As I reflect and remember some of those depression filled years, I recall the common symptoms…
- Insomnia for days and weeks, barely sleeping an hour a night. But practicing law at a high level all day.
- Cutting short relationships, this need I had to hide from the world
- Solo lunches
- A complete lack of happiness in my life
- Raw emotions, tears, hidden from everyone
But I think for me the greatest loss I endured during the darkness was the complete thought I had nothing to offer to others. I was empty of self confidence and self worth.
With this emptiness, it took every bit of strength and energy I had to walk into my law firm each day and work. Trying to perform to the expectation I had of myself and others had from my experience. Of course, I would pretend to be happy and collected. Practicing law requires great confidence. Confidence I had to pretend I had.
I had to make a hundred decisions each day.
I had 50 phone calls to make by noon. As soon as one call was made, another was added to the list. In the time before emails and texting! I had to put more energy into “pretending” in my voice.
I was left with no strength for my personal life which unravelled slowly but deeply, never to be retrieved in some instances.
Life has challenges. It’s how we handle them that makes a better life or not. It’s sad, but all too real, to know that some people can not find that better life. The illness is too strong. The symptoms are real. I can recall them now knowing full-well what was happening to me… what was happening to my mind. But at the time, I was stuck in an envelop, stuck, not knowing where I was or how to get out.
With a mental illness, it takes time, treatment, and family support. As with any illness. That is the only way to attempt to find the better life. With help I found where I was and I figured out how to get out.
I am a fortunate one.