Friends, this is a piece I wrote earlier this year as part of a larger manuscript. It paints just one small glimpse into the depression and mental anguish I face once a month that has to stem from hormonal imbalances. I still haven’t been able to find relief, and the only thing I have it in my power to do is ride out the waves for 48 hours. So, as always, I would appreciate your prayers. And your respect as I try to guard my heart, mind, and body during these times.
. . .
Oh God, no, I prayed, cringing as I felt it strike like a match to my central nervous system.
It felt too much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—the awful state right when the anguish hit. I felt it first starting when I clocked out for lunch. My mind grew sharp, and an unnamed grief bubbled up inside, as if somebody had just told my body a precious friend had died, but I didn’t know who. It felt like a great cry was trying to get out—of my mouth, my head, my eyes, my stomach. Not just a cry of pain, but a cry for help.
Tears formed, and my throat choked up. The office grew dark and sterile, despite the fluorescent glow and people milling by, one fuzzy blur after another.
At one point, I stopped responding to my coworker’s stories and numbly stared into the LCD screen. It took him a minute, but he finally noticed the silence. It always takes too long for them to notice the silence.
“You doing okay?” he asked, spinning his chair around.
“No.” I moved my mouse cursor frantically toward the tiny red X in the upper right corner, missing twice as I punched my forefinger down on the plastic. I wanted to kill it. I wanted to kill that mouse.
“No, I’m really not,” I emphasized again.
There. Too often it felt impossible to tell the truth because usually all people have time for is a lie.
“I have to go.”
“But you’re coming back?” my coworker asked with concern.
“Yeah, I have to. I work here.”
I wouldn’t have talked that way to my boss—but my emotions were too raw to stop from lashing out at somebody.
When the all too familiar chemical switch turned on, my body surged with a wild and desperate slingshot of emotions, firing from the inside out. Only most of the time, they couldn’t get out. They ate me alive.
What were they, anyway? I named them one at a time in my head, while leaving the building. Grief. Panic. Anger. Loneliness. Lunacy. It felt like all of those, mixed into one. But mostly like grief.
Making the 1.5-mile drive home, I watched the windshield wipers mimic my eyelids, as they blinked back and forth across the glass of trickling rivers. Clouds that looked like wet cement mirrored my thoughts and followed me home. Like we’d both forgotten what light looked like. Suddenly, I couldn’t bear the ache welling up in my chest anymore. It needed release. So I flung my knuckles into the windshield and watched the glass crackle across my line of sight.
Letting myself into my apartment, I stood by the counter and searched the room. Slipping off my purse, I let the phone drop to the carpet. As I bent down to grab it, I slumped to the floor in defeat, pounding one fist deep into the fibers, even though I knew there were people living below. Tears streamed. The unnamed grief had hit full force. My heart ached with the weight of a sadness I couldn’t explain. My mind swirled with thoughts—angry thoughts, desperate ones, ones that felt savage and frightening and so out of my control. Nerves in my neck felt raw, and a headache began to pulse in my left temple.
God, where are you? I yelled, hitting my hand hard onto the carpet. I need help! I’ve needed help for so long, and you never come! What am I supposed to think? An ache made its way to my mouth, and I let out an intense yell that sounded more like labor pains than a cry. I can’t do this, I thought. I’m exhausted. I can’t keep picking myself back up. The pain’s too freaking strong.
These were not new words. I went through them every time the chemicals flipped the switch. Every four weeks.
I shut my eyes and breathed out deeply into the carpet. With a final cry, I lay still and felt the soft tickle of the carpet on my cheek. The room was so silent, except for the tree branches knocking against the deck rail on the balcony. They slowed and stopped, as I felt my heart-rate fall and regulate itself. I can’t believe it, I thought, looking under the couch since that was the only thing at eye level. Where is this hope I keep hearing about? It just keeps getting worse.
My hand felt around for my purse, and I pulled out the phone. 12:54. I hadn’t even eaten, and it was time to drive back.
As the muscles in my shoulders relaxed, I felt a different sort of cry coming on. It wasn’t anger. Or despair. It was sorrowful and, if I was honest, filled with disappointment.
Father, I cried, my head still rested against the carpet, why haven’t you rescued me? Do you want me like this? It hurts, God. It hurts. You haven’t taken me home, and you also haven’t freed me. I can’t keep doing this.
A glint of light reflected off the sliding glass door and flickered across my face. I opened the eye that wasn’t mashed into the ground and saw a hole of blue sky poke through the sheet of cement-clouds. The light warmed my cheek. I lay there another 60 seconds, resting in the dark quiet and melting under the faint warmth of sunbeams.
I should turn on a light.
It was the first coherent thought I’d had in 25 minutes. The dark room and empty stomach weren’t helping the situation, and the pulse in my temple grew harder each minute. With no energy, I forced myself up to a standing position and rubbed my eye with my wrist, smearing mascara across the skin and veins. I opened the kitchen cabinet and grabbed the orange bottle of antidepressants. Reading the milligrams on the yellow label, I stared at the bottle and counted how many pills were left. It wouldn’t last long. And then I’d have to shell out more money for another one. And another one. I can’t do it anymore, I cried, twisting the blue cap off harshly. It wasn’t helping anyway.
Swoooooooooosh went the facet, as I watched the stream of water plummet into the stainless steel sink. Dumping the bottle upside down, I shook out the rest of the pills and watched them foam as they made their way toward the drain. All of them went in, down, gone.
I couldn’t go back now. It was cold turkey all the way, and if my body couldn’t handle it, then oh well. I trembled a little as I swished the remainder of the foamy film down the sink, thinking about all the horror stories I’d read about withdrawal systems. They’re as bad as when you first start, one said. Limit the dosage. Be careful, they all said. Don’t do anything rash.
I’d definitely done something rash. But to heck with it. I wasn’t ashamed to be on medication. I just didn’t want it anymore. I’d probably want it tomorrow, but the act was done. When the weight of emotion raged so out of control, all it wanted to do was to get out—do something. Act. This was the only way I could think of.
With a pull that felt heavier than normal, I closed the Subaru door and pulled back onto the road. Looking down, I realized I hadn’t washed the mascara off my hand yet, so I reached for the glove box door and grabbed a spare napkin. Just then, my phone dinged, and I glanced down at the text.
“Bai, you doing okay?”
It was from one of my coworkers, who I’d passed in the library earlier with a nod and a sad ‘good morning.’ I waited for a red light and then typed a reply.
“Doing better. Sorry for my mood, I’ve been having a hard time. On my way back now.”
The words felt stupid. Disrespectful of that emotional wilderness I’d just been through. But she didn’t need more. I just needed to be known, and seen. Even if just for a second. No matter how many times I had to apologize for it.
Oh God, I am furrowed like the field
Torn open like the dirt
And I know that to be healed
That I must be broken first
I am aching for the yield
That You will harvest from this hurt
Abide in me
Let these branches bear You fruit
Abide in me, Lord
As I abide in You
-Andrew Peterson, “The Sower’s Song”
. . .
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