Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Now some of you may be thinking from the title of this post that Melissa has finally gotten her behind out of her apartment and has taken up running. There may be some of you wondering if that could even be true. Some of you may be curious about what I am going to write because you have heard me many times say that I will never be a runner. And you would be right. This post is not about running. At least not in reference to that form of exercise.

Anxiety produces three reactions: flight, freeze, and fight. I have experienced all thee many times over the last few months. Depression on the other hand can produce flight or freeze. Not so much fight, at least in my case. My experience so far is that I do not usually experience anxiety and depression at the same time or what I should say is that one tends to mask the other. My anxiety levels were pretty high for the longest time and then they lowered. That is when I felt the full impact of the depression. Where just getting out of bed is a chore. Pretty much everything is a chore. Things that you would be excited about in the past mean nothing to you now.

Freeze for me would mean literally freezing in place. Typically curled up in a small space just frozen in place. During those times I would try to focus on my breathing and tell myself courage is choosing to breathe. The freeze phase for me usually doesn't last very long. It leads to either flight or fight. Fight for me is when I would all of a sudden be overcome with anger. I am not a person who gets angry very often, so it was difficult for me to know where to channel it. Many times it got aimed at Tom, God, or maybe someone else. Actually many times I aimed it at myself. Add the feelings of hopelessness, despair and the feeling that this will never end would then move me into flight. And that is why I have titled this post Run because I'm going to focus on the flight phase.

I have made reference to episodes in another post and of course shared a little of my experience in the Johnson Unit which is a psychiatric unit. I'm sure most of you know, realize, or guess that 'episodes' is in reference to gestures towards committing suicide. I have shared with very few the exact details of those gestures. Most of the time flight meant running away from the emotions that I was experiencing. Emotions that seemed so overwhelming and never ending. I know that I have shocked some people when I admitted that I had multiple times wanted to escape this world. How could someone who seems to have a good life, a loving husband, and a whole future to live would want to give that up?

My sister introduced me to a TV show almost two years ago. I don't watch much TV. We don't have cable and our TV is ancient. I consider this TV show to be one of my vices. If it wasn't for the music I wouldn't even bother with it. Yep that TV show is Glee. I have seen season one and two and I am still working on watching season three. My sister has been better about keeping up with her favorite shows. A few weeks ago she mentioned how I probably shouldn't watch that week's episode. Well I still had only seen the first three and so I had no idea which episode she was referring to. Well a couple of nights ago I was watching some Glee with Tom. We got to where the team performs at Regionals. I was excited because you usually get some good tunes from when they perform in a competition. Little did I know that this was the episode my sister was referring to.

In this episode a football player who is gay but has only let one person know is found out. People write horrible things on his facebook page and his locker. It shows him in his bedroom crying feeling so hopeless. Realizing what his future will hold for him at his high school. It became apparent quickly to both Tom and I that he was contemplating suicide. Tom paused the show and said it may not be a good idea for me to continue watching it. I cried. Though my circumstances are different I could relate to how he was feeling. We continued watching it though I shut my eyes and plugged my ears. Luckily his father finds him in time and his attempt was unsuccessful. But what even hit me harder is when the glee team is sitting in a circle on the stage talking about it. Every single one of them said that they coud never imagine experiencing anything that would push them to want to take their own life. Their coach explains that you never know but that each of them could have something that would take them to that place and he shares an experience when he reached that place.

If you had told me in December that I would not only contemplate but make gestures towards suicide I probably would have laughed in your face. When you reach that place all you want to do is run and it feels as if ending your life is the only answer. It could be over. You could be done with it. Now I know and even knew in those moments that it wouldn't solve everything. That I would probably regret making that choice. I didn't care. I didn't care how many people that decision would impact. I let Tom know that I didn't want a funeral but that I wanted him to finish his Ph.D. Now it has been a few weeks since I've had an episode and I believe that I'm finally on the road of recovery (which I'm finding to be just as difficult maybe even more so).

I have so many things changing in my life right now (including myself) that I am often overwhelmed with varying emotions. I also have some decisions to make, and I'm at a loss as to if I am up for what would be required. After my therapy session last week I felt a strong urge to run and escape. I didn't want to have to come to terms with the loss of Josalyn and Bryce. I didn't want to have to decide if I should go home for a visit or not. I didn't want to contemplate how I would do on a 12+ hour drive to Disneyland. I didn't want to experience the changes of a close friendship. I wanted to run.

And I am running. Pushing everyone away. Skipped a therapy session and haven't been back. Haven't been answering phone calls or texts. But what to do with all this pent-up emotion? I thought maybe if I went on a bike ride I could burn through the emotions. I am physically stronger than I was a couple of months ago, but my energy levels are low. I pushed myself. Probably a little too much. Did the bike ride do what I had hoped it would? No. It just made me physically exhausted. But every time I get the urge to run I jump on my bike and push myself even farther. Yesterday I even ended up biking through a thunder storm. I came home soaking wet and collapsed. I went into freeze mode and curled up in a corner of my bedroom in the dark. It even took Tom quite awhile to get me to talk. We then talked til one in the morning. But it was about the past. Not now or the future.

Today once again I found myself on my bike and pushed myself even further. Now of course this is an improvement over wanting to end my life but I know it isn't facing what lies ahead. No matter how many times I get on my bike it won't change the fact that my heart is breaking, that there are decisions to make, that life is still coming at me. In a book I read in December mentions that running from the storm just means that the storm will follow you. How true that is.

How long am I going to keep running? I don't know. There have been a few times where I have come face to face with Josalyn and Bryce leaving. I then find myself sobbing for more than an hour. But it was just today as I was biking that I came to realize that biking is my way of running. And each time I try to "run" farther away. But I eventually have to return home. I will eventually have to stop running and face what lies ahead, but for now I am at least getting fresh air and exercise.


Thomas said...

I know this has been extremely difficult, but I know you'll get better. I am very glad for the improvements you've been able to make in the last couple of weeks, but I pray every day that you continue to improve. I love you very much. Good luck!

Kathy said...

You are stronger than you know. You are better than you think. You are more loved than you imagine. You are more capable than you suppose. You are more precious than you feel. Feelings are not always reality. Keep running on that bike. And keep coming back. Breathe.

Anonymous said...

Even though it may seem that you are running away from your problems, it may be that you are running toward them and through them. As you run , your body could become stronger, and as your body becomes stronger, your spirit will have room to grow, as your spirit grows, your mental anguish will dimminish, as your mental anguish diminishes your desire to run may turn into a desire to embrace the future, with it's sorrows/happiness, pain,physical well-being, disappointments/ fulfilled dreams, and you will find a joy you never imagined. S.Michael Wilcox says sorrow carves a whole in our souls to hold joy unimaginable, but without the sorrow there would be no place to hold the joy. We must experience the bitter in order to prize the sweet.


Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa,

I love you so much! It sounds like you are trying very hard to make it through each day. I hope you are able to face the questions in your future and battle your inner turmoil. I hope the fresh air and exercise helps you burn off the steam and feel just a little bit better. You live in a very beautiful place, I loved coming to visit you last year. Look at the flowers and the trees and HUG a tree :)

I love you more than I can say.


Anonymous said...

Mel I know times are hard right now....and I know anything I say won't help but I just wanted to let you know I love you and I know you are going to get through this and be stronger than you ever thought possible...the trials heavenly father gives us tend to do that to you...don't worry about Disneyland even if it comes down to the day before I will find someone to go with me if you can't ....I don't want you to feel miserable and feel like you have to put on a happy face the entire time your there...if you decide to go I will be thrilled but if you decide that you just can't make it I understand too...I love you! You are the best friend I have ever had.
Love Kari