The last couple of months at the Lam Household were marked by the usual summer busyness (craziness) that comes with having young children: Summer camps, day trips, figuring out activities that get the kids out of the house and enjoying the good weather, getting caught up in Blue Jays fever…frankly I have barely touched my laptop for a couple of months, let alone sitting down to do any writing.
But about two months ago, I began to notice some familiar, troubling emotions…the feeling of dark despair at nights, the inability to sleep, the anxiety that sometimes washes over me like a tidal wave out of nowhere, as the days wore on and those feelings began to intensify, I said to myself, “uh no….”
After visiting and discussing my situation with both my doctor and therapist, we all came to the same conclusion: I am facing a recurring episode of depression. My doctor immediately recommended me taking a week off, and prescribed me a new round of anti-depressants.
I am not surprised that the depression has returned. From what I have learned about the illness, I know that it is quite possibly something that I have to deal with for the rest of my life. What surprised me, however, was my reaction to the news. For those who have read “Among the Ashes”, how I described my feelings upon being diagnosed for the first time was EXACTLY how I feel this time around. Apparently, I have not learned anything:
The feeling of shame (I am weak, I have lost…AGAIN)
The feeling of embarrassment when I filled the prescription for the anti-depressant (Does the pharmacist have to speak SO LOUD??)
The fear (What if I don’t get better?)
In fact, NOTHING has changed compared to my first diagnosis 8 years ago…the sleepless nights returned. The drinking to numb myself returned. The inability to get through the day returned. The occasional dark suicidal thoughts returned. EXACTLY like how I wrote about it in the book. Word for word. Except this time, there is a new twist…
After writing the book, after receiving so many positive feedback from those who found the book encouraging in their walk with depression, I feel like…a “fraud” now that the depression has returned, and I am no “better” at dealing with it.
I spoke with a friend who also has a life long experience with depression, and he reminded me of something that I once knew in my head, but now know to be true: When it comes to depression, no one gets “better” in dealing with it. It never gets “easier”. He reminded me THAT is precisely the message of “Among the Ashes”: It is not a “how to” book. It is a “let us” book….Let us learn to walk through this together, one day at a time, one step at a time…
So the story continues. The battle resumes. Rather than “discrediting” what I wrote, I hope to share my continuing journey here over the next little while as a “validation” of the book. I will be making some difficult and significant life choices over the next weeks and months, so I would appreciate any good thoughts and prayers you can throw my way. For now, especially for my friends who live with depression as a daily reality, I hope you can be encouraged by the fact that I walk with you together. May our journey forward be our way of “rising from the ashes”, together, one day at a time.
Keep journeying, friends.