Thursday, March 9, 2017

# death # depression

Five Years...

Five years ago today I got the call that would lead to the end of something that had started 10 months previously. Looking back, I think I can say that it was the day that I finally lost myself after the previous 5 years of fighting to find myself again. I suppose that I ought to give some background so that this makes sense to someone other than me...

In 2005, Peter and I agreed that it was time for a divorce. In June 2006, the divorce was finalized. Memorial Day weekend 2017, I left the house that we had bought together and everything I knew to move to New York. To say that I was lost is perhaps the understatement of the century. I left behind everything I knew and in some ways, my very identity. For the 10 years or so before that, I had been known as Peter's wife. Since 2000, I had been someone's mom. There was no me outside of those two roles. I didn't have any local friends. The only people I socialized with were online.

For the next five or six years, I fought to figure out who I was without being someone's wife or mother. (Of course, I was still the boy's mom but I had made the heartbreaking decision to leave the boys with their dad because he had the job, the money, the insurance, and the location where all of Ben's team were located.) I missed almost an entire semester of school due to a depression so bad that it crippled me and gave me panic attacks whenever I tried to get into the car to go anywhere. I ended up in therapy that was mostly useless because the therapist decided that my entire issue was that I was lonely. I wasn't lonely, I was lost.

I did finish that semester of school by some tiny miracle, dropping most of my classes, and having some incredibly understanding instructors. I finished the following year as well and while it improved, I never really shook that depression. Later, I would be diagnosed as Bipolar II. I graduated with honors with a degree in Psychology and was once again faced with the idea of having nowhere to go. The people I had been renting from wanted me out and I wanted out. The atmosphere was unhealthy on almost every level. In the end, I decided to "come home". I needed to be back with my boys. I found a house to rent in Sunfield, about 25 miles from them. It wasn't perfect but it was at least within driving distance. I threw myself back into being their mother. I drove (and still do) every day to town to do homework with one or both of them. I went (and still go) to all of their events. This was a me that I knew.

Slowly, piece by piece, I recovered from losing the world that I knew and I started to build up a new one. I was finding me again. I started writing again. I started crafting again. I slowly purged the things that I had accumulated and that I really had no need for. I felt as if I had close friends, even if they again lived nowhere near me. I started working out and eating better. In fact, I think I lost close to 75 pounds and for the first time in a long time, didn't hate myself when I looked in the mirror.

My Grandparents
Then, my world started to crumble again. The only person who I had ever felt loved me unconditionally got sick and suddenly everyone was leaning on me for strength and acted as if I could somehow magically fix it. I should have been stronger. I should have said no, but I didn't. They knew what cards to play. They reminded me how she'd taken me in when my own parents didn't want me. Before I knew it, I was spending almost every weekend at her house cleaning, organizing, purging, sorting and with my poor boys in tow. It wasn't fair to me and it wasn't fair to them, but the guilt laid on me was too much for me to say no to.

I stopped working out. I stopped cooking because I was tired and stressed and I was starting to crack around the edges. I was trying to keep everything normal but nothing was normal and the guilt of the fact that I was dragging my children into it added to everything. Five years ago today, my grandmother died after being sick for 10 months. I'm not going to lie. I was glad. I was glad that she was no longer suffering and I was glad that it was over. Except, for me, it wasn't over.

For the next six weeks, my family would guilt me into going through ever box that had been packed and sorting it into things they could sell and things they could toss. I was exposed to their greed, their hypocrisy, and their selfishness. They were allowed to mourn but I was expected to work. During that six weeks, I was pushed to my breaking point and at the end, when I finally had the strength or perhaps the desperation to say no more, it was too late. I had lost myself again. I had lost myself and I had lost the few close "local" friends that I had thought I'd had. I went home and buried myself..literally.

Boxes and boxes of her things had made their way to my house either because I'd brought them there or because they'd been dumped there. On top of that, I had started to surround myself with stuff in a desperate effort to feel some sort of security. In the years that followed, it would only get worse. There are very few who know the true conditions that I was living in and in some ways, still live in. I wish I could explain how this was "okay" to me but I can't because it wasn't. The worse the house got, the worse I felt. The guilt, the anxiety, all of it overwhelmed me until I was crippled and frozen by it.

Five years ago, I lost myself again and I'm just starting to find myself. Some of you have seen the tag Reclaiming Me either here or on Facebook. That's a very real thing for me.  Just over a year ago, I started purging my house again. I've backslid at times and made huge strides at others. Eight months ago, Nick convinced me to work with him on a book series. When he brought it up in exchange for doing something for me, we both knew that it wasn't a fair deal but neither of us cared. I think he knew I needed to push myself, that I needed a challenge and as for me, I felt ready to take that challenge. Oh, I've had major bouts of anxiety and self doubt since that agreement, but I finished book one and it's had good feedback.

Five years is a long time and I'm not back to the place I was before it happened. I wish that I could say that I was, but I'm not. Every day is a challenge on some level. Today, I woke up and my power was still out because of a wind storm yesterday. I was cold, tired from waking up repeatedly because i was cold, emotional because of today's anniversary and while what I really wanted was to have a message saying I love you, I had one that felt harsh...harsher than it really was but a tired me is a vulnerable me. I'm not going to lie. I laid on the couch for an hour and just cried. The world felt like it was just too much for me. Just thinking about it has me in tears again. This morning I relived the loss of everything that mattered to me and it's still in my head... but I got up, changed into jeans, and drove to someplace warm that had outlets so I could recharge things in case there's still no power when I get home tonight.

Five years is a long time, but it isn't forever and today I'm a little bit stronger than I was then. Today, I got up off the couch. Today, I walked out my front door. Today, I wrote this. Tomorrow, I will write more. Two years from now, I will make a final decision on where I'm moving to and hopefully, I will have the courage to do it. I know where I want to be at that point. It's not just up to me though, but today, under the fear and the emotions, there is hope.


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