This time last year I began my first summer school semester while working my part time job in another city close to my home. Mornings were difficult, as I was a closer and didn’t get home until 10 most nights, but I trudged on. Slowly it crept up on me.. I would open my eyes at 7 am, stare at the ceiling for ages, groan, and roll out of bed. As time passed I spent more time staring at the ceiling. And then I didn’t get out of bed at all. I didn’t feel anything at all. My grade in my first class made it out alive, but my second semester course had to be mercy killed. I spent the rest of the Summer trying to sleep as much as possible so I could start Fall classes with more energy. I thought it was just exhaustion, but it was actually a very complex problem.
I remember the day we finally understood my mental state. It was as if I was in a sound proof room, staring at the world without hearing, feeling, or really seeing anything. I knew I loved my family, Jared, and my sweet puppy, but I couldn’t reach the emotion. It was locked away somewhere and I was trapped in smoke. I remember crying in frustration because I couldn’t feel anything. You might think, “isn’t frustration an emotion?” Let me ask you this; if you feel dead inside and all you can do is stare blankly ahead while the most precious person in your life is desperately trying to fix you, wouldn’t you want to scream and cry? Wouldn’t you feel hopeless and guilty for not being able to connect with them and ease their pain? How about if at the same time you felt these emotions, you also felt smothered and wanted to hide in the corner, away from touch and affection? It was terrifying.
After months of wrestling with depression and keeping my grades passing, I finished that semester and obtained prescriptions for both ADD and Depression/Anxiety. Suddenly, I was a boss at my job. I stopped accidentally breaking glass shelves (my record is 2), spilling drinks all over everywhere, dropping everything, and feeling so overwhelmed I broke down in the middle of my shift. I had enough energy to clean my apartment every day if I wanted to. I woke up with a smile, I was the sun, the world was my oyster, and all that jazz. It was truly perfect.
Another semester came and went, as did the healing effects of my new medications. Dosages were bumped up. Nothing. I carried on. I landed my dream job. Summer began, and I found myself without a life outside of my job. After everything I’d been through the previous year, the thought of my giant cloud of depression creeping back up on me was enough to have me hyperventilating. Yet…..what reason did I have to get out of bed? I didn’t want food. I didn’t want to write. It was hot outside. I had no where to go that didn’t involve spending money. As I stared at the ceiling fan circling each day, I felt the passion leave again. Then went the motivation to eat, followed by the need for affection. Why weren’t my meds working anymore? My dosage had doubled! Confused, frightened, and alone, I sat in my mental corner and submitted to the emptiness.
Every day is a battle. I never fully gave in, and I refuse to give up. I was never really alone, either. My pets need me. My love needs me. When I put my feet on the floor, it’s to keep my babies from neglect or to get Jared off my back. Gentle pushes from him lead to gentle pushes from myself. It started with a chore a day until I ran out of things to clean. Eventually I discovered I’m happiest when I’m working. This is a problem in itself, because you can’t just stay at work 24/7….I wish. (haha?) Observing my true self emerge when I’m on the floor has given me strength to fight. It’s the little things, like remembering my mom gush over how happy I was as a baby, or rediscovering my passion for music. A little research found that my meds don’t treat my depression because I don’t have much, if any, serotonin. My current meds only boost existing serotonin. This means a simple call to the doctors is the solution. One small step for Shelby, one giant leap for Shelby’s mind. It’s so easy, but it will probably be a day or two before that appointment gets scheduled….
Like most of my blogs, this is therapy. An open letter to the world as I embark on my life journey. I’m Neurodivergent (you’re welcome, Jared). Behind that smile is a million different trains of thought, emotions, so much pain, and so much love. I obsessively clean, I have this habit of absentmindedly staring at sinks while supposed to be doing dishes, and some days I don’t leave my apartment at all. The point is; there’s a lot underneath the surface. I’m a lot to handle, even for myself. When I’m not staring at ceilings, I love to write, read, watch tv/movies for their art, squeal over animals, and I’m even kind of a gamer. I hope to get back to that passionate Shelby after I make that call.