This is the first in a series of posts that gives my backstory of the events that led to diagnosis. I anticipate that it will take 5-7 posts, so bear with me.
My mother’s side of the family is a cesspool of genetic mental illness. Depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia are tenants of that hellish residence. I was not spared.
I spent life up until my mid-twenties as a broken mass of depression. There was no cause and it seemed like no treatment helped. There was simply a chemical imbalance, passed by my mother’s genes, that had taken too deep of root. I was functional, but never able to reach full potential. Like most others in her ancestry, I was crippled by that which I had no control over. By the time my marriage to my husband began to fall apart, I was completely out of step with life.
My marriage was a parasitic one. I never loved the man. He did, however, acquiesce to my every whim and I had complete dominion over him. For five years, I was able to keep him in a caged state where he would exist only to serve me. I would use underhanded tactics, blaming my depression – but having full faculty – in order to keep him tamed.
I remember when he threatened divorce. He thought that his unhappiness was due to my depression and that curing that would solve our relationship “problems”. He did not realize until too late that, while I was genuinely and dangerously depressed, I was really engaging in parasitism for the entirety of the relationship. Coming to his wits’ end, he gave an ultimatum: go to therapy or he would leave. Such began the collection of a detailed case history by a trained psychologist.
A year and a half passed. He had left and I had moved on, but the depression still lingered. I was caged and blind – having no understand of why there was so much pain for no reason. My experiences with therapy consisted of bandaids – every time we would begin to move on to another topic, any temporary fix for the depression had come undone. There was always a new fire to put out. The therapist would later remark that she wanted to bring up my callousness and lack of empathy much earlier, but she was concerned that the fires would engulf me if left unattended.
It was at this time that the nuclear option was suggested. No amount of therapy nor psych meds were helping the depression. I was beyond frustrated. I had nothing to be depressed about, but I could not shake it. It looked that I would suffer the same fate of any number of nameless faces on my mother’s side. Desperate, I sought the bomb, electro-convulsive therapy: electroshock.
The reason that it is the nuclear option is because of the side-effects it brings. Namely, the random amount of memory loss that is guaranteed. Some lose the few months immediately before and after electroshock, some lose years. I so desperately wanted to be free of my genetic cage that I did not care. I believed that I was a person destined for great achievement in life; I did not want to be held back arbitrarily.
The week before the first shock treatment, I gathered those in my life that I respected. These were few but valued in an indescribable way. We had one last dinner together before the unknown. I do not remember much, but I do know that there is no way I could have anticipated what the lightning would bring…