When I lost my baby, I braced myself for the grief. This was an unfamiliar form, but I knew that not just my mind but also my body were about to face the pain that rushes in to fill the hole left.
Mental illness and depression specifically is a very real weak spot in my DNA. Few in my family haven’t suffered. I count myself among them, not in the sense that I am depressed, but that only a very careful regimen of proactive behavior stands between me and depression. It’s always going to be out there waiting for me get lazy in my care of myself, or for some devastating event like this to knock a hole in my defenses. To piggyback on to some temporary sadness and outstay it’s welcome. I am very confident in my ability to fend off this disease and live a joyful life, specifically because I am so aware of my enemy.
Knowing the hormonal and emotional changes that were eminent, I’d have been foolish to deny the odds that I was about to get very sick. I cleared my schedule, in a sense. If I wanted to emerge victorious, I was going to have to pay a lot of attention to myself.
Right away was the franticness. I thought it would fade within a week or two. It didn’t. It became less specific, “where’s the baby” and more general, “what am I supposed to do now?” I embraced it in a strange way. I didn’t try to calm down. I figured that riding the wave of it might lift me over the dreaded rip tide of not being able to get out of bed. It certainly worked, in that sense. I went out way too much, spent too much money, lost too much weight, tore my way through a lot of men, and hardly recognized myself in the mirror.
This was all a preferable method of coping than the immobilizing weight that pinned me down and cost me a year of my teens. But then the panic attacks began. Particularly in the middle of the night. This I could not manage alone so well, and I feared I would need medication.* I wasn’t sure how to come back down off this ride, and it had outlived it’s usefulness.
Last weekend I was doing some stretching and meditation. I threw in some new stuff that I hadn’t tried before, specifically working around my hips and first chakra, which is the seat of your feelings of rootedness. Just that quickly, I had to stop, because I was sobbing. By the end of the weekend I had the feeling that the wave had crested.
It’s a bit soon to be sure exactly where this wave is going to leave me. I suppose that might be it, I might find my balance and continue on with my life. It might drop me a bit lower than I’d hoped, and the ride may continue in a new way. I simply find myself much more ……. still.
I’m telling you all this because I want you to know that my head is still very much above water, that I’m strong and ready for whatever comes next. I’m as confident in my ability to heal as ever. And maybe I’m as much telling you as reminding myself.
*I want to be very careful about how I explain this. Medication is a godsend to a lot of suffering people and I would never discourage the use of it, or consel someone to avoid something that might make a wonderful positive difference in their life. My aversion isn’t any kind of sigma or thinking it’s for the weak, but rather being self aware about and experienced in MY body and how it reacts to anti-depressants. Which is to say, not well. It doesn’t flip the switches in my brain in the ways that are expected, and so getting the desired result requires a lot of trial and error. For me the process of going on medication will most likely include getting a lot sicker before we find the way to make it better. I’m willing to go through this process if it’s what I need, but I think you can understand why I try wholestic and lifestyle treatments first and reserve the pharmacy as a last resort.