It really felt like a low point when my counsellor suggested hospitalisation. It’s a very difficult thing for me to admit, but I have a terrible fear of people thinking I’m crazy. It’s what keeps me from telling the people I’m close to about this comic - I’m scared that they’ll read it and think I’m completely unstable. It’s sad, because in some ways this comic is the most valuable thing I’ve ever done - but I’m still so ashamed of my own struggles. I’m working on it though. The only way we can remove the stigma from mental health is to talk more about it. The other day, I was able to casually mention in conversation with a coworker that I was on antidepressants, like it was no big deal. That felt like a real achievement. I think I’ve come a long way in my ability to talk about what I’ve been through and I’m still going through, but I acknowledge that I still have a lot of work to do if I’m going to be proud of my progress and my journey.
Giving up my saved medications was so hard. They really did feel like my only safety net. The nurse at my clinic was very sweet and understanding, and made the handover as non-threatening as possible, but it still felt like giving up.
Having a doctor and a counsellor at the same clinic actually works really well for me. They’re able to communicate with each other about my progress and work together to ensure I’m well taken care of. I will confess that at times it made me a little paranoid; knowing they were talking about me. But I could see it was for my benefit and that they genuinely cared about my welfare.
I had been ‘saving’ medications for years. Leftovers from when I stopped various antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. Painkillers - both over the counter and prescription, if I could score it (for example, if someone I knew had an operation, I would ask for any leftover painkillers they had afterwards). Sleeping tablets I’d convinced my Dad to get for me. I kept them all in a box in my bedroom, and would occasionally spend time pouring over them lovingly. This was my escape plan. I knew that if ever I really couldn’t cope any more, I had enough pills in that little box to kill myself with. Even though I was only rarely suicidal, it still gave me a great sense of security to have those medications in my room. Just to know that, if I really needed to, I could get out.
Oh man, this phase. You know it’s serious business when your doctor starts putting you on supplements generally intended for the elderly. I was not happy. I went into the chemist and started reading the nutritional information on the back and just saw it as nothing but empty calories. I was dead set against it. I wanted to listen to my doctor, but how could I just… eat for the sake of putting on weight? It went against everything inside of me. These were tough times.
This was a real turning point for me. In the past, I had very much kept my depression to myself. I was good at putting up a bubbly, outgoing exterior and convincing people that I was happy. But at this time, I decided to just be honest with people and start asking for the support I needed. I was surprised at just how many of my friends had struggled with similar issues in their lives and had helpful insights to offer. It was so encouraging to hear from those who had lived through dark times and made it to somewhere brighter.
Please understand, I wasn’t trying to be difficult with my counsellor. I was just being honest. I didn’t feel capable of taking care of myself. When she asked me to promise not to kill myself, it felt like a huge demand. I said yes, but only barely. I just didn’t have the will to take any better care of myself at that point in time. But at least with the support of my medical team, I could survive week to week.
I think this is what being suicidal often looks like. It’s not a passionate wish to die, it’s just giving up. No longer caring about life, about taking care of yourself, about whether you live or die. It was hard for me to sit in front of my counsellor like this - I’m usually such a people pleaser, that I want to look like I’m putting in a big effort. But I just didn’t have the will any more.
I think this is something that a lot of people with depression have experienced. It feels so limiting to have no energy whatsoever for performing even the most basic tasks. I’m usually a very tidy person, so letting my house go - not picking up after myself, doing the dishes, putting away clothes, doing laundry, taking out the rubbish - felt like a real low point for me. I was too embarrassed to have anyone over, but that didn’t matter, because I was hiding away from company anyway. If I needed to see people I would use it as an excuse to leave the house. I was lucky that no one really got any insight into my messiness, so I didn’t feel judged.
Wow, going on daily Xanax, what an adventure. It made me feel like such a zombie. My friends were lovely, and spent time looking after me when I didn’t have the energy to really do anything. I am very blessed with the support network that I have. But something about the Xanax affected either my concentration or my depth perception. I really couldn’t seem to figure out the space around my car. I soon told my doctor what was going on, and she took me off the Xanax. Medication adjustments can be quite the challenge.
(In other news, I hate drawing cars! It looks like a little kid’s Fisher Price car! I swear I drive a real car, not a toy like the one pictured).