I was telling my therapist yesterday that I want to go back and read my old journals, written over the past 9 years, covering the times where I’ve been in and out of depression. But after I blogged about my stay in the hospital psych ward, I read about a work Christmas party that happened shortly after my release, and found myself crying. Sometimes, the stories are sad.
Typically on Holiday Party day, I would work longer into the afternoon, and we would help Leanne in getting ready for the evening. She would have planned every detail of this party for weeks. She’s incredibly creative and clever, and she chooses the menu and theme and creates the fun game time for the annual event. We’d get tables set up and decorated, gather and set out supplies for coffee (the meal is catered), fluff the Christmas tree and check its lights, set up the sound system, move the piano out, and do whatever else we could to help her with preparations. The party is for Board members present and past, and the staff is invited to attend. I liked going, and my husband and I often served beverages before the meal. I had discovered this as my favorite way to meet and thank Board members without making tons of small talk! I don’t think I fulfilled this service in December 2009, and I’m sure that’s a good thing.
Looking back, I had no business being there that evening, not with my mental health fragility and the physical exhaustion I was experiencing as I was recovering from the serotonin toxicity. I wish someone had told me I couldn’t go. But I’d always attended before, and felt like I needed to this year, too. I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I was back to normal, even though that was far from true. My husband agreed to meet me there when he got off work.
I honestly don’t remember many details, but I do remember catching my reflection on the way to the bathroom. What I saw shocked me.
There was a short round woman, hunched over a little, her body being pushed hard toward the floor by gravity, her feet splayed for balance. Her hair was messy, but not cute-messy, and her face was drawn and tight. Her eyes were flat, and her lips turned downward. She looked horrible. And then I realized it was me.
I don’t think we stayed longer – I wanted to get out of there before anyone else saw me. I cried as we drove home – so sad for the woman I used to be. I didn’t think about how I would be her again someday – standing taller with confidence, attractively dressed, smiling with eyes sparkling. I could only be sad that at that moment she was gone, and in her place was this woman who had been beaten down and showed it.
Healing from the serotonin toxicity took way longer than I expected – months of me not feeling back to myself. My psychiatrist kept urging patience, reminding me that I had been through a major traumatic event. Everyone but me seemed to understand that I wasn’t weak, just healing, and it was going to take lots of time and rest for full recovery.
I cried a little as I retold this story yesterday to my therapist. And I realized that even though I really want to re-read all of my journals, it will not be easy. I am inviting myself back into sadness and sad memories, and I will mostly likely cry. She encouraged me to take my time – I don’t have to hurry – and I can stop at any point. She even offered that I could bring the journals to our appointments, if I feel that I don’t want to handle the emotions by myself.
At least I know what to expect. Some tears, definitely. But I’m also eager to read the evidences of God’s faithfulness, about the tools my previous therapist gave me, of verses of Scripture that sustained me. I will read expectantly, with my heart soft and ready to absorb the written emotions again, yet reading the journals with strength, knowing that I have come through difficult times and am the person I am today because of them. And I will cry.
“But I’m also eager to read the evidences of God’s faithfulness…”
I like that.
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You are a brave girl :;)
I ended up shredding my old journals and I refuse to write new ones. Not so much about my feelings about them but I just shudder to think of someone else reading them, esp my son.
I have come across old writings, and what’s really “fun” is reading old medical records. YAH. The past is the past and I want to leave it there. But I do understand why you want to read them. It’s ok if you don’t, it’s ok if you do.
Thank you by the way for keeping up your blog. I enjoy reading it. I don’t mention it every time but please keep it up! xo
Thanks, Kathy. I wondered for awhile about my kids reading my journals some day – perhaps it will be after I’m with Jesus, and so I won’t care. And hopefully by then, they won’t either. I still like to journal, especially my prayers.
Thanks for the encouragement to me to keep writing. It’s nice to know you read it:)
Thanks, Carol. And I don’t ever remember you being rude.😀 I know that the first year, I wasn’t sharing about my depression much and many people told me later that they never knew I was sick. My ease in talking about it came later. So you’re probably right that I was projecting strength or confidence that I didn’t really have, as I hid my illness. Thanks for your insights! Love ya.
Thank you for sharing this, Peg. It makes me think of that period of time in our community in both of our lives, with growing adolescents. I appreciate knowing you were not in a good place at that time, but strangely enough (mostly because our friendship had not formed yet) thinking you were a strong, in-charge woman. I think I was rude to you once, at this point before our friendship, and for that I am most sorry. But, know that sometimes you are not perceived to others, the same way you perceive yourself. You always seemed to be very strong in a specific group context and whether or not that is a good thing, I do not know. What I do know is that it is probably why no one told you not to go to that party. Thank you again for sharing! Love, Carol