I’ve been absent from blogging, not conspicuously because no one is aware that I’m here yet. But I needed to take some time to clear my head and mind and give my body a rest before I tried to make coherent sentences to explain.
Last week I visited my doctor to follow up on an issue with my blood pressure. I had gone in the previous week to get a physical and my pressure readings were really high, 140+ over 102 or something like that. I had been diagnosed with hypertension years ago and had not taken my meds yet that day so I wasn’t super surprised. But when the numbers were the same the next week, after I had taken my meds faithfully every day, the doctor became alarmed. Her office is a teaching unit, full of academic nurses from the local university. She often sends a student in to speak with patients before she comes to verify the diagnosis.
my nursing student was a beautiful, young, blond, pretty thing. She was super sweet and delivered the news that the doctor wanted to do something else about my hypertension. In addition to that, something was going on with my liver and she wanted me to stop taking the mushroom powder supplements I noted on my initial form. She went on to explain that I was getting two additional prescription medications, one for hypertension and one for cholesterol, to try and combat the 289 number that they got back from my blood work.
She said a lot of other things but I stopped listening after she mentioned the names of the medications. I was familiar with them because I often pick them up from the pharmacy for my 81 year old mother. The juxtaposition of this flawless little blond White girl telling a morbidly obese Black woman that she has to take additional medication to keep her body from killing her was so hurtful…and shameful.
Humiliation began to wash over me and I looked at the floor. Tears burned the backs of my eyeballs but I refused to let them fall. The student said, “if you want to cry right now you go right ahead”, which made it oh so much worse. The doctor, also a Black woman, came in and gave me a hug and encouraged me. She said that this was only temporary until they could bring my numbers down. And my liver was under stress from something I was using to improve my health, exercise, drink more water, eat fruits and veggies, blah blah blah. The same speech I had been given nearly all my life.
I was broken. The cloud of depression that I had been fighting off descended just over my head and began to birth a thunderstorm. My untreated, mild clinical depression was merging with my emotional depression and creating an extremely unstable situational depression storm front. At that moment, all I wanted in life was to crawl into bed and go to sleep. I left there in a fog. I went back to work in a fog. I performed all the work that was requested of me but I was NOT THERE.
From experience, I knew the next morning, even trying to get out of bed would be hell. It had already been getting more and more difficult as the seasons changed from summer to fall. But with this additional blow, it would be nearly impossible. And I felt so utterly stupid for feeling so helpless; for squandering a life that sick, dying, homeless, unemployed people would KILL for. Those facts pull you deeper into the mire. You doubt yourself, your abilities, your life…and every thought starts with ‘why’.
Why can’t I discipline myself enough to not be so fat?
Why can’t I just be happy?
Why can’t I go out and live life like everybody else?
Why doesn’t anyone love me?
And you’re aware that the questions themselves are irrational. Of course, I can do it. I can be happy. I can live like everyone else. I am loved. But depression presents itself, at least for me, as the other shoe that is always threatening to drop. It always casts doubt and uncertainty to every situation.
I went to my manager and laid nearly everything bare and told him that I was taking off for the rest of the week and I would work from home the following one. I explained that I suffered from depression, and that it gets worse in the fall. I told him that I would not be fully functional at work and how hard it is to even get out of bed sometimes. As I spoke to him, I fought back the doubt of if I was doing the right thing by revealing so much. But I was so tired of trying to hide the pain. Thankfully, he understood and supported me. He told me to take the time I needed.
The next day, Miriam Carey was shot and killed in Washington, DC as she fled police after attempting to gain entry to the grounds of the White House. A victim of the ravages of depression and mental illness. I wondered if he thought about me as he watched the news.
I felt a lot better about my decision to take some time away from the office.
I started this blog as a way to chronicle my journey towards being more socially active and more present. I’m realizing that I can’t do any of that effectively until I remove the barriers, roadblocks and pitfalls that hinder me from truly thriving and enjoying the blessing of my life.
This won’t be all doom and gloom. Far from it. But life is comprised of ups AND downs. I promise to share my journey with you in honesty.