Rock Bottom

A happy photo for a not-so-happy post

Note:  The following is a raw, honest, mental-health related post.  I know some of you don’t like those.  I write this for three reasons:

  1.  It is crazy cathartic for me.
  2. It helps me feel less alone
  3. It helps others feel less alone.

If it’s not your sort of thing, no hurt feelings if you skip it.  Otherwise, grab a cuppa and read on:


One week ago on Tuesday, my therapist recommended I go to the hospital for stabilization.  I wasn’t allowed to leave the clinic until I saw a psychiatrist for a “risk assessment.”  I sat in the waiting room, terrified out of my mind, for 2.5 hours to wait to see her.  Sometime during this time period, he called my husband (something he’s only allowed to do if he feels I’m in imminent danger) to tell him how concerned he was.

And then the bottom dropped out of everything I’d been trying so hard to hold together.

I ended up declining the hospital – with the support of both the psychiatrist and the PA who’s my normal prescriber – but I (gladly) accepted a new medication for sleep, and I (gladly) accepted an increase/change in my regular day-to-day meds.  It was time, and I needed it, and I knew it.

The past week has been horrifying and messy and painful, but….

I’m glad it happened.

The entire situation, especially the call to my husband, rang a bell that couldn’t be un-rung.  I’ve known I’d been spiraling since the middle of June.  And I kept pushing, kept holding it together, kept pushing some more.  And I spiraled more and more and more until I said the things to my therapist (Tony.  His name is Tony) that made him concerned, that set off this whole chain reaction that just made everything …. stop.  It dropped me to my knees.  It forced me to admit that at the present time I AM NOT OKAY.  I am safe – it feels important to make that clear but I’m not okay. I’ve hit rock bottom.  The lowest rock bottom I’ve ever hit.

For the first few days after that appointment, the world came to a standstill.  I slept and I cried.  For about 5 days straight.  I cancelled a chat I was supposed to do; I cancelled all plans; I emailed my professor to ask for an extension (and she was wonderfully kind and gracious about it);   I had Mike run the kids to their activities;  I had Mike deal with all the conference stuff that came up; I had Mike deal with, well, basically everything.  And I just let myself be there, in that deep, dark, scary place.  Again, I was safe.  But I stopped trying to pretend that I had everything together.  I stopped trying to pretend that I was okay.  And I’m slowly, so very very slowly, starting to make motions to heal.  The overwhelmingly positive thing about hitting rock bottom is that there is nowhere to go but up.

As for today?  I’m still not okay.  I’m still not able to deal with most of life.  I’m not able to deal with people needing me (good God, all the emails!).  I’m not able to deal with questions. I’m not able to deal with extraneous noise.  I’m not able to deal with anyone or anything else but me.

That sounds selfish, I know.  But depression is selfish.  It is a selfish, selfish beast.  And I’ve decided that it’s selfish for a reason.  It’s selfish because when it gets to this point, you HAVE to be selfish.  You HAVE to be selfish in order to get well.

So in the interest of selfishness:  I’ve gotten dressed four days in a row (which sounds silly, but if you’ve ever been depressed, you know it’s a really big freaking deal).  I’m getting up.  I’m making myself do things around the house.  I’m writing this blog post!  The meds are starting to kick in, though at the moment they’re mostly making me drowsy and a little bit – or a lot – out of it.  I hope I’ve written in complete sentences.

I have a couple of friends I’ve been texting with, but if I may, a little bit of honesty:

I want to be left completely alone.
Except I don’t.
I want to hear reassuring words.
Except I don’t.
I want someone to remind me to put on pants and get myself some tea.
Except I don’t.

In short, I don’t know what I want.

The only thing I know for super sure that I want (and this is actually something I said to Tony the day this all went down) is for someone to SEE ME.  I have never felt more invisible in my entire life.  And I pick up my phone, and I scroll through my contacts, and my thumb just hovers.  This one is not very good at listening; this one would probably rather talk about herself; this one is very anti-psychiatry and psychotropic meds and there would be thinly veiled judgement; this one minimizes everything and would likely think I just need a good night’s sleep.  So I set down my phone, and I text no one.  And these are friends!  People I love!  It makes me feel terrible, and…. selfish.  But, well, see above.  I feel selfish, and alone, and just want someone to see me.

Yet at the same time, I’m pushing everyone away.

Depression is a terribly manipulating monster. But I’ve beat it before, and I’ll beat it again.  It’ll take time, and effort, and patience, and gentleness, and grace (so much freaking grace).  It’ll take faithfully taking my meds that I often hate myself for having to take.  It’ll take even more visits to Tony that I often hate myself for having to make.  It’ll take ACCEPTANCE, for who I am, and what I am, and where I’m at.  Even if no one else can see me, I can see me. Right here.  Right now.

And I’ll do it.

A quote I recently saw that resonated so deeply it hurt:  It helped me, so maybe it will help one of you.

We’re going to be okay.

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Filed under bipolar, depression, mental health

10 Responses to Rock Bottom

  1. heather krcha

    You’ve been on my heart since Tuesday- I thought something was up. I’m proud of you for getting up, getting out of bed, and giving a damn. Whenever I am struggling with depression, I think about the Neverending Story and Atrayu in the swamps of sadness. He loses his horse simply because the horse refuses to keep moving. Sometimes that’s all we can do- keep moving- to avoid the Swamp of Sadness swallowing us whole.

    I have bipolar as well. I’m always here if you want to call or text or just breathe.

  2. Tanya Ross

    Being bipolar totally sucks:). I’ve been thru what you’re going thru. I’ve been pulling myself out of a black hole for the last year and a half. And I have an autistic son (24) depending on me. I make myself leave the house just to get out in the sunshine and feel the warmth. I have questioned everything over my entire life about everything, but right now I just want my head to be quiet and people to leave me alone. My only advice is to keep talking to your therapist,keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep getting dressed (I totally get this one:), take naps, begin to like “you” again. Surround yourself with all that is positive. Happy music, happy books, good food. Don’t deal with reality for a while or a long while. Give yourself permission to just exist and breathe. My thoughts are definitely with you:)).

    • jen

      I totally get the wanting your head to be quiet and for people to leave you alone! And I’m glad you get the “getting dressed” part. I always feel so irritated with my therapist when he says to try to keep my life as normal as possible, to get dressed, get out of the house, run errands, etc. But it does help. And I hate it when he’s right. 🙂 There’s a lot of really good and lovely advice here. Thank you for the words of encouragement!

  3. Cally

    I’ve been there.
    I understand.
    I’m not bipolar – just depressive. I’ve had seven episodes of suicidal depression in my life, in amongst all the other not-quite-that-bad episodes, plus one when I plummeted straight down past the suicide part to the can’t-get-out-of-bed bottom.
    I didn’t start getting help until my 50s. I am now coming up to my 67th birthday next month and life is the best it’s ever been and getting better.
    Breathe in. Breathe out.
    I stand with you, in love.

  4. I haven’t been there but I have a daughter who has. When you speak of being selfish- at the point that you seem to be ; that’s not selfishness. ANY other disease in its most chronic form has to be recovered from and quite often all your energy has to go to getting you up from the bottom. Selfishness is a loaded word. Right now I guess you’re just you’re trying to heal. I’ve ‘seen’ you and I really hope your friends do too. Wishing you the very best in taking time to get stronger. Depression is a horrid horrific illness and your battle is worthy yet hard. Hugs and prayers for you xx

    • jen

      Oh I so wish I hadn’t used the word selfish. So many people are admonishing me for using that word. I think I just worded it all very poorly. I blame the drugs. 🙂 Yes, right now I’m just focused on getting well. Thank you for the encouragement.

  5. Lisa from Iroquois

    I am on writing to let you know you are supported… by so many. I love that you feel “safe” and know you are. Sometimes I wonder if that is the difference between those who recover from depression and those who linger in the muck and mire for the rest of their lives. As usual you are articulate and thoughtful. I used to imagine my depression was a big black unfriendly dog nipping at my heels, rather like the hound of the Baskervilles. Good luck with the new meds.

  6. I relate to the bit about friends since much. Depression causes me to suddenly judge me loved ones harshly. Afterwards I wonder if it was an excuse not to reach out, because reaching out is exhausting, and I just want to be alone (but not really).

    I’m glad you are getting help. One of the hardest parts if depression for me is the dread of when another bout is going to hit, almost afraid to enjoy the healthy times. I loved the quote.