Originally posted on July 17, 2014
I know when the emotional chaos of panic and depression is coming. I am well aware of this mayhem peeking up over the horizon of my mind. There is a shift that I can’t explain.
It begins when I wake up in the very early morning hours, disoriented and in the throes of panic. My heart is pounding and I am disoriented. At times I can’t feel my limbs and find myself unable to swallow and gasping for air. I have no idea why it happens in the middle of the night. There are worse feelings than waking from a dead sleep in the middle of a panic attack but at the time I would be hard pressed to name one.
During the next couple of days, I will know there was an episode of anxiety but it is cloudy. My mind only allows me a vague memory. It’s just a short reprieve for the real fun that’s about to begin.
It usually takes a couple of days before the depression takes hold. When it does, I feel completely powerless. The rational part of me tells me that all I need to do is take a bike ride or a shower, do something normal and keep putting one foot in front of the other and my thinking will return to normal. I can resume my life.
Sadly, the irrational demon that lives within me has other plans.
These days between the panic and the depression are as normal as any other and I function as such. I will regale my husband with tales of the day with exaggerated, yet genuine, vigor. I will have seemingly boundless energy. I will laugh loud and love hard.
Then the agitation begins. The smallest of things will irritate me. Social media becomes an enemy. I can’t read status updates without feeling an anger that sometimes borders on rage.
Writing is impossible since I can’t keep a coherent thought in my head and everything is tainted with and edge of anger and resentment.
My patience with my kids hits a low and even a goodnight kiss that feels like the flick of butterfly wings on my cheek makes me shudder. Anything my husband does makes me clench my jaw and bite back hateful words that aren’t a true reflection of my feelings, just the beast trying to create a foe, provoke a fight.
I will stop in the middle of flipping through the mail and slide to the kitchen floor because suddenly I am terrified and it feels like a safe place to be.
A drive to the grocery store because I am out of coffee seems to take Herculean effort and everyone in my path irritates me. I hurry, needing this chore to be over because those few moments exhaust me beyond reason.
I feel an overwhelming urge to cry. Let me release the havoc. Please!
But I can’t. Not a tear will come.
I want to give in and give up. These are the days I want to get in my car, drive away, never look back. I want to walk away from everyone and everything. I don’t answer my phone. I don’t interact. I simply shut down, going through the motions of every day life with no enthusiasm and forced interest.
I just want the peace to come.
Finally, thankfully, it does come and there are no casualties. Unless, of course, I count the part of my soul that has been beaten to a pulp and is now cowering in the corner, licking its wounds, waiting for the next round.
I am grateful to be strong enough to know that this is a war I may never win but that the battles eventually end. I used to self medicate with alcohol but that is on longer an option for me. By the grace of God, I don’t even consider it when the demon comes to call.
I am grateful that the episodes are sporadic and short-lived.
I’m grateful that my husband recognizes these moments and is quiet, but present. He knows and surely it irritates him to lose me during these days, perhaps even makes him a little sad though that isn’t his nature. On the rare occasion I take a step or three too far he doesn’t hesitate to let me know it is enough.
I have come to realize in the past year that writing can work much like therapy. I have met other bloggers that deal with depression and other mental health issues and do so bravely. We seek interaction, validation, and support….and find it.
I know that someone will read this and understand it. Still someone else will read this, see themselves and feel less alone.
While I have written about my anxiety and panic, this is the first time I have ever written about my battle with depression. As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I am well aware of what it is and why it comes and I accept that.
Alcoholism and addiction tried to destroy me. They didn’t. Panic and depression won’t either. These things are part of me but……
they are not all of me.
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