After reading Salty’s post about her father’s suicide, it really got me thinking about my own depression and anxiety. I thought about the good and the bad of it. The good being the self-discovery that came once I was being treated. The bad being, well, the depression and anxiety and the f’d up things that the mind can do.
Up until May of 2003, I lived with secrets and managed to move through life on the wave of other people’s expectations and visions for me. Before I continue, I want to be clear, all of what I’m writing is about me and what was going on within me. I am not trying to paint any people in a negative light. I obviously had choices and my decisions were mine. They may have been made out of my anxiety, fear, and irrational mind, but that is not the fault of those I followed.
I was raised Roman Catholic. When I was in 8th grade, a nun at the school I attended told me that I would make a great nun some day. That got the ball rolling. I had a tendency to do as I was told because I aimed to please and keep the peace. The idea of disappointing my parents and elders caused me major anxiety. So, this statement she made innocently enough, turned into the expectation for my life. Even if I didn’t bring it up to anyone, this nun thing followed me.
When I got to high school, it still came up. It made me uncomfortable. I didn’t have a lot of friends with whom I socialized outside of school. I hated that, but I was too afraid to get into trouble to go to parties and such. I thought I was a huge loser and would cry on a regular basis. At home, if I was alone, I would cry in my room and cuss myself out for being such a loser. I wished I didn’t exist. Yeah, probably should have been in a therapist’s office, but I didn’t know that and I wasn’t letting my parents in on this. My mom had her own issues. So, I did the best I could and got through.
Fast forward through the high school years and I’m in college. I only applied to one college. It was a safe choice and the one I thought made sense if I was going with the nun thing. I was uncomfortable again when I took some philosophy courses. Something I probably should have paid more attention to at the time instead of burying it, trying to ignore it.
In 2002, I started losing weight, got really sick with mono, and had my breast reduction. I was working out and running. So, I decided to follow the path I thought was laid out for me. In the spring of 2003, on the eve of my 28th birthday, I entered the convent. The next morning and throughout the day, I cried. I dropped another 5lbs in my first week living there. I continued with my running routine….and then, things started to fall apart. I would come home, look at the running shoes, look at my bed and choose the bed. Then, one morning, I sat in the chapel and knew I didn’t belong. I tried to ignore this because I didn’t want to disappoint everyone. I didn’t want to be a quitter. I went to see my parents, it was a Sunday morning and we went to mass. I stood up and walked out in the middle of it. I went to their house and pretty much had a nervous breakdown. I went to my old bedroom, pulled the shades, made the room dark and went to bed.
The next morning, my mom came in to check on me. I was a mess and I told her that I just didn’t want to be. She immediately found a psychiatrist and pretty much saved my life. Within the first few minutes of my appointment, he told me I had to get out of the convent. He also put me on meds. Oh, the relief!
As I continued to see him and the medications kicked in, I felt free. The freedom allowed me to say something to my dad that I never thought I would or could. He had been so excited about me being in the convent and I was so afraid of how he would feel about me leaving not only the convent, but the religion. I was able to tell him that I was sorry if I was his biggest disappointment. He looked at me, shocked, and told me that he just wanted me to be happy in my life. After that, our relationship changed. It is weird to say, but I think it made us closer.
My running never got back to what it was, but I know it needs to. My depression is difficult to treat. I’ve been on a variety of meds because of built up tolerances. I have a psychiatrist and a psychologist. I have tried to come off of meds and have come to the conclusion that I will always need to take some kind of medication. It sucks, but I’m okay with it. In order to feel better about the medication and in hopes of not having to change meds regularly, I have added vitamins, fish oil, and live in a state with 300+ days of sun. Now, I’m throwing running back into the mix. I’m running to get out of my head, but also to get into it deeper; to get away from myself in order to become a better self.