Friday, August 9, 2013

Living with demons

This is my story of depression and other related conditions.  I do not judge others for how they handle their demons.  I can only relay my own experience with these beasts. It is with both regret and relief that I finally tell this story.

When I was diagnosed with a birth defect which caused a chronic neurological condition at 36, the happy, hopeful girl I once was died. Left in her place was a hollow shell of a girl whose beautiful life ceased to exist. There was a darkness that shadowed everything and life, my life, no longer made any since.

I was told that my brain was slipping down into my spinal canal which is only half of the normal size. I was also told that my spinal cord was under pressure and someday I would be in a wheelchair. Not if but when. It could be 20 days or 20 years but it was, still could be, my reality. Neurosurgery was the only option.

I didn't hesitate, I had the surgery quickly; but no one could prepare me for what lay ahead. It seems that my nerves which had been compressed until then decided to run amuck with glee sense having been set free. I have more symptoms, more pain, more challenges but less fear. So I don't regret my choice.  I just wished I had been given a 'red alert' that what lay ahead was darker than I could ever imagine.

You should also understand another episode in my life. A few years prior to surgery I experienced an episode where I became so violently ill that doctors could not guarantee my survival through the night. I was running a fever of 104.9, completely delirious and they were unable to ascertain the nature of my illness. I was released after a week in the hospital but to this day still have no answers.

So after my Neurosurgery my life was no longer what I knew it to be.  I faced more challenges before getting out of bed than I had previously faced all day. I had to give up my beloved career as a travel agent. I was completely lost and no longer knew who I was.  Gone were all my hopes for the future. All I could see was pain and misery even though I was putting on a good front for my family.

Nobody saw me question my existence. Nobody really knew all of the symptoms I was experiencing. Nobody could see the pain that wracked my body. Nobody else saw the cloud that followed me everywhere. Nobody saw my life as futile or my symptoms as overwhelming. Nobody else saw my future as doomed. Nobody heard the voices in my head that asked why I didn't just die on the table or even years before when I was ill.

I couldn't see any reason to get out of bed but I did just so I wouldn't have to answer the questions. I didn't know how I could continue when every medical test was another checkmark on my list of doom in my chart. By the time I received my diagnosis for a heart condition on top of everything else that plagued me I was feeling like the lead marionette in God's Theatre of Torture.  I was convinced He was enjoying every ounce of my pain and fear.

I had suicidal thoughts and was convinced God would rather torture me than kill me. Death was merciful. I've never spoken these words to anyone, not even my therapist. I was so afraid that if I gave them voice they would never be silent again.

I was on antidepressants, pain killers and more mood altering medications than anyone should ever be. I learned that chronic illness goes hand in hand with depression. I was aware of that there were dangers when depression is combined with the wrong medication. I knew that there was a potential to cause harm to myself or, even worse, others. I learned that chronic insomnia combined with other factors could easily set off psychosis. The more I learned the more afraid I became. I became paralyzed with fear which was worse than being in a wheelchair. 

It was a long road back to happy that had some major twists and turns of which I'm not proud. But I learned a lot about life and about myself by going down this dark ominous road. I learned that the only way back to happy was to detour off that road and seek within myself. I took stock of each and every one of my traits.  I have been to the depths of my soul searching for peace. I found it. I also found that God isn't cruel, but life is.

The remedy for pain isn't medication, it's relaxation. The solution for insomnia isn't in a bottle, it's in living life so big that it exhausts you. The cure for depression isn't therapy, medication, or treatments, it's happiness. Don't get me wrong, those things helped keep me focused on my journey,  but I'm glad I no longer need them. The solution for chronic illness can't be found in a hospital or doctor's office, it's just simply love and acceptance. Actually that's the answer for every problem.  I'm glad I now understand that I was beautifully created with the answer inside of me. I don't regret my dark journey to the edge of the abyss. After all a journey down a lesser road wouldn't have shown me the truth of who I am.

I am flawed. I am broken. I am floundering. But I am beauty. I am whole. I am living.