Cella’s Chat: From Death’s Door to Rebirth, Yes Life IS Worth Living

In my post titled “How Did I Get Here,” I mentioned there was a silver lining, but before the silver lining could be seen, life had to totally shake me up and throw me down.  So, now I had been hit with the horrible word “depression” and I didn’t know what to do with that.  After all, my body was falling apart right before my eyes, and now I had to deal with my mind falling apart?  You’re kidding, right?  My therapist was telling me stop going to the doctors, the doctors were telling me I needed more doctors, they are diving deep! What do I do?  Who do I listen to?  I just wanted to jump under the covers and declare it a dream, however, I couldn’t even sleep so that wasn’t even possible.  Also, Ms. Holistic over here hates medication so every medication the doctors tried to give me for depression or to sleep simply didn’t work.  I was in a horrible cycle!

My concentration level was so off, I could no longer work and I had to take the firm’s offer of going on Family Medical Leave.  That just added to my “depression.”  My friends were trying to reach out to me and I simply couldn’t reach back.  I did, however, have two tenacious Christian friends that just wouldn’t leave me alone during this deep, dark period.  Apparently, they would go to such depths as sneaking around my house sprinkling Holy water from the church (of course, I find this out later)!  They were aiming “high” so to speak.   I was on every prayer chain at every church across Virginia, possibly the United States – they were really working it!  No one knew what to do for me.  My husband (at the time), having just come back from almost 7 months away, didn’t recognize me (well, he did but instead of a healthy 122 lbs, I am a whopping 99 lbs – and I kept dropping).  He gave it a good try in the help department until he just lost himself in his job.  This was his coping mechanism because he didn’t know how to deal with the situation.  My boys continued the havoc in the household as they didn’t understand what was wrong with mom and my mother, who also lived with us, had back surgery and I was her caregiver (a true joke as I couldn’t really take care of me!).

Where did all of this lead you ask? It lead me to feel useless – as a wife, mother, family member, friend, employee and human being.  I am telling you, if you don’t sleep for over five months straight, you simply lose your mind.  Now, would it be too much to ask that the doctors might figure some things out on their own?  Doing my own medical research, I asked them to test my cortisol level – a simple 24 hour urine test that could save your life!  Doctors should know that when a person presents as I did for a length of time, checking one’s cortisol should be on their checklist.  What is cortisol you ask?  It is the stress hormone in your body that activates when the “fight or flight” mode is set off.  Do you realize if your cortisol is off then your whole body is off?  If it is too high, it could be Cushing’s Syndrome or depression.  HELLO!  So, there I was – exhausting the doctor with my “lets try this one more test” and he reluctantly gave in and wrote the script.  But, when do you think I finally found out what those test results were?  Exactly, when I was already in the hospital!  So you ask, how did you end up in the hospital, what happened?  The simple truth was – I was so exhausted and sick, my body was breaking down and I felt useless, I just wanted to “sleep.”  That’s it – that is how I could justify in my mind the simple act of wanting to take my own life.  There, I said it, I was suicidal!

This is a simple blog so I cannot tell you all that had happened up to that point to allow me to walk down this path.  That would be a book (someday), however, I am hoping someone, at least one person reading this, will get the help they need or share with someone who needs help, this information.  Apparently, from what the paramedics said, I had approximately five minutes before “that’s it”…. but, call it what you want… God, the Universe, Spirit, a Higher Power, whatever… came in and plucked my butt right up and let me know that I wasn’t going anywhere.  I had things to do here and people that were counting on me.  So, I ended up in the “hospital” (a nice way of saying psych ward) for 8 days and it was during that time period when I got the results of my cortisol study.  Guess what they found?  You got it – my cortisol level was skyrocketing high.  If they had figured this out earlier, perhaps the right meds could have helped level me off.  If you know anyone in this severe state of depression, please advise them to have their cortisol level checked.  Also, any signs of anxiety that is out of control, get help.  Sometimes we can’t do it on our own no matter how much we try.  Being in the “hospital” was an enlightening experience.  Once I got past the fact that there were some pretty crazy people there, I also realized there were many people just like me and I learned about myself.  That I am not “Superwoman,” I couldn’t keep up doing everything I did, helping everyone and taking life on full force.  Sometimes you simply break.

The silver lining is the fact that through this horrible experience, I came out stronger than ever before.  I learned that the little word “stress” has huge repercussions if not kept in check, that our mind is so powerful we can create anything in either direction, that you have to be your own doctor and that we simply cannot control everything  – just let it go.  I have given my testimony in front of churches and to many people along the way.  I am never embarrassed or ashamed.  I understand that people may think that this is a selfish act, and it can be, but the flip side is, for many people like myself, the illness of depression becomes so unbearable that we feel it is selfish to continue putting ourselves and our loved ones through this.  It was something that happened in my life and now I am on a continual healing path.  People need to speak up and talk about their experiences.  If one life can be saved because someone listened to me and knows that “yes, life IS worth living” then that horrible journey was worth every step.  It wasn’t a death but a rebirth.

“Just when the caterpillar thought she was about to die, she became a butterfly.” 

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