So, I recently had to gather my close circle of friends and confidants to have an uncomfortable but necessary conversation.
Coming out? Nope.
Career change? Negative.
I had to tell them (or warn them, rather) I’m changing my meds. I have suffered with depression and anxiety for some time now, but really struggled through my divorce. After much denial, shame, embarrassment, and procrastination, I spoke with my nurse practitioner and sought help. It was gut wrenching and scary, but I’m so glad I did. As I’ve mentioned before, it was only when I stepped out of my own way, throwing stigma and cultural bias to the wind, that I could clear the fog that allowed me to re-focus and find my way back to feeling normal.
Until recently, that is. For about six months, I’ve been fighting these crazy surges of hopelessness, mood swings, and unwarranted rages. I find myself having to apologize to those closest to me for saying something outlandish or hurtful. Often, I felt it necessary to just withdraw altogether, not trusting myself to react or respond to situations, for fear of once again putting my foot in my mouth, or scurrying off to the nearest bathroom to cry. Unbelievably frustrating, embarrassing, and so painful. I feel betrayed by my own mind. It’s as if my spirit is trapped and silenced, unable to find its way through a lens; one that’s perpetually jaded, fractured and impaired. Hopelessness sets in despite my abilities to shake it off. And before you ask, I absolutely call on God for help. Prayer, reflection, writing, meditation. All of the above. But what I feel many people don’t get about depression is that it is not a fleeting series of negative thoughts. It’s not the blues. It’s not a case of the Mondays. It is an intrusive and overwhelming condition. And unfortunately, many people, especially women, ignore their symptoms, and fall even further into a state of denial and self-destruction.
No fuckin’ thanks. Been there, done that. It’s a thankless job trying to be Superwoman. And I have to admit I was deceived thinking my chronic nurturing and caregiving benefitted everyone. Truth be told, it does everyone, most of all me, a disservice. Even worse, it models a dysfunctional way of being to other young women.
All this to say, I felt that familiar weight, that heavy, haunting darkness creeping in again, despite my current medication. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to get out of bed. At all. That deep need to hide, withdraw and surrender to nothingness was back on my brain.
In response, I’m undergoing a 2 week process of getting off one medication and getting on another. In her sweet and tactful way, my provider recommended I let folks around me know what was going down, so that they could be supportive and aware of my circumstances. In other words, let your peeps know so you don’t end up in a knife fight outside of happy hour.
This medicine shit ain’t no game. These highs and lows are no joke. I’m like a renegade Tasmanian devil – but with killer curves and a designer bag. I have been ready to ram my car into the elderly woman in front of me driving too slow (I call them “cotton tops”—not PC, I know but just giving you the lo’ down). I’ve wanted to cry at an intern’s presentation on mountain climbing and its connection to leadership. I’ve used my pug, Otis, as a dancing partner. I cried when I couldn’t learn the routine on Just Dance 3’s rendition of Kris Kross’s Jump. That one in particular, was a low point. However, God’s grace was at play because I detached from myself just long enough to break out into hysterical laughter. What a fuckin’ life, right?
All this to say, despite the day to day, seemingly insurmountable obstacles we face, be encouraged. So much is out of our control, but our reactions, our tenacity, and our faith are solely ours to own.
Pray and ponder.
Journal or draw.
Kickbox or walk.
But for the love of God, do NOT be afraid to seek medical help for the thoughts, feelings, stresses, and symptoms you can’t control. Do not let your light be dimmed by fear of judgment by others. So many women inherit and perpetuate the lie of “I’m fine.” That “I got this” bullshit that has destroyed our bodies for generations, making us predisposed and vulnerable to both physical and mental health issues.
We were handed a history of self-denial and forced servitude. However, we don’t have to accept or pass this down to our girls.
Get yours, hear? Get your meds, get your rest, and get your mind right. You’re worth it.