Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Even With My Dark Side

As I mentioned before in a previous post I first came face to face with depression at the age of 21. Is that the first time I was depressed? No, probably not. Someone who suffers from depression over a long period of time just assumes that is what is normal. They don't know any differently until it deepens or someone has the courage to bring it to their attention if they notice it. In my case it was because it deepened. I had decided that I wanted to serve a mission for my church. I was called to the Poland, Warsaw mission. I typically don't share this with people that don't know about it, but I think most of the people that read my blog already know. I entered the Missionary Training Center in December of 2002. Being a perfectionist (another thing I came to face at this time), learning a new language and learning how to be a missionary made me feel overwhelmed. I started to feel a darkness take over. I prayed with my entire being that it would leave. I couldn't understand how I could feel so dark in such a place. I felt that I was in this small dark box with no way out. My time in the MTC is not the point of this post, so to make a long story short I started to meet with a counselor in the MTC. I woke up one morning and met with him and he decided that my plate was overflowing and that being sent home would be in my best interest. By that evening I was sleeping in my own bed at home. I stayed a set apart missionary for a couple of months and immediately started to meet with a counselor with the intention that I would fly to Poland with my district. It became apparent to me that Heavenly Father had a different plan for me. As I've mentioned in the past I met with a counselor for about eight months facing some of my weaknesses. I returned to BYU the fall of 2003.

The next time that I fell into a deep depression happened January of 2005. I had been in a serious complicated relationship for nine months that came to a sudden end. I took it hard. For his own personal sake I won't delve into what the complications were. But I had given him my all. I was heartbroken. I went through a period of two months where I hardly got out of bed and pretty much lived off of apple juice. I believe that I only met with my counselor once during those two months. Somehow I picked myself back up and returned to BYU at the end of February.

Both experiences were not enjoyable to say the least. But I walked away from both experiences stronger and with a more compassionate heart. I felt that if I could make it through those experiences I could do anything. I felt a freedom that I had never felt before. I didn't let fear stand in my way. By August of that same year I found myself getting married to Tom, a guy that was a cherished friend but that I had never considered. God opened my eyes and made me realize that what I was looking for was there all along. It also helped that friends and my parents and his parents were supportive and encouraging of our relationship. I was honest with Tom before we even became engaged that I had suffered from depression in the past and that I had no idea if it was something that I would have to deal with in the future. Part of me to be honest was thinking maybe I wouldn't because I had experienced and learned all that could be learned from such experiences. How naive I was.

This present experience took me by surprise. There was an actual moment where I told Tom I was depressed. Looking back I see that the signs were there starting at least in October but I kept telling myself that I'm just tired which would be understandable considering what November held for me. But it wasn't until the beginning of December that I came to acknowledge it. I made it through December and was pretty optimistic at the beginning of January that I could kick the depression to the curb quite quickly. I've been here before so it will be easy to work through it. Boy was I wrong. I fell and boy did I fall hard. In the past I had wished that I would die but I never really took action towards that end. It became a nightmare that seemed like it would never end. I now know what it feels like to live like there is a Hell on Earth. I now know what it is like to spend time in a psychiatric unit. I now know what a medical roller coaster it is trying to find the right antidepressant and dealing with some horrible side effects. I now know more than I realized there was ever to learn. And I am still learning.

I spent a few days with some of my family this past week. Somehow I dug up the energy to make the drive home to WA. I am glad that I did. But I also came to the realization once again how depression may be a lonely road for those trudging through it but that it also effects those around that individual. I only personally know the one side but I have watched and observed even in my moments of misery how I was hurting those around me. Those that I cared about. Those that had sacrificed much for me and my safety. I pushed almost everyone away and became the ultimate hermit. Now, that is common for someone suffering from depression, but I am now finding it difficult to find the balance of slowly letting my loved ones back in my life. I still tire easily. I'm still fragile. I still become easily drained. I still fear that I'll start sliding back into the black pit.

Music has been a huge blessing during this difficult time. It seems like I always find a song that expresses what I am feeling better than I could ever express it myself. There have been a number of songs over the last couple of months that have spoken to me and that I have listened to over and over again. At this point in my recovery there are a number of songs that fit the way that I'm feeling. A couple of months ago I listened (really listened) to Kelly Clarkson sing "Dark Side". I consider depression to be one of my dark sides. I have been blessed that those near and far have continued to support and love me even when I was at my worst. Even when I yelled "I hate you!" or got angry for no real good reason or took actions that were selfish and I was only thinking of myself. It would have been easier to say goodbye but lucky for me I am loved even with my dark side.


Thomas said...

Melissa, you have shown very much throughout your life that you can love others' dark sides. You loved Brent; you love your father; you love me. You are very empathetic and show love and respect to everyone despite their shortcomings. If anyone then deserves to be loved and understood for their dark side, then why not you? I love you very much and will always love you. This is something you will never have to worry about.

Kathy said...

You write so eloquently about your feelings and your experiences. Thank you for sharing this deep, intimate part of yourself. It is apparent that you are loving and you are loved. I continue to pray for your recovery from this darkness and that light may penetrate to your soul.

Brittany said...

You are a fantastic writer! I also love this song!

Anonymous said...

I love you Melissa. I hate to see you hurting. I miss you and want to be there for you. Im so glad you made the sacrifice to come see meant a lot to me and I cherished the time we spent together. I pray often that you will continue to find light and peace in your life.