Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Son Saved My Life (Part II)

I really didn't know just how sick I was in Nashville because when you live with untreated depression for so long you get used to it, I suppose.  You start to feel like the fog is normal.  The only clue that stood out at that time as to how bad things had become was slipping back down towards being suicidal.

(I hate to use the term suicidal for *my* story because I've never not wanted to live.  Oh, how desperate I've always been to LIVE!! There have been two times in my life that I was so completely tired of fighting--fighting for who even knows what, that I just wanted some relief, some peace. I think more people need to know that someone who is contemplating suicide doesn't necessarily not want to live.  They may just be exhausted from the fight--they may think they have no more fight left in them.)

When I quit my meds cold turkey late January of 2013, I was completely lucid.  Life was bright, clear, amazing.  That made my decent into darkness nothing short of terrifying.  I was so angry that I was pregnant.  I felt intense resentment toward my husband.  I never resented my baby but I was not able to celebrate this miracle of life for several months.

36 weeks pregnant...Cadence, Carmyn and my hands.
Assembling My Angel Squad

Sometimes God places the most beautiful people in our lives.  I consider the ones He gives me to be my angels.  As soon as I decided to quit my meds I knew I would need a support team to get through this journey.  I'd spent my whole life failing as a Team of One.  If there was one thing that sobriety had taught me, it was time for my angels to suit up.

First up on the angel squad, hailing from the beautiful island of Jamaica, was my neighbor turned good friend and now sister for life--Mrs Sheryl Henry aka Petty Officer 1st Class Sheryl Henry.

She herself is quite sane, but is a Crazy Whisperer of sorts.  She has had schooling and professional training regarding mental illness and what do you know--God made her my neighbor.  She grew to love me, she has cared for me, watched over me, supported me, checked me, challenged me--she is my number one angel.

Next up is my little Haitian sensation, the lovely Samine Charles, therapist extraordinaire.  Anyone who has had therapy knows how important it is that you click with your provider.  God sent me to my perfect match.  Samine is maybe 4'11" and 95 pounds soaking wet but she's tough as nails and don't take no stuff.

She was so REAL with me and personable, yet she taught me such a valuable lesson about boundaries.  Her door was always open to me, she answered text messages, she Facetimed me, she checked on me and as a compliment to her, I don't believe there was anything special about me--she was just that good, that thorough, that passionate.

The final member of my angel squad is Dr. Charles Bassos.  Skip and I befriended Chas while using a now defunct, photo sharing app called Streamzoo.  Who but God could have orchestrated that meeting.  I have never met Chas in person but he was my link to the outside world.  I knew I would soon be descending into a dark black hole.  Chas was up top holding one end of a piece of string while I sunk lower and lower clinging desperately to my end of our string.

Whenever I needed to I would tug my end and Chas would tug back letting me know that I wasn't alone in this.  He would tug back with sound advice and words of encouragement.  He would tug back with a genuine, heartfelt interest in my well being, in my husband's well being.  He even became my kids' Streamzoo grandpa.  He loves them and rejoices with us as they blossom and grow.

As I started blogging I made sure to invite Chas along for the ride, and it has recently come to light that we both share the same faith.
So, God sent me a cyber friend....
a retired psychologist, cyber friend.....
a God fearing, retired psychologist, cyber friend.

In word, an angel.

Skip was and will always be part of my team because we are one.  I am him and he is me.  Although it is so undeserved, he has stayed by my side, remained faithful, put up with unbelievable drama and has managed to still love me.  And, of course, my parents were always just a phone call away and praying constantly, I'm sure.

The Black Hole

I was having great difficulty remembering some of the details--the details regarding what exactly I was going through and when, when I suddenly remembered a bit of email traffic that would give some great insight into the setting at that time.

These are excerpts from emails I sent to Chas starting right after I quit my medication cold turkey.
January 31, 2013  "...I have a ton of guilt because I was so focused on myself once we realized <that I was probably pregnant> that it didn't occur to me to immediately stop taking my medication.  I will feel like the worst mother/person ever if my child has been harmed because I didn't stop taking my medication soon enough. The exhaustion of the first trimester mirrors how my depression feels.  So, I'm in a constant state of dismissing anxious feelings, trying to remind myself that I'm pregnant and not depressed. I'm experiencing slight dizziness.  Withdrawals, I assume as it's happened before when I've missed <a dose>.  I have anxiety that very soon <as the meds wear off> I'll be a crappy mom.  I am very irritable unmedicated..."
 February 1, 2013 "...I am going through it today, my friend.  The withdrawal is whipping me.  I found a term online for what 'we' experience: brain zaps.  I'm thanking God it is the weekend because I'm feeling incapable of caring for my girls alone.  Skip is being a great help to me and my parents have encouraged me greatly as well..."
 February 4, 2013  "...I woke up feeling (physically) normal today!!! I'd forgotten what a glorious privilege that was!  I'm preparing to take my girls out to play in the snow for their first time before it melts...."

I only made it another two weeks without my medication.

February 18, 2013  "I have decided to start my medication again.  I am deteriorating to a level that is not acceptable for me or my family.  I would be suicidal if it wasn't for the knowledge that this is temporary and there is medication out there to fix it.  In the past few days the depression pieces have shown up.  I am not motivated to care for my children or Skip or the house or myself.  I am apathetic, irritable and reclusive.  Skip has started to resent me and my behavior.  We had a productive talk this afternoon where I reminded him that I'm sick and not trying to be a disgusting human being on purpose..............I don't feel that my depression symptoms are a fitting response to my current life stresses--an appropriate response to my current life circumstances.  In my opinion my behavior is on par with a death in the family, a child being kidnapped, a spouse leaving for another woman.  This is why I was so grateful to be medicated because it put me on a level playing ground--a chance to react "normally" to "normal" life stress.....................I hate being back to where I was 2 years ago.  I feel incapable of being competent.  I am a horror to live with--mean, short tempered, laying around and sleeping constantly, unkempt, etc.  So, I have started to withdraw because I don't want to put my family through more pain....." 

In the end, I had to abide by the common medicinal rule of thumb: you must take care of the mother first.  I found a peace in that, God forbid something should be wrong with my child, I had tried my very best for as long as I could to not have any SSRI's in my system.  I gave the situation over to Jesus and as the song "Didn't He Work It Out" goes--"I stopped worryin' about it."

I am finally to the point where I can begin to tell you how my son saved my life.  But, Mother's Day weekend or not, my sweet ones are depending on me to eat.  I must go, but won't you Holla Back!! in the comments with "I'm still listening!"  Until next time...all my love, my crazy crazy love...