My Last Major Depression: April 25, 2006
Five years ago today was the last time the lights went out. That was the day I hit the bottom of my black hole. April 25, 2006. I had been falling for awhile but that day I went into a free fall.
I got up that morning and went to a spin class at the gym. I needed something to make me feel better. Since I had gotten clean and sober six years earlier, I could no longer self medicate with a bottle of chardonnay or a joint. Instead, I used endorphins.
I got on my bike at 6 am. I pedaled hard. My lips flapped like a racehorse exhaling hard. Sweat dripped from my nose and foam formed in the corners of my mouth. Nothing. Faster. Harder. Faster. Harder. Nothing. No endorphins. My legs wobbled when I got off the bike. No endorphins. No rush. No nothing.
I went home, showered, changed and got ready for work. I walked through the lobby of the newspaper where I work and felt completely disconnected from my body. It was like I was watching myself. I sat at my desk and that’s when the lights went out. I don’t remember if I was crying but I left. Game over. Sayanara. Lights out.
People wondered where I was. The phone rang but I didn’t answer it. I sent my editor a text. I don’t remember what it said, something to the effect “I can’t work. I can’t talk. I don’t know when I will be back.”
Mostly I felt catatonic. It was like I had become numb to the anguish. I couldn’t focus. I stared. Finally, I called a friend who has suffered her whole life with bipolar disorder I. Horrific rapid cycling. I don’t remember a lot of the conversation – where is your daughter? Are you thinking of killing yourself? You need to go to the hospital?
Instead, I ended up in the office of a nurse practitioner. I don’t remember how I got there – I must have driven myself. I learned later that she and my friends were a frog’s hair from putting me in the hospital. It was one of the worst days of my life, right up there with the days my parents died.
I felt so ashamed and weak and indifferent and hopeless and numb. I stopped eating. I couldn’t sleep. It took two months of rest, therapy, residential treatment and more rest before I was well enough to go back to work. Nothing has been the same since.
I have devoted my life to never, ever falling into another major depression. It’s like there was my life before the depression and now there is life after the depression. I did a thorough inventory of my mental health and clearly saw I had suffered several major depressions before – each one progressively worse.
Odds are I will suffer another. I know that. So, I am always vigilant about how much I sleep, what I eat, the people I choose to be with and how much I work. I’m not always good at it but I keep trying. I know my depression could kill me just as easily as cancer.
I got up this morning oblivious to this anniversary. I went to the gym, the dog park and then to my nurse practitioner for my 3-month check-up. We chatted, she gave me some sage advice, which she reminded me was mine to follow – or not. She renewed my prescriptions, we scheduled another appointment and I left.
It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized that I had sat in her office exactly five years ago. Barely able to talk. Skinny. Hollow eyed. Not really wanting to live.
Five years, exactly.
Stapleton, C. (2011). My Last Major Depression: April 25, 2006. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 12, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/depression/2011/04/2424/