. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Even that is a poor metaphor. I couldn’t even orient myself well enough to realize that I was in a tunnel, that theoretically the tunnel must have an opening at the end into which light had to shine eventually, whether or not I could see or even imagine that light right then.
Even when we bought our first house, I knew I was not summoning the proper amount of enthusiasm. I had tried a few natural-ish type remedies, taking fish oil capsules at night and some basic self-care and pampering. I started getting a facial once a month for a while. My skin was showing every stress and worry; the acne was out of control. As if I needed one more reason to not want to look at myself in the mirror. But I never went so far as to see a doctor and ask for anti-depressants. My OB/GYN had offered it on one follow-up visit in which I was visibly upset. They had put me in the same exam room in which I’d had the pointless ultrasound, and sitting there staring at the same herpes poster tossed me over the edge. She’d brought her newborn into the outer-office and I could hear him or her crying….so was I.
Ironically, I now have a filled but unused prescription for Wellbutrin/Zyban, just waiting for me to set a quit date. It expires next month, so I need to hop-to, but I am confused as to how taking an anti-depressant when I’m actually pretty freaking happy is going to work. I have no idea if I’m anywhere near bipolar, and it’s certainly nothing to hope for, but I do think I had a couple of mania-ish episodes intermixed in those years as well. Nothing too productive, like cleaning all night instead of sleeping, and nothing too dangerous like compulsive shopping, but a couple of times I did latch onto some rather grandiose ideas and have a hard time letting go or admitting how grandiose and improbable the imagined scenarios were.
Ahem. I’m realizing that conclusions are definitely a weakness for me when it comes to writing. I’m not depressed anymore, and I’m really happy about that. I’m lucky that I came out of it without medication and without permanent damage to my relationships and friendships. I hope that if it ever visits me again I won’t be too proud to ask for help. Having read accounts by Heather at dooce and by Schmutzie and many others who have struggled and who are still struggling, I’m so grateful that other writers are brave enough to put it all out there, because a support system, even an online one, is undeniably important to realizing that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve purposely not linked back to old entries that I wrote during that time period, as I don’t even want to reread them myself, let alone encourage anyone else to do so. If I did, I think I’d be really tempted to delete an awful lot of stuff that I wrote, and I don’t want to do that. This here narrative? It’s still being written.