The Zombie in My House

There is a zombie in my house. It is creeping along in a fog mumbling incoherent thoughts and bumping into things. Sometimes it lashes out for no apparent reason or lies in bed for hours and hours and hours. It is a lazy lump, quite useless and taking up valuable real estate and resources. It really deserves to be put out of its misery.

Yeah, yeah, the ‘zombie’ on our house is none other than good ole’ me – stuck in one of the most stubborn pits of depression I have ever been in.

dark zombie like figures on a dark background
Zombie Apocalypse

Billy has been obsessed with zombies for a couple of years now. He has zombie apocalypse kits stashed around the house in various places. When he hears sirens they aren’t warnings of natural disaster, they are warnings of impending brain eating zombies heading our way. He is certain he knows how to protect me – and the rest of us – should foamy mouthed crazy people start banging on our doors, and he will show almost anyone his ninja style moves to prove it.

How do I explain to him that the zombie is already in his house?

This depression low is different in so many ways. I have been through enough ‘ups and downs’ that I could feel the ‘down’ coming. I knew that I needed to talk to my doctor. I knew I needed to watch what I was eating and consider supplements as well as try my new hand at my newest weapon – my Young Living Essential Oils. I did all my research.

It started with the sleep as it always does. I could not get enough of it. No amount of going to bed early, not amount of sleeping in, no piles of cat naps could ever be enough. You see, when you sleep, it all goes away. Usually. No fear. No anxiety. No sadness. No hurt. So when someone is sleeping all of the time, you can be certain something is wrong.

My doctor gently suggested that a mix of medication and counseling was most effective, especially since we are running out of medication options, now that the latest increase has put me at the max dosage. Of course I thought, “What is wrong with me that even medication can’t fix?” But I said, “I have been seeing counselors almost the whole time I have been taking medication.” She simply nodded empathetically and said “Oh, good.”

With an increase in dosage I could feel the ‘fog’ in my head become thicker. It’s almost like I am surrounded by a clear plastic box filled with thick fog or cloudy water. Everything is dull and a bit more slow and less vibrant.

I decided to try to increase my energy with supplements, so I added a bunch of D and B vitamins, Omega 3s and a strong multivitamin to my daily routine as well as increasing my protein and water intake by a lot and decreasing my caffeine and sugar. This did help a little for a short time but after a few short weeks it seemed as if my body became used to the new routine and any energy I had gained seemed to disappear. I am still using the routine but I am not certain if it is still helping and it never helped with the foggy feeling.

I love my Young Living Essential Oils. Nightly I use Cedarwood on my feet to help me fall asleep, Lavender on my wrists and temples to help calm me down and push away anxiety. I also diffuse Lavender at night to help me sleep more soundly. At work I diffuse Peace & Calming to keep my anxiety down. However, my beloved oils, though soothing, are not as effective right now.

It’s the zombie in me. I don’t feel like myself at all.

There’s very little joy. And I have so much to be joyful for.

I’m so mean to those I love. And they are so kind to me. I don’t feel deserving.

I am missing out on so much. I want happy back.

I need the zombie out of my house.

Billy, mom needs your zombie apocalypse kit!

What You Can’t See. The Second Part of My Depression Story.

Divorce is tragic – no exaggeration. If you have been there you know what I mean. It is a pain of incredible loss. But the person that is lost isn’t truly gone. They are walking around and, in my case, happy to be free.

I spent at least two weeks in a blackout. I remember nothing of that time. I had a two-year old son at the time. I don’t know how he survived.

I get flashbacks of acting crazy. I chased my ex around in my minivan like we were on a movie set except we were in public and my son was strapped into the backseat. I traced the veins in my wrist with a broken razor, never brave enough to press harder. And those are the things I remember.

I was broken.

Colored broken glass bottles against a blue and cloudy sky
Broken Glass

By grace, I survived. And by grace I was pulled from that darkness.

One night I lay awake in my bed not daring to look at the empty pillow on the other side of the bed. I just knew I could not take another night like this one again. I just knew I had to do something different.

So I went back to the basics. I prayed.

I didn’t have the frame of mind to form an eloquent prayer. I only had raw, deep despair so I cried. Literally sobbed. I pleaded with God:

“Dear Lord, please help me. I am broken. I am alone. I am afraid. I cannot go on. I am at my lowest and I need you. Please God, I must know you are here with me tonight. I am going to put my hand on this pillow and close my eyes. Would you hold my hand and stay with me until I fall asleep? Please Lord, please, please, please. Amen.”

I turned my face on my tear-soaked pillow to watch as I lay my hand on the pillow next to mine. Taking one last glance I closed my eyes. And held my breath.

Jesus took my hand. My sweet Jesus was there with me. And he knew I needed to know he was there. So he touched me. He placed His precious scarred hand in my own to give me comfort. My body filled with warmth and a lightness flooded all through me.

I wept with every emotion I had in me…but mostly I wept for joy. By His gentle touch I knew I was going to be ok. He spoke to me through holding my hand. He said, “My precious child I have greater things in store for you. Move forward. You will always have me. Sleep, now, and know that I will never leave you.”

And I did sleep. I fell asleep holding Jesus’ hand. And I had never slept better.

Sunrise over a farm
Sunrise over a farm

I woke to the sun shining. There was hope dancing in the sparkling dust motes that morning. The transformation was astounding.

I found a little bit of peace for a short time and I was able to move forward.

But the depression demons would not stay away.

The truth is you can have a transformative experience like mine and still fall into despair. Depression is a life-long struggle. There are ups and downs. These are not what most people consider normal ups and downs. These are the lowest-trenches-of-the-ocean anguish to the highest mountain top joys and they happen with dizzying change.

There are very rarely “even” times, at least for me there are not. I am either up or down or on the verge of one of the other. It is a constant battle. It is a disease. It is not in my mind. I fight it every day. Medication, counseling, self-help books, aromatherapy, but most of all, God.

Maybe my struggle is God’s big lesson in my life. It has taught me empathy, patience, and compassion without compare. This battle will never go away but I will never fight it on my own. My Jesus is with me every single day. He strengthens me, carries my load, enlightens me, teaches me…and holds my hand the whole time.

What You Don’t Know. The Beginning of My Depression Story.

I was diagnosed with depression nearly 12 years ago. That’s how long I tell people I have dealt with depression.

Realistically, however, it has been much, much longer. I suspect I have suffered with some form of anxiety or depression since I was 12, maybe even as young as 10. In fifth grade I remember the crushing feeling as the older girls bounced basketballs off of my head during basketball camp. They thought it was hilarious. My heart still hurts and pounds when I think of it.

It wasn’t the embarrassment that was so paralyzing. It was the thoughts. “What is wrong with me that they think it’s so funny to bounce balls off of my head?”

What is wrong with me? There was something wrong, but it wasn’t with me.

Certainly those girls have long forgotten what they did to that funny, looking (wrong with me again??) red-headed girl. But for me, those thoughts of worthlessness, of hopelessness, of deep despair grew and persisted.

I could list countless times as a tween or teen that added to my “low self-esteem.” That’s what it was called then. Even I could diagnose myself with that. Somehow I always thought I would grow out of it. Then, I decided it was just because I was “shy.” So, I did everything I could to fit in. A long list of horrible life choices followed.

I felt so alone.

Lone yellow leaf on bare branch
Lonely Leaf

 

I decided to get help just before I got married in 2002. I had no idea at the time I was pregnant. The doctor and I chalked it up to wedding planning jitters and he sent me on my way with my first prescription. By the time the medication had a chance to get to work in my system, I found out I was pregnant and knew I needed to stop taking the medicine. Along came the wedding and I then I immediately went right into the crazy hormones of pregnancy.

My pregnancy was a breeze. I was never sick. I barely gained any weight. My belly stayed relatively tiny. I felt beautiful, perhaps more beautiful than I ever had in my entire life. Labor began right on cue – I labored mostly at home. We went to the hospital and my beautiful son was born at 11:15 pm on August 7, 2003 in a huge whirlpool birthing tub. I had given birth naturally. I was proud and I felt strong.

Then we went home. I remember thinking, “Seriously?! These people are going to let me take this tiny baby home? How do I keep it alive??”

We lived on a small acreage at the end of a long gravel road. Never one to like lots of people around, I was looking forward to having lots of uninterrupted time with my new son. My husband at the time had taken a few days off of work to help us settle in. The first couple of days I was sore and recovering from a minor infection so I didn’t feel well. But in the back of my mind I felt fear. A fear like I had never known before. It made no sense. Everything was perfect. Wasn’t it?

When my husband went back to work I noticed the panic attacks for the first time. I was gripped by terror. Of what, I didn’t know. I just knew my heart pounded and I couldn’t breathe. And the worst time was always sun down. That 5 – 7 pm time was horrendous. I needed to get supper ready. I needed to get the baby a quick meal. I needed to prepare for the next day.

But I couldn’t stop crying. And I couldn’t stop shaking. I thought my heart was going to give out. My husband never understood it.

Now I know that I had Post-Partum depression. It is different for all women. For me it was a very fearful time, full of dark thoughts and intense panic.

As my hormones settled I realized that that “sundown” time never did get better – even now, I still hate this time of day. I began to think about and research depression. It was not unheard of in my family. But it was…not talked about either. I was always the dramatic one, the sensitive one. I didn’t want to cause trouble so I learned and stayed quiet.

Then, divorce. It was tragic. It shoved me down a hole so deep I was sure I was never going to climb out. I wanted to die. I thought about how I might be able to die. I quite literally have blocked out weeks of time around that part of my life. I am not sure how I took care of my son. I’m not even sure how I survived the shredding pain in my heart and head and body.

That is when the depression became very real.

Please watch for the second part of my depression story, coming soon.