Today, I share with you a story of an anonymous survivor who wanted you to hear her tale. When you listen, do it with compassion and empathy. You never know when you’ll need it in return.
An anonymous survivor writes
Waking up fatigued in the morning despite a good night’s sleep, irritable and confused is just one tiny part of the story. As my husband gets ready to go to work, I am still in bed tossing and pushing myself to wake up to make breakfast.
The man who’s seen it all, from a failed suicide attempt, to the helpless one who’s constantly trying to be ‘normal’. I wish our lives were simpler; I wish we were like any other married couple, because at times, it’s more like a care giver and a patient’s relationship.
How it began
It started one fateful morning about three years ago. I remember waking up and struggling to go to work. Not wanting to be spoken to, I wondered where the cheerful, bubbly me had disappeared. I carried on until one fine day when I sat looking blankly at the computer screen. I had to edit one paragraph to accommodate some simple feedback I’d got from my boss. I just couldn’t! I took leave and went home.
A couple of close friends who were concerned about my situation landed up at home and again, I didn’t want to open the door. These were the same set of people who I adored otherwise. Among the friends who’d landed up at home, there was one who’d been depressed with similar symptoms. Also, knowing my family history of depression, she urged me to see a psychiatrist, but I wasn’t ready to see one. I suddenly was reminded of my mother and all the hospital trips with her to the psychiatrist. How could I land up in a similar situation? The strong, independent me was just not willing to submit.
Therapy and medication
However, my friends decided to drag me to the psychiatrist. In hindsight, that probably was the best decision that my friends had made on my behalf. Then came the diagnosis of being depressed and with it came medication.
Again, I was reluctant. I didn’t want to be medicated, the moment I got a chance, I stopped taking the medication. Later that year, I took a break from work and tried trekking, meditation and yoga to get over depression. Initially, I thought it was just a phase and that depression was over.
Depression again reared its ugly head again a year and a half later. And this time, the more aware ‘me’ decided that I would see the psychiatrist myself. I was again put on medication. It was difficult, being drugged and at work, trying hard to beat deadlines and keeping up to the expectation of my team, it was all draining me.
Around the same time, I was in a relationship with my (now) husband. He, of course was clueless initially. He’s the sort who loves to research and within no time he’d gathered a lot of information on depression from the internet and from a friend of his who’d studied mental health. Things were going smooth for us and we decided to get married. Marriage came with its own set of expectations. I had to leave my job and all my belongings and settle in a new country with him. The first month, I was practically in bed all the time. I just couldn’t wake up. In between, I had to again make a trip to India to apply for my residence permit. I landed in Bangalore one fateful morning, and decided to stay with my best friend this time.
An extreme step
I reached home and appeared normal until I had to leave home to get some work done. I just didn’t want to step out. I lay crying, in bed, at home and asked my husband to ferry me to Mumbai where my sister was residing. I reached Mumbai, again everyone at home was curious to know what had happened to the otherwise cheerful me. One fine morning, as I lay in bed with my husband next to me, I felt an extreme sense of helplessness.
20 minutes later I had popped 25 tabs of the anti-depressants I was prescribed.
My husband sensed something was wrong and rushed me to the hospital from where I was discharged post a stomach wash. I remember howling at my husband for rescuing me and him calmly telling me that he would have done the same thing had it been anyone else in my place.
Picking up the pieces
A few days later, I was granted the permit and I left India for good. Left behind were a lot of good friends who I missed each day.
As I tried to settle in the new environment, there suddenly seemed a lot of resistance from me. Also, as soon as I arrived in the new country, I was registered in a clinic with a therapist and a psychiatrist. I was also introduced to EMDR which helped me get over all childhood molestation flashbacks.
Lessons from my story
It’s now been a year of seeing the doctors with depression swaying in both directions, at times I feel normal and at times I am low enough to again overdose. Not many might understand the psychology of a depressed person. More often than not, risky behavior is a plea for help. And help too isn’t enough at times.
Going through the cycle of depression is exhausting and draining. Moreover, trying to appear normal in the presence of those who don’t understand or belittle the disease is tiring.
As I write this, I want you to understand that I don’t choose to be a depressive, given a choice I’d love to be my bubbly self again. And maybe I might someday return to being normal, I still live with that hope and I want you to ride on my hope, if not on your own.