Angels & Demons

Last summer, I suffered a sort of nervous breakdown. Apparently the term isn’t used much anymore, but it feels pretty correct when describing what I went through. One day I was fine (though not okay), and the next, I was trying not to throw my desk phone across my workspace and scream. I went to my boss to ask if I could go home, and started crying. If you know me, you know I’m not a crier. Well, at least I didn’t used to be. I am now.

I cried all the way home, I cried while making an appointment to see my general practitioner, I cried myself to sleep at 3 in the afternoon, I woke up, and I cried myself to sleep again that night. I woke up crying. I cried on the way to the doctor. I cried when I talked to the doctor. I cried when I left the doctor. I cried when I called H and TR to tell them what the doctor said. I cried all the way home. I cried myself to sleep at 11 in the morning. I spent all weekend in bed, sleeping and crying, crying and sleeping.

When I was done with the World’s Longest Crying Jag, I felt bruised and battered. I had never felt so tired and drained in my whole life. I couldn’t understand how people could live like that for years. Looking back, I had been living under a cloud since July or August of 2006; my breakdown was in July 2008. I wasn’t always down, or angry, or sad; I often had up-times and was high-functioning. But in the last two years, it had gotten progressively harder to deal with stress and unhappiness. And I was unhappy all the time. I couldn’t figure it out!

I had a good job, a great family, wonderful friends, a fantastic boyfriend. I wasn’t broke, I wasn’t being beaten, I wasn’t using or abusing drugs or alcohol. And yet, I was just miserable.

My GP put me on anti-depressants that day. Thank god. Without those little marvels of chemical wonder, it’s very possible that I wouldn’t be here today, much less here where I am right now. The meds (“my pills,” as I called them) helped blow the storm cloud away, and let some sunshine in. I needed that sunshine like you would not believe. Later, AR said it best when she said that sometimes you just need some sunshine. She meant literal, but figurative works, too.

My GP also suggested therapy, exercise, prayer, and a healthy diet. I eventually made it to 50% of the doctor’s orders. He also suggested that I seriously evaluate my life and think about where I was and where I wanted to be. I had already started on that path about a month before — I had begun the application process for the Teacher Ed programs at UAB & UA.

I say all that to say… I quit my job, went back to school, started reading and writing more, and started running. I did go off “my pills” in December 2008 (they made me a little emotionally detached, and I definitely couldn’t write while on them), and though there have been a couple episodes in the last few months that I wished for them, I just had a Mini Crying Jag and pushed through. I’m blessed that I am healthy enough to be able to have a spell and then move on — I know for a lot of people it’s just not possible. And as much as anything else, running has helped me feel so much better. I feel more in control, like I’m actually doing something to take care of my physical and mental health.

I am trying really hard every day to do what I must do to take care of myself. I feel like a better, stronger person because I am taking ownership and responsibility for my health.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Angels & Demons

  1. K. Tapia

    Hi Whitney,
    I want to thank you for writing honestly and eloquently about your life.

    I don’t think you need to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings through this blog. The old saw is true: Be yourself, and those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

    Reading has been a nice window into your life.
    Katie Tapia

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