If I Could Pour it All Out

If I could pour it all out here, I would tell you, life hurts.  Not life with my hubby or kids, but life with myself.  It hurts.

It started a little over a week ago.  I took the big step of applying for full disability.  I may have gotten laid off a year and a half ago, and my record may show it was through no fault of my own, but that’s not entirely true.  See, I worked at my job for 12 and a half years.  I worked there through 15 hospital stays in three years for Multiple Sclerosis.  My job was very accommodating and damn, I was good at it.  My job had lots of variety and required remembering a lot of stuff.  I had 11 managers in that time, many of whom moved to entirely different departments and a few to different companies, so if information was going to be remembered, I was the one to remember it.  And most of the time it all worked flawlessly.  I would effortlessly go from project to project, remembering years of data and information.

Then came Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.  Everything changed.

First, it took me extra time to return from my maternity leave due to my first hospitalization with a hypomanic episode.  Then they changed my manager and I lost all my confidence.  All of it.  Gone.  I could be asked a question, that I knew the answer to, but my mind would freeze.  Instead of explaining what I knew, I would stutter out bits and pieces of information, only to realize later that I had made a mistake and needed to retract much of what I had said.  Let this happen a few times, and what you get is complete and total doubt in yourself and your performance…and your employer has even more doubt and distrust.

My mind got stuck in the rut of fear and self doubt.  I no longer understood instructions given to me.  I started asking questions over and over.  My manager told me, “everybody knows you can’t ask Charity to do anything, she’ll just ask you a hundred questions.”  Any shred of confidence and dignity is gone as soon as that is uttered.  The worst part?  Knowing you used to be able to work circles around all of your new critics, but now?  Utter failure.

I spent hours in tears, hiding in the bathroom shaking, planning my suicide.  I also spent two stints in the hospital.  Now that I think about it, I think there might have been one other medical leave in there.  Damn, I don’t even remember now.

I just remember sitting in my car crying, shaking on the way to work, dry heaving in the bathroom, frantically calling my psychiatrist…having to call my hubby to get me once because my final plan included driving into oncoming traffic.  My doctor made me promise I would wait for hubby, or he would call the police.  I was so medicated while working that I was falling asleep at my computer, but it was the only way I could quasi-function.

I remember calling my doctor and telling him, “I’m scared.  I think, everybody I work with is talking about how to get rid of me.  They are talking about what a terrible worker I am.  They are telling each other how stupid I am.”

I didn’t hear them with my ears, but I absolutely knew that was what they were thinking, talking about.  I was sure of it every time I saw someone standing at another desk or there was a closed door.

Every day at work was miserable.  I was sure I was being watched and every misstep written down, and told to others.  I knew there was even a list of how many times I went to the bathroom and how long I was in there.

I kept hoping the next day would be better.  It never was.

The day I got laid off was terrifying.  It was a not unexpected sucker punch.  And it was freeing.  No more facade, no more faking it til I make it.

I came home.

And hubby and I knew then I would never be back in the workforce.

So I have applied for disability.  And it’s the right thing to do, but it did require digging through a lot of history, 22 years of history to be exact.  It also brought feelings of failure and shame.  I can’t do what I was raised to do, I can’t work and support myself.  I can’t do what I prepared to do, I can’t add to the Gross Domestic Product.

Putting 22 years of bad health on 14 pages was hard.  It started a spiral into darkness.  I couldn’t stop the spiral, so now I’m sitting in the bottom of a hole.  I claw at the edges, but they are smooth and black, there are no handholds.

I’m doing what I need to.  I am taking care of my girls, throwing myself into homeschooling them, making us a schedule that puts one foot in front of the other.  I have reached out to my doctor and we have tweaked my medication.

Now I wait.

Waiting in the dark is hard.  It’s scary.  What if the light never comes?  But it’s all I  have, so I wait…

And while I wait, I feel the weight.  Every breath is heavy.  Each movement like walking through sand, all the thoughts playing on my weakness, taunting me… “people don’t want to talk to you.  They want to get away from you.  You will never get better.  Your girls will grow up to hate you.  You don’t deserve those perfect girls.  They deserve so much better.  You better hug them now because they will be long gone as soon as possible.”

So much heaviness.  My breathing is uncomfortable.  I feel like I am choking.  The physical pressure inside me is terrifying.  There is no relief.  What if this is the time I descend into the pit and never come out?  How will I live like this forever?  How will I cope?  How will I keep a happy look on my face with this pain, in this dark place?

I sit with this pressure.  I wait with this darkness.

Survive til you Thrive!

9 Responses to If I Could Pour it All Out

  1. There is so much beauty in this. I am so sorry for your struggle. It hurts. It sucks. Be super gentle with yourself as you grieve. That feeling of remembering being good at something that you struggle with now hurts so much. But it isn’t a flaw or a fault. There is nothing wrong with you. When your ms was at its wrist, did you tell yourself, “man, I’m such an idiot for not being able to walk”?

    This is what is now. You are someone else now. The disease changes you. But you aren’t less. In some ways you are more. You are brave. You are gentle. You are an amazing home school mom. You’ve come to terms with your childhood in ways you never would have if you didn’t have to.

    What we (yes, me too) need to learn is how to accept the life we have now and the gifts that come with it, while allowing ourselves to mourn what’s gone. We don’t surrender to the feelings, but we do give ourselves permission to have them.

    You aren’t spiraling. You are in the darkness and you are remembering that you will be well again, and you are letting us love you while you learn how to love yourself.

    • Not sure why Story, but it wanted me to approve your comment. It must have come from a new IP address because it said you had no approved comments and we KNOW that’s not true. I have gotten amazing love from my hubby and others through this, and that probably keeps me functioning, but in the typical moment I feel squeezed, pressed down. My feelings are too extreme, my sorrow over little things too deep. I decided tonight that it’s not at all that those who deal with depression, don’t feel, it is much more likely that we feel too much.

      Life as it is now…that’s hard.

  2. You’re not alone. You’re never alone. I know you feel that way though and that you’re the only one who feels like this. It’s a hard, hard place and it feels so lonely and scary. You’ve gotten through this before and you’ll do it again. Don’t give up. Remember Micah 7:8 “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” There is light. It is coming. Tomorrow is always a new day, no matter how hard today is. Keep fighting–you have so many people who love you.

  3. Thank you Rach. I appreciate it. I really do.

  4. I’m sending you my love and a helping hand out of the darkness. I cannot imagine how you worked in an environment like that. Huge hugs. It is so difficult when we define ourselves through our professional identity. I believe you’ve found your vocation, your ministry, your calling with your girls. You were fantastic before and you inspire me now. You took your gifts from the workforce and you’re using them still with your girls. I know writing put your medical history must have been so triggering. All I see is a woman who is a fighter and a survivor.

  5. Thank you for being so brave, so honest and so raw with what you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Those things are huge, Charity. I hope you can look at this and see the clarity in your thinking and how wonderfully you express yourself. You may feel that you are spiraling or sinking, but I see you in a really, really hard holding pattern of waiting, anticipating, what if’ing. Please know that you aren’t alone there. We are with you, stretching out our hands to you and helping you into a better place. Your life has changed due to your illness, both the MS and the mental illness, but this new place is still full of wonder and goodness and productivity! Let us know how we can support and encourage you. Much love, Sweetie.

  6. I don’t really know what to say that could comfort you more than what was said above.
    Charity, honey, we all stand behind you. You’re never ever alone. I know how dark things can feel at times – but you’re reaching out. You’re looking for solutions and help. You’re doing all the right things. The home schooling you do with the girls honestly amazes me. I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around that. You’ve made it your own, and that right there? That is the Charity we all know and love. You’re being brave despite being so scared. Be gentle with yourself honey and know that we are always holding your hands. <3

  7. And here comes the tough love…
    Write whatever you just wrote here except opposite.
    “People love and care about me. Look at my friends here who I’ve never met and continue to love me no matter what.'”
    “I am never alone in this. I just need to put my hand out and someone will grab it.”
    “My girls are beautiful and love me for who I am. When they are older they will see how much I fought for them…and me.”
    “This is ALWAYS temporary. I am stronger than it”
    “I am a fighter.”

    And I don’t give a royal fuck if you don’t believe any of that. You READ it out loud. Put it in your medicine cabinet, car, purse, fridge…where ever. Know why? Because when those horrible thoughts over power your rational mind, you’re going to fight back with the truth. Babe, your worth it. I know the pain, emotional and physical, of being at the point of letting it all go…but look…I’m here and I’m fighting for you.

    Put on them boxing gloves cause we are about to jack whatever is stealing your smile in the spleen.


  8. How perfect is Kim’s reply?! She is so wise, we all know this. And I think you should print out her comment and plaster it all over the place. You are NOT alone. You’ve climbed out of the darkness before, and I believe in you–you will do it again because you are so strong and you have our support.

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