I’m crying again. Why am I crying? I’m not in crisis, my family’s not in crisis. Why am I so overwhelmed? This is not normal. I need help.
These are the thoughts that are running through my head this morning as I dial one number after another trying to find a psychiatrist in my area accepting new patients. This is part of the homework my gynecologist gave me yesterday after I described a list of symptoms I was experiencing, which she and I both suspect are resulting from a change in my normal hormone cycles. Most concerning of all: my normal PMS symptoms have switched from irritable and bloaty (symptoms easily soothed by chocolate anything and a jar of dill pickles) to severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Not exactly something you can treat with a bottle of Midol and a heating pad.
I’m an easy-going person, have a positive upbeat can-do attitude about life, and I possess the profound ability to herd cats and juggle monkeys at the same time (aka my family and their disparate schedules). But about a month ago I lost myself somewhere. For a whole week I was an emotional mess, lethargic, and convinced I was the worst human being in the world. One night I couldn’t hold myself together any longer. I texted pastors I knew and asked them to pray for me during their prayer meetings that night, took two powerful sedatives and put myself to bed. I had entered a special type of hell and had lost the will to be a living conscious being.
If you’re curious what the special hell is like, the one they reserve for people who talk in theaters, this is it: It’s the inability to find a reason to live. To lack joy when you are snuggling your children, to stare at the world from a window and wonder if you could evaporate like the mist in the woods on a sunny morning, to find the concept of nothingness more soothing than sitting with a friend for a cup of tea. You live by halves and wonder why your existence is so critical that you are still roaming around this earth while so many others are not. Why they and not me?
The next week the sun came out and my world righted itself. I regained my energy, my happiness, and my drive to accomplish as much as I can in whatever time I am given. I chalked the awful experience up to another round of the Seasonal Affective Disorder I periodically experience during our rainy seasons.
You’re a licensed counselor. You know what depression is. You know you struggle with this AND you know what you’re supposed to do. Come on! I give myself a good mental lashing for not doing better with my self-care. I know better. I really do. I promise myself I’ll be more attentive to my emotional shifts and purposely set reminders on my phone to get more sunlight. I also send up a thank you to God that I didn’t do something truly harmful to myself. Because when I’m normal, I really am grateful for my life and I marvel at how blessed I am to have so much.
Then just a few days ago the special hell started all over again. I found myself reaching for the narcotics I had leftover from a previous injury. I didn’t want to be conscious anymore, I just wanted to sleep. And I cried all the time. In the shower, at the table after breakfast, in my room while dressing, in the bathroom, at my desk, and in my car at the grocery store. I used sunglasses to hide my red, swollen eyes from curious glances. I felt weak and stupid for crying so much.
I’m not a crier. Unless I’m watching a sad movie, then I just keep the tissue box handy. But crying is not a normal part of my personality. I get mad, annoyed, frustrated, call up my best friends and vent. Shtuff happens! I take fifteen-minutes to pitch my hissy fit with the world or with God, and then I shift gears and move forward. But crying because I can’t find a psychiatrist who will take my insurance or accept new patients? Nope. That is NOT me.
But it is and I can already feel the tears forming as yet another receptionist informs me that I’m out of luck. I’ll have to try another place. Wanting to cry again just makes everything worse because it reinforces the understanding that something is wrong with me. I start to wonder if I’m like Humpty Dumpty, so broken I’ll never be put back together again.
Then my husband calls me. He’s got an office on the line and I’m being added into the call. A few minutes later I have an appointment scheduled eleven days out. It seems like forever, but I know I can wait eleven days. I’m so relieved when we hang up the phone that I start crying again. But this time it’s happy tears. I smile a little as I brew myself some tea and call my best friend. I’m going to be okay. I’m getting help.