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.
There 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!
Of 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!