The dread begins the very moment I wake up.
I rush over to the one little table in the four walls that surround me, and take my pills. 20 minutes. That’s all the anti-anxieties take to kick in. Please let me make it through those 20 minutes. Please don’t let the tears start.
I roll myself a cigarette, and walk down to the garage. I pray my grandfather won’t speak to me. Please don’t let him say hello. The tears are too near.
I shake as I light the cigarette.
Just 20 minutes.
Inevitably, the water begins to roll down my face. My breathing quickens and even the deep inhales of tobacco can’t slow it. It’s starting. The day has only just begun, and it’s starting. It’s too late now. The anti-anxieties can only do so much. Quiet cries instead of heaving sobs. The ability to turn on Netflix instead of hiding under my covers, gripping on for dear life, as if somehow that will save me. All the anti-anxieties can do is quiet the pain for some undetermined but all too temporary amount of time.
I pop another one.
Three weeks ago I was still in Mexico. I had sat in my friend’s house in Cabo – the great privilege of having an entire house to myself, and all for free – yet felt nothing. Numbness. There was no happiness. The heat didn’t help, as walking a mere five minutes caused beads of sweat to roll down my entire body, aching for air conditioning. So I spent most of my time locked inside the house, watching television, smoking weed, occasionally visiting with the Romanians next door. Even when I could drag myself out to see them, I would feel exhausted – physically and emotionally – from too much human contact. What irony – the very thing I craved, to not be lonely, drained me most. As for real connection, without feeling even slightly like my true self, I could reach for it but never obtain it. It had been a long time since I’d felt connection with another human being.
I went to Mexico City in an effort to escape the heat, but it wasn’t long before I knew. I knew what my mother had been telling me for months was true, and I could no longer run from it. I needed to go back to Edmonton, the land I came from, the place I despise most. I needed to see a psychiatrist and a therapist, and get on the right meds. My brain was broken. Terribly sick. There was nothing left that brought me joy. Even getting a new tattoo – something that brings me so much excitement and pride and happiness – left me feeling nothing but emptiness. “Oh, good, now that’s done,” was all I felt.
So I got on the plane.
I was fortunate enough to get in to see a psychiatrist within a week of arriving. Agreeing that my current meds were inappropriate based on the fact that, while they helped a bit, I was still miserable, and they had caused me to gain a whopping 10 lbs in a month, he switched my meds.
The bastard switched my meds.
But how was he to know? While I believe meds can work, and they are nothing short of a saviour to many, I’m no fool; finding the right meds is not a matter of checking the right boxes. It’s a guessing game, and the better your doctor, the better the guess. But it’s never more than an educated guess.
The first few days were fine. I took the mood stabilizer at night. I took the anti-anxieties during the day, in an effort to calm my fidgeting and give me back some focus, as I was at the stage that I couldn’t even sit through a television show.
Day 5. That’s when it began. Day fucking five.
I woke up with a sense of dread. Dread to live out an entire day. Dread for what I was going to feel. Dread. Sheer dread. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was too late. I was awake.
Every day was the same. Wake up. Fear getting through the day ahead. Bawl my eyes out. Take anti-anxiety. Calm down enough to hide under the covers. Take another anti-anxiety. Take a nap. Wake up. Dread. Dread. Dread. Bawl some more. Repeat until the day comes to an end.
Some days I’ve been calm enough to sit through a movie or marathon something or other I don’t really care about on Netflix. But that’s as good as I’ve gotten.
On day 8 I posted a Facebook status about my depression for two reasons: because I believe the stigma needs to end, and we can only survive this if we talk about it, and because I have no emotional support system whatsoever in this shit hole of a town. I received overwhelming love and support from friends across the globe. “Message me anytime.” “I’m always here for you.” “You’re an inspiration and I love you.”
On day 9 I tried to call the psychiatrist to at the very least have my records transferred over to my family doctor, not that I have any faith in his guessing games either. But, when all one can do is cry and sleep, you sort of have to give whatever you can a go.
But shit luck for me! The receptionists were out sick that day, so I couldn’t even reach anyone at the damn psychiatrist’s office. Meanwhile, the waiting game to get in to see a therapist continues on and on and on to infinity. I’m doubtful they’ll ever call at this stage. Then again, I’m also doubtful I’ll survive the year if it’s to continue like this.
Then came days 10 and 11, with the weekend upon me and the psychiatrist office closed. On day 10 I called my mom, another sufferer of severe depression, bawling, so she told me to take an anti-anxiety to calm down.
The following day we spoke again. She gave me the same advice. I’d been crying for 24 hours straight. I was possibly the most suicidal I’d ever been, beginning to devise a plan, though nowhere near carrying it out. I cried and I hid and I slept and I cried more. My chain smoking ass could barely even make it downstairs to have a smoke. I wanted someone. I wanted anyone. I remembered all those messages of love. All those people telling me they were there for me. Part of my brain denied it; it told me they were all fakes, acquaintances, that they didn’t care, that they couldn’t help, that they wouldn’t listen. The faint glimmer of my real self that remains deep, deep within recognized that it wasn’t them, it was me; I knew they couldn’t say anything, and more importantly, I couldn’t connect with them. How can someone help you when you can’t connect to them on a basic level? And, as earlier mentioned, the ability to connect was lost long ago.
My mom offered to pick me up and bring me to the hospital. Having just watched Girl, Interrupted in an effort to relate to someone, even if fictional, I was pretty god damn against this idea. Side note: don’t fucking watch Girl, Interrupted while in the throes of depression. Stupid damn idea.
She made sure I was not going to do anything stupid, and told me to call the psychiatrist first thing Monday morning for an emergency appointment.
For more guessing games.
Will the next ones make me numb again?
Will they be the ones that throw me over the edge?
Will they make me feel functional, but not better?
Will they make me better, but only temporarily?
Will I ever find my way back to myself?
…did she ever really exist to begin with?