So. It’s been ten days since these evil beasts, anxiety and depression, sent me to the hospital in a fit of panic. Ten days of things being up in the air with my job, my child, my future, my sanity, and now things are becoming more clear.
Yesterday I met with a wonderful woman who did my intake for the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at my local hospital. Starting on Monday I will be attending therapy for three hours a day, every weekday, for the foreseeable future. She says most patients go for about six to eight weeks, cutting down one day each week, so that on the eighth week you attend only one to two sessions per week. I am still feeling nervous about this, since it’s mostly group based therapy and part of my problem is that I do everything I possibly can to hide my depression from any other living human being (and based on how family and friends have reacted to my breakdown, I’ve done a really good job with hiding it.)
As part of the intake, I divulged thoughts, feelings, and secrets to this woman that I have never uttered to another person in my entire life. Thoughts that I myself have labeled “crazy” in the past, feelings that include deep shame, grief, and self-loathing, and secrets that I’ve kept entirely to myself, forever, and secrets that aren’t even mine.
I walked out of her office after two hours and going through about half a box of tissues in the course of my hysterical crying and blubbering, but I walked out feeling something I haven’t felt in a very, very long time:
Because now, I know exactly what I need to do to make myself happy. I am sure that in the course of the IOP I will be educated in quite a few other ways to make myself happy and nix this terrible depression that has put my life on complete hold, but here’s what I have so far:
I need to change my life. I am finally ready.
I need to put myself first and set my own rules.
I need to change the things about myself that I don’t like.
I need to remove the things from my life which do not make me happy, and more importantly,
I need to remove the things from my life that make me feel bad about myself.
I have to realize that some of these “things” include people, and embrace selfishness for a little while and be strong enough to cut ties that I don’t think are good for me, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
I need to get a new job, and then,
I need to find a path to the career I want above all others, as a writer.
I need to be the best mother I can be, and learn to be more patient and present.
I need to be myself, and not the self I think other people want me to be.
That’s a tall order, isn’t it? That is a lot to work for and achieve. But I will tell you this:
I have been staying with my parents for the last ten days, being fed and cared for and watched over and deeply, amazingly loved. I have been given the space to do an awful lot of deep thinking, and thankfully a space where I can also lose my shit and cry and scream and then be held in my mother’s arms and comforted. I have been able to take time off from work and time off from life in general – I have ignored Facebook and have talked to only a select few friends, a few of which I haven’t even told about my troubles yet, because I just wanted someone to BE with and be happy with for a few hours a day. I have been so, so lucky.
Today is the first day in ten days that I’ve smiled and laughed and it hasn’t felt fake.
Ten days ago when I was laying in the ER hallway on a stretcher, zonked out on a double dose of Ativan with a strange man hovering near my face and asking me if I wished I was dead, I said “yes” as horrifying as that seems to me now.
But today, ten days later, I realize something. It wasn’t that I wished I was dead. It was that I wished, more than anything in the world, to have a completely different life.
So now it’s time to make it.