I don’t know when it started, for sure. The feeling of not feeling. A few months, maybe more.
But without warning, without any clear signs it was even happening, I lost myself for a while. I don’t remember when I stopped being me. Or exactly when everything dimmed. Just suddenly, I was dark.
But nothing was wrong.
My older kids will say, “But mom, you have always been dead inside…” and they are right. I’m not an emotional person. I’m not a hugger, a baby squeezer, a chick-flick crier. But his was beyond not being bubbly or cheerful. This was, if anything, indifference. My give-a-damn appeared to be busted.
My thoughts were not in order. I couldn’t finish or even process an idea, the words whizzing by, scrambled, out of reach. I felt fragmented. Disconnected. Like I was watching my life on television, not actually participating. Just floating along.
But there was nothing wrong with me. I was fine. I wasn’t sick.
I drifted away from my friends, telling them I was ‘too busy’ and they’d met my kids, so they believed me. Nobody questioned it. Nobody, really, even noticed. And maybe that made it worse.
I stopped singing in the car.
I stopped doing things I loved. The beach I’d walked daily may as well have been a thousand miles away. Because Netflix and warm socks took a close second to sleeping and anything beyond that felt impossible. Unfathomable, really.
I stopped writing.
I just didn’t care about anything. Not my kids, not my life, not me. I didn’t hate…I wasn’t really ‘angry’…I just didn’t give a crap.
How are you, people would say. And I’d nod my head, plaster a quick smile. Good, I’d reply. Good. Lies.
And then one day my best friend, Sandi, said, “You are not YOU anymore…” And I said, “well duh…”. And then we went out for drinks and she bought me pajamas and I felt better for an hour or two. But when the hangover wore off nothing had changed.
I sat in rooms full of people and was alone. And I liked it that way.
I stopped carrying around my camera.
I can’t think, I told my husband. I can’t finish a thought. Something might be wrong, I explained. He said go see a doctor. And I didn’t.
People drank coffee and shared stories and smiled and my life seemed so different than theirs. They compared fabrics and purses and all I could think is, “My kid smeared shit on the wall this morning…and I don’t even know where my purse is.”
Everyone’s issues seemed so trivial and yet I know we each carry our own burdens. Yet mine seemed to be swallowing me, devouring. I was in survival mode, barely making it through each day without going postal on total strangers.
Nothing was fair.
Was there something wrong with me? This wasn’t me. I’m a nice person. One of those annoyingly optimistic people that always sees the good side of everyone. And suddenly I was picking people apart. Finding fault in every move.
Undoing my children one angry word at a time.
I was getting worse. No longer was I just not ‘happy’. I was mad.
So in the wee hours one morning, because I don’t sleep when I’m supposed to, I had a thought. Could something, besides my unruly children, be causing my moods? What had changed? How long had I been on my blood pressure medicine? Was there a correlation? I mean, I’ve had every possible side effect to every medication I have ever been on. And so I Googled my prescription, Lisinopril.
For about two years my blood pressure sat pretty high and when it became clear my structured regiment of Umpqua ice cream and Espresso wasn’t going to change, my doc decided she’d better put me on some meds. I begrudgingly bought one of those Day-Of-The-Week pill dispensers and so launched my demise into old age.
The blood pressure dropped immediately to a healthy level. Every night I dutifully popped my pill while little by little my sense of value and motivation eeked away as symptoms of depression crept into my world. Silent. Slow. But sure.
So the little pill that was designed to make me live longer…made me not want to.
Within three days of tossing the tiny pills the fog began to clear. My thoughts fell into order. The images in my brains stopped swirling and I was able to focus on the moment for the first time in months.
It was like waking up.
It’s been two weeks now and this morning, at the top of my vocals, I sang in the car.
Now I don’t pretend to know anything about depression. I’m sure there a thousand different types, causes, mysteries and medicines having to do with depression that I know nothing about. But I do know I wish I’d noticed earlier. I wish my friends, my family, the people who know me, had looked more closely when I pulled my head inside my shell. Maybe knocked on that door a little sooner. And I’m glad all it was…for me…was a reaction to a pill.
I hope if it happens again I see it coming, like a train in a dark tunnel, and I’m able to step out of the way. Or at least have somebody there to push me off the rails.