How long does it take a heart and mind to heal?
Since 2001, I have been filled with pain, anger, depression, anxiety, and an overall strong sense of doom. There have been blips of happy during this time, but overall it’s been 20 long years of misery.
I remember mentioning to someone that I felt as though I was living under a curse. They thought I was being dramatic. All I knew was that everytime I came close to finally getting a grip on life my world would fall apart. And it was always in super strange ways.
About 10 years ago, I added apathetic to the laundry list of things I struggled with. Everything felt so pointless, and I was so tired of always being in pain. I think that’s when my dissociating began to get really bad. I spent my days watching myself making decisions that were typically unhealthy. It was a bit like watching a movie or a dream. I felt like I was living my life in 3rd person. My body and mind were on autopilot.
So much of the last two decades has passed me by, and I just let it. I have been ambivalent, apathetic, and I let my heart grow hard.
My undiagnosed depression, anxiety, and ADHD shredded my brain. I remember when I started college on 2003, and discovered my memory was deteriorating. It was frustrating and scary. Growing up my memory had been ok. I know that towards the end of high school I sometimes struggled to remember things when I was taking a test. But I wrote that off as just being a busy teen. I was heavily involved in extra-curiculars, and being a pastor’s kid came with it’s own set of responsibilities. Then when I started an actual job my senior year, my plate was beyond full.
Feeling your memory deteriorate is terrifying. When you know that you know something, but it’s locked behind so many doors in your brain, and you can’t access it; it’s overwhelming and frustrating and angering.
In 2018, I began getting serious treatment for things. It’s not been an easy road. Therapy dredged up so many things that I had locked deep, deep, deep, DEEP inside. So much anger and pain. It was hard. It’s still hard. The guilt and shame of every mistake, every pain I’d ever caused others, overwhelmed me, drowned me.
My promise to you, my readers, is that you get the honest, genuine version of me. I’m still not ready to share with y’all the nightmare that was March 2020 through this past February. But I will tell you, that I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it was the final straw. It nearly destroyed me completely. I spent months having people close to me watch me break apart. I had my own healthcare providers encourage me to quit my job. But I was so determined to stay. I had a bad habit of walking away from jobs when they started to feel a little too hard to handle. I was adamant I was going to break that cycle. That, no matter how hard the job got, I was going to stick it out.
Looking back, I now know that I should’ve left my job in May of 2020. It wasn’t until the end of this past January, when faced with the reality of partial hospitalization, that I finally said, “Enough.” I knew that if I went back I was going to find myself in some sort of serious health crisis, maybe a heart attack, maybe a diabetic coma, or just completely and permanently losing all touch with reality. I had this sense that if I went back, I would be dead before the year was out, because I could feel my body telling me it was ready to shut down. No amount of money was worth completely destroying myself.
In April, I was running some errands, and suddenly my brain shifted into autopilot. Before I knew it, I was driving to my old job. I hadn’t been near the building since January. I could feel the panic build as I got near, and when I saw it, I broke down. I was torn between missing my friends, and the rush of memories filled with fear and pain.
When Tom had surgery in May, it was the first time I’d been back in a hospital in months. I briefly wondered if I’d find myself second-guessing my decision to leave my job. The short answer? No, I didn’t. I remember watching the medical professionals doing their jobs, and not even the tiniest part of me missed being a healthcare worker. Instead, all I could feel was relief that I was out of working in the world of medicine.
Last Friday, Tom put on Sweet Tooth. Overall, it was a really awesome show, but it was an incredibly hard watch. The first episode and seventh episode hit especially hard.
MINOR SPOILER ALERT
Watching a fictional hospital deal with a pandemic hit a little too close to home. It was a little too real seeing a disease that progressed fast and overwhelmed all the healthcare workers. I stuck it out, but I also texted and warned my friend who is still working in the lab. Just in case she was going to watch it, I didn’t want her to be caught off guard. That night, I prayed and took the meds I usually avoid, in order to help me sleep, cause I was scared that the nightmares that plagued me throughout last year would be back.
A few weeks back, I wrote about starting a new med that was giving me all the side effects. When I contacted the doctor, she asked that I try to stick it out for two weeks, because she thought it might settle down and the med would start working. Last week, I wrote about how mentally I was feeling loads better than I have in a long time. The side effects are definitely better now, I’m glad I agreed to stick it out the two weeks. My body, once it finally adjusted, has been feeling good and my blood sugar numbers are slowly getting lower and steadier.
I’m a bit of an odd duck, because I believe in Jesus and in science. I firmly believe that God gave us science, and if anything the miracle taking place in my body reaffirms this belief. My body doesn’t make neurochemicals or regulate my sugars like it should, but science has created medications that help with all these things. Over the last several days, I’ve been feeling really good. Everything has been working the way it should in my body. And I’ve made a shocking discovery.
I like myself.
I’ve despised myself for so long. All I could see were the bad parts, the mistakes. Am I perfect? NOPE. But I am silly, smart, kind, funny, generous, and phenomenally gifted (especially in music). The me that has suddenly woken up after decades of slumber, is actually pretty awesome. I would want to hang out and be my friend.
So, am I healed/cured/completely fixed? I can’t really answer that. I know that I’m healthier. I know that it’s likely the dark feelings will be back, maybe tomorrow, maybe 5 years from now, but I’m okay with that. I know I can survive the storms, because I’ve already survived so many of them.