By Gina X
Thirsty. Cotton dry. Mouth open for water. It isn't the worst thing in the world to be thirsty. But it's taken me three years to write about it.
Now however it is raining day and night. What a relief! Finally I can write again, dark and light words on a blank page. Phrases are falling out of me. Sentences. Gloriously moist pages are coagulating, black on white paper. And this is what I am writing:
Why the hell did I fall off the edge of the earth in 2012? How did I land in the hellhole that is depression?
For those of you who suffer from it, sit tight, there is hope.
Looking back, I feel like I was struck head on by a psychic car accident. I went through the windshield and was thrown 50 feet and survived barely. Broken bones glass blood everywhere.
OK, I want this to be straight forward and honest.
In March or April of 2012 I realized I was more depressed than I had ever been before. I had a psychiatrist (who will not be named) and a therapist. I didn't realize it but they were both hopeless or worse, totally incompetent, at least in my case.
My sister, a nurse, says that the shrink should be shot.
Enough of this. The shrink started throwing one anti-depressant after another at me. None of them worked (he didn't really wait for any of them to take effect.) Meanwhile, the therapist didn't have a clue what she was doing or what I was dealing with.
I was on lithium for one day. My husband said I was a zombie. It just so happened that I had a routine appointment with my gynecologist (he delivered two of my children) that day. A very kind man, he was, apparently, shocked to see me in the lithium-induced state.
After talking to him for five minutes, he told me I needed electroshock (ECT) treatment right away.
I was shocked. The shrink had never recommended that. Why not, I wondered. I called the shrink and told him what my doctor had said.
"I agree with him," said the shrink. "I think we should go that route."
When family members talk to me about what happened next, they get angry. At me. At my husband. At the shrink.
He told me that I should check myself into a first-class hospital in Westchester County. He told me that the hospital had a fine reputation for treating depression. And doing ECT.
Against the wishes of all my family members, I had my husband (who was desperate as I was) drive me to the hospital. I was full of hope, but soon, I was filled with terror. It started when they took all of my possessions away from me. It continued as they led me to my room, shared with another woman.
What had I done? It was Friday night and I wanted out right away. But the rule was, once you were in, you were there for no less than 72 hours.
I won't bore you with the details. I have blocked most of them out.
On Monday, I called my therapist -- who is also a nurse practitioner -- and told her what was going on. She was angry when I said I wanted to leave. The hospital staff was recommending I try an older antidepressant called Nortryptoline. But she said I would need regular blood tests and she wasn't prepared to do them.
Finally, my husband came to pick me up. I was as low as I have ever been.
When I think about the next few weeks, it's all a blur. I will cut to the chase: I checked myself into another Albany, New York-area hospital where I remained for two weeks. There I had six ECT treatments. I remember them in great detail. Being wheeled into a hospital room. Lying down on the table. Having an IV -- the slow warm solution flowing into my arm. And then. Blam. I was out.
Six times. And I knew I had had enough. I wasn't sure that I was feeling any better but I couldn't stand the place any longer. I remember all of the morning sessions where we gathered as a group and considered how much progress we were making. I remember the nursing station where the staff was always pleasant. I remember that I couldn't go jogging, or even take a walk without a staff member (and other patients.) I remember walking in large groups for three meals a day. And having no appetite. I remember my husband visiting me every day (and it was a 45-minute drive one way!)
What I don't remember is any family members calling me. I am told now that I forgot and I believe it.
This is enough for today. But there is more to this story that I need to tell. From a perspective of being well and healing and dealing with the ups and downs of life. My daughter shared with me an interesting phrase the other day: "Mom," she said, "sometimes you just have to sit with your shit."
And so, now I do.
But with medication, meditation, incredible therapy, daily journaling, love and gratitude, I am lifted toward Light!
Gina X is a writer living in Egremont, Massachusetts.