depression

the girl from the ground

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i had a dream that i was walking along what was now (at almost midnight) an abandoned path. there wasn’t much to see other than the occasional tree and still dead grass from the awful winter. and in the distance i saw a girl, shadowed in the dark by one of the few trees. She was leaning forward, moving quickly, almost as digging, or trying to find something.

as i got close  i realized she was digging at what looked like a mound. she was scraping from the top, but instead of throwing the pieces in one pile behind her, she was making multiple piles, piles that looked of different shapes and colors. as i came even closer, she looked up at me, and i saw my own eyes in hers. she was crying, she was exhausted, she was trying to hard to FIND something, i just knew it.

i saw another shovel on the opposite side of the mound and i thought to myself “that one is for you”, so i walked over and picked it up, wondering if i would even be of any help, seeing as how particular this girl was being about her sorting. she looked up with what i could have swore was a smirk, and said “once you start, you will understand”. by the time my shovel made contact with this mysterious mound i was overcome with a feeling of sadness, i felt heavy and rushed. “but don’t dismember the pieces of me”, i heard in my head. that’s when i knew, there was someone under there.

i began digging and sorting, as if i had been doing it for hours, days even. as the mound grew smaller the girl on the other side was becoming more and more visible to me, our similarities were undeniable, her expressions were being made on her face as well as my own. we were not only sharing this struggle for the unknown “girl under the mound”, we were sharing a body, a face, a mind. we continued digging.

by the time the mound was close to nonexistent, the sun began to rise. we were sweaty and tired. but we knew this was just the beginning. the dig into the surface was much different than that of the removal of the mound, here we began to share with each other bits of pieces of ourselves. though no words were muttered. we learned about each others lives, and saw that they, like our appearance were quite similar. we shared the same stories, but in different perspectives. by the time the sun had fully risen i went in for what i was hoping would be that last push into the earth, the girl from the path stopped me.

i looked down and saw her there, me there, us there. laying under what had been inches upon inches of dirt, sadness and filth. she was smiling, and reached for our hands. and as we helped her out of the layers of ground that had been her grave, we embraced her. i began sharing my feelings of hope and satisfaction, that we were able to help this girl and she stopped me. “you were only helping yourself”. they both looked at me and took me to the piles we had separated so perfectly.

the girl from the ground pointed to the first pile, this one dark blue and full of sharp edges, she explained as “the pile of your mistakes, your regrets” she pointed the pile full of red almost bubble shaped pieces and explained it as “the pile of missed opportunity”. as we made our away around the piles, the girl i met on the path began to fade, she was smiling and the girl from the ground squeezed my hand, as if to tell me that it was okay. the girl from the ground continued to introduce me to the piles that were explained as “guilt”, lost friendships”, “fears”, and on and on she went. she too, began to fade, into the morning sun it seemed. the rays of lights were bursting through her hair, her chest. i began to worry about her and the girl from the path.

she took my face in her hands and gave me that smirk, my smirk.. “you are free now” she whispered to me

“these piles are all pieces of you, they will never go away, but you are no longer buried underneath them, they no longer hold you down.”

“but who are you?”, i asked the now transparent girl from the ground.

“i am the piece of you that gave up, the girl from the path is the piece of you that finally decided to start fighting, and you, you are just your own mind, joining in on the journey.”

my depression story – in a pistachio shell.

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I think this may just be my time to share. My time to let things out and to open up about what I’ve experienced. I don’t normally write blogs completely about myself but I think it’s important to share. It may be a somewhat vague overview, but I still feel like someone, somewhere just needs to hear it.

I consider myself to be a “self-growth activist”. I use these words because “recovering depressed person” just doesn’t have that great of a ring to it. No matter what I choose to call it, the facts remain the same; I am a person who’s mind has drug me through hell and back.

Like so many other people I struggled with the weirdness of my own brain for years and years. There were a few times in my early teen years that I had been put on anti-anxiety meds for my “anger issues” (prescribed by my family physician). The first time I ever saw a counselor was in 8th grade when I made my own funeral invitations for two weeks later. A teacher found them in my notebook and the school recommended a clinic in a nearby town. My poor mom’s heart was broken and when the counselor sat me down and asked me if I ever wanted to “kill myself” , to which I responded with a quick…”no”
She then continued to belittle me and tell me how selfish I was. Needless to say, we never went back.

After that awful experience I never wanted to see anything close to a therapist again. I wasn’t very good at taking my medicine, and after a couple of months of my family asking “did you take your medicine today” after I would get upset about literally anything, I stopped taking it.

Fast forward about 4 years and I started to experience some extreme mood swings. I still had that “short fuse” of my early teenage years, and I just started piling on all the woes of high school. I was bullied quite terribly, and in reaction to that I decided I would become all of the horrible things people said I was. Probably not the best idea, and even now I see that I wasn’t nearly as “awful” as everyone said I was.
I graduated with a high school diploma and a massive sense of self-loathing. Once I turned 18 I started noticing a change in, well, everything. The downs were more down, I was tired all of the time, even the things that I loved in my life (Dance) I had no energy for. I started my first ever journal (other than diaries as a kid) and my saw my family physician again, thinking she would tell me I was bipolar. She didn’t, and I was put on anti-anxiety medication again. This time, the meds made me feel extremely drugged up and disconnected. It lasted about a week, until I couldn’t handle my “ears fluttering” all day long.

I enter into my 20’s and I follow the great path of jumping from terrible relationship to terrible relationship. If they were bad for me, I’d jump right in. Though I was never one to stay faithful, I tried giving these relationships everything I had, thinking that eventually, someone would make the thoughts go away. That is how it works, right?
After a verbally abusive relationship, a failed marriage and a miscarriage, followed by another verbally abusive relationship – I was lower than I had been in a long while.

I chose the path of least resistance – alcohol, and eventually moved away from the home town that haunted my every step.

It wasn’t until moving away from everything I’ve ever known did I learn what true loneliness was. Though most of the time I had some sort of “companion”, I spent time in some not so good for me relationships (notice a pattern here?), I was homeless at one point; sleeping on people’s couches, living in people’s basements. I finally started gaining some good friends, an apartment, and a steady job – and then the overwhelming stress of paying bills and keeping said job kicked in.
Mix that in with a great love triangle and I had myself a great recipe for disaster. I started a new journal, and began sharing the things I felt. Mostly things about my god awful love life, how I was worthless and all the ways I wish I could disappear. I hated my life, I hated myself and I thought I deserved no better.
Eventually my at the time “companion” told me I needed to see someone about this, again, thinking I was bipolar. I finally caved.

My counselor told me to meditate, he told me about all the thinking/reaction patterns like projection and overgeneralization. I liked Bob, he taught me a lot, but I didn’t really know it at the time. My first Psychologist however, so bad. My first visit he put me on anti-depressants (after diagnosing me with major depressive disorder), argued with me about what “bipolar” meant and sent me on my way. On my second visit we argued again, this time about the difference between “things being fuzzy” and “blacking out” – really this happened. I almost walked out of his office, but by this time I was obsessed with being medicated and knew that I was going to need my dosage raised in order to keep “handling” this whole thing. We made amends, and off I went with a higher script.

By the time this psych got fired from the clinic I was one appointment away from taking a full dose of Effexor each day. I was assigned a new psych and was prepared to tell them how I think I need more, things were getting rough again and I was ready for the full dosage.
This new psych was in a completely different state, geographically. I talked to him via Skype, which was interesting. When I sat down and told him how I’d been feeling, he politely let me finish, and then laid the smack down upon my depressed little soul.

He explained the actual science of anti-depressant medication. He explained how addictions work, how depression actually works, and how any good psych has the goal of seeing his patients “graduate”, not depending on them for a script for the rest of their life.
I loved this man. He was the first guy to make me seem like I could do it on my own. He walked me through the process, told me how awful tapering off of meds would be, but also gave me the hope to get through it.

And I did get through it. After four weeks of brain zaps, nausea and mood swings that were seriously out of this world I was officially tapered. He let me go with a prescription for yoga and chamomile tea. I made it my life’s mission to find out how to actually manage this on my own. If a trained professional, that gets paid by people like me, can tell me that there are better ways – then I was going to find them.

That was a year and a half ago, and here I am sharing my story, sharing what I’ve learned and hoping I can find others out there that want to do the same.
I’ve been so far down in life, I’ve had zero faith in myself, I’ve wanted to not exist – but I made it.
My life is much different now, and I’m very proud to say it. I have a steady and solid relationship, I don’t lash out about every small thing, and most importantly, I deeply and honestly care about myself.

I will of course, share more about my journey and my practice as the blog grows. But I wanted to get this out. It may not be the best piece I’ve ever written, and most might not even get through the whole thing, but I just felt a pull to share it.

And so it is.

– Kara Beth