Between a Revelation and a Panic Attack

I am tired. Bone-tired. Physically, emotionally and mentally tired. Just everything tired.

I have spent years struggling with mental illness, with and without diagnosis, misdiagnoses, and varying degrees of treatment that were and weren’t effective. I’ve tried to hold myself together to keep a job and friends and I mostly managed to do it for a while. Until the bottom fell out and I broke.

The times where I’ve been able to hold it together get shorter and shorter and farther and farther apart. I’ve mostly come to accept that. Although at times that acceptance is nowhere to be found. It’s a work in progress.

With each time I have fallen down the dark hole I have done whatever I can to try and get better. There is only so long that I can tolerate feeling so miserable before I have to do something about it. I think this is the only good time my inability to tolerate uncomfortable feelings has worked in my favour. It has pushed me to look for solutions and work my way back.

The downside to this is that it has been tiring. And frustrating. And fruitless. A lot. Struggling with any mental illness is hard, and it’s made even harder when treatment is either nowhere to be found, or it’s found and it isn’t working. When there are multiple disorders battling it out inside me it means having to find multiple solutions. And finding multiple solutions is even harder than finding just one solution.

The disorders not only compete to take me down, they also compete to keep me there, so finding solutions that will silence all of the monsters is near impossible. It gets confusing and frustrating when I try to treat all of my disorders at once. I’ve tried treating them separately, and one at a time, and it was kind of a mess. Stuff would overlap or cancel other stuff out and at times I lost track of what I was trying to treat.

The good news is it isn’t always a lost cause. Of the many solutions and ways to recover I’ve found over the years, a number of them have actually helped. I’ve even had several major insights, epiphanies if you will, that have definitely been worth the wait. So it’s not all bad. I’ve found that treating the disorders in clusters has been most helpful and some of the gems I found, I’ve actually managed to retain and still use today.

The thing is though, I am really tired. I’m tired of trying. It’s so hard to try and find ways to manage or recover from mental illness. And the days when nothing works I can’t help but feel that things will never get better. Trying to find a solution and treatment takes a lot of time and effort, and then actually getting the treatment usually means months-long waitlists that more often than not have been anti-climactic and leave me back at square one.

When, and if, the treatment seems promising then there is the issue of maintaining it. By me and by the doctor or program. With the doctor, I am subject to how often they can see me and whether or not anything actually comes out of the appointments besides a prescription. With a program, I stand a better chance of learning skills that I can actually apply in daily life, that is if I get into the program (I’m currently still on two wait lists for two programs, hopefully I’ll hear about one of them soon). And then there’s me, I get easily discouraged, and whether it’s a bad day or several appointments that don’t immediately show me results, I lose interest and hope and therefore my effort goes down, fast.

I try to keep hopeful for as long as I can and mostly I succeed. I just feel so frustrated. The hours and days and weeks and months and years of waiting and hoping and trying and failing and trying and succeeding and trying and finding nothing and trying and making enough progress to keep me trying is so hard. Especially when the bad days sometimes slap me right in the face. Is it all for nothing? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? Or is it just the start of a whole new tunnel?

Who knows. So far I haven’t given up, at least not for good. Yet. So I guess I’ll just keep trying and keep hoping and maybe one day I’ll be okay.

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Getting a Mental Illness Diagnosis: Good or Bad?

Being diagnosed with an illness, mental or physical, can come with a whole host of thoughts and emotions. It can feel like your world is crashing down as you sort through what the diagnosis means, in terms of treatment and prognosis. Or it can feel like relief and understanding, explaining symptoms and behaviours, and now you can get down to business and get better. It can hurt or it can harm.

So getting diagnosed with a mental illness…is it a good thing or a bad thing?

On the good side, having a diagnosis can help in terms of knowing what treatment may be most effective. It can help your GP or your psychiatrist know what, if any, medications may help ease or reduce your symptoms. It can also help when finding support, whether in groups with facilitators or through social media. Finding those with similar experiences and the same diagnosis can go a long way to helping you feel like you are not alone and that what you’re experiencing is more common than you might think. Others who share the same diagnosis can also offer support, tips, advice and suggestions on treatments or medications that may have worked for them.

On the bad side, there can be a stigma that accompanies your diagnosis that can lead to misunderstanding, exclusion, miscommunication, and even being ostracized, including from health professionals. It can also be a trauma in and of itself as you try to navigate the waters of treatment and support, particularly when both are in short supply. Your diagnosis can even make you ineligible for treatment or social services among other things as most programs require certain criteria to be met. And it can leave you feeling boxed into a certain expectation of how others may expect you to think, feel, and act. This can be particularly hard when your symptoms are not “by the book”.

Let me think this out.

How effective is it to have a diagnosis? Is it mandatory? Should it be mandatory? Should it be on an ‘as needed’ basis? Does it help? Or does it make things worse? If a diagnosis is necessary then what if you are misdiagnosed? Or what if you are given no diagnosis at all? What if your symptoms are all over the place and don’t fit into any one category or disorder, does that mean you don’t get a diagnosis because you don’t ‘technically’ meet the criteria in the DSM? What if you only have six of the ten symptoms of a disorder, does that mean you aren’t still struggling with this particular disorder? Does that mean you shouldn’t be given any treatment for that disorder? What if your symptoms fluctuate enough that on any given day they can either be drastically increased or reduced, making a diagnosis applicable on one day but not on the next?

The fluidity and impermanence of our experiences and our symptoms means that a diagnosis should be just as fluid and impermanent. Our symptoms and our behaviours can ebb and flow. Some days we may have all of the symptoms and some days we have none. Some days we are several disorders and some days we are one disorder. Some days we may even have no disorder at all, though I imagine those days are extremely rare for the vast majority of us.

We can go months, even years, without exhibiting most symptoms with maybe one or two floating around us most of the time. We can have all the symptoms bombard us every day, all day for months or years on end. Or we could just be all over the place with our symptoms, which most of us experience.

If our symptoms and disorder are not all up in our face all day, every day, does that mean we aren’t struggling or suffering? Do we have to be struggling every single moment of every single day in order to retain a diagnosis? What if we can’t? Does that take away the diagnosis? If we are able to work and interact with friends more often than not, does that mean our struggles and suffering at home at night alone are any less hard or debilitating? And we are a diagnosis by night and not by day?

I can appreciate that having a diagnosis can be very helpful to a professional, as this is often used as the starting point of what happens next, and where to send the patient next or what treatment to give them. However, I feel that this may be a little overestimation by professionals, and here’s why…

1. A diagnosis is only as effective as it can be applied to the patient. If the patient doesn’t exhibit all of the symptoms or even half of the symptoms of a suspected disorder then the patient may be dismissed for that particular diagnosis or even misdiagnosed altogether, hindering understanding and treatment.

2. Diagnosing a patient only on presenting symptoms at the time may exclude considering other disorders the patient could be struggling with simply because a specific symptom is not present in that moment.

Any illness, whether mental or physical, is not always a textbook case. In fact, I would venture to say that most illnesses rarely present as a textbook case. And it doesn’t mean that whatever is in front of you is all it will ever be. Illnesses are very fluid in how they can present. They are subject to a number of factors that can contribute to its severity, fluctuation, and length. Things can often change at the drop of a hat, and this is something a lot of professionals fail to take into account.

I think that there should be a slightly broader approach taken when discussing symptoms and their severity. Even taking a month or two of experience into consideration when asking the patient questions can go a long way to getting a better idea of what the patient is experiencing than going by a week or two. Or going by what symptoms are happening today.

3. A diagnosis should be treated as more of a guideline than a prognosis written in cement.

Illnesses are very fluid. They very rarely stay in one state for an extended period of time. Medical and mental health professionals have been trained to go by the book and anything that goes against the book is treated as either not applicable or a cue to consider a whole new diagnosis altogether. If it isn’t written in the textbook, I’m looking at you DSM, then it isn’t so.

This is hard not to hold against the professionals because this stuffs our illnesses, disorders, and issues, into very rigid, inflexible categories that may or may not always apply, and may even lead to more damage than help. To give the professionals some credit, they have to start somewhere. I just don’t think that’s where it should also end.

When I was hospitalized late last summer, I spent six weeks on the ward, and during that time I was given my BPD diagnosis. For me, at first, I was scared as hell. In part, because I knew very little about BPD and what little I did know was scary and unsettling. I found out that I was very misinformed and the stigma of it preceded me finally coming to an understanding of what BPD really was.

When I started to educate myself, with the help of my psychiatrist, I started to feel relieved; the symptoms, the urges, the actions, the behaviours, the history, all associated with BPD, finally started to shed some light on who I was and why I behaved, felt and thought the way I did. It was like having pieces of the puzzle start to fit and show me the big picture. I felt truly excited that I finally had a diagnosis that made sense and that fit.

But with the diagnosis, the understanding, and the relief, came great fear. Fear that the behaviours and symptoms that I didn’t exhibit meant that maybe I really didn’t have BPD. I had been diagnosed before, feeling understood and relieved, and it hadn’t stuck. Diagnoses that before had made sense at the start and then slowly fell apart because other stuff under the disorder didn’t add up, and so the bottom fell out and so did the diagnosis.

Then there was the stigma that came with BPD. The limited, misunderstood and vilified diagnosis of BPD that so many have come to take as gospel, including the medical and mental health profession. Those suffering with BPD were supposedly “too emotional”, “too needy”, “manipulative”, “too sensitive”, “too moody”, “unpredictable”, “irrational”, and emotionally unstable. Leading many to even give another name to the disorder, “Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder”. A moniker which I personally take offence to as the disorder is a lot more than just having dysregulated emotions, and right away gives others an inaccurate picture of the situation. It is often assumed that Borderliners are notoriously difficult to treat and are frequently unable to obtain and hold professional help due to this “neediness” and their frequent suicide ideation.

I hadn’t even told anyone outside of my husband about my BPD diagnosis and I already felt excluded, misunderstood and ostracized. I already felt like a lost cause and I had only been diagnosed that week. I felt awful. I thought I was a lost cause. I was terrified that even my psychiatrist who had been the one to approach the BPD diagnosis in the first place would surely throw me to the curb now instead of enduring what would apparently be a long, trying road for her to try and treat me. Would she think that I was a lost cause too? Would she be put off by my disordered thoughts and emotions enough to not even want to try and help me? Would she feel exasperated if my thoughts turned suicidal and send me packing?

I was conflicted. On the one hand, I finally had a diagnosis that made more and more sense to me the more I learned about it. But on the other hand, I had a diagnosis that meant I might not be treatable. And not because BPD can’t be treated, but because a lot of professionals won’t treat BPD. I would apparently be a waste of time and resources that would be more effective on others with a more “favourable” diagnosis. What a more favourable diagnosis would even be I don’t know because I think any mental illness has its challenges when it comes to treatment.

Suddenly I was sad because I was confronted with a diagnosis that now felt like it defined me. It felt like my name melted away and was replaced by my disorder. I became a disorder to be treated, if my psychiatrist was up to it, and my behaviours and actions were now tainted by the symptom checklist. It was hard not to suddenly question everything. It was hard not to feel lost.

Was that action because of the disorder? Was that thought because of the disorder? What was me and what was the disorder? Were they separate? At what point was I influenced by my disorder? Where did my disorder end and I begin? What comes with getting a diagnosis? Fear, sadness, uncertainty, isolation, questions, relief, and hope, that’s what comes with getting a diagnosis.

When it comes to mental illness, a diagnosis can be the best thing that happens to you or it can be the worst thing that happens to you. It can even be both. It all depends on where you are and what’s going on for you at the time.

Overall, I think a diagnosis can be more helpful than hurtful because at the very least it can be a starting point. But I also think it needs to happen with the understanding, between the patient and their doctor, that there is more than just the textbook classification of the disorder. And to keep an open mind, that symptoms and illnesses are subject to change. That we are more than a diagnosis, and should be treated as such.

The Neverending Quest to Know Why

A question I often ask is, “why?” I want to know why I do things a certain way. I want to know why I feel a certain way. I believe if I know why then I can fix it. I believe that “why” is the key.

At least that’s what I used to believe.

I have discovered over the years that knowing why sometimes means squat. Sometimes knowing why doesn’t change a single thing. This has been hard for me to accept because if knowing why doesn’t help me, then what will?

There have been times where I’ve discovered why I reacted a certain way or behave a certain way and then…nothing. All it did was tell me why. Which isn’t a bad thing to know. It just doesn’t necessarily solve anything. I was surprised, and a little disappointed, that knowing why doesn’t mean the issue is solved. It seemed like a logical pathway to me, figure out why something is broken and then you can know how to fix it.

Some of this time I have spent in denial, that maybe I didn’t know the whole reason why and therefore I couldn’t fix it so I figured I just needed to keep searching for the why. It’s also possible that I also used it as a defence mechanism so that I wouldn’t have to look deeper. I know I definitely used it to procrastinate doing the hard work that recovery and healing requires.

The reasons I behave the way I do, or respond the way I do, are complex. If reason comes in to this at all, then it stands to reason that solving them would be just as complex. Which means knowing why may never be answered and if it is it might not solve anything anyway.

I actually have to hold myself back from asking why this happens as well. It’s tempting to get lost in the mystery of why. Why do I feel this? Why do I do that? Why do I see things this way? Why do I respond that way? Why? Why? Why? I’m not sure I’ll ever stop searching for the answer to my whys.

I just hope I remember that not finding the answer to why doesn’t really mean anything. I may know why, I may not, and that may help me, and it may not.

Me and Love

So I learned something new about myself yesterday, I have an aversion to the word “love”.

It was the last few minutes of my appointment with my psychiatrist, and she was talking about love, and I stuck out my tongue and made that fart/splat sound to the reference she made. She asked me, as she usually does when I respond like that, what was making me respond that way. And I said the whole “love” thing, I’m just not sure about that.

I thought nothing of it. I already sort of knew I wasn’t a fan of sappy love crap. Like, whatever. My psychiatrist however, was new to this information about me, and asked why I might have a problem with “love”. I shrugged in response because I didn’t think it was a big deal. And I said as much.

Except I started thinking about love, and making random comments about love and how I felt about it, as she quietly listened and waited. And sure enough, it dawned me, I did have a problem with love. A big one.

This is one of the best things about treatment, those moments that just happen by accident. Some of the best insights can happen this way. And this one was no exception. Not only did I have a problem with love, I had a problem with the word too.

I thought of the last appointment I had with her and when I went to Chapters bookstore afterwards, I was looking for a journal, and a number of them and the word “love” on the cover, or love quotes, and I picked them off one-by-one, making faces at them, scowling at them, making the fart/splat sound, rolling my eyes and even getting irritated to the point of thinking, ‘my god does love have to be everywhere?

Well, son of a bitch. I really did have a problem with love.

What is that about?

Unfortunately, it was literally the last three minutes of my appointment so we weren’t able to further discuss it. She asked me to think about it for the next appointment and journal about it to explore what might be going on there. I’m kind of glad it happened this way because I’m actually curious now, and I’d like to think about it on my own. I appreciate my psychiatrists input for sure, but I wanted to see what I came up with first. What is my aversion to love about?

I’ve been thinking about it ever since my appointment. So far I’ve only noticed that I’m not a fan of thinking about it either. I’m guessing that’s because there’s some big stuff behind it that I’m probably afraid to deal with. Not much surprise there.

So the inquiry into my love aversion begins…

Lacking Sleep

I’m blaming my mind for the lack of sleep problem I’ve been having for the last few weeks.

I’ve been going to bed at a reasonable time in the hopes that my mind will get the message. So far my mind is either ignoring me or it doesn’t care.

Lack of sleep is a real problem for me. Not just because I’ll be tired and need to get rest, also because when I don’t get enough rest my anxiety levels skyrocket. If I was only mildly anxious before then without proper rest it will be high anxiety now. If I was high anxiety before then without proper rest I will be thisclose to panic attacks, if not full-blown, hours-long panic attacks now. It’s a brutal, brutal day when I don’t get proper rest.

My anxiety is why I’ve made a concerted effort to get to bed at a decent hour and get proper rest. No matter how many hours I need. If it’s six hours I need, then I get it. If it’s nine hours I need, then I get it. I pay the price dearly otherwise.

I try to avoid sleeping meds if I can because I know they can become a crutch and also their residual effects-feeling dopey or dizzy-the next day are not always worth it. Especially if I want to go out or have things to do. I’ll take them if the insomnia persists for a while and I really need to get some sleep. They are usually a last resort for me.

Until I get to that point I try other things first. I try to do some self-care, maybe some mindfulness or meditation. I try instrumental music or a podcast. When it seems like the external stuff isn’t working, and before I turn to the meds, I will try to just lay there and wait it out. And I gotta say, the waiting it out is torturous. Staring at the ceiling for hours on end is awful. I don’t know how else to describe it besides long and awful.

I think of hundreds of topics; from the mundane like a grocery shopping list, to global affairs like recent conflict in the Middle East. And absolutely everything else in between. A lot of these thoughts tempt me to go online and google the answer. I don’t because I know that’s a slippery slope that will only keep me awake even longer. And will probably lead to more thinking and more questions and more googling. I try to persevere.

And so my mind goes…

…will I be able to fix my TV? Or will I have to buy a new one? Where will I get the money for a new TV? I’ll have to wait to get it and hope for a good sale. What’s a good sale though? I haven’t had to buy a new TV in a long time, what’s a good price? Should I get the same size? Should I go for a bigger model? I guess it will depend on the price. I’ve read about TVs that have updates as if they have an OS. Do TVs now have OS? What in hell is that for? What do they need an OS for? What difference does it make? Do all TVs have them now? Can I get a TV without an OS? I don’t want one. I just want a regular TV. I guess I’ll have to decide when that time comes. Hopefully that won’t be soon. It’s hanging in there so it could last for months. Or it could crash tomorrow. Oh no. What if the TV totally breaks down? And I don’t have the money for it. What will I do then? What will I do with the time? That scares me. I have no idea what to do with my time now. How in hell will I figure out what to do with additional time? I already have some bills that are behind, how will I catch up now? I am so bad with money. I wish I were better with money. I wish someone had taught me how to handle money. I wish I had been taught to properly handle money. I wish I could win the lottery. The lottery would be great. It would solve a lot of problems. It wouldn’t solve everything. It would help though. I could travel. Oh I miss traveling. Like going back to Paris would be great. I loved Paris. So beautiful. I’d go for a whole week or two and just visit The Louvre every day. Just to see it proper. Bring a lunch every day and see the beautiful Louvre, at my leisure, as much as I want. Oh, how I would love to do that! Although I would eat at the cafes too because their cafes are so comfortable and great for people-watching. I like people watching when I travel. Of course I should probably play the lottery in order to win it. That would probably help…

…I’m gonna stop there because it goes on. And on. And on. And on. And on. For. Hours.

That little blurb there was about two minutes worth of thinking, if that. So imagine between two and five hours of rambling thoughts just like it. At least thankfully the thoughts mostly stay fairly neutral. When it gets really tricky is if the thoughts are disordered and start triggering me. Then the rambling thinking goes dark. Really dark. And as the minutes tick by, they get darker and darker and darker.

With every dark thought my body responds in kind. I start to feel afraid and my body follows suit with my heart racing, my stomach churning, my limbs tingling, and my head spinning. It comes very close to causing a panic attack. Very close. And if it doesn’t cause a panic attack, it causes my body to become fully tense and on edge as if it could, at any minute. So now my night is not only dealing with my rambling thoughts, it’s now having to deal with dark, rambling thoughts, and a body that’s now so tense it makes my muscles ache.

If I wasn’t tired before, which I was, I am definitely tired now. Holding panic and tension is exhausting. I hold it all day and now I’m holding it all night too. It feels like I can’t catch a break.

The good news though, I’m getting better at intervening and stopping the thinking from getting too dark. Some of the time. It’s hard though because it still takes me a while before I become aware enough to intervene. Considering that I used to intervene in zero of my thinking pursuits, I think any intervention above zero is a win. The hope is that one day I’ll have more interventions than I don’t. Until then I’m going with whatever I can get.

But I digress…

When I am able to intervene and change the script, or at least stop the script from running, I usually start with focusing on my breathing. I do a body scan and see what’s going on. If I’m having trouble focusing to do a body scan, I use a guided meditation of a body scan to help. I might do this once or twice, or a couple different guided meditations, if I find the first time I listen to it sort of helping, I listen for a second, or even a third time, to help even more. I use as many as I need. This is usually enough to switch my thinking to more neutral topics. At least until I can fall asleep.

Even with these efforts, the last few nights, I am still having a hard time falling asleep. Some nights it’s a three-hour mind tour and some nights it’s longer. For now, it has yet to be less than a two-hour tour. I’m not giving up though. I’ll get my cycle back. I just have to keep trying. That’s the thing that as really sunk in for me of late, that I have to work at it.

I have to make the effort and work at it for it to happen. If I wait for it to just happen organically then it probably won’t ever happen. At least that’s what the past decades have taught me. And now I’m listening.

Here’s hoping for a good nights rest. At some point.

Dark Thoughts

Sometimes I have very dark thoughts. I don’t know how to explain them and out of sheer embarrassment I won’t go into details of them here. All I will say is that they are dark and they are scary.

I don’t know what makes them happen so I don’t know how to stop them or cope with them once they are there.

I worry about them and what they may become. I don’t dare talk about them for fear that I will be seen as a freak. Or worse.

I don’t know if they happen because of the BPD or if they are from depression or maybe I’m just so disordered that all my thoughts are just naturally messed up.

I am glad that they don’t happen often, and when they do they don’t last long. For the time they are here though, they terrify me.

My only wish is that if they are going to stick around, they never become more than a thought.

I hate them. I fear them. I pray they never become more.

The Pain of Depression

Every day I wake up there are about three seconds of time where I am completely detached from everything. I don’t think. I don’t speak. I don’t hear. I don’t feel anything. I don’t worry. I don’t have anxiety. I don’t anything. I just am. It’s a pretty nice time.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t last. Once those few seconds are done and I start waking up and the day sort of creeps over me, I am already sore and exhausted before I even get out of bed.

For me, the pain of depression starts in my mind; weaving its way into everything, from getting out of bed and getting dressed to getting to work or going out with friends, from how and what I think to how and what I feel, to how I perceive everything including myself to what I will or will not do. It sucks the life out of absolutely everything. The days become greyer. The nights become darker. It feels like a fog has taken over my mind until the day I can’t get out of bed and I no longer want to.

My thoughts become a haze of words that sometimes make sense but most of the time don’t. And when the words are coherent, they are dark, mean, insulting and dangerous. The thoughts tell me I’m nothing and nobody. They tell me that I will never be anything and I should stop trying. They tell me that I am alone and I always will be. They tell me that this dark place is where I should stay and if I ever think of leaving then I should think of death because that will be the only way out.

I become either totally numb or a waterfall of tears at the drop of a hat. There is no in-between. I have no idea what makes me cry it just happens. I no longer have a say in what I think, what I feel, and what I do. It is just darkness, every day, all the time, without fail. Everything just becomes devoid of colour and interest.

As soon as my mind has been successfully hijacked by the depression my body soon follows. With slow, lethargic movements, calculated steps just to go to the bathroom, and total exhaustion with even the slightest of tasks.

And it hurts. It hurts my whole body. There is soreness and inflammation throughout my body that makes moving slow and painful. And there is a perpetual state of tension that radiates to every muscle and bone in my body.

Starting with my head. The tension goes up my neck and into my head causing me to have headaches, sinus pressure and dizziness. It is so tense that sometimes I can’t move my head because my neck is too tight. My jaw clenches so hard that it pulls the muscles of my face as well. This often causes my face to feel numb. Even my scalp often feels numb to touch.

The tightness and tension travel down into my shoulders, down my upper arms, my forearms and my wrists, tensing each and every muscle of my arm, and stretching right out to my fingers.

It radiates downwards into my back seizing the lower muscles into a big knot that is so hard it pulls my hip and pelvic muscles with it. Making movements like getting out of bed and walking difficult and painful. To do anything more than walking causes aching pain in my muscles and my joints.

The tension spreads to my stomach, tying it into another knot, causing me to have stomachaches, digestion issues, nausea, and some muscle cramping. There are many times where I am unable to eat anything because my stomach is too upset. I often will go days without eating because my stomach is upset and I’m too sore to move to get the food in the first place.

And then finally my legs, which have somehow mostly managed to evade the pain that the rest of my body deals with, except for some tension in my thighs. Which is usually connected to the tightness and tension from my hips and pelvis.

Most of my body feels numb a lot of the time. The tightness and tension are bad enough on their own but adding numbness to it makes everything in my body feel like it’s about to stop working any minute. This often scares me, particularly when the numbness is felt in my face and arms because I fear that these are signs of either a heart attack or a stroke. It scares me so much that it has often caused me to have a panic attack. And I am convinced that I am dying. I have to remind myself that the numbness did not come on suddenly and it is not unexplained since the nerves are probably being compressed by the muscles being so tense and tight all the time.

It takes a lot for me to gain awareness of what is really happening in these instances because they don’t come with warning nor do they happen in sync with other issues. So if I feel a twinge in my neck and then I notice my face is numb I am not always aware that my face has actually been numb for days before this and is not necessarily connected to the twinge I just felt in my neck. It is a vicious cycle that terrifies me and often paralyzes me from moving at all. It takes me hours and sometimes days to remind myself it is most likely not a heart attack or stroke. This time.

When it comes to my mind, it darkens my thoughts and cognitive ability to the point of not being able to think or function at all. Thinking can actually hurt causing me to have headaches. The pain takes away the want and the ability to stand or walk, to read or talk, to smile or laugh.

Because my mind is so foggy it makes my words fuzzy too. When I speak, I trip over my words, either stuttering or repeating myself. I forget some words and sometimes I forget what I’m trying to say altogether. I frequently lose track of what I’m saying and what words I need to use. I will sometimes slur my words, as if I have been drinking, which really scares me when it happens at the same time as the numbness in my face and arms. I am absolutely terrified and certain that this time I am either having a heart attack or a stroke.

I feel like a total write-off in every aspect of my life. In my body and not being able to move without pain. In my mind and not being able to think or speak without difficulty. In my heart and not being able to feel or process emotions, if I feel them at all. And lastly, in my spirit and not being able to find the goodness in life, the interest in things I used to enjoy, and slowly losing the want to live.

The pain permeates every cell of my being.

Depression doesn’t just darken my mood. It isn’t just a few bad days or a couple of weeks of feeling down. It is an all-encompassing entity that takes over everything; sucking the life from me, and it hurting every part of me, body, mind, heart and soul.

Depression just hurts. It hurts everything.