Saturday, July 19, 2008

Barely Treading Water

It's Saturday morning and we decided to leave the beach today, one day early. While I have been able to get out of bed, dress, and participate in some of the days activities since Tuesday's disaster, my emotional state is incredibly fragile. I cannot stop thinking about the open purple catheter, the swooshing of the air into my heart, and the panic in realizing that I was going to die.

"But you didn't die," I keep telling myself when the feelings overwhelm me. Somehow that reality is not helping. The single biggest reason holding me back from doing TPN was to avoid more medical drama; in less than two weeks I almost died. I've lost all my faith and hope, and I have no idea how to get it back.

I have to admit that prior to the last 7 months I never really understood depression. Certainly I experienced moments in my life when things were not ideal, but I was always able to find some hope and joy in every day. I also had more coping mechanisms at my disposal in the past -- running, hiking, singing, etc. -- none of which are available to me now. I knew I had hit the depths of depression when I no longer wanted to read, one of the few of my favorite past times still available to me. I was just climbing out of the depression in the last couple weeks, hopefully that the TPN would make a difference, when the embolism happened. And now I feel lower than I have ever been. I cannot even figure out how to cry. It takes all the strength I have to appear functional in front of the children and to help Bill in whatever small ways that I can.

We walked down to the beach after dinner last night. I sat in the sand while Amelia rode the waves on her boogie board and Aidan and Bill played in the surf. "They are ready," I thought to myself. In some ways I think the last 6 months served several purposes. First, it gave me the opportunity to prepare in my own way for my death. The children's nests are nearly done. All that awaits me is the difficult task of writing their birthday cards for each year. And Aidan's scarf ...

Second, it has given Bill time to transition to being a single parent. He does most everything these days and, once he no longer has to take care of me, he will be able to function well as father and mother. He is smart enough to know when he needs help and he has learned how to ask for it over the past several months. I don't think this line of reasoning -- that they will be better off with out me -- is a depressive cognition. I want a better life for them; it is that simple.

Lastly, it has given me the chance to accept that my life's story is going to be a short one. With this realization I have had time to reflect on these past almost 40 years and thankfully realize that I have few regrets.

So why didn't it end Tuesday? I don't know, but I hope that perhaps God/the fates intervened so that I did not die in a way in which Bill might have blamed himself. Or maybe I am not done and I need to figure out, once more, how to crawl out of this hole. And I will try to think about all the other people out there who, like me, struggle against the formidable beast of depression and hope that they too figure out how to slay her, once and for all.

1 comment:

Sue R said...

I am so glad you are still here. And you are right, if you had died your husband would have had a massive battle with "if only..." and self-blame. I could tell you stories from my work with the bereaved, but I'll just say his fight with guilt would have been monumental. When your time finally does come, which I hope is years from now, I hope you will have a lovely peaceful passing, where the souls of those who have known you and love you come to welcome you. It happens, and it's a comfort to those left behind. But I hope that's years from now.

For now, talk to your mental health helpers about post-traumatic stress, because you've just gone through a major trauma. Flashbacks are really common when that happens. Finding safe people to talk to, and writing about it, can be helpful too. Mistakes happen. It's a blessing you lived and both of you learned. I don't know the physiology, but I've been told that any time something physically effects the heart, depressive symptoms can increase. It's not permanent.

It may take a while to get past this, and that's normal. I'm glad you're here. I believe hope will come again. And I do believe that God is watching out for you. Take care.