Fight or Flight

dThis is an especially difficult post to write. It is hard to write because it is raw and I don’t plan to hold back. What encouraged me to do it is all the strong women that I have seen coming forward with personal confessions. It was those people who dare to talk about what is socially still a big taboo. It is not easy to come out and say: I am depressed.

Sure, people throw these words around like confetti not knowing what it really means. I know it all too very well.

For me it started showing on our family trip to Thailand. It was supposed to be a wonderful time off, but I had been very worried prior to that. I had made up all sorts of scary scenarios which made the countdown to the day of departure a living hell. I had headaches for months before that, I cried, I panicked… and I ended up going for the sake of us all. To prove to myself an others that traveling with a two-year old is a piece of cake. And it could have been if I could have let go.

But I worry constantly. And I take it onto myself to solve everyone’s problem. This was especially hard when my family lost a member more than a year ago: my brother. Let me be clear, my brother thankfully did not pass away. He did, however, decide to cut us all out of his life: starting with me, my parents, his wife and finally his children. I had adored my big brother and today I don’t even know where he lives. I did try to get in touch, I tried desperately in every way I saw possible. Maybe I tried too much and it ended up with all of us on his blacklist. I don’t know what drove my brother to do this, he never said. And of course, I blamed myself. And I fought, I fought so hard to make it all right again. And I failed.

Everyone kept telling me that I should stop worrying, that I was hurting myself. I chose not to listen, I took a pill for my headache, a pill for my stomach ache, a pill for my insomnia and I kept going. Throwing all the problems somewhere in the back of my head and ignoring them. I did need to be a good daughter, a good partner and a good mom after all.

And then it happened, but not in the way that one could have anticipated. In Thailand, my arms started hurting. Lifting a spoon was like lifting a ton of bricks. And I ignored it. Then I started getting really tired. And I blamed it on the jet lag. And then, I couldn’t blame it on anything else and I started to panic. I really started to panic and to Google my symptoms obsessively. It was all very bad. I was basically dying. This inevitably lead me to see doctors, lots of them. And they all said the same thing: you are healthy. How could I believe them? I felt so badly, so down, so achy … there surely must me something very wrong. Maybe they are just not good enough doctors, maybe it is too early in my ‘disease’ to tell.. maybe, maybe maybe. When I last saw my doctor I broke down crying begging her to give me a diagnosis and some medicine that would fix me. And that’s when she pointed out the obvious: I was anxious and depressed. I have that written down as a diagnosis on many doctor’s reports.

I couldn’t say it was a shock as I was slowly drying out. Unable to eat, unable to think of anything else than my aching body, not being able to look forward to anything, not being comfortable around other people… It was a giveaway. However, I am sure that if you would have met me at the time, I would have greeted you with a smile. That’s the thing with depression, it is an internal disease. It doesn’t necessarily show. It’s a prison that we live in and to the eyes of a relative stranger, it can still look great from the outside. It’s a true physical pain that seems so strong you can’t believe it’s not coming from the body.

The worst part about it? Nobody can help me. Only I can help myself. Blessing and a curse? It sure is. I try not to hide it, I talk about it with people who ask. That is the only way to get better. It makes no sense in faking it.

Somewhere along the line I sadly chose to forget who I was. What made me me. Instead, I took on the role of a mother, of a wife and of a devoted daughter. And then, when I was alone, I did not know what to do. It’s a big change from the cheeky girl that I was. Correction, that I still am. Somewhere.

I have been home for two weeks now. Slowly gaining my appetite and along with it – my strength. I go to therapy, I go to massages, I do breathing exercises, stretching  and I go on walks. When I walk around the woods all by myself, I come across many people doing the same. And I wonder, are we in the same situation? Are we all walking around trying to remember?

Thankfully I have a partner who understands and who enables me to find myself again. Who took on chores that I am temporarily not able to do. I am so grateful. I am grateful for our wonderful daughter who cheers me up, even though she also managed to drain me out.

I am grateful to be alive and to know that I am a fighter. I look for ways to get better, but the hardest thing is to know that it will take time. It is hard to face the fact that I am the one creating this pain – but that is why I am the only one who can take it away.

It is hard to admit that I am flawed. That I am weak. That even though it looks great on the outside, it doesn’t mean that that is the way it is our should be.

It happens. And it will get better. And that’s a promise.