That Woman

My intention with this blog has always been to be vulnerable, honest, and straight-forward; but always with some hope attached to it. Because if you are reading this, then you might be struggling yourself and the last thing you want to read is somebody’s story that is also hopeless. So, when I disappear from writing for a while, it’s because I have no hope to give.

Today is no different.

There is only darkness. Sometimes I think I see streams of light as if they are filtering through cracks in the prison – I only know they are there because of the dust particles glimmering in the light. The same dust that is there to choke me up in this dungeon-mind.

If I could fully dissociate, completely step out of myself yet retain the ability to describe what was happening, I think it would go something like this….

That woman there, the one you used to know. She doesn’t exist anymore. That smile might look familiar, but if you look closely, you will see it is different…. It doesn’t reach her eyes anymore because it is forced. And speaking of her eyes, they are either overflowing with tears, or scurrying around her visual field trying to take everything in and keep everyone safe. That woman that you used to see with her hair and makeup always done, now is a disheveled mess. That woman is incapable of feeling anything beyond despair, depression, brokenness, worthlessness, suicidal; the feelings she longs for: joy, freedom, happiness, spontaneity, intimacy, are all gone. They have wandered off to some untapped ether, never to be discovered again. And that woman has tried. Oh, has she tried. Every day she somehow pulls herself from bed after awaking angry that she is still alive. Every morning she forces the smile for her daughter, even as she sometimes asks her to just watch cartoons so she can rest her eyes a few more minutes. That woman adheres to her alarm reminders of which medications to take, and when, to try to keep her from stepping off the edge. That woman does everything she can to show her daughter how loved she is even though that woman is incapable of feeling the type of love so many mother’s describe. That woman would do anything for her daughter, including dying for her to keep her from being raised in this environment. That woman has to keep a calendar, not for social outings, but for all her doctors and specialist appointments. That woman has no friends anymore. She doesn’t know how to be a friend. Who would understand this diagnosis? Who would hold her hand and be willing to discuss the potentially fatal outcomes of this disease? This is not what our lives should be about, so that woman stays alone. She is alone. She is an island, still trying to offer a place of rest for those pulled under by the current, knowing full well that when she has given all she can to help get them going in the right direction, that she will be completely alone again. That woman has a husband that does all he can to help her through; but she is losing the battle anyway. That woman wants so much more for her husband and daughter. She has tried treatment after treatment after treatment to try to be that better version for her family. That woman doesn’t want them saddled by this and still firmly believes that her absence would eventually be viewed as a blessing. But she hasn’t given up yet. That woman has tried numerous medications, infusions, various types of therapy, inpatient stays, TMS, and even ketamine. That woman is currently getting ready to start a course of neurofeedback while still trying different medications to get things right. That woman has resigned herself to more inpatient and/or residential care, as well as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) if these last attempts at treatment fail. That woman is terrified that she is ready to allow her brain to endure this, but she also knows she has no other options. That woman can’t continue to live in the deep darkness and sorrow she persists in. That woman can’t continue with constant suicidality, evaluating every situation for ways to end her life. That woman can’t continue to write out directions for how to manage the household when she is gone, how to access the life insurance policies, and making solid exit plans. That woman is fighting so, so hard to stay for her family. That woman fights in silence and feels so alone because that woman still wants to ensure that everyone around her feels comfortable all the time. So sometimes that woman disappears when it all becomes too much, when she can no longer hide the depths of her illnesses. That woman tries to keep it under wraps, even while openly writing about her struggles with MDD, GAD, OCD, PTSD, and physical brain issues from multiple concussions and brainstem compression. That woman doesn’t know if any of these treatments will actually help. That woman doesn’t know how much the brainstem compression plays into this and how brain surgery could (or could not) help this. That woman doesn’t know if further post-concussion rehabilitation would be beneficial. That woman doesn’t know if her hormones are so messed up from having Olivia and then having a hysterectomy several months later that things could never normalize and allow her body and brain to function normally again. And that woman just can’t get the help or answers she needs; nobody willing to look at the full picture and see the vibrant provider I once was. It’s been 3 ½ years and that woman is still fighting, even though she is fairly certain she knows the ending and so this all feels like a waste. That woman feels pathetic that she somehow suddenly can’t handle life after everything she has been through. But it is all those series of storms that have landed her here. And as such, I am trying so hard to learn to give that woman grace, while also encouraging her to keep fighting. Because that woman is finding it easier and easier to walk to the edge.

I know, because I am that woman.

I wish I knew who to give credit to for this artwork. If you know, please get in touch so I can ensure they are named here.