i wanted to try something a little forward.
for my own cathartic reasons, and also because i feel i am making up for lost time by letting people know where i've been for the past couple of years. there were friends who tried to be there and willfully involved in my life when i was badly depressed, and i sort of shut them down. out of a fear of burdening them, but also because i couldn't function well enough to keep up relationships, i was so sick and my brain was so broken. but the whole story isn't easy to summarize, so it would make me feel good to write it out.
there is virtually no way to make a post like this and avoid sounding sorry for myself and/or a total fucking bummer. i accept those risks. but be forewarned, ha.
i don't define myself by having been depressed. but it ~is~ a huge chunk of my life history, so i have no qualms about needing to share it with the people i love (or anyone, really. i am pretty much an open book with this one, the basics anyways) plus, i weathered something pretty unique. i don't think most of the average population has experienced an absolute loss of will to live, or been actively suicidal for months on end. so if nothing else it is a novel story. but yeah, feel free to read, but i won't be sad or mad if you don't :)
plus i will admit that by putting these things out there, i perhaps make-up for being maybe a little less than graceful, socially and mentally, these days, and maybe if people understood why, that would make me feel a lot better about it. that's horrible, i know, but its true.
before now only andrew and my parents, and the doctors involved know how bad it got. these are the things i should have tried to share with nathan, and shelle, and lou, when they tried to be involved in my illness and life over the past couple of years, but didn't, for reasons that may become obvious but i still feel bad about.
basically for over two years the only people i saw outside of going out in public (rarely) for food and doctors appointments and such, like in a social fashion, were andrew and my immediate family. i could count on one hand the amount of times i saw anyone else in all of 2013 and a good chunk of 2012 if you extend that to two hands. there are 21 photos in my '2013' computer folder whereas '2011' has 634, and '2010' almost 900, a good illustration of where i was at.
pawliuk tried me on over 22 medications over the course of three and a bit calendar years, and they labeled me (and i agree full-heartedly) as having treatment resistant major depression, hence the ECT.
i had 31 ECT treatments in all, and it will probably remain my biggest regret in life forever more. andrew maintains vociferously to this day that if i had not had the first round of ECT, i would be dead, but i don't agree. the worst of it came after i had ECT, mostly because of the fall-out of having had the procedure and what i feel it did to me cognitively.. with a hearty dose of PTSD added in. the summer post-ECT (last summer) was the worst i ever was, and if i survived that, well... before ECT was a walk in the figurative park.
i harbour a lot of anger about ECT. mostly because 30+ treatments was inordinately excessive, especially when the doctors involved knew how sensitive my nervous system is, as they'd observed with the drugs that were prescribed and my general temperament. in the end i signed off on it, it was my choice, so i harbour major guilt towards myself. i was pretty desperate and would have tried most anything, i went in blindly and without heeding some of what i'd read online. what is the most anger-making is that in the end, what did the most to help get me better was a simple change in diet. that ECT should have been prescribed or suggested before anything like a gluten allergy, the likes of which was not suggested even once in over ten years of treatment for anxiety/depression.. kind of baffles me to the max. but anyways.
in an ECT treatment, you lay down on a gurney in hospital jammies, and the psychiatrist sticks electrodes to your temples. there is an anaesthesiologist and two nurses. they give you the gas mask, insert the IV, you count down from ten and are totally anaesthetized by seven. they trigger a seizure in your frontal lobes (or temporal, depending on the day and whims of the dr.) and watch the seizure activity on a screen. you wake up about ten or twenty minutes later, get dressed, and walk out. so intense, but painless, at the time anyways. it destroys the ability to form new memories for a time, and there's some retrograde amnesia and the more you have the more pronounced it gets. so i lost the better part of a year and a half by the end of it (which was not a terrible thing, truthfully, as the year leading up had been less than stellar, obvs.) but there are a handful of missing bits earlier in life that i would have preferred to keep for posterity's sake.
the first round of ECT i had apparently had some positive effect, as my parents and andy relate it. i don't know because i have no memories of that time. but these effects only lasted a month and a bit and i got a lot worse again, so they prescribed more ECT.
during the second round, around my twenty fourth treatment overall, i woke up from the anaesthetic and did not feel right at all. my dad was with me that time and as soon as i walked out into the waiting room, i told him this. he asked me to elaborate but all i could say is that i couldn't put it into words, something just was out of place. the doctor came out and heard me out, but said it would wear off by the end of the day. from that moment on, (late april) i felt pronounced cognitive impairments. i couldn't form thoughts properly. couldn't locatewords. whereas being really depressed i felt like a zombie and had total flat-effect and was mentally foggy, this had a different make-up entirely and went deeper. i was utterly. empty. i felt my IQ fall, very evidently. i kept telling pawliuk and others that for lack of a better word, my 'soul' had disappeared. and that whatever little spark had remained, that indefinable something that made me 'me' was gone. also more quantifiable things like working memory and attention were 'fucked' (pawliuks word, not mine.) of course, these are ALL symptoms of depression. but this was diiiiiifferent. i started to argue that theoretically maybe so many ECTs or seizures, basically, had actually done some structural damage neurophysiologically. and having general anaesthesia three times a week can't do a body good. but this all goes against textbook.
almost a year later and some of that stuff has come back, which i fully attribute to neuroplasticity. but i still feel big holes. but then again for some people it does wonders. so to each their own personal choice, and i made mine.
anyways after the fact i just got worse. so much worse.
where before suicide and suicidal thoughts were an urge and a fantasy, last spring/summer i was actively suicidal for a good five months straight. it was the first thing on my mind when i woke up and the last thing on my mind before i fell asleep, and every moment in between. sometimes i would wake up and cherish those fuzzy milliseconds when you are first getting your bearings, before the reality of my life and anguish of the day would settle in. and then i would just wish for escape from the torment. i could not feel pleasure. from ANYthing. i stopped listening to music for most of a year because i could not get any enjoyment from it, and that felt like a special kind of hell, to lose something that had once given me so much solace.
basically the only thing you are capable of feeling is misery, hatred for yourself, and hopelessness. there was no escape and it was excruciating. plus i was dealing with a total loss of self which i just couldn't bear. my personality disappeared. i managed about ten words a day. i spent most of them lying in bed wishing the universe to end my life because i was terrified of doing it myself because i didn't want to hurt my parents. i couldn't get past the selfishness of the act or i would have done it a hundred times by that point.
my mom, dad or andrew (who would ferry over most weekends for many months, spending thousands to take care of me essentially, bless his selfless soul) would often try to get me out of the house.. in the worst couple of months a five minute walk was considering a rousing success. one time we made it to uptown new west, about five minutes away, and i just collapsed on the sidewalk. i literally did not possess the will to live, so badly so that i couldn't be incited to use my limbs. i could only lay there mewling. andy basically carried me home.
it got to the point where andrew and my parents were actively preparing for my inevitable suicide.
my dad sat me down one sunny day at their house, where they were keeping me so i couldn't hurt myself, and said that they saw my torment and it hurt them so much. and that while they wouldn't necessarily forgive me for killing myself, they would understand, because they saw how much pain i was in and knew that i was planning for it. he said that the animals would be taken care of, and wouldn't go to a shelter, which sticks out in my mind. i talked about it very matter of factly, so they knew i had a plan. i made andrew give me his blessing too, and for months he held out, and then one day said that he didn't want to see me in so much pain anymore. which i considered his blessing.
it was a constant onslaught of despair and grief for what i felt i'd lost and it hurt physically too. like a dull constant ache in your chest. long story not-so-short, i had convinced myself that every day i went on living in my defective, gutted state took away from my previous years beforehand, most of which had been blessed and beautiful. and i was totally, 100% convinced that was permanent. i slept 16 hours a day, sometimes taking seroquel because sleep felt like the only escape.
eventually i ordered 500 dollars worth of nembutal off the internet, which came from egypt. but in the end i don't know if the nembutal was legit or not because i never took it. very probably not, because these drugs are very hard to come by and there are a lot of assholes out there trying to profit off of other peoples pain. people had complained of being sold table salt, having to spend hundreds or thousands before something finally arrived that was what it purported to be. there's a whole underground world of the internet full of people looking to die and i shudder to think of it now. most people go to mexico, where you can buy nembutal over the counter at a veterinarian. which is crazy in itself. but moving on. i considered other means as well but did not want to do anything that would make it harder for my parents if they found me, or involve an innocent person in any way. so i was going to get into bed and just go to sleep, preferably with kizzy by my side.
i was admitted to the hospital three days after i paid for it, and stayed there for all of june and part of july. and i remained suicidal for a couple of months after the hospital. so it was a good thing customs confiscated it or that guy dicked me over because it never came.
in the end i started doing research into dietary and environmental reasons for depression and read so many stories over and over again about people alleviating their depression and anxiety woes through not eating gluten and by taking certain supplements like fish oil/DHA. i tried both, and the results were astounding and immediate. my parents have totally been won over, because they saw it all first hand, and see how bad i immediately get when i fall off the wagon for two or three days. an immediate return to brain-fog, dullness, 'a loss of katie' as my mom puts it. physically, i immediately look like shit. i bloat, feel like death and get huge dark circles around my eyes. gluten is basically neurotoxic for me. the medical community at large isn't totally won over, but to tell the truth i've stopped being miffed about that and just thank the universe that i did find something that helped.
now that i am 90% depression free symptomatically, i am having to deal with the PTSD-like symptoms and the sometimes crippling social anxiety that is left behind in the rubble. i am getting better at not constantly comparing myself to who i used to be and what i used to be able to do. but if depression does one thing to a person, universally, it is destroy your self esteem. it is gone, kaput, in the negative bagillions on the scale of self-worth. i deal with a lot of self-hatred and negative self-talk that is an onslaught most days but i think it will just take time. i am in such a rush to start living life again and things aren't progressing as fast as i'd hoped, so i have my moments of despair over that. also days where i have to take time to mourn, process the grief and lost potential. and my worldviews have changed a lot, and its hard to rectify who i am now with the person i used to be, because i never thought i'd be capable of feeling some of the anger/acrimony towards certain things (like some of my doctors) that i do. but bloom where you are planted, and so forth, and for what its worth there are positives, if i force myself to look for them. i will never take a good day for granted, cornball as it sounds. most of the people i knew would be there and tried to keep in touch even when i went unresponsive for months at a time were, well, there. a couple weren't, and i have lost friends, especially after the fact. which hurts like fuck, because i always think its because they are disappointed in who i am now compared to old kate with her sparkle and shine. but rationally, everybody changes and the fault doesn't always lie with me. i still feel broken and like the best parts of me are gone a lot of the time. but i do think that if i read this again in one years time, i will have come a long way and maybe changed my own mind, and be a lot closer to recovery. personally, i try to break those barriers down and have had almost universal success, people are usually really thankful you are so upfront and find it refreshing, only a few have been alienated and disappeared.
and i come out of it with touching memories from my friends, who kept in touch with kindnesses. like nathan who sent postcards of love, showing up unexpectedly and sporadically over the past two years, often arriving with uncanniness on the worst of days. or even at the very beginning when i was still on mcclure and had my first really pronounced downtimes, when ryan and sara would send a text-message every day at 8pm, keeping me connected to the world. and nathan and michelle wanting to come visit me in the hospital last summer to the point where my mom basically had to turn nathan away, they were so determined, and i love you guys so much for that. words could never say.
anyways my fingers hurt from typing and i'm going to give this the once over and then post my official return to livejournal, then reward myself with some game of thrones and a blueberry smoothie. because i want to be involved in my friends lives more and have to stop hermiting sometime! but still. baby steps ;) thank you for reading and i hope its not too aversive to post something so... well, heavy. but it feels good to just go all out and let the whole experience out into the open!