And then there was that time I had to bow out of a women’s retreat with my synagogue because of my treatments for depression. I had ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) scheduled for the day I was supposed to leave on this retreat, and the aftermath of the treatment consists of fatigue, headaches, and nausea. I would not be in good shape to be “on” and open to getting to know other women. I cried when I realized I would not be able to attend, and I chickened out of calling my friend (the rabbi) to tell her and texted her instead. I had looked forward to this retreat for so many months, to be there with my rabbi’s first big event post (her) cancer treatment, so it was quite a letdown to have to walk away.
I was looking forward to meeting other women of various ages, praying together and learning together. I was looking forward to learning different tunes to prayers I know so well and learning not only about others, but learning about myself—you know, those things we learn when we are thrust into a situation where we must be present and by doing so we gain something that is indescribable. This is what I was excited about and what drove me to sign up to be a part of this experience. It was too bad for me that I was unable to attend.
When I suffered a year and a half ago from depression and underwent ECT, it worked rather quickly. This round seems to be taking more time. I am more frustrated with the process and more afraid. This is why I am opting for the ECT instead of the retreat. This is why I will go see my therapist this weekend (she graciously offered a time over the weekend due to my busy ECT schedule). I need to take care of myself and accepting help from others is a key part of this process.
So what am I choosing here? Me or my health? Certainly if I attended the retreat I would benefit spiritually, religiously, and personally, but to what extent based on my limited cognitive functioning due to the depression? This is the unknown, and yet I think that the one thing I am clear about is my limited cognition. I know that my depression must lift before I can take on any sort of learning and processing, either as an individual or as part of a group. And if I am going to be a responsible group member, I need to take responsibility for myself.
What’s difficult is that my illness is robbing me of not just my solid cognition, but something else—that ability to be a part of a group of strong women who are intelligent and willing to give.
What can I do to make myself feel better about my situation this weekend? I have no choice but to take care of myself: have ECT, see my therapist, and have a date night with my husband. Date night is a big deal as we have not had one in months and to say we need one is an understatement. I know there will be other opportunities to join my community of amazing women, and the best I can do for them is to get well now. I want to be ready for the next event or retreat where I will be an active participant with much to offer.
This is just another situation where I feel sad and at a loss, but I will certainly overcome this, just as I will overcome this horrible depression.