The Fog is Lifting

Timehop is helpfully reminding me of the time back when my son, only a few months old, screamed and cried about about 90 minutes every night when we put him to bed. Of course, it felt like hours (and some nights it was). And even though it only last a few months, to our family, it felt like an eternity. It started right around April and continued into the early summer, just in time for the end of the semester for me. And then one day, without warning, it stopped.

As I lay in my own bed, recently, crying and unable to stop, my poor husband at a loss as to how to comfort me, I pulled on this memory, this trying moment in our family’s life, to reassure him, to reassure us: this is just a brief moment, a brief challenge, that right now feels like it will last forever and never end, but it will end, and it will be better. We just have to get through it in this moment the best we can. Our son eventually stopped crying, and I will eventually stop crying, too.

It came without warning. Or maybe, there was warning, just signs I was unwilling to acknowledge were actually signs: I couldn’t write anymore, my attention was waning, I was having trouble sleeping, I wasn’t enjoying anything, not really. I thought it was the stress of moving, of starting a new job. But it had been going on longer than that.

I’ve written before, both more and less publicly, about my struggles in the past with depression. I have followed the same pattern as I had in the past: blame anything and everything else for my darkening mood, make major life changes to try and fix the thing that is unfixable. Most times, I can cope, I can pass, I can hang on. But this time, I fell over the edge.

It has been a really, really difficult couple of months. The worst possible time for it, too, in a new job, trying to take care of a family that is also trying to deal with massive changes. As if there ever is a good time to find yourself unable to stop crying, unable to focus, unable to control mood swings, unable to silence dark thoughts, unable to articulate any of the crushing feelings.

The reasons I finally sought help are both too personal to share and not wholly mine. But I found myself on the phone, crying, trying to get help. Over and over, I answered the same questions: no, I wasn’t in immediate danger of harming myself or anyone close to me; yes, I had had thoughts of self-harm. Health care bureaucracies are challenging to deal with in the best of times. When you are depressed and already predisposed to giving up on self-care, and are forced to admit to person after person that you are having mental health issues, telling and re-telling versions of the same story, breaking down over and over.

I was diagnosed. I was told I was doing remarkably well. I was prescribed medication. I explained, as best I could, why I was going every week to see a doctor to my kids. I tried to be kinder to myself, to articulate what I needed, in a given moment, to just endure and survive. I reached out to friends again, people I had been avoiding because I didn’t want to be “that friend.” I started writing again, even if it was just for myself. I waited to start getting better.

The fog is finally fucking lifting. I can engage meaningfully here. I’ve been able to focus and read longer and longer/richer pieces.

— Lee Skallerup (@readywriting) May 20, 2016

And thus, not long ago, it started to happen. That tweet started a tweet-storm that attempted to explain what it had been like, what I was going through.

But beating it makes it sound like I had some force of will, so strength of character that defeated it. Nope. I coped. Barely.

— Lee Skallerup (@readywriting) May 20, 2016

I rub my kids back and I hold them when they are sick and say it’s ok to throw up, to sleep. I just really wanted the same thing.

— Lee Skallerup (@readywriting) May 20, 2016

And now, I’m writing more publicly, again, about this, and hopefully, about other things as well. I’ve been too quiet for too long, too quite for me. And for far too long now, I’ve been writing afraid; afraid of what others will think of it, afraid of the judgement, afraid of letting people down, of being a disappointment. But I think, now, it’s time.

You know, I made my name blogging everything and anything. It brought me joy. Don’t know why I don’t go back to that.

— Lee Skallerup (@readywriting) May 30, 2016

I’m trying to get back. I know, however, that this reprieve is as temporary as the depression that preceded it. I might as well do as much as I can in the meantime.