Turns out, Zoloft was the magic pill. It took about 3 weeks of dosage adjusting to completely stabilize and I’m now a different person. I haven’t been depressed since early February. This is SENSATIONAL for me. I can’t believe I get to be happy – an emotion so foreign to me. The veil of sadness has lifted. I feel like my world has exploded with Technicolor and I’m experiencing everything for the first time.
For those of you skeptical of anti-depressants, let me say it doesn’t create a new, rose-colored world of alternate reality. It just balances out your hormones so that you can DEAL with life. My insomnia is still here, and still raging. My GI still gives me the middle finger every day. I’m not jumping from one puffy pink cloud to another, coasting on a manufactured bliss. All of my health issues persist, and in some ways are getting worse. But not being depressed has helped me be able to cope with them in a much better way. It’s not the end of the world anymore.
I’ve started dancing again, consistently. That should always be the first warning sign for everyone: if Erin stops dancing, call the doctor. It stopped bringing me joy, so I stopped going.
But now?? Oh man…now, I’m experiencing it on an epic level of ecstasy. Seriously guys! Dancing makes me insanely ecstatic. My instructors, Eric and Karla of Danca Ma Mi Kizomba have brought so much happiness back into my life. Their classes are full of light and laughter and playfulness, and I look forward to every Thursday like it’s Christmas. I remember my first class after the meds had really started working and there was so much freedom and creativity flowing through me I was exploding with giddiness. This is why I dance. And it had been taken away from me for so long, that now that I have it back, I’m soaking up every second. I love the people I have met through kizomba – their warmth and openness and kindness. I love how Eric and Karla have opened up a new world for me. They focus on making learning so freaking fun, and teaching us so many aspects of the dance and African culture. What was always a sacred place for me had become scary, and they made it safe again. I’m eternally grateful for the joy they have brought to my life through African dance.
My boyfriend, my family, my friends. How can you describe a diamond, a fistful of jewels, chests full of gold? How can you convey its true beauty unless you are there to see it for yourself?
My parents and I have developed a special relationship because of my illness, and adding depression to the pile further strengthened it. I was hesitant to share with them what was happening to me. They grew up in a time where mental illness wasn’t discussed openly, and only “crazy” people went to psychiatrists. Not to mention their own lack of experience in having to deal with a mental illness themselves. I was afraid they wouldn’t take me seriously. That they would tell me to “choose to be happy”. Regardless, I shared everything with them – and of course, they were wonderful. They had seen me continually spiral downward and morph into someone they didn’t know or understand. When I finally shed light on my depression, it all made sense. They gathered me in their arms, and we cried together, and they promised we would get through this and find a solution. I would never have to deal with this alone. It was never “weird” to them that I had depression and needed medication. Whatever I needed to get well, they would support. No questions asked.
My sweet, sweet friends. I reached out to those close to me so they would know what was happening. Everyone responded with love and understanding and support. They were so proud of me for getting help, which in turn made me proud of me too. Then came the outpouring of love, because that’s how the people in my life are. It’s never a surprise, but it’s so spectacular to witness. Like the aurora borealis! (Side note: never seen the northern lights, but c’mon…wonderous!) Some friends backed away so that I wouldn’t feel pressure to engage in the friendship until I was ready (they told me they were doing this – it wasn’t just like they ghosted on me). Others checked in every day, filled with concern for my progress and offering to fly to Houston immediately to be with me. I have friends connected to the world of medicine who checked in every time there was a medication switch, and were always on call if I needed help, even connecting me to doctors in the middle of the night at particularly critical moments. All of them reminded me how special I was, and that I had no other option than to get better….that was my gentle way of paraphrasing: “you better not fucking kill yourself, because I will be so pissed.” My friends
Rodrigo has always demonstrated enduring patience with everything that happens between us, and this time was no different. Neither one of us understood what was wrong, or why I was behaving this way, but he was by my side through all the pain and confusion. Once we realized it was depression, our relationship instantly smoothed out (the Zoloft helped too) because I was better able to communicate when I was feeling low and what I needed that day, instead of completely shutting him out. And he understood what I was going through and was able to support me however I needed it. Now that I’m better, I told him it’s so much fun being with him when I’m not depressed. We were joking around, but there is a heavy truth to that statement. He really is so fun! I used to be too, but Fun Erin had gone away for a looooong time. Because of that, so much had changed between us, and I didn’t realize the strain my depression caused until I was on the other side. To be honest, I’m surprised it didn’t break us. I guess we are both stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
Depression is rampant and there is such a shame stigma attached to it that people are afraid to talk and get help. Especially about suicide. No more! Let’s discuss this stuff freely! Suicide suicide suicide. This isn’t Voldemort – we can actually say this word out loud. I want you to say this word out loud. Remove the shame from it – this is what I want people to understand. It’s ok to go through moments where you don’t want to be alive, and you think about death. It’s okay. It’s like…cake suicide. Cake and suicide, they are both words. That’s it. Just words. Let them have the same effect. Unless you’re diabetic. Then choose suicide. Except don’t. (too soon?) My point is, it should be just as easy to say “suicide” as it is to say “cake”. I think if that were true, more people would be open about feeling suicidal. And if they were, we could then ask:
“Why do you feel that way?”
“What is happening right now?”
“What can I do to help you?”
“I’m coming over right now.”
“I am here.”
“You are never alone.”
If you are silent, you can’t receive help. Receiving help is CRUCIAL to being a well-rounded human ya know. If you aren’t good at asking for help, let me challenge you for the month of April to go out of your way to ask for it. I’ve become a pro at this since getting sick and it’s a beautiful way for the people in your life to express their love for you. Who would not want to witness that? Let me tell you, it is an HONOR to be loved by the people who love me. You guys hear that? All of you who supported me in overcoming this? My family, my boyfriend, my friends…it is MY honor that you love me. Thank you for giving me your boundless love. I am the privileged one. I survived because of your love.
If you see me and want to talk about this post or my experience or share yours with me then please do! I’m happy to share and would love to listen and empathize. I am not ashamed of my depression. I mean, I write about having fingers in my bum, so it’s pretty clear I don’t have many boundaries. But seriously, let’s make jokes at my expense, let’s talk about your cake suicide, and let’s laugh, because when you stop laughing about shit, the whole world goes dark.