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.