my anniversary

About two years ago, I saw a mental health professional for the first time. I was diagnosed as having major depression / clinical depression. I started to take medications for my condition. (Two medications to start with: escitalopram and aripiprazole. I eventually dropped the latter one.) I started to go to therapy sessions with that same mental health professional.

At roughly this time last year, give or take ten days, I got broken up with, and had to get out of the house that had been my home for a while, in a big hurry. I moved back in with my family. I was forced to face the facts and the root causes of the problems that I had been having with my ex.

So today is 16 March and I am celebrating the fact that I am alive.

In fact, right now I am not just surviving. I am actually doing well. I have a steady job, I am writing, I turned in a story for submission to a national anthology of new fiction, I am out as a queer woman, and I have shoes and lipstick and crochet and I am alive. I am well.

I got through those dark days. I have no doubt that there will be hard days ahead, too — but I’ve survived, I’ve gotten through, and I was able to ask for help in order to get through those terrible times. I got help, I got meds, and now I have my life in some semblance of actually better working order than it once was.

I had no hope two years ago, and then one year ago. I had no hope. I had no strength left.

I am here, today, and it is my anniversary of life, and I am alive. I am doing well. I am here.

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a little less trapped, a little less helpless

In one of my previous posts, I talked about why I thought that I needed to hurt myself in small but very painful ways, and one of the major reasons for my self-harm has to do with fighting to stay anchored inside my own body, with trying to stay grounded.

Since I was a child, I have had these terrible moments (sometimes longer) of being a disembodied thing: that my mind and body were fundamentally separated from each other. That can lead to two different feelings, both of which happen to be pretty scary.

One: my mind was trapped in my body.

Two: my body was unable to follow the commands sent to it by my mind.

Those are some of the extreme reactions that might be linked to dissociation: and that is exactly what I have been struggling with for a long time. I read somewhere that one or two instances of dissociation is pretty normal, like maybe when you wake up for the first time in a new place, or next to someone new. Or maybe when you’re in a high-pressure situation and you’re trying to convince yourself to perform. We all dissociate from time to time.

My problem, and likely the problem of some others who might be drearily familiar with this phenomenon, is that I dissociate a lot. There are no actual triggers. There is no visible proximal cause. I could be reading a book and be hit with that terrifying sensation. I could be sitting at a desk working and feel that dizzying awful disorientation.

I could be walking or commuting and feel that I am actually literally not part of the body that I am in — and believe me, that turns into a horror show really fast, especially when traveling late at night.

I could never find out the causes of my dissociation.

I only found out later on that dissociation was very very frequently linked to major depression — but yeah, I did sort of heave a sigh of relief, because then at least I could see that there was some kind of twisted sick sort of sense in my feeling the way I did. Dissociation in and of itself is a stressor — and stress, as we know, does contribute to depression. So combine the two and — yeah.

I am writing about the topic now because I was surprised to realize that right now, the spells of dissociation have been sort of receding. I mean, they still happen — but they’re not as intense or for as long, and that really does tell me that the circumstances of my life have changed.

Next week will mark the second anniversary of finally getting something to help me fight my depression.

So it’s really — it really makes me feel a certain kind of relief to say that things have sort of improved in my life, and things are not as desperate and painful as they used to be.

I’m actually not just surviving. I’m actually thriving in my own way, though my idiot brain refuses to understand that concept completely. Hence the still-recurring bits of bad things like being depressed and being joyless and dissociating.

But I’m still here. And that’s an important thing, not just for myself but for, maybe, others who might read my words. I got help and I got support and things changed in my life that were shatteringly painful at first but have actually contributed to my overall better state of being.

I was hopeless and nearly suicidal two years ago. I was nearly suicidal one year ago.

But today — today is a good day.

I hope you find the courage to find your way out, too.