This Isn’t Me

Ask anyone who knows me what kind of person they think I am.  Chances are, they’ll use adjectives such as nice, kind, friendly, thoughtful, sensitive, perhaps quiet, shy or interoverted.  Maybe good listener will make the charts – I’ve always thought so myself. *grin*

What about ANGRY?  MAD?  IRRITABLE?  EMOTIONAL?  (pause)  Yeah, okay, maybe that last one.

I don’t know when it all started, but most of my growing-up years could be marked as depressed… depressive?  I never got diagnosed, although when I stopped eating in junior high it came up at the doctor’s office and my mom said she wanted me to “beat it the natural way.”  I’ve looked at those checklists for identifying depression symptoms many times but never quite figured out how I fit, if I fit, or what it all meant.  It was hard enough just trying to fit in during high school!  I don’t know if it’s because I was young and uninformed, relying on my parents with whom it seemed almost taboo, grew up with a father who was always telling me to “change [my] attitude” and “just be happy.” 

Trying to make sense of my past seems futile.  I grew up in a loving, Christian family… but definitely wasn’t living up to the perfect standard that seemed to be encouraged and expected of me.  I have always hated the idea of blaming someone else for my problems, but I also know these things do have an impact on who we are and what we become.  In any case, who I was could have been due to any number of outward influences and inward reactions. 

We all have these dreams and aspirations, goals that we think – once we reach them - we will be happy and everything will be perfect.  Being thin was always at the top of my list, always my number one New Year’s resolution.  I did not have a good relationship with food; gave it up for a couple months.  I felt in control because I was making the rules, and I was thrilled at the numbers I saw on the scale every morning.  But the thrill didn’t last for long; I was out-of-control, hungry, and dying inside. 

When I would make a mistake, when I looked in the mirror and came face to face with the reflection of who I had become as a person, I was sickened.  I would get so upset with myself; cutting seemed to be the only way to release the anger, the bitterness, the sadness, the emotions.  I don’t know what I was crying for most at the time – it wasn’t for my outward appearance, I know that.  I just wanted to be free from the turmoil.  I felt so alone.

Funny how some things never change.  I still struggle with some of the same things, though I’ve grown and matured (at least, I’d like to think so), have learned healthier ways of dealing with things.  Over the past few years I’ve wondered on and off if I suffer from a chemical imbalance, and even went to an endocrinologist when I was apparently not ovulating and unable to get pregnant.  I strongly believe that being put on birth control at an early age to stop a two-month period (translate: hemorrhage) may have had some sort of impact on the entire cycle in my body, which is one of the reasons why I will never take hormonal birth control again unless my life depends on it.

Everyone’s different, I understand that.  We have different tendencies, tolerance levels, personalities, and I suppose we get used to operating a certain way.  Reminds me of my grandmother, my dad’s mom – she was in the hospital a number of times before she passed away a few years ago, and her vital signs were so weak she shouldn’t have survived that long.  Her body had simply gotten used to operating at that level – it was normal for her.  Sometimes I wonder if that’s how I’m operating; perhaps I’m a walking zombie, and this has become my norm.

Sometime last year, I had this intense feeling of dread, knowing I was going to hit the wall emotionally – it felt like there was a pattern to the craziness.  I told Phil it seemed like I had two “normal” weeks out of the month, followed by two during which I had no control whatsoever and was overcome by this horrible person.  I would yell, scream, have mommy tantrums – I was impatient, intolerant, unhappy, and then I would sob for how horrible I was acting.  I didn’t want to take care of the kids (though I would do so anyway, begrudgingly), didn’t want to be around anyone, everything seemed like a nuissance, and I just wanted to nap the day away.  Eventually, those emotional days would pass, and I felt more calm, happier.  Who was that other person?!  Maybe I had imagined it.  Then it would happen all over again.         

I’m no stranger to apologizing, admitting I’ve messed up… but recognizing that I may have a more profound problem has been a sobering realization.    And admitting it to other people isn’t easy.  Phil has been supportive, but opinionated in his stance on diagnosis/treatment.  Talking things over with Nikki shed some light on some areas I’ve struggled with, and Becky’s openness with her struggle with depression has been encouraging.  Not many people know what I’m going through. 

I thought I saw some light at the end of the tunnel when I came across the symptoms for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and even printed out a symptom tracking sheet, but was further confused when my mood swings seemed more random than I initially thought.  The thought of tracking more than one month seemed impossible – even analyzing my moods and feelings (emotionally and physically) at the end of the day for the few weeks that I did was a draining process. 

One of the documentaries I’ve watched since changing my eating habits is Food Matters.  I thought it was going to be more like Food, Inc., a commentary on the food industry, but it was more geared towards modern medicine, and using food to be healthy as opposed to prescription drugs (think: “you are what you eat”).  I was particularly interested in the use of vitamins for the natural treatment of depression (niacin, vitamin c, and B vitamins, to name a few).  Since then I’ve come across some other resources for treating depression naturally

Even going the natural route, the possibilities for vitamins and supplements – nevermind diet itself - are endless.  I already eat a pretty healthy diet, albeit there could always be improvement.  Which things and in what amounts should I try?  And if that doesn’t work, do I try something else, or rework the amounts?  The options seem overwhelming.  Becky wrote a great post recently about getting help for depression, and though I feel confused about what’s even going on with me, I’m going to start by talking to my midwife at my next appointment.

There’s a part of me that feels like I just have a bad attitude; I need to pray it away, just get happy and make myself feel better.  Focus on something else; change my perspective.  But then I’m in the midst of the storm, feeling like I’ve been overtaken by a completely different person, and I know this isn’t me.