Hello, my lovelies! Thank you for being here because I have a super important, super exciting announcement to make. I am nominated for Blogger Of The Year at the MH Blog Awards this year! But there is a catch, I need your help! From now until June 4, you can go to the MH Blog Awards website and vote for Amber @ The Winter Of My Discontent for Blogger Of The Year!
I’ve decided to republish the original posts from May 2020. I didn’t know about my disorders then. I just knew that I was tired of being pushed around and being hurt for something that I couldn’t control. I wanted to spread the word; to speak out to let others know that they aren’t alone.
Any notes from 2021 Amber will be highlighted in purple. This post was originally published on 05/09/2020.
Adulthood is hell.–H. P. Lovecraft
The last year of my teens was uneventful. I worked and lived with my mom and my grandparents in a small town. I’ll talk more about my grandparents in later posts, what they mean to me and what they’ve done for me. Without them, there is no me. Not this version, at least. I was aching to get out. I had already spent so much of my young life, staring down the road; always wondering what else there was, what else was out there, and would it finally be the thing that made me happy?
The Christmas after my 20th birthday, my mom and I made plans to get our own apartment in a more metropolitan area. We agreed that we would be roommates, splitting all of the bills evenly. I had gotten the first job that would afford me the ability to pay real bills and I was desperate to try my hand at being an adult; I was ready to live by my own rules for the first time in my life.
About My Mom…
Before I go further, I want to talk about my mom. I asked her before writing this if I could share a bit about her story. In my last year of high school, she started having issues with her reproductive organs. What followed was a series of surgeries that started with simply draining a cyst and progressed until every piece had been taken out, one by one. I don’t remember how many surgeries she had that year, but I believe it was 4 or 5.
They were all minor surgeries, getting more serious with each subsequent one, but after each surgery, they prescribed her pain medication for weeks, even months, after. When the year was over and all of the surgeries were over, my mom realized that she was unable to stop taking her medication. I could not list all the ways that the medical industry has failed my mother. Once she was hooked, they were nowhere to be found. My poor mom was left high and dry in what would turn out to be a decade-long fight for her life.
My mom is a kind woman who is as human as you and me. She has made mistakes, but even in her deepest addiction, she did what she could to make me feel loved and she has always been my biggest fan and number one cheerleader. I will always be grateful to her for believing in me and loving me when I couldn’t. She has been 5 years clean and it is a battle that has been rough and painful for her. I could not be more proud as she continues to fight every day.
After we moved, I started spending a lot of time alone. It was a combination of a few things. I had just started my first, official “day job,” working at a small tech company. Also, none of my friends lived close anymore. I had moved to the city, yes, but I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t sure how to meet new people in such a big place. My mom was fighting her own illness and also had a social life of her own. I decided after a couple of months that I needed to get a companion.
One Sunday morning, I answered an ad in the newspaper; Shih Tzu puppies for sale. My mom and I hopped in the car, “just to look” of course. When we got home, I had a brand new best friend. Lily was everything that I could have asked for in a first pet and that little dog saved me from myself more times than I can count over the years. From the moment I got her home, I was deeply and madly in love with that beautiful little girl.
Despite my new-found puppy love, I was starting to feel an awesome sadness deep within me, though I wasn’t sure why. I had started to gain a lot of weight and it was affecting my self-esteem. Like most women, I grew up being subtly programmed to believe that one of the worst things you could be is anything other than “skinny.” Suddenly I wasn’t skinny anymore and it destroyed the way that I saw myself. I stayed at home often because I felt self-conscious when I was out.
My thoughts started getting darker and darker. I was crying and sleeping all the time. It started interfering with my job; some days I couldn’t get out of bed, no matter how hard I tried and how badly I wanted to. This only served to make me feel worse. Ashamed, guilty, anxious that I would get in trouble. Not to mention the old label that plagued me as a child, “lazy.” I could hear the word ring through my head every day spent in that bed. Worthless.
I remember once I was supposed to go visit my family out of state. It was a planned trip. I didn’t go often, about once a year, so we all looked forward to when I would visit. The morning I was supposed to leave, I just couldn’t get up when the alarm went off. I told myself I would sleep for a couple more hours and then get up and go. The drive was only 5 hours, I would still be there by dark. But then, lunchtime came and went and I was still in bed. I didn’t even call them. I just laid there. They had no idea I wouldn’t show up until they called to find out why I wasn’t there yet. I was so ashamed. I knew my dad was disappointed and, as stated in previous posts, I despise disappointing my dad.
I couldn’t even tell them the truth. How do you say that to someone? “I’m sorry I didn’t show up to our annual visit that we all cherish having…I was too laden with inexplicable emotional pain to make the trip.” I would rather them think I was just being a selfish, thoughtless jerk than to try to explain what was happening. I wanted to apologize because I was truly sorry. After the phone call, I was washed over with shame and guilt and I didn’t get out of bed for four more days.
Wherein It Swallows Her Up
Things only got worse from there. I started having thoughts about hurting myself. I didn’t want to die, but I felt forgotten. The thing about depression is that it is the loneliest place in the world, even if you have a million people who love you. It deceives you; tells you that you are less, not worth it, no one loves you, and no one understands. I believed that the people that I loved, and who loved me, had forgotten about me and my brain started telling me that the only way to remind them was to hurt myself.
The only reason I didn’t is that I was afraid that I really would go too far and I would lose my life. Driving home from work, I’d think about driving my car directly into the retaining wall at 80 miles an hour. I have my seat belt on. I’ll be fine, right? I was afraid to do anything to myself at home because I was afraid no one would find me in time to save me. But the thoughts just became more and more persistent.
I have always had big dreams and I could genuinely see myself following them, but I suddenly couldn’t see any future at all. I was buried in a cold, black hollow and it was all that I could see and all that I could feel. Fits of agony started coming more frequently; sometimes calling my family in hysterics. Crying, screaming, and begging them to help me. It hurts. Please help me. Why does it hurt this bad? Please.
My anxiety also leveled up during this time. Every day it felt like a snake was wrapped around my chest in a death grip, I often couldn’t catch my breath, hands shaky and sweaty. All these things I had experienced before, but what I hadn’t bargained for was the paranoia. I once spent an entire night going from window to window, peeking out at my car because I was convinced that someone was going to break in, barely sleeping. I constantly felt like something terrible was about to happen, though what I had no idea.
I was slowly unraveling. Barely functioning, barely surviving, and moving closer and closer to the decision that my life just wasn’t worth it anymore. My family is no stranger to mental illness, so I knew I was depressed and I knew that I was having panic attacks and anxiety, but I hadn’t even considered going to a doctor. It just swallowed me up and I didn’t believe anything could ever save me from it.
A Helping Hand and A Pin Prick Of Light
Until the day I received a phone call from my sweet, but stern-when-she-wants-to-be Mamaw. It was on the heels of one of my now-infamous, inconsolable phone calls. I can’t imagine the pain she felt having to hear me in such anguish, my poor grandma. When I answered she said, “I’m tired of seeing you hurt like this. I made you a doctor’s appointment. Here’s the time and the place…you better be there. Don’t make us come and take you.” She saved my life that day.
I did go to the doctor when she told me to, mostly because she used her scary voice, but also because I could hear how scared she was for me and I had been scared. The new doctor finally put me on medication. It was the first time my depression had been officially treated. They also added the medication that I had been given previously when I lost my baby. It would be the first time I would go through the process of trying to find just the right medication at just the right dosage. It can be grueling.
After several months, I had vastly improved. It started with just the hint of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel and it grew each day. I was starting to dream about a future again, my anxiety was somewhat in check, and I was starting to be social again. The feelings of sadness came and went for a while, but they weren’t overwhelming. I no longer wanted to hurt myself and I just wanted to live.
For the next few years, I would drift in and out of deep depression. I went off of my medications after about a year and a half and I didn’t go back on them for quite a while. I lost jobs and lost insurances and getting treatment just wasn’t an option for me. There were times, sometimes days, weeks, and months, where I didn’t get out of bed unless I had to go to work. That was when I actually had a job and wasn’t nursing my wounds from being fired, yet again.
I even moved out of state and back with my dad for a few weeks. Unfortunately, it became another instance of me breaking his heart. I didn’t (or didn’t know how?) tell him then that almost as soon as I got there, I fell into a deep depression. A plan to share an apartment with my best friend from middle school had fallen through and I found myself staying with him and stepmom for longer than I anticipated. I wasn’t finding the kind of job that I wanted and I was running out of money and I quickly became miserably unhappy. It wasn’t my family. I love them. I loved being able to spend time with them. The pain gripped me anyway, just like it always does.
Once again, coward that I am, I couldn’t tell him when I decided to leave. He just came home one day and I was packing my car. When he asked me if I was leaving, all I could do was hang my head in shame. I knew I hurt him. I hated it; I still do. I was, and am, so sorry for it. But I couldn’t stay. Nothing good would have happened to me if I had stayed.
By the time I reached my mid-20’s, my mind had ravaged me many times over, but I was somehow making it. Through several jobs, I had made friends and started (and quit, again) college. I had a normal social life, for the most part, and my illness only impinged on my life in mild ways, for short periods.
Then I got a job that would lead to some of the best people that ever happened to me and they would love me and support me in a way that I didn’t even know was possible.
And that is where I’m going to leave you. Thank you for hanging in through these crazy long posts. I hope that you enjoy them and it is worth the time and I appreciate all of the amazing support I’ve been getting. It means the world.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜