2003. I was mom to three un-understandable children under the age of 3. (Poor family planning there.)
It wasn't my first experience with depression. But, it was my first experience when I finally understood it for what it was. I owned it.
I was depressed.
So, I did everything you were supposed to do. I sought out counselling. I leaned on my friends and family. I went on anti-depressants.
I liked the first two. I hated the third.
I felt icky. I felt foggy. It helped with the unhappy emotions... but it numbed the good ones, too. I just didn't like them. I stayed on anti-depressants only long enough until I felt like I was out of the pit. Then, I learned everything I could about self-care and how it could help me stay off meds in my future.
Self care became my religion. I learned that I needed a night each week, just one night, that I could reclaim myself from the Land of Toddlers, and I guarded that night with reverence. Over the years, what looked like self-care changed. As my children went into school, the need for One Night lessened, but I replaced it with weight loss, healthy eating, and exercise. Self Care always looked different -- but it always had the same purpose.
Depression has returned more than once since 2003... but I have always been able to head it off with Self Care. If I felt the darkness returning, I'd put myself a little higher up on the Priority List and I could hold the status quo until the dark receded again.
I started a new anti-depressant yesterday.
Self Care wasn't working anymore. Actually, it's not that it wasn't working. It's that I wasn't doing it. Every time I felt like I started to get my feet under me on the Self Care Train, I'd have to throw it out the window to deal with family crisis. I couldn't take care of myself AND everyone else at the same time, and I never chose myself.
To be honest, it's hard to not feel like I've failed. Like if I had just done a better job at all the other stuff that I know helps me to feel better, I wouldn't have to resort to medication.
Cognitively, I know it isn't a cop-out. Cognitively, I know it's needed and that there is no shame in it. Heartfully, I don't.
Perhaps it was a point of pride. "I don't need medication. Depression is a shitstorm, but I've got this. All. By. My. Freakin'. Self." And now I don't.
Now, I really don't.