The After-Effects of Depression
For those of us who've suffered, or are currently suffering from, depression, it's an incredibly individual and personal experience. My ordeal began days after the birth of our first child. I'm 99.9% positive I had postpartum depression, but since I never got an official diagnosis, I'm reluctant to label it as such. Instead, I refer to those dark days as a more generalized depression.
For me, in vitro fertilization medications, pregnancy hormones, grief over my bother's death, and past demons triggered a two-year battle with depression. During this daily fight to hold together my fraying sanity, I had an intense self-hatred that brought me to the razor's edge of destruction. Thankfully, I never experienced a single thought or intention of harming my child. Instead, I centered every dangerous thought solely on myself. I couldn't look in a mirror without seeing someone unworthy of love and goodness. I saw someone ugly and stupid staring back at me. I questioned why my husband was with me. Why he would shackle himself to someone who brought nothing to our relationship. I couldn't even have a child without medical intervention. I was a complete failure as a woman and as a person.
I would cry in the shower. Cry myself to sleep. While Frankie worked, I secluded my daughter and myself in our apartment. And each day, I'd slip deeper into darkness.
During this time, I used writing as a means to communicate my pain. Through books filled with damaged characters, I put my mental agony into words. The series was published under a pseudonym, and to this day, I still can't look at them without seeing a physical manifestation of how close I came to losing myself.
The Fight For Sanity
Depression deceived me. It made me feel lost and alone, even as my husband tried to help me return to the light. What he didn't realize was, overcoming depression was a battle I had to fight alone.
I never sought professional help. Instead, I opted to talk it out with Frankie. I shared with him the destructive thoughts crashing into each other inside my mind. He remained at my side as I fought to find myself. Little by little, I walked back from the ledge. I discovered a strength within myself I never knew was there. But recovery wasn't easy, and it didn't happen overnight. Eventually, someone new rose from the ashes. A warrior. A woman who'd walked through fire and emerged forged and not melted.
A Lifelong Battle
I still feel the after-effects of depression, and I suspect I always will. In quiet moments, I hear the faint echo of self-doubt reminding me of how easy it could be to slide back into the darkness. At the end of every day, I silence that voice by taking a good look at my life. I'm surrounded by love and laughter. My husband, even after eighteen years together, remains my best friend. My daughters fill me with an immeasurable joy. I've built a career for myself in an industry I've loved since I was a kid. And now, when I look in the mirror, I see someone who helped create two amazing women. I see someone worthy of love. I see someone strong and capable and fearless. Someone powerful enough to fight for my place in the light.