Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

This is not an easy post to write. I haven’t written here at all since January, when I was rapidly failing at trying to publicly state something good about myself each day. It lasted 2 days. And seeing where I am right now, that’s not at all surprising.

I ended up changing that goal to simply writing down (in my own journal) something, anything positive every single day for 45 days. It was rarely an acknowledgement of something good about ME, but rather something that made me feel good about the day – but I did notice I felt a lot more optimistic when I was focused on finding something good in every day. I’ll admit, some days it was hard to find something good, but no matter how mundane, I always found SOMETHING.

What became really obvious to me through that exercise and through the last few months is that depression, even when mild or mostly controlled, colors how I perceive everything around me — and absolutely everything ABOUT me.

This year, I’ve really struggled to control my depression and anxiety. That’s hard to admit in some ways, because for a while there, I was really good at convincing myself that I was handling this whole life thing. I couldn’t (or maybe refused to) explain why I cried in my car driving to and from work so often. Everything was fine, what did I have to cry about?? I’d dry my face, chalk it up to fatigue or a rogue feel, and continue with my day.

Except some days the tears didn’t just stop when I got to work. Some mornings I fought at my desk to gain control over the liquid falling from my face, or the inexplicable anger I felt over something rather benign, or the gut-wrenching feeling that I was failing miserably and had nothing good to offer the day. But as each day progressed, I perked up a bit, wrote it off as a silly bout of depression or an extra hit of anxiety, and continued about my business — the business of pretending to be fine when the reality was my soul was crumbling inside me.

But I was fine. It was all fine.

Except I wasn’t. It wasn’t. And yet, I ignored the severity.

I was seeing my therapist. I was trying to eat well. I was exercising and training. I ran a fucking marathon.

You don’t just run marathons when your soul is crumbling…right?

And then Tim’s dad, one of the kindest, most accepting and loving people to have ever walked this planet, died very suddenly from aggressive cancer. Tim and his dad were so close. It didn’t matter how sad I was, it couldn’t matter how sad I was, because none of it could even compare to the depths of grief and pain and sadness he and his family were feeling. I have tried desperately to figure out how to navigate this path, balancing a gradual but persistent onset of mental illness with my own grief, but more importantly, with the need to support my husband and not burden him with an ounce more than he was dealing with.

Holy shit, my friends, I failed and I failed hard. And all the feels, all the failure, all the nagging depression, all the intense anxiety, all the grief…it all came to an ugly head and I 100% lost my shit on Sunday. Wednesday of last week, I finally admitted to Tim how deeply depressed I was and how sorry I was for the timing of it. I tried to reel it in. I knew Sunday was going to be hard…his first Father’s Day without Ray. The first holiday without him. Perhaps the last holiday celebrated in the family home. It was meaningful. And I absofuckinglutely ruined the shit out of it.

What started as something silly that shouldn’t have even been a thing turned into the worst breakdown I’ve ever experienced. And while I know myself well enough to know I could never actually do harm to myself, I have never, ever, ever wanted more desperately to be dead. Preferably to have never existed, because then no one would be saddened (or, more “accurately”, inconvenienced) by my death, but I would have gladly welcomed any exit from this world. I didn’t belong here. It hurt others for me to exist. My depression voice took over. My therapist asked me to write down the worst of the negative core values brought forth by my depression, and here’s the ugly reality:

These are the things that, no matter how much logic I try to use or others try to use on me, I deeply feel are true and real when I’m depressed. I may not feel all of them at once (though I did on Sunday), but I always feel at least one of these at some point pretty much every single day.

And we wonder why people with depression are tired all the time.

It’s fucking exhausting.

But you know what’s even more exhausting? Finding help. We almost went to the hospital, but the thought of that panicked me even more – would they ever let me out? What would people think, if they knew I admitted myself for mental health reasons? Could my husband love me if I did this? Would he leave me?

It was too much. I couldn’t calm myself down, I didn’t have meds (my anxiety medicine had expired), and when I called my therapist’s emergency exchange for help, the phone rang and rang and rang and no one ever answered.

After talking to my mom, my sister and Tim for a while, I managed to stop being hysterical and calm my anxiety a bit. I was still scared of my brain, what it was saying, what it was doing, how it wasn’t responding to my normal efforts to soothe…but I was more scared of what would happen to me if I went to the hospital. I eventually went to sleep and slept restlessly.

When I woke up on Monday, I barely recognized my face from how swollen my eyes were from crying so hard for so long. My head ached. But I had a 9:00 meeting, so I wrestled my shit together and went to work. I needed a day off. I still need a day off, but something in me wouldn’t allow it. I had already let my whole family and Tim and his family down. I couldn’t let work down, too, and I had meetings and deadlines to tend to. On top of tracking down some help for me and my broken brain.

I somehow managed not to cry in front of my coworkers, but pretty much cried at my desk with the door closed the rest of the day when I wasn’t in meetings. In between completing assignments, I was calling my therapist’s office, begging for an appointment before July 6th, or just some form of help. I got a message in to my therapist and was told she’d call when she could. I carried my phone with me everywhere, desperate not to miss that call. In the meantime, I put in a call to my primary care doc, who prescribes my anxiety medicine and has offered anti-depressants before. And then it was a waiting game. I was at the mercy of my shouting brain and the timelines of those who could help me.

Hours later, my therapist called and we talked about Sunday. She offered to call me again to talk later in the day, but promised to call today (and she did) and made me an appointment for Friday. I told her about how the exchange just rang, and she’s looking into that as well. If I need her, I know I can call and she’ll get back to me. That is reassuring.

Hours after that, my doctor’s secretary called me back with less pleasant news. Naughty me didn’t go in for my January 6-month check in, so there was a good chance he wouldn’t refill my script without seeing me first…which isn’t possible until the middle of July. I know I’m supposed to get my blood checked every 6 months on this BP medication, but it’s not like I’ve been absent for over 12 months. I was in last summer FFS. Why can’t he authorize a refill on a medication he knows I’ve taken and that I NEED right now? I understand not writing a new script for a medication without seeing me and understanding where I am, but not refilling one? This is upsetting and yet another example of the lack of importance our medical system places on mental healthcare needs. It’s fucking bullshit.

But I’m too goddamned exhausted from this fight to call back and raise the issue. At least, I am today. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

It shouldn’t be so difficult to get help. It shouldn’t be so fucking scary to seek help. Fighting just to exist each day is tiring enough. Our system shouldn’t make it this hard to gain access to the things needed to help the fight.

The stigma is real. And it’s dangerous. Kate Spade is a prime example of what can happen if you refuse help because of how others might perceive you. Anthony Bourdain was open in his fight, but even that wasn’t enough.

Depression kills. I understand intimately how it’s possible and how death can seem like the only option. Fighting the darkness is hard, and there’s no system in place to help make it easier.

I don’t know what the answer is. I just know we have to work to find it, and in the meantime, I’m here working to find my own path, my own help, my own answers.

I’m tired as hell. I’m tired of the pain. I’m tired of my emotions and my brain overruling rational thought and actions. I’m tired of trying to perfectly balance everything to keep the beast at bay. I need more help than that, and I’m trying to find it.

I just hope I still have a voice and friends to hear it when it’s over.

4 Replies to “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”

  1. Sarah, I love you. And I truly understand what you’re going through and how hard it is to ask for and then find help. I chose to self-medicate with a 5th of vodka every day for about 20 years rather than take antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. That way I didn’t have to tell a shrink how I was feeling (which I was sure was rather insane). My solution worked until this “functioning” alcoholic could no longer function. In rehab I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar 2. I was started on meds that actually work for me. I still have breakthrough symptoms now and then & I deal with them. Through all of this mess, my family stuck by me, supported me, loved me and helped me succeed. No one would have been better off if I wasn’t here even when my behavior was inconvenient for them. I want you to know that this family who has rallied around me is the very same family who will rally around you. Just tell us what you need. You really can’t lose. And please don’t ever think that your emotions are a burden to anyone. Others won’t always agree with what you think but no one has the right to tell you how to feel. By the way, I’m in awe of you.

  2. Sarah, I know these feelings all too well. I’ve felt them myself — the out-of-control, the sadness and the feeling of being a burden to others.

    It’s easy to say (even to yourself) that these are lies. But it’s not easy when your mind doesn’t want to listen to itself. While our healthcare often let’s us down, you are loved and you do have support (and it sounds like an amazing support system at that). Keep vocalizing and keep believing your worth when you’re assured of it — write it down, record it and repeat it. It may not cure the pain but it may help when it comes to a head.

    Xoxoxoxo

  3. I’m sorry that you had to go through this, but please know that you are NOT alone. There are many people you see every day dealing with the same or similar things but they wear a mask with a forced smile. Please don’t feel ashamed of your struggle. I wish you the best in getting help. Also, remember there is a free local crisis hotline for times when you need to talk to someone and can’t reach your own therapist or doctor: 314-647-4357.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *