As long ago as it may seem in my head, my most memorable bouts with depression and anxiety were only 7-8 years ago. Only 7-8 years since I was crying everyday, asking to stay home from school, taking too many anti-depressants and trying to come to terms with a lot of changes in a short amount of time.
Looking back on that time, I honestly thought I was going to die. I was constantly gripped with the fear that I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t swallow. Couldn’t function on my own. The fear was so real that my heart would race, I would start crying and then I’d be rushed to the hospital. But nothing was ever REALLY wrong. It was just inside my head. And as many times as I told myself it was in my head, nothing made it better. But it was a small comfort when my mom came home one day and handed me a pamphlet that said, DEPRESSION, in big white block letters. “I think this is what you may have,” she told me, as I sat on my bed, trying to get away from it all again.
It lasted almost four years. I lost a significant amount of weight in that time, but once I went to college, most of my fears and anxieties peetered off. Vanished all-together in some ways. I learned to slowly recognize what triggered a panic attack (at that time it was any small foods that I could potentially choke on… anything constricting like turtle necks… something as simple as a seat belt…or just thinking/talking about my stepbrother or stepsister). I had support from close friends and family who recognized that what I was dealing with was HARD. But I always felt like I was being judged by others who couldn’t understand my invisible demons.
Though, it never really does go away. Even 7-8 years later, the depression and anxiety is sometimes still very hard to deal with. Now it’s a bit more infrequent. While I can now eat grapes, and take small bites of pizza at a time, ride in a car without the constant fear of being near death… it takes me a very long time to eat anything. Most people are done long before I am. I can’t swallow fast, or a lot of food, at one time. I don’t like eating tomatoes, regardless of size, because the texture swallows weird. I avoid taking any and all pills unless I’m in unbearable pain because I can feel the pill as I swallow it. I can’t sleep without a mouth guard because I grind and clench my teeth so hard I wake up with a headache, sore jaw, and duller canines.
This weekend was a test of strength on my part. A test that I feel like I’m failing. I wanted to do it all, and felt like I could do it all. In my mind I’m normally Wonder Woman. I can clean, cook, bake, fold laundry, love my husband, take care of two cats, have lots of free time, and somehow still have energy to work out at 5 a.m. every morning. I can plan all these things to do, and be good at every.single.one.
But I lost it over something so little as not having any peanut butter in the house. We were all out and I needed some for a recipe I was making for a dinner that was spontaneous, for family who came without notice. I had already softened the butter (i.e. accidentally melted it in the microwave), had just enough time to bake this thing before we had to leave. Before I gave up plans I had, before I added one more thing, on top of another, to my plate.
The tension had built all weekend. Small things that threw off my routine just kept mounting on my shoulders. Suddenly doing it myself felt like I was Sisyphus… rolling the heaviest boulder up a hill only to do it again, and again, and again, but without that 1/2 cup of peanut butter that would have suddenly given me the extra burst of strength I needed. It’s like I’m battling a war within my own brain. And whether I win or lose, it’s a battle that’s being fought unnecessarily.
I feel as if I am my own enemy. And at times, it seems like it’s nearly impossible to go on. The tears come flooding back without reason, the pain, the fear. It just grips me and makes me want to sleep. Alone. With no really close friends nearby. With someone who doesn’t deserve to deal with this nonsense.
I just need some time to get over it. To embrace what’s happening and realize I’ll get through it again. I just wish the cloud would just go away already. I don’t know what brought it on, or why it’s still lingering, but I know already that I’m not Wonder Woman, and that I can’t do it all alone.