Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day 14: Sometimes life lessons feel like year-long kicks to the stomach.

Ooooof. This prompt gave me the feelings.

The Think Kit prompt for December 14 (I'm really playing catch-up here, but I will get through all these if it takes me until February!) was: "Did you get any good advice or learn a valuable lesson this year? What was it?"

Well, I learned a lot of things, and the process sucked. On the upside, I finally figured out how to live somewhat contently on my own without going (literally) insane.

I got my major depressive disorder under control, finally, and I literally feel more like me than I have felt in at least ten years. The downside is that all the literature says this form of depression has a really high risk for relapse. And I came here from what was easily the worst episode I've ever had. Six months of barely being functional, of knowing things were bad but not realizing I was being full-on crazy, because you don't know you're being crazy while it's happening. You just find lucidity, months later, and then you're appalled at all the crap you did. When you thought you were recovering, but you weren't. I was totally, how-the-hell-am-I-still-alive, should-have-been-hospitalized-for-a-while crazy.

I don't want to relapse. My lows are finally normal, the in-betweens aren't crushing lows in disguise, and I have a lot of truly happy moments for the first time in a long time, so I am keeping up with maintenance counseling appointments, exercising, eating better, and all those good things. And keeping an eagle eye out for any small signs of relapse. I was not me for so long. I guess I kind of was, because the illness is an aspect of me, but I am so appalled by it that it hurts to realize the best way to never go back is to never forget that the monster might only be sleeping, and I have to be ever vigilant, ready to kill it before it tries to kill me again.

After leaving my fiance, I'd probably have struck out into a bright new world of self discovery and adventure if I wasn't so damn unstable at the time. Instead, because I'm terribly insecure, the depression and anxiety were eating me up from the inside out, and I didn't know how to be alone because I hadn't been for longer than a couple of months since I was 15, I lasted all of 2 weeks before I was all over one of my best friends.

He isn't my friend anymore. I briefly mentioned it back when I thought we were still going to be. While therapy window-shopping via the internet, obviously.

I get addicted so easily. I get addicted to things, songs, activities, locations, and most of all, I get addicted to people. I can't honestly say I never tried recreational drugs for lack of curiosity. More because I know myself, I've seen people lose their entire lives to substance addiction, and I've been having a hard enough time since my adolescence just keeping the bare minimum together, thank you very much. Throw that in with the pretty-much-psychotic level of the depressive cliff I fell off in early 2013, and the weird phenomenon where the rebound guy is always harder to get over than the guy you rebounded from.

He was my drug. The meds were not even taking the edge off my illness anymore, and contact with him became the only thing that made me feel remotely alive again. I would have either never gotten physically involved with him in the first place, or cut it off immediately, if I had been lucid enough to see what was starting to happen. Then it got so bad that even he could not get a real smile out of me. Nothing could. I was to a point where I was harmful to both of us.

And then he started dating someone. It was harder to kick my addiction to him than it was to handle withdrawal from my Klonopin prescription. I had to face a lot of lies I'd set up for myself because I couldn't cope with how sick I was, in body and in mind.

He went pretty quickly from my closest confidante to not even responding because I was being nuts. I'd leave him like ten voicemails in a day because he didn't answer until I pestered him so hard he couldn't ignore it anymore. I lost my empathetic abilities completely because I couldn't hear anyone else over the screaming of my own bloodied raw heart and nerves. His school friends hated me, probably still hate me, because the addict and the monster is what they know of me. They've never seen me healthy. I'm pretty sure he hasn't ever seen me truly well, either. He just got to see functional days.

There are hours and even days at a time that are fuzzy or even blank when I try to remember them. I think I'm OK with that. But I can't even apologize for all the awful things I did or said when I was in that place if I can't remember them. Even if he, if any of them, would let me.

I still go back and forth a little between the grief stages of bargaining and acceptance. I don't need my old friend to forgive me in order to forgive myself. It would be really nice, but having dealt with people in the past who were as toxic as I have been, I understand why he can't risk opening that door back up. Angry, scared, both, I don't know, probably both. I know he truly cared about me, so he would probably be happy to see me well, but he won't see it, and that has to be OK.

The bargaining-voice chimes up, not often anymore, just probably once or twice a month. It says things like maybe if his friends could see me healthy like I am now, just once, he wouldn't have to make excuses to them for why he talks to me again, if he talked to me again. It says I must be OK because if I weren't OK, I'd be sending him twenty texts to just answer his phone and look at me because look at how OK I am now. The acceptance voice says just remember the years of good times that we did have, now that thinking about it makes me smile instead of cry, and that I'm easy to find again if he wanted to. There are other people to hug and drink tea with, and talk about fashion and airplanes and dreams with.

I learned to hopefully not let go so hard in the future. I learned that being alone for hours, days, even weeks at a time is something I can do now that the depression and the anxiety haven't tried to devour me in several months. I'm pretty confident that the person I'm dating now is in my life because I want him, not because I need him, because I have not once had an anxiety attack or contemplated suicide because my insides were burning with all the ways I hated myself and I felt like I'd die if someone wouldn't hold me until I stopped crying, or make out with me or more than that, so I could forget about the darkness for a little while.

My body learning how to process emotions other than the negative ones was interesting. The first several times I had happy emotions in 2013, crying happened because my body didn't know how else to process any strong emotion. Then I would laugh uncontrollably when I was upset. Everything was confused and upside down while I figured it out again. This is apparently normal when you're recovering from the crazy.

The lessons cost me a lot of other things besides just one friend, too, but those aren't the stories I'm telling today. And at least I got some lessons in exchange for the cost.

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