I meant to send out sparkly Christmas cards to everyone. But I’m sitting here today, staring at the stack of them, yet to be mailed out. Oops. Fuck it. You know I love you.

I’ve been through a lot this year. That’s an understatement if I ever made one. This time last year, I hit my absolute rock bottom. I was miserable every single day, I stopped caring about the things I used to enjoy, and I shut out people I cared about. I was terrified of the thoughts in my head all the time. At one point, those thoughts told me that all the hurt could go away if I just stepped off a curb and in front of a city bus. I dissolved into a soul-consuming, core-shaking panic attack one night at work, and some of my friends and coworkers witnessed me at the moment I shattered. And lucky me, it was even caught on a security camera, so I can relive the day I died over and over again.

I asked my boss to keep that video. He did. Never asked why. Probably didn’t have to. I’ve had a couple of people since then ask me why I wanted to keep it. It’s embarrassing, right? Well, yeah. I do NOT look good when I ugly cry (that’s why they call it ugly cry) and there was a lot of that in this video. I lost my shit in the middle of a dinner service, crashed and burned into a pile of ashes. Poof. Done.

I haven’t actually looked at the video. But he’s told me that he saved it and I trust him. He’s got no reason to lie. Plus, he gets me a lot more than most people do. He’s seen it. Several people have seen it. Fuck, I’d upload it for the world to see. Not every day you get to see someone’s rebirth.

This actually happened on my birthday last year. No bullshit. I’m gonna go all symbolic and say that my birthday has a whole new meaning. That was my lowest moment. I wanted to be dead. I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to be gone. I crumbled. I was no longer in control, my depression and anxiety and grief had taken over. And that scared the living hell out of me.

There are some really good people in my life. Like, REALLY good, decent people surround me every single day. When I lost my mother, I lost the best person in my life, hands down. But my depression told me that she was the only one. And she was gone. Depression had me just going through the motions of life like nothing was wrong, because no one cared that anything was wrong. I was alone now. Right? Thankfully, the people around me aren’t quiet. Your calls came from around the globe, your love and support radiated from near and far. You all swept in to pick me up and dust me off.

I spent the first few months of 2015 hiding. Going to doctor appointments and therapy sessions and counselling. I got hideously sick in March/April and I thought everything I’d been doing for those few months was going to be for nothing. I felt like I was going to die again. I threw up constantly. I lost 20 lbs in 6 weeks (I did NOT keep it off). I couldn’t eat, drink, sleep, could barely move. Chad and I hardly touched, because I felt so rotten, and I hate being touched when I’m sick. I cried every day, but eventually, there were no tears, because I was so dehydrated. So I went to the hospital. I was pregnant. Or sort of pregnant. My Mirena IUD had failed and an embro had latched on, so I was pregnant. But because the Mirena was still up in there, it was IUD hormones vs pregnancy hormones, and I wasn’t winning. My ultrasound showed even further news. The embro was stuck to the Mirena, and I would mostly likely miscarry within a month. Hardly ever are Mirena babies carried to term. Okay. So I had to continue feeling like shit for another month. And I didn’t even get a baby for my suffering. I miscarried two weeks later. Then I had my period for two straight weeks. 2015 didn’t start well.

Once I was sent home from hospital, my health improved drastically. Physical health anyway. I was still going to counselling and therapy, but there was colour in my face, I could eat and drink again without vomiting. I felt more energised. I had been running on empty for so long, mentally, physically and every other way there is, when I finally was able to stop and fill up the tank, and check under the hood. It takes time to restore a clunker. I’m the clunker. But eventually I can be a classic. It’s just going to take time.

Time you all have given me. Thank you for being my safety net. For showing me that there are people behind me every step of the way. I am learning how to handle my depression and anxiety. It was a drastic change that needed to happen, and I think I needed to be at the very bottom before I could see it. I tried to go it alone for so long. It’s not like when I was a kid and a teenager and I didn’t fit in because I was different. Some kids were cruel. Some were violent. That’s the past, this is now. I’m still different, I’ll never be normal. I’ve got an uphill battle to fight every day, but this is now, not then. I’ve got resources, friends, colleagues, and the most amazing partner a woman could ever have (I love you Chad). I talk about it all now, I cry and put it behind me. Back then, all I could do was dwell on it, because it was all I had. Now, I’ve got so much. Depression won’t win.

I went back to work in May, and it was baby steps for the first little while. I felt like everyone was walking on eggshells around me, afraid I was going to go off again (a reasonable fear, let me assure you). But we all talked about it. I told them how to handle me if I went off the handle, just let me cry and hyperventilate, I’ll be back in a few minutes. I’ve had numerous panic attacks at work, I still have them today. I cry in the walk-in cooler, or sit on the staircase and cry and say fuck a lot. They check on me, ask me if I need a glass of water, and hug me. Several minutes later, I pick myself up and go back to work, and everyone continues as if nothing happened. They hid the knives after a panic attack, which I thought was kind of hilarious, but they don’t have to anymore. We’d talk about it if I want to, we’d discuss solutions so the next time we saw it coming, we could nix it before more pork shanks lost their lives. That helped me more than any therapy. Love really IS the answer people.

So where am I now? I still feel crazy. I feel like every feeling I exhibit and everything I say is carefully orchestrated, like they’re lines of a script. They’re honest, but they feel scripted. It’s hard to explain. I’m very aware of the thoughts and feeling going through me, and that can be really intense sometimes, espceially if there are a lot at once. It was rather embarrassing to lose my senses like I did last year and not be able to just play it off like it was nothing. I broke. I was strong and stupid for a long time. Holding on to all these things that weighed me down and wore me out. Crippling self-doubt and distrust, guilt about the smallest of things, a snide comment made by a stranger 5 years ago, my brain was incapable of letting this shit go. I dealt with this on my own for so many years, and the only person who ever knew about what I was feeling was Mom. She was my therapy and comfort for so long, and when she died, it changed everything. I no longer had my rock. Chad tried his hardest to carry me through the grief and despair. He’s stronger than he’ll ever understand. My family and friends carried me too. They talked softly to me and treated me delicately while I picked up the pieces of my shattered self. They pushed gently as I progressed, and hugged me when I slid backwards.

I’m happier. I used to think it was always about more more more, and being miserable about not being special enough to be able to get it all, I lost sight of what I had, and I wasn’t enjoying anything. I have to force myself to see the beauty sometimes, because some days my brain just doesn’t want to cooperate. Other days, it’s easier. Those are the days I really like. I know what I want now, and I know how to get there. Remember the KISS method? Keep It Simple Stupid. Or Sweetie. That sounds nicer. I don’t like complications that can be avoided. That’s hell for someone whose brain regularly creates conflict where there is none. Citalopram is working so far, most of the time. I have to keep pushing myself to do things. It’s exhausting.

I’m getting there. You’ve been there with me. I don’t ever want to be where I was. If I start to slip, that’s what that security camera footage is for. To remind me that I’ve come a long way. To remind me that I’m stronger than I feel. To remind me that I was reborn that day, and that progress is much better than perfection.

See you in 2016.

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