Recovery is a process. We all know this. Often times it takes a lifetime. Or two. But, until recently, I’ve always seen it to be a purely straight forward trajectory. Of course, there will be setbacks and the line is not straight by any means, but I thought it was like filling a jar. You just keep working, keep adding to the jar.
But it’s not. Instead, it’s like balancing a ball on a see saw. Depression sits on one side, but the other side isn’t good either.
I realize now that I overshot. I’ve gone from the left side of the teeter totter, at full throttle, to the right. It’s like all my emotions are sitting just underneath my skin, fighting to get out, but they’re stuck. Only half realized and drowning in the blankness. I can taste fear and I can feel the hum of sadness in my mind. I know when I am at peace, but the joy that should come with that is dull.
I have severe clinical depression. In my experience, depression is a lot like feeling everything too strongly and then it becomes a nameless weight, that blocks every emotion out. Wavelengths that overlap and cancel each other, but the energy is still there. Making everything loud, but pointless.
Now, I feel like the wavelengths themselves are being stopped before reaching any real existence. They can’t make any noise or release energy, leaving an uneasy quietness.
Both are forms of severe apathy, but they are created in different ways. When I am depressed, I feel a lot, and it’s too much, making everything numb. Now I feel very little. Everything is still numb.
I think it’s all the drugs. I’ve been on antidepressants for a good year and a half, closing in on two years. They were a miracle to me when I started. I could feel all the weight I was used to, but the medicine made it far easier to push aside and think through the fog of it all. I’m now on high doses of medications, and they have given me my life back. But they’re starting to leech it away as well. They’re certainly doing their job, suppressing negative emotions. But they’re also suppressing all my other emotions as well.
I knew the chances of it when I started them. My doctor told me that they should help with the lows, but they may lower the highs as well. And maybe it’s always been like this, but in the beginning, I was desperate for any peace of mind. It seemed less important that happiness is dulled, when the toxic depression was also being helped. But now, while I’ve had a lot of time to relax and think… I’m understanding the full extent of the effect.
Even while I’m writing this, I can feel the pressure to cry, but the feeling is too light, not enough to create tears. It’s excruciating, to be honest. To always have things lurking under the surface, but having no release. Just knowing that crying would help dispel some of that energy, but being emotionally unable to do so.
That said, it’s very easy to live like this. In an empty apathy. It’s not saddening. I don’t feel fully responsible for anything. Worry doesn’t fully saturate into my consciousness. It’s so easy. It’s also terrifying, because I don’t really feel the same amount of satisfaction or passion when I write. I feel pretty okay laying out in the yard with my puppy, but I don’t feel the pressure of a giggle in my chest, or the itch of a smile on my face.
But is that living then? I’m thinking, but not really. Because thinking is intelligence, but emotions are human. Am I overthinking things? Is this how normal people feel without the added confusion of a mental illness? Is this what I want? Am I willing to live like this, to avoid my demons? Is there a way to find that stable middle?
I believe there is a middle. The safe allowance of feeling, without the blanket of depression tainting everything. Mostly because, if I don’t believe I can find the fulcrum, then what is there to work toward? I’m confused though. I don’t know where to go next. I’ve worked myself to the soul, to get to this point in my life. And now, when I’m finally here, I suddenly find that it’s not where I want to be either.
Yet, at the same time, this realization is incredibly relieving. Because, now I know that I haven’t stalled out. I haven’t failed. I haven’t lost. I just still have work to do. I’m not naive, I’m learning. I’m not stupid, I’m experienced.
One of the most important milestones of fighting a mental illness is that first comprehension of what it is exactly that’s different for you than everyone else. Well, I’ve just hit that milestone (again). Which means I’m on the path towards recovery (still). And that’s scary, because it nearly broke me the first time, but I remind myself that I’m stronger now than the first time I started. I am familiar with the road and the ways of life that are necessary for progress. And that fear turns to determination.
And when I can feel that determination, I feel like I can do anything. Because I know, that as long as I have a direction, and a spirit in my being, then I can keep going. I’ve been living in a suspended reality for weeks now, and I feel calmer having seen that emptiness for what it is. The relief of finding the problem, is the strongest emotion I’ve felt for too long. I just need to hold onto that realization.
I’m allowed to be terrified, and confused. As long as I don’t let it stop me. Just as I was scared and confused and overwhelmed when I was just getting out of my abusive relationship and dealing with daily emotional breakdowns from trauma and the pressures of constant harsh depression. It’s the same type of fear. A very potent one, but one that when overcome, lends a unique type of strength to yourself.
I believe, that I’m past the scariest part. Not knowing what’s happening or what to do. I know what I need to do, and I’m nervous, and unsure of the exact next step, but I know where I’m trying to get to. And as long as I can see that, to understand my goals, then there’s nothing stopping me from getting there, besides work.
So recovery may not be as straight forward as I thought, but that doesn’t mean I’ve failed. That just means I have to keep working on myself. And I know now, and will forever understand, that I am worth the effort and the work. I am who I am because of what I’ve done, and I don’t plan on stopping now, even if the road is hidden. I believe in myself.