This picture seems all too familiar to me because not too long ago, it felt like I was stumbling along this foggy, dark road trying to find my way and keep my head above water when in fact, I was sinking.
Almost one year ago, I wrote about my depression and this June marks one year since I was successfully treated from postpartum depression, high anxiety disorder and mild OCD. That was the month that I finally weaned off my meds and ended my psychotherapy treatments. It was a long, hard road; most of it dark and filled with despair but with the help, love and support from my family and friends, I pulled through. I was lucky that my family kept pushing me to talk to a doctor, insisting that something was wrong because if it weren't for them, I seriously think that I would not be here today. Yes, it was that bad and I won't lie: I was probably a few months away from suicide.
But, I have never felt better.
My journey to recovery was not an easy one. It took me over one year to actually believe that something was wrong and then another few months of whispers, random calls, emails and a lot of pleading and begging from family and friends asking if I was ok and/or to seek treatment. By then, I was a complete mess. For a long time, I successfully hid my depression and I became good at pretending things were fine but the sleep deprivation and anxiety became too much for me to handle; too overwhelming. I rarely ate and barely slept. My clothes just hung on my body. I only ate because I felt I had to but I had no appetite. If something happened - regardless of how minute - I would toss whatever I was eating into the garbage and sink into a pit of despair. I lived in fear 24/7 but I was never quite sure what I was afraid of. Living with that kind of anxiety, thinking that something is going to go wrong any minute is what pushed me over the edge. That constant cloud of fear hanging over my head is what robbed me of sleep, forcing me awake for hours at night; the anxiety eating away at me.
My relationship with friends and family suffered. People rarely saw me or Kayla. For the first year of Kayla's life, my close cirlce of friends barely saw her and watched her grow through random pictures I posted on Facebook. I yelled at my husband all the time; my mother too. Our house turned into a landmine and they never knew when I was going to blow because any little thing would set me off. And it wasn't one thing that would upset me; it was random, unpredictable things that would cause me to break down or get super mad and I would start yelling, crying or both. How they survived that year is beyond me.
This picture was taken about a week before I decided to see a psychiatrist. I was at one of my best friend's house and with tears in his eyes, he took me aside and asked me what was going on. Our kids are just a few months apart and we had dreamed of the two of them growing up together as BFFs but Kayla rarely saw him. In fact, we rarely saw anyone. I can't remember if I actually told him how I was feeling; probably not because at that time, I didn't want to admit that anything was wrong yet I was at my breaking point. In this picture, I was 108lbs. My regular weight is about 125lbs. Depression is a strange animal; you desperately want to feel and get better but you feel ashamed to admit how you're feeling so you hide it and pretend like everything is ok. You refuse help; instead, you get angry; you isolate yourself and alienate everyone else.
Like I said, the road to recovery was filled with many bumps along the way. I was broken and so was everything else around me. My relationship with my husband - once filled with passion, romance and love - had turned into something I didn't recognize because for more than a year, we were just ghosts living amongst each other; taking care of Kayla and barely speaking unless it was about her or her well-being. I am not kidding when I say that he became a stranger to me as I became to him. After I started feeling better and the fog began to lift, I didn't know how to be around him; I didn't know how to be his wife, the woman he fell in love with or even his friend. We assumed that things would return to normal but we'd been living separate lives for so long that we didn't know what to do. In a lot of ways, we both learned to continue living the way we had been and convinced ourselves that it was normal.
It took us a long time to get back what we had. 2010 was great in terms of my healing process but it was not so great relationship-wise. We fought a lot and I know that he resented the way things had become, as I did. He was angry but although he never admitted it, I knew. How could he not be angry? the past two years had changed the both of us and changed our relationship. We both knew it wasn't anybody's fault but we were both hurt, angry and confused as to why we couldn't figure out a way to fix it. After several huge fights and a pretty close call to what I think was likely a separation, we finally spoke what was in our hearts. That was a weird fight; it was almost as if we needed to hear it, feel it and go through it in order to get closure and move forward. It was strange to talk about the possibly of separation in order to find happiness because I always imagined myself growing old with him nor could I imagine my life without him. I hated seeing him so unhappy; wishing that things were different and seeing the desperation in his face. Even though it would have killed me, I was willing to let him go so he could find the happiness that he deserves, even if that meant it was with someone else.
But thankfully, we made it and now we're closer than ever. It's true what they say: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and what doesn't pull you apart will bring you closer. I am lucky to have a man who loves me and believes in me - in us - despite everything that I put him through; for that I am truly blessed.
Today, I sit here happy as a clam. Although it still makes me cry whenever I think about the past and my depression, I have never been happier or healthier. Work - as busy as it is - keeps me on my toes and while I may complain about the overload once in a while, I love it. I love every moment with my little Kayla even though she's not so little anymore but a cheeky, adorable, hilarious toddler. I cherish every second that I'm alive because this depression damn near took everything from me. My family and friends come first and foremost and all I want to do is make memories, live, laugh and love because this life is too short.