Sunday, July 17, 2011

Then: A Slow Journey Through Hell...Breaking

It is one of the cruel, cruel ironies of life that a person can feel nausea and hunger at the same time.  I discovered that if I didn't eat one bite of ANYTHING for a day or two, the hunger pains would stop, but the moment I ate a tiny bite of something, they would start up again.  The instinct of self-preservation must be pretty powerful because I kept trying to eat, even though I felt worse EVERY! SINGLE! TIME! no matter what I ate.

Friend S. picked up my children to take them to her house every week day for MONTHS.  I was SO GRATEFUL that she was able and willing to do this, but I cried every morning when they left because I felt so bad that I couldn't even take care of my own children, and I was so lonely by myself all day.

Normally, when I hear about something sad, I feel sad but am able to find some good thing in the world to give me hope, and move on.  But suddenly, every sad thing I heard/read about was HEART WRENCHING and I just COULD NOT get past it!  In order to distract myself and use up some of my copious amounts of time with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling, I tried to read the Harry Potter books.  I couldn't make it past the 3rd book.

As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I had numbered the weeks on the calendar, so that I could know how long I needed to hang on:  in my other hyperemesis pregnancies, the nausea had improved enough that I could function again around week 20.  I found week 20 on my calendar, and that was my goal through all of the long days I spent on the couch trying not to throw up, being unable to do anything but watch my IV drip and stare at the calendar wishing the time would move more quickly.  But week 20 came and went with no improvement, and I couldn't fight the misery any longer. 

I'm not certain which part of this experience broke me:  the constant, severe nausea, the starving and losing 30 pounds in 3 months, being desperately thirsty but unable to drink anything, the hours spent in the Urgent Care waiting room, the pain of the IV's, getting sick with viruses a couple of times along with the hyperemesis, the awful experience of getting my gall bladder removed, the stress and pain of the blood clot and the subsequent painful shots....maybe it was everything combined.  Suddenly, I felt somewhat like I had been seriously injured in a shipwreck, and now I was floating, alone, in the ocean, trying not to drown, as wave over wave crashed over me.  I could see a few people in the distance, trying to throw me a rope, but it was so far away, and I was too injured and too busy trying to stay afloat to grab the rope.  Trying to talk on the phone, or talk to a friend who came to visit, or read a book, blogs or email, or crochet, or be in charge of the children....all of these very normal things felt like giant waves crashing over me, threatening to drown me.

I started having anxiety attacks and became severely depressed.  (Although "became severely depressed" is the usual way to put it, I think it would be much more accurate to say "I was viciously attacked by and suffered serious, life-threatening injuries from severe depression.")  I am usually a little depressed, but this was the first time in my life that I actually had all of the symptoms on those checklists; usually I can say, “yes, no, a little bit, no, yes” to those questions, but this time is was YES all the way. I COULD! NOT! sleep (and sleep was my ONLY escape from the suffering, so it was AGONIZING to toss and turn and toss and turn ALL NIGHT LONG), I couldn't do any of the things I would normally do to distract myself (read, watch TV, crochet, etc....), I would be overcome by hopelessness at least once a day and sob and sob and sob...I am certain that I had never cried as much in all my life combined as I did at this time, and I am not an easy crier!  It was unbearable!  As bad as the physical suffering was, the mental suffering was even worse.  I discovered that a person's MIND could hurt.  My mind felt like a raw nerve, and being conscious felt like someone touching that raw nerve over and over again.

During this awful time, I had a hard time interacting with my family and friends.  I felt so useless, like I was a huge weight that was going to drag everyone down with me.  I couldn't understand why anyone would want to be around me, and I was certain that, by the time we parted, they would see what a worthless burden I was.  What do you have to talk about or what do you have to give to someone else when your time is spent fighting the overwhelming misery that is threatening to swallow you?  I had a hard time answering the phone when people would call;   I even felt the fire of anxiety burning in my chest when I tried to talk to some of my dearest, long-time friends!  It took me A WEEK to gather the strength to call my sweet, little old grandma to wish her a Happy Birthday, and Grandma had never said anything approximating a harsh word to me in my entire life! 

Husband left me a sweet note one day, and I cried and cried when I read it because something like that would normally have brought me comfort and happiness, but I couldn't feel anything beyond the misery.

When I started being unable to sleep, even though I was exhausted, and I was having panic attacks and  crying uncontrollably, my OB sent me to see a psychiatrist.  I couldn't even drive myself to the appointment;  I felt like I was being smothered when I thought about it.  Husband had to drive me, and he had to fill out all of the initial paperwork because looking at all of those questions and trying to think of the answers made my head hurt.  I couldn't stop crying, even though the waiting room was PACKED.  The psychiatrist gave me medication to help me sleep, medication for the anxiety, and medication for the depression.  He said that the medication for the depression would take about 3 weeks to work.  I honestly did not know how I was going to survive the pain and hopelessness in my mind that long, but he looked at me pointedly and said that my only other option was to go to the hospital.

I would go to bed promptly at 7:00 each night because I just couldn't bear to be conscious anymore, and, even though it took me 2-3 hours to fall asleep, even with the medication, it was easier to be in bed in a dark room than to be around my family thinking about all of the things they needed and all the ways I felt like I was failing them;  every one of those thoughts was another wave crashing over me, threatening to drown me.  Marie and Joseph would take turns coming in to snuggle with me for a few minutes before I went to sleep.  Once they left, I had to play songs in my head to keep myself from thinking because every thought I had made my mind hurt.

I was blessed to be born with a couple of strong beliefs that have served me well in my life.  One was that if I ever tried to sneak around and do something I wasn't supposed to, I would get caught;  this belief kept me out of a lot of trouble growing up.  The other was that if I ever tried to kill myself, it wouldn't work, and I would spend the rest of my life permanently damaged from the attempt.  This belief kept me from making a plan to kill myself when I spent much of the day wishing that I could be a fatality from a drive-by shooting so that I didn't have to suffer anymore.  The other two things that kept me from trying to end my life were:  1.  Life was precious and God would not be happy with me if I killed myself.  2.  Although I felt like I was a heavy, worthless burden on everyone around me, and I believed that Husband would be sad but eventually move on, I couldn't imagine how my children would ever get over their mother choosing to leave them, since they would probably (HOPEFULLY!!!!) never understand the amount of suffering that would drive a person to make such a choice.


Emily said...

Reading this is heartwrenching. Even though our situations were vastly different, reading about your dark place immediately takes me back to mine. I'm glad you eventually ended up ok!

d e v a n said...

I am feeling massive amounts of sympathy for then-you. Oh my goodness!!!

Doing My Best said...

Emily--My heart ached for you when I read your posts; I don't think I will EVER forget how awful and hopeless and painful it was.
Just so you know, the next few posts are like this too, so if it is going to give you horrible flashbacks, you might not want to read again until you see the post "It is Finished"; it was quite a while before I could hear about other people's experiences without being attacked by the anxiety, and I don't want to do that to you!

Devan--Thank you! I appreciate it! I'm still trying to come to terms with everything that happened, and sympathy helps soothe the spots that are still hurting =).

momof3 said...

I am so sorry for all the pain you have been through. I hope time has started to heal some of this. If you went through this with all of your pregnancies I don't know how you made it through more than one. Hugs you you my friend.