June 03, 2010

Writer's Workshop - 06/03/10 - When All Hope is Lost

Note: This post is mostly depressing. If you're looking for light, sarcastic fare today, then move along.

It's Thursday, and time to participate in Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. This week, I chose prompts # 2. Make sure you visit Mama Kat and check out all the wonderful responses!

What did you once lose?  Write about your search to find it again.
(inspired by writingfix.com)


In the Spring and Summer of 2001, I lost hope. I lost myself. I lost my sense of who I am, and of my value as a human being. A severe bout of depression and anxiety robbed me of my ability to find meaning in anything. What was the point of it all, this life I had? All I saw was darkness - inner pain, turmoil and failure. What good was I to anyone? Suicide seemed to be my only escape from my demons.

I was under the care of a good psychiatrist, and she tried many combinations of drugs to pull me out of my depression, the most severe bout of my life. She wanted me to be hospitalized, but I refused. She was sure that I'd eventually be eligible for disability, but I said no. The Boy was almost six years old, I was a single mom - I needed to work, and I needed to take care of him, even though I was barely functioning. At work, I'd cry all day as I completed all of my assigned tasks.

I convinced the doctor to let me stay out of the hospital - we had more frequent appointments. I promised to call if I felt I was in danger of hurting myself, or if I made a plan to do so. I visited my therapist more often, and called her at home to check in.

I don't think I can adequately describe the dark cloud that I was under, and the overwhelming anxiety that was coupled with my depression. I could barely eat (and lost 35 pounds in almost three months); I rarely slept more than a few hours at a time. Despite medication and a kind and caring therapist, I was unable to see my way through the darkness. When I am well on my way to a bout of depression, one of the first things I notice is that colors don't seem as bright or intense. It's as if a veil is placed over my eyes, and everything is muted.


Death seemed to be the release I sought. I did NOT call the doctor, as I had promised. And I formulated my plan. At work, during lunch hours (since I wasn't going out for lunch - even the thought of food disgusted and sickened me), I searched online to determine what combination of drugs I had at home would be the right cocktail with which to do myself in. I read of side effects of overdose, and which drug combinations were most dangerous. I didn't want to fail. When I was sure I had a combination that would work, I logged off, tidied up my desk (knowing I'd never return), and left work.


The Boy had gone for an extended visit to his dad; I was alone at home. I stood in my dining room and opened bottle after bottle of pills - counting, categorizing, calculating. I had amassed quite a pile. Even though I was certain suicide was what I wanted, there was still a niggling thought in the back of my mind - who would take care of The Boy? How would my grown daughters react to my act of selfishness? (yes, I could still discern that suicide is the ultimate "fuck you" to family)...but to my sick and addled mind, it still seemed like the only viable to my own torment.


In a moment of grace (that's the only way I can describe it), I had an urge to reach out to my friend, Art. I knew he'd be home in the middle of the afternoon - so I called him and asked him if he'd come over and sit with me. I didn't tell him what I had been planning.


He said he'd be over as soon as his grilled chicken salad was delivered from a local eatery. I asked if he could possibly call and have them deliver his lunch to my house instead (because I knew if he delayed his arrival, I'd go through with my plans). He thought I was being silly, and he laughed, but yes, he said he'd call them - and then he'd be over in a couple of minutes. I played with the pile of pills as I waited for him...but wait, i did.


Art is a good man. He is not without his flaws, and he had a checkered past filled with alcohol and drugs, but he found God and turned his life around. He collects old 45 records and antique radios. He loves ice cream and corny jokes. He works as a custodian at a downtown church, and reads his Bible on the trolley as he commutes to and from work. He is always ready to help a friend.


That afternoon, he sat with me on my front porch. I told him what I planned on doing, and he prayed for me. We sat there a long time, and we talked while he ate his late lunch. He stayed until after dark, and made me promise that I'd call him if I needed him, no matter what time it was. He reminded me how much The Boy loved and needed me, and told me that I made a difference in his life, and in the lives of our friends and neighbors.


He helped me start to find my self-worth, even if it was just the size of the sparkle in his eye. And my doctor found the right combination of medication...and it started to work. And I listened to the doctor and my therapist and I managed to get through each day, although it was a struggle.

Slowly I became me again. Colors returned to my life. I still had my problems, life was not perfect - but it could be very good.

24 comments:

  1. Thank God for Art. Every human needs a friend like that. Glad you're you again. I like this you and I'm sure your family is grateful as well.

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  2. WOW.... I am SO glad you found yourself again before you did that. See, you never know what someone else is struggling through unless you take the TIME to stop and pay attention. Sometimes we all get so caught up in our own lives we forget to take the time to just be there.

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  3. Such honesty.

    I'm happy for you. It is a struggle, isn't it?

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  4. WOW.... I am SO glad you found yourself again before you did that. See, you never know what someone else is struggling through unless you take the TIME to stop and pay attention. Sometimes we all get so caught up in our own lives we forget to take the time to just be there.

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  5. Wow what a heartfelt post. I could almost feel your pain. I'm sorry you had to go throught his but I can tell it has made you a stronger woman. :) Thanks for sharing! Very indpiring. And what a wonderful friend in Art. :)

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  6. Thank-you so much for sharing this. I have been there...not the laying out of the pills...but the thought that suicide was the best option.

    I am so glad you called your friend Art.

    Thank God for Art. And for you.

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  7. I'm glad you're still here! You have an important story to tell and others can gain so much from you. You can now be for others what Art was for you.

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  8. I love this post... I have been there. When you look at the sky and feel like you are going to be enveloped by the entire world. When everything seems so overwhelming, you can't see anything but darkness...

    Great post, you are brave for talking about it.

    (From Kat's!)

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  9. (Wiping away tears) I'm so glad that you called Art. And that he came over to sit with you. I suffered from post partum depression, and have never, ever felt that dark before. I hope to never experience it again.

    Beautiful, moving, touching post. Thank you for opening up and sharing it.

    I wrote a dark post this week, too...

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  10. Thank you for putting that into words. I have also suffered from depression for many years. No one understands. I haven't been able to find anyone who helps me. I go to dr and therapists but it's like they sit there and I talk and they say come back in 2 weeks. I've tried all kinds of drugs, but after all these years I feel I'm getting worse. My thoughts have always been to gather all the pills I can and use them to go to sleep and never wake up. I told my DH that I don't want a funeral service, just creamation. I don't think he will do it so I will talk to the funeral home myself and preplan my funeral so it can't be changed. No one understands if they haven't been thru depression before. There is NO ONE I have to talk to. My best friend died in March making it even harder. I feel like I am in a deep dark hole and it keeps getting deeper and deeper and I'll never find my way out.

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  11. After some thought, I responded to Patty's comment privately in an email, and posted her comment here. If any of you has a friend or loved one who is suffering from depression, I urge you to prompt them to get help.

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  12. I am so, so, so glad you are still here.

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  13. Thanks for sharing! So many people are not real about their struggles. Glad you reached out to a friend and glad he answered.

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  14. This is such a touching post. From your description of Art I would guess that most people looking at him wouldn't see a super-hero, but he certainly was. Thank you for sharing such an honest, inspiring story.

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  15. Thank you for sharing. I am so, so glad you are out of that dark place.

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  16. Thank you for this very honest post - It's a difficult place to crawl out of, but I'm so glad you found what works for you! Found you through Mama kat's and I'm gonna follow you!

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  17. You are so brave for putting this out there and putting it into words. I'm sure there are people out there who will find this very helpful and worthwhile and realize that there is light at the end of even the darkest tunnel Thanks for sharing. Hugs to you.

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  18. Thank you for sharing something so personal and life changing.

    Perhaps life changing for someone else to read.

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  19. Every life needs an Art.

    Going through an experience like that must be world changing if you survive. Here's hoping you don't undertake the journey again!

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  20. Thanks for sharing this. It is good for other people to know they aren't the only ones who have or are suffering. And I know for me, it's good to remind myself of past moments of badness, if only to help me feel better about how I'm doing right now.
    I'm also glad you wrote back to Patty, she sounds so close to the edge.
    I have been there as well, more than once, and am so glad to not be there right now.
    take care- Ruth

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  21. What a beautifully written post. I am so glad you have an Art to call. I wish everyone who suffers from depression has an Art. I'm glad you found your your colors again.

    best wishes

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  22. I've been there and was lucky to have a good friend to pull me back. I'm glad you had Art to do the same for you ♥

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  23. Wonderful post!! That dark could has visited me before and the only thing that kept me going was knowing my girls needed me.

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  24. Thank you for sharing this. It's so hard to describe what depression FEELS like to someone who has never experienced it. But you described it perfectly, at least how it has felt when I've had similar bouts. Yep, the colors are gone. I tell people that I can often feel it coming on as if it's someone slowly pulling a heavy cover over my face..I can't see, can't breathe. I'm glad you had Art. I've had various people over the years.

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Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!