The last article I wrote was on February 12, 2019, just 5 days following my bike accident. In a way, I can’t believe I’ve gone over a year without writing on my blog. In another way, it makes perfect sense. The reason? To put it bluntly…hell.
My accident messed up my face. It healed pretty quickly, but for a while, I was ugly. There was no concussion according to the doctors. I don’t believe that, but no matter. After a CT scan and three MRIs, they found no damage to my brain. Thank God.
But something about the head trauma set off a year long bout with depression and anxiety. In addition to the daily torture of intense fear, zero motivation, long days in bed, crying, crying, and more crying, a total lack of communication, and losing 25 pounds, I endured a few fascinating experiences, all grueling, some helpful.
- TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – a procedure during which I wore a helmet and my skull was repeatedly and aggressively tapped over a period of about 30 -45 minutes for at least 40 sessions. Most of time, I didn’t mind it because I hoped it would work. Sometimes it sent me into a panic attack. It didn’t work after all.
- Sessions with numerous psychiatrists – different circumstances led to this frustration. I am now with someone I like and trust.
- Experimentation with various prescriptions – at one point, I was taking more than 10 medicines! I’ve got it down to six now and plan to get it down to one.
- Residential treatment at La Amistad – after two 6-week stays at this facility, I recovered but then relapsed. My time there will remain one of the most intense and profound times in my life. I look back on it with disbelief, yet with some nostalgia. It turns out that you can’t recover by running away.
- Bi-weekly sessions with a therapist – uncomfortable and torturous, yet extremely helpful. I am forever grateful to the woman who has led me to recovery.
About a month ago, approximately one year and 5 weeks following my accident, I began to emerge. The anxiety remained but I was able to beat it by exercising. I had been exercising a little bit here and there (a sad representation) but I finally felt good enough to walk and ride our Peloton. Then the anxiety faded and I continued to start my day with exercise. I was smiling, laughing, talking, engaging, moving, and feeling happy. I had done so very little of that for over a year! Those who know me well couldn’t believe how low I had gotten.
The torture was over. I couldn’t believe it. For the first week, I expected it to revert back. I didn’t trust it one bit. A brief reprieve had happened once before, only fooling me. I wasn’t going to be fooled again.
Here I am a month later still feeling happy, content, inspired, and healthy. But I have a long and hereditary history of depression and anxiety. I have had minor setbacks before. I know that this might attack me again. Painful things happen and we don’t necessarily handle them so well. My only hope is that I will never fall to the kind of place I fell this time around. I was as low as I could go and it honestly felt like I was being tortured.
Now, there are lots of things to be thankful for. I credit my recovery to three of them:
- Medicine – pure and simple. Do I love the thought of being on medicine for the rest of my life? Absolutely not. But I know that it works and I’m good with it.
- Therapy – digging deep and way back; facing unpleasant memories; forgiveness; admitting all; discovering myself; facing the truth – a journey with no regrets
And finally. Prayers.
I begged God to take this from me. It was from a place of desperation, however, and not a place of hope and faith. Not sure it was really all that effective.
I’m talking about the prayers of others. Whenever people would ask me, “What can I do for you?” or “How can I help you?” My answer was always the same.
Just pray for me.
I will never be able to express the gratitude I feel for the thousands of prayers that continued throughout the year. Since I couldn’t pray without feeling desperation, I always knew that others’ prayers contained more hope, belief, faith, and love. They were more able to pray. They were closer to God. They had happiness in their hearts and wanted that happiness for me. What a gift.
Well, I finally received that gift. I am happy. I am myself. I am whole.
From hell to whole. I have emerged.