Thursday, July 19, 2007

Beyond the Brick Wall

Being conscious today was like running into a brick wall. It was an effort to even perceive that it was possible to move beyond it. Fathoming a plan of action to move forward was like trying to catch beads of mercury as they rolled across the table top in all directions. Pure confusion. The plan was implemented with baby steps.

And now here I am. Present. Focused. Back from oblivion.

This is depression. There are many kinds. I can relate to some of the varieties on certain levels. But my type is Disthymia. I had symptoms when I was a tiny child. And I won't "get better." There are certain chemicals my brain needs that my body simply does not create on it's own. Thankfully, there is a medication that provides a good portion of those chemicals for me so I can "do better."

Today's episode was triggered by the deadlines I imposed upon myself yesterday. I had been putting off some decisions about work, a trip, having the boys' friends over, and whether or not I would allow the kids to attend a PG-13 movie for a friend's birthday party. It took me several weeks to muster the clarity to get these decisions made. Yesterday was a strong day and I bit the bullet and made a few calls to finalize plans. This morning I woke up already in crash mode.
I happen to have the personality type that can hardly tolerate deadlines of any kind. Even good ones. Even a fun trip to pick up sheep I've bought is imposing. Out of a sense of duty, I try to arrange dates and times well in advance so the sellers do not get completely annoyed with me. And then I don't think about it until the day before. Only then because I have to. Making decisions are almost impossible for me. So having to make them sends me for a loop. That it took me half a day to come to terms with my mind's natural defense (total shutdown) is amazing progress for me. It used to take weeks or months.
So after a three hour "nap" this morning, which consisted of wrapping myself in two down comforters in our darkest bedroom with a fan blowing directly on the peep hole I had left for me to breath through, and another huge box fan on for extra white noise, I finally emerged from my cocoon. I hadn't really been sleeping. The boys would come in and ask permission for this or that and I responded coherently. It was just a time and space with limited sensory input. My senses were still reeling from the written-in-stone decisions I had made. I couldn't take in any more.
The first step was to sit up. Took a few minutes. Then turn off the fans. Adjust to the sound of life going on around me. Step into the hallway. Adjust to the idea of light. Walk downstairs. All of these actions being undertaken with determination. Very deliberate baby steps back to the land of the living. At any moment a minor anxiety attack could send me plodding back to bed. The goal is to put distance between me and soft darkness. It's disorientating work, but eventually I find a pen and paper and start making a list.
Put really small jobs on the list. Figure on building up momentum. Add the idea that after a few of these baby steps I will make a second list of larger tasks. Write that down. Write down what the real goal is: to ground and center, focus on the people around me and their needs, participate. Join the business of life again.
And I do love my life. Disthymia is not the by-product of living a life I don't truly desire. It just is. A medical reality. Loving my life is the reason I work so hard to get back to it. The reason I sought treatment. The reason I take that little anti-depressant every morning. The reason I'm writing this blog entry.
It took me a long time to come to terms with "mentally ill" being one of my descriptors. But I have. Acceptance is the better part of healing in this case. Having Shetlands in my life has helped immensely with the live, daily example of peace. The serenity of a ewe flock is something I can tap into. Part of what helps is just speaking out about it. Sometimes I have the courage to talk to a friend or acquaintance that is ignorant but curious about the subject. I talk to my husband and children about it. They have become incredible advocates. They recognize the signs of me having an episode and they have developed strategies to ward it off. Sometimes even a good hug can derail the onslaught and give me the impetus to steer myself toward a healthy exercise and then things are back on track again. I do not underestimate the power of love. Life is a blessed, precious event that I don't want to miss.
My personal praise goes to God. Somehow He kept me alive to the point at which therapy and medication could intervene. From there I learned how to intervene on my own behalf. But for the grace of God. . . The very least I can do is recognize His Love in all things. Life is, indeed, beautiful. And I want to live mine beyond the brick wall.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Thanks for sharing, Sabrina. That takes courage, and humility, and the recognition of all God has and is doing for you. Amen! How old are your boys?

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

The twins are 12.5 and the youngest is almost 11. God is indeed good. And tho I would never choose to have depression or put my family through it, I can see how God has used it to help them be educated and compassionate about others with mental illness and even physical problems. The boys have very uncluttered hearts about accepting people who are different from them. They are often the first kids to befriend the "new kid" in class and such. I'm truly blessed to be their mother. :)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

You deserve a medal, in my opinion! Wow, three boys.... It's all I can do to manage ONE! I know a lot of it is my personality, and his (no one who knows Brian would classify him as an "easy" child), but maybe it also has to do with waiting until I was 40. You know, more set in my ways and all that.... :-)

Gail V said...

Sabrina, you are a wonderful writer-- and your descriptions were awe-inspiring. I'm sorry it gets so hard at times, and glad you have found the help you have.
Keep creating your lovely writing.
p.s. I hadn't read this entry, and my husband asked who you were. I told him you were this very hip, arty mama. . .

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Too funny, Gail.