It’s been a hell of a week. Despite all of the wonderful things happening around me: my Facebook Page has reached just over 300 likes, I’m going to be in a documentary about Clara’s Big Ride, I had a journalist from Elle Canada contact me about a post I wrote on self-harm, my depression was so bad that I thought I was going to have to admit myself into the hospital.
On Monday, I spent three hours sobbing in bed without any explanation. I woke up in the morning and I felt off kilter but I figured it was because I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep in over a week. I had been experiencing terrifying nightmares. Not just nightmares where you’re late for work or you show up to your presentation naked, but the kind of nightmares that make you question your brain. Nightmares where I was gang raped, nightmares where I watched my husband’s throat get slit before they did my own. These nightmares woke me up, panting and sweating and unable to go back to sleep. I was afraid to sleep because I was afraid of the nightmares that might happen.
So Monday was day five of this sleeplessness and in hindsight I should have contacted my doctor earlier, but I thought it was just anxiety. By Monday afternoon I was in full blown crisis. My husband came home for lunch and he could read it on my body that I was in a bad way. He decided to stay home because he was afraid. There’s nothing that can quite make you feel as guilty as someone telling you, “I can’t go back to work because I’m afraid I might find you dead when I come home.” That’s when he asked me, in between my sobs and screams of frustration, if he should bring me to the hospital. And that’s when we both realized, we had no idea where to go.
We have been living in Montreal for about four years now and my mental health issues haven’t been prominent enough for us to think about this. It’s not that I haven’t been struggling because I have been. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have had to take time off of work because of my mental health, I have been experiencing daily panic attacks that have only recently abated, and I had a full blown hypomanic episode.
But, there’s a fine line between anxiety, depression, and hypomania that is manageable from home and that place that makes you and everyone around you so completely helpless that you resort to checking yourself into a psychiatric ward. My husband and I have been there before and it’s never an easy decision.
Finally, I decided to take a Clonazepam just to calm myself and I took a nap. I napped to hang on a little while longer. Two hours later, I woke up and felt I didn’t need to go to the hospital and I could hang on until I could speak to my therapist on Tuesday. Tuesday came and I felt worse than I did on Monday, but at least I couldn’t cry anymore. I couldn’t do anything. I sat in front of my computer and watched my Twitter feed until I could speak with my therapist.
I just want to say that I have the most amazing therapist in the world because she is out of the country and still responds to my e-mails that are written mid-panic. She called me from wherever in the world she is and calmly explained that she felt it was simply lack of sleep that was making me feel so despairing. She reminded me how when I lack sleep, I feel like a totally different human being. She told me to get off the phone and make an emergency appointment with my doctor.
When i saw my doctor on Wednesday, my husband accompanied me because he didn’t want me playing down or intellectualizing how badly I felt (I have a bad history of that). However, I think my doctor was able to read me well enough to know that I was not doing well. I was a mess. I was unshowered, greasy haired, dressed in leggings and an oversized sweater, and on the verge of tears. She increased my dose of Seroquel to essentially tranquilize me into sleep and a referral to the local psychiatric hospital, just in case, since she wouldn’t be working over the weekend.
Now for any of you who have taken Seroquel before, you know what this is like. If you’ve never taken Seroquel well it hits you like a truck. The sedation is intense. This is not a drug to be fucked with. It knocked me out but I could barely function. Extreme dizziness accompanied every small movement. I had skull crushing headaches. My brain felt like it was wrapped in cotton. My concentration was so bad that I couldn’t even watch daytime TV. I couldn’t speak in full sentences and my husband had to guess the words that I was trying to speak so that he could finish my half-started sentences.
Finally on Saturday, I felt good. I felt rested. I felt happy. I also felt like I was having a mild hypomanic episode. My husband noted I was rambling and talking really fast. I was having thoughts that didn’t connect with anything and blurting them out loud. But compared with Monday, this was a vast improvement. I actually willingly left the house. I was hopeful. The came Sunday and my mood had crashed again. I was anxious and agitated and felt like there were ants crawling on my brain. It is so frustrating to have these fleeting moments of good moods and you try and cling to them, but they slip through your fingers like water.
It’s now Monday again and I feel a million miles away from where I was last Monday. The dizziness has largely dissipated, except when I stand up too fast and when I wake up in the middle of the night. I can concentrate for larger chunks of time (hence the blog post). But it’s still slow going. My words still feel stuck between my brain and my lips. My headaches are constant and Advil only mildly touches them. But at least I don’t feel like I need to be in the psychiatric hospital, so that’s a win!
I don’t really have an overarching message for this blog post other than to hold on. Find something to hold on to – whether it’s to see your doctor or therapist – and cling to that like a life preserver when you’re drowning in the despair of depression. Just keep holding on.