Winter is always hard for me. I hate the cold, dark days. I long for sunshine and open windows, and even my sweaty husband (although I always regret wishing for that part, come summertime). But this past winter was particularly cold and dark, despite the mild weather.
In the fall, I felt some depression coming again. Not a new problem for me. But this time, it was more debilitating than it had ever been before. I had unexpected outbursts of anger, long days and nights of spiralling thoughts, and was dropping the ball in every area of my life.
By December, I was afraid to be with my kids because of the strength and unpredictability of my anger, and the depression had taken over everything in my life. My therapist read few of my journal entries and told me to immediately find outside childcare for the kids, and to prepare for more intense treatment than I had previously had.
The treatment was brutal. For months, every day was spent in individual and group therapy. Layer after layer of my defenses were pulled away, revealing anger, confusion, bitterness, hurt, fear. Medicines were prescribed and taken, only to fail and prolong my treatment. I questioned and doubted everything about God, myself, my past, present, and future. On the darkest days, I wished I'd never gotten married and had kids; I wanted my life to end.
By late February, I thought the worst was behind me. I couldn't have been more wrong. March and April brought even darker times. All of the ways that I knew to cope with life had been ripped to shreds, and new fears and emotions were exploding out of me. I was so so so lost and confused and angry and hurt and I had no idea what to do with it all. Twice I was hospitalized. I spent night after night at friends' houses because I couldn't handle the stress of being home with the kids. More medicines were prescribed, again failing and compounding my problems.
Looking back at those two months of spring is fuzzy. There is a haze over all of those memories, punctuated by insane thoughts and actions. I was suicidal, furious at everybody and nobody, and hurt beyond description. In that period, I experienced true insanity.
Amazingly, Luke stood with me through it all. He carried all of the responsibilities for our home and children, loved me day after day, and still managed to work full time.
Our church family was similarly faithful to me. Babysitting and meals were provided so often that I lost track of who was even helping. Notes and messages of support and love appeared regularly. My children were loved by so many people when I couldn't do it myself.
Finally, in early May, things started looking up. In addition to finally finding the right combination of medicines, I started another therapy program that worked to rebuild me from the inside out. The past two months have been good. Very very good. I've come alive. I can engage with my kids and my friends and my husband and actually enjoy it! My mind is free to think of others and their needs, ponder the mysteries of God and the world, read Facebook and blogs and books.
Meanwhile, treatment continues. It will likely go on for many more months, although I've cut way back to part time by now. There are many days that really suck a lot. But I am thankful that I am here. After the deep darkness and fog of winter and spring, even the hard days feel light and free.
Never in my life have I so deeply enjoyed flowers and warmth and seeing life through the eyes of my kids. Even the brutal heat of last week (and Luke dripping in sweat!) was welcomed as goodness. There is so much joy in returning to a good life after such a deep departure from it.
Winter is over. Summer has come. God is good.