As a result of your illness, have the things that make you happy in life changed? How and why?
I’m trying to think back before my illness, it’s a blurry vision. I was single, paid well for a job that was easy and fun. I used my extra funds to travel on the weekends, visit great friends, and eat really good food. Then the reality of my auto-immune disease finally seeped in past my barricades of denial and I sank. Down, down into a pit of despair and hopelessness. Then, after major lifestyle changes, there was a ray of light, remission, and I hauled myself up. Then I met my now husband and things were back to status quo. Good food and travel. Marriage, pregnancy – depression seeps in along the edges, a traumatic birth and bam, sunk down further than I ever was before, sure that there was no way out. Then one day, a couple months after starting meds, I see sunlight strike a pink flower on the neighbors fence. I am mesmerized by its beauty. And at that moment I know it’s possible to get better because in this one moment I can appreciate and enjoy something, even as small as this is. I climb back up, by my nails, I am stable again. But I am overwhelmed with motherhood and working. I have no time for me. I titrate off my meds. And I start sinking, bit by bit. I self-medicate, and continue to slip. I don’t talk about it, I don’t face it. I sink. Until, one day, I start falling fast, crash through bottom to a whole new low. One filled with anxiety and panic attacks all day and night long. I get back on meds, which bring me up to functional, just barely. I go through the a hospital outpatient program. I get on many different meds, some are really awful. Then I get a new antidepressant, and suddenly, could this really be, I feel stable. Not happy, per se, but solid. This gives me hope, lets me participate in life, accomplish, be productive (somewhat). But happy…hmm. Where is my happiness. I don’t have the carefree freedom I used to love. I am trapped in roles of responsibility. I am relied upon. There’s no off the clock for motherhood. Can I admit I have moments of glee when I take off for an hour with a friend and leave my child with my husband? It’s true. I find joy in those brief moments of freedom. To pretend to be untethered. I can almost smell it. But not for too long, because then the fear creeps in. The need for the familiar, a blanket of comfort and security. I can’t really be untethered again, too scary. I need my sometimes prison, it’s cozy. Yes I find moments of happiness watching my child and husband play. Yes I feel love and warmth spending time with my daughter reading. But more than anything else, I love sleep. I love wrapping myself up in that darkness and escaping. As brief as it can be, it’s the one way I can not be for a while, get a real break from everything. I always enjoyed sleeping, but now it’s my favorite thing in the whole world.