Depression: Path Towards Recovery

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My name is Kim Larocque. I am a single mom of two teenagers. I was officially diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and panic disorder in 2011. I am also diagnosed with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder with Panic).

The symptoms of depression and anxiety have followed me since early childhood (maybe 10 years old). I have also suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my son. I have a series of posts on depression here on my blog. The first ones being Let The Truth Be Known and Demystifying the Path of Depression.

depression-13057There are times, when I wake up in the morning, my eyes are barely open, my jaw is clenched shut, while dreams slowly dissipate from the clouds of my mind;  voices begin to scream the worries of the day. Those crabby whispers are mine, I know, yet I cannot control what they say so early in the morning. The conversation may be about all the things which could go wrong, and when the whispers become screams, I wish them away to no avail.

They run so fast in my head, I do not even have the time to fully wake up… When I finally get the courage to shake these annoying gremlins, anxiety has kicked in. As I reach for deep breaths and a half of Ativan, I can see my reflection in the mirror, my brows are furrowed, and I wonder:  “Who is she?”  I finally gather up the courage to make myself coffee. I am feeling my way to the coffee pot, almost blinded by fear, off-balance and unsure of my steps.

What did you say?

Calm down, meditate, change my thoughts to positive ones? When these symptoms start creeping up on me like a creepy spider on caffeine, they come fast, furious, and ready for overkill. Often, all I want to do is run away from the feelings I know are arising within me. I try to concentrate on what my body is feeling, however, my heart is pounding so loudly it is scaring me.. and now believe I am having a heart attack. Trust me the last thing I am thinking about is my mantra or chanting “om” in a moment of pure fear and panic. I want to scream, cry and make it go away. I feel desperate.

You can also tell me to eat kale, make green juice and take up yoga. You can say: “Hey chill out” read a book, say some prayers, take a epsom salt bath and get a massage. I really do appreciate these loving words, full of compassion. I know you want to help… and yes these amazing tools do work,  many of you swear by them.. yet one at a time, please and thank you.

My reality is….

This is happening, and it is happening now. It happens when I walk outside, when I am in a restaurant trying to enjoy a nice dinner, or in the movie theater. It happens when I am sitting with a friend “just chatting” and finally, it happens at my most vulnerable moment: when I am deeply relaxed and all is well with the world.

Before some jump to conclusions, and they will:

I am not whining, or trying to give you a dose of “feel pity for me”. I am saying my truth, and the truth is, I have a Mental Illness, which prevents me from going to work. I have a mental illness which tries to keep me in my fishbowl… keeps me afraid and sometimes it works. Am I my depression? NO. I am me and I am a fighter… a warrior and a survivor. Am I my anxiety? NO, it does not define me, but it can be crippling at times. Does it stop me from trying to take those extra steps and go the extra mile, sometimes, yet there are other times when I keep pushing until I get to my destination and it works. Then I celebrate.

It is the little things.

All this may sound a bit dramatic, yet when it is happening it is.. to me anyway. However, I do have tools which help me get through a day, because as of late, I am learning to live the present moment: mindfulness is an amazing tool. Each moment of celebration counts towards a better mental health. What I have under my tool belt may not necessarily be the right combination for you, however, after being in therapy for little over a year, and on 20mg of Celexa, I am able to find my ground, identify my emotions (because before all I felt was a tsunami of emotions) and find my place in the world.

Yes, I do, I do laugh and sing!

SunsetSwimOf course, my days are not all mayhem, crisis or turmoil. I am having less and less of those. What I have been able to integrate into my life is joy. Yes JOY! Last year, before getting help, I was numb. I couldn’t feel a single thing. No love, no pain, no happiness. I hated me, and at times, I felt so overwhelmed that I didn’t know how to be… I wanted to disappear. Not anymore. Today, I can find joy in watching the sunset, coloring with my teen daughter, laughing with my son, and walking with my dog.

I find joy in having my favorite chocolate, sipping a glass of wine, or simply standing by the lake not far from my house.. Amongst the pain of my illness, there is an alleviation of spirit by really experiencing those moments of pure happiness.

The mistake I think we make is believing happiness is “supposed” to last forever. It doesn’t.. happiness comes in moments (see post here).

Today, I say to you. My path is my own, and I will not tell you how to get better, because frankly, I can’t. Mental Illness comes in many forms, and only you, your doctor or a psychologist can build a recovery plan that is right for you.

I am still in recovery, and sometimes I wish I could just pick up and go and never worry about this anymore. Yet, this is not my situation. There is “no real normal” as my friends lovingly remind me. All I can so is appreciate each day, the good and the ugly ones. Celebrate how far I have come, and keep on talking. I’ll never stop.

I am a survivor and I live!

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10 Comments

  1. Bravo Kim!! I love the way you put those feelings to words, the negative and the positive.. the way you demonstrate both helps people to understand.. Your voice is so important in this world of stigma.. thank you for doing your part in changing the world.. much love to you

    • Kim

      April 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      I will keep on using my voice.

      This is what I am working on in therapy. Finding my voice and being proud of it.

  2. Great post!
    I have found it easier to live life by my own standards, needs and desires, and leave other people’s opinions and expectations outside the door.
    Blessings

    • Kim

      April 21, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks for the ping back and stopping in.
      I agree Di, my life is my own, and I continue to work on my recovery, I am finding it easier to leave what other’s think of me behind.

      Blessings to you.

  3. Hi, Kim,

    Disability and mental illness, especially the manifestations that aren’t so easily apparent to others, are extremely misunderstood and unaccepted by most people. Expecting a person with a disability or mental illness to simply choose to change is like asking that person to change the color of her eyes.

    Awareness education, especially for professionals in public service, is vital.

    I am a practicer of mindfulness as well, and although I don’t have a disability or mental illness, I’ve read that mindful practices can benefit treatments, as these practices have been shown to positively impact both thinking and the mind itself. Mindfulness changes everyday moments in our lives and our minds.

    Thanks for speaking up and out on behalf of those who struggle and suffer, and those who will eventually understand, and choose to show compassion and kindness toward all.

    • Kim

      February 12, 2013 at 10:08 pm

      Thank you Midge for your comments. Every time I read your words, I have a huge smile on my face. For this I am grateful.

      Your spirit is light, and awareness holds much space.

      xoxox

      Love to you

  4. Kim, thank you so much for your own writing and for creating this platform this week with Bell Canada. I am so moved by your textured description of the experience. I love that you acknowledge the positive contribution of mindfulness, and also own the reality of the experience. When people (myself included… i feel the “hug it make it better” feeling rise up in my heart…) immediately throw suggestions (breathe, think happy, etc) at expressions of pain, it is because we already speak so little and so inauthentically of our struggles. Those who care for us want our pain to stop as much as we do, and react to feeling powerless. The most difficult thing to do is simply to be… whether you are the one bearing the feelings or the one loving the bearer. While I know the healing that can come with self-care, part of that care has to be reaching out for help when we first need it (which means recognizing the need), the help being available and we have to be able to engage it. The stories you sponsor this week are creating a context for speaking authentically and bringing this experience into community. What a tremendous gift you give us all! You are a hero!

    • Kim

      February 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Oh my !! Thank you so much Christine. I am beaming! I know about wanting to “fix” those we love because we feel so much love for them we want them better. My brother suffers form bi-polar and he’s in a different place than me at this time. The other day, the hardest thing for me to do was to just listen. OMG!! I thought I would die with all my “here this will help” you are so right!

      Reaching out is so important. Staying in isolation can be very scary. Thank God for the amazing support and community I have around me.. this only ensued after I started asking for help.

      Blessings Christine. Lets keep talking about this.. <3

  5. I hear you , I feel for you and I love you and your struggle. Thanks for sharing what is so difficult to put into words. You are a true writer ! You do not write for self pity, you do not write for praise, you do not write to impress….you write because you are an authentic writer that has something to share and without your writing you would not be able to breathe that I am convinced of. One moment at the time you will get there that I am sure of.

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