This article is part of the Here. Now. essay series, which seeks to de-stigmatize mental health treatment, and improve accessibility to treatment and support for teens and parents in metropolitan New York.
Several months ago, I wrote here of my experience with severe anxiety. I went into detail of everyday struggles to show people what it’s really like. Now that I am amid yet another major depressive episode, I find myself in the position of wanting to share the details of living with severe depression.
Here is what my past 24 hours have been like:
I woke from a deep sleep to the sound of the phone ringing. I decided not to go back to sleep as I felt guilty for doing so. The morning hours seemed to last forever. I had no motivation to do anything. In the afternoon, my husband and I both decided it would be good for me to get out of the house, so we took our daughter to get new snow boots. We went to one store where they did not have much to choose from nor did they have her size and I was done.
I’m so damn annoyed. Why doesn’t this stupid store have more options? Now I am stuck being out and about and all I want to do is go home. I don’t want to be responsible. I can’t muster the energy to be the “good mom” who shops for her daughter’s snow boots. I also don’t want to be “that mom” who forgets to buy them and then there’s a blizzard. Damn! I am so stupid. I should have known to go somewhere else for this. Why did I make the mistake of leaving the house in the first place?
My husband asked where else we should look for boots, but I told him he had to drop me off at home. I was done before I even started. He did drop me at home and he took our daughter to several stores before finding a good pair. I was productive while at home in terms of doing laundry, but I also beat myself up about not being a good mother since I did not shop with them.
The evening felt worse as I felt trapped. Unfortunately, I have been feeling this on and off more recently. I feel irritable and incredibly agitated, and not only do I feel cut off from others, but I feel stuck. I feel stuck in this agony and there’s no way out. Then I feel angry and more alone.
Just go to bed, Risa. You want the day to end, so take your evening medications and call it a day. But if I do then I still have to fall asleep and that means time with my thoughts and that may not be healthy. I really am stupid. I can’t even figure out the going to sleep thing.
While I felt rather tired when my alarm woke me, I got up and started my day. I got my cereal poured and my morning medications out. After finishing my cereal I took one of my pills and swallowed it only to say, “Oh shit!” when I realized I took the wrong medication. I took out my evening pills instead of my morning pills and did not notice. Luckily it was only one, but I knew this particular medication would make me very tired during the day. This was not how I wanted to begin my day.
OMG! Of all the things to do! I can’t believe I did this. I really am stupid. I’m not a responsible person. I have no function. This is going to make my day even harder.
First I went for my Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS is a treatment for depression that is akin to ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy) but does not require anesthesia and does not cause any memory issues. While ECT was helpful to me in the past, it did result in short-term memory loss. The treatment itself feels like I have a tight helmet on the left side of my head and a small banging or knocking on the top of my forehead—this is where emotions are controlled. The banging lasts for about 10 seconds and then there is a 30-second break. This cycles for about 40 minutes and I do this five days a week and will complete the six-week course followed by a taper of treatments. Afterwards, I often have a slight headache and feel tired, but I can still be productive and drive. On this day, after TMS I then went directly to my Intensive Outpatient Program. I felt exhausted. I sat in intense therapy groups, participated when I could, and tried to fight off the fatigue.
This is no way to live. I hate this. I hope the group leaders do not think me rude as I yawn and take out another candy to try to keep me awake. I feel low. I am so frustrated with everything.
My life is incredibly difficult right now. I have so much invested in many forms of treatment, and I have to simply wait. I wait for the day when I begin to feel better. I wait for there to be more than one feel-good moment over the course of a week. I wait to feel joy, to actually feel it and take it in. I wait to spend time with people and be fully present and be an active participant in my relationships. I wait and I will continue to wait.
There is a part of my cognition that recognizes how important it is that I try both new and longstanding treatment models. Within this clear cognition is that glimmer of hope. I will hold on to that, as I am able, and I will wait.