A loud panic wraps me. It’s so so loud. It’s deafening. A panic that says nothing will ever be good again. “You’ve had the best you’ll ever have, everything from here on out will be impossible to live with.” It’s the slipping away of everything good. It’s the shadow coming over me and trying to choke me. It’s never going to be good again. I’ve convinced myself in those moments. I feel sudden anxiety about everything. It’s unbearable and controlling. It’s the sudden loss of hope -the essence of life. The looking forward.
I hear it in my head, “I can’t do this anymore!” “We can’t make it one more day, make it stop!”. The strange thing is that the thing that’s unbearable is just being here. Just being alive. Existing to my brain seems impossible to do. All I have to do is wake up, but my head is screaming at me to stop.
I had a dream last night -all night- and all it kept saying was, “we can’t do this anymore.”. What a weird dream to have… I’ve sunk into this deep aching sadness the last two or three days. I don’t know why. It’s been quietly enveloping me in this hopelessness like it always does. Just coming on and changing me again. It just kept getting louder. The voice is the only thing I hear now and it’s in pain. It aches in its cage, wanting me to set it free. I know what I could do, I could listen to it. I could make it stop. I could write another “last note” and quietly sneak away. No one has to know. The damage and destruction I leave behind will be someone else’s to deal with. And that’s why I know what I HAVE to do. I have to ride it out because I know these moments all too well. They come, and they go. They look like the ocean as it ebbs and flows, the deep breath of the planet behind every splash. And I just have to wait for that breath to slow down and relax until it’s back to normal.
This is what it looks like. It’s euphoric mania followed by a bottomless pit. The last manic episode was one of the shortest I’ve ever had, it only lasted a day, and the depression hit me like a baseball bat to the chest. This depressive episode has been really deep and black and overwhelming. I just have to hold on now. Hold on until it’s over.
I used to feel this same panic as a kid. It came at night at my dad’s house the few times I saw him. I was so afraid of staying with him. I wouldn’t sleep. I’d stay up for days. I’d take freezing cold showers to keep me awake. I felt so unsafe and if I fell asleep I couldn’t be in control of what was happening. I was so afraid to fall asleep. Sleeping wasn’t an option, even at that age (between 9 and 12) I knew I had to stay awake. I’d take naps in car rides if I had to, but fully sleeping wasn’t something I could allow.
The panic would come out in tears back then and somehow that seems like it would be easier in hindsight. I’d cry as silently as I could into my blankets. I wouldn’t make the mistake of being heard again for fear of what he would say or do. Thankfully the crying would help keep me awake. Now the panic just sits inside of me and I have to hide it so that I can be husband and dad.
I’m half of myself. I haven’t felt like this during the day before. The day is filled with distraction, it’s easier to forget it during the day. Today that doesn’t seem like enough. It’s still there, asking me why I would make us do this. Asking me why I won’t make it stop. Why won’t I end the pain. It concerns me.
Typically, this is a night time occurrence, when everyone is asleep and I’m completely alone. The house is empty, and I’m left with my thoughts rushing at me like the ground after being pushed off a cliff. No control, no way to stop them. The shove comes, and you don’t have a choice. You just hope to survive the fall. Sometimes I can bore myself to sleep and by morning the depression is there but the panic has muted. I outlast it. The marathon is over when the sun comes up and I close my eyes. This is new. It was in my dreams and now the sun is up and how am I going to do this again?
Maybe writing this down will help (it did). I want to be sure someone knows this about me.
It’s a panic, not a love of being miserable. It isn’t a desire for attention. It’s a survival instinct. How am I going to do this again? We somehow find a way. I have three very small humans that depend on it, and they depend on me acting like everything is normal, so they can hopefully learn to escape this cycle. And if they can’t end the cycle I want them to know someone understands and is surviving. I’m here and I’m listening, and I love you. And if they need help there is no shame in asking or finding it. And if they need me I won’t hesitate to be there. Not ever.