There is an elephant in the room. It’s been here for a while – oh, you know, about 8 months – napping quietly in the corner. The other day, though, it started trumpeting loudly so I figured it was high time I quit circling and introduced you.
As I contemplated this post – and boy! there’s been endless contemplation going on – my first thought was to just swing by for a few minutes to let you know that I am still alive and that soon I’d even be kicking. You deserve better than that. You deserve to know what in the world has kept me away from here for the best part of 4 months – and 3 months without a single peep save a post full of numbers, bold, and underlining. I most certainly did not intend to be gone so long. I’ve missed you enormously. There hasn’t been a day gone by where I haven’t thought about you, wanted desperately to just get back to my usual blogging schedule, and chastised myself for having failed you – yet again – by not writing. Or cooking. Or eating. Or shooting stuff.
So what’s been up with all the MIA around here? Because you know that I would never just abandon you without so much as a farewell or a toodle-pip. It’s just that I’ve been busy. I spent the summer curled up in a ball on the couch with a cacophony of cats watching House, MD. From start to finish – all 3 billionty episodes – Season 1 to Season 8. Entire weekends passed in a haze of medical jargon, sexual innuendo, and fancying the pants off of Jesse Spencer. (Jesse, if you’re reading this I’m available.) And oh! how I related to Gregory House: his misery, his loneliness, his genius, and his ever-present mental anguish. I watched more television this summer than I have in the last 30 years. Yep, it’s been rather strange around here. I don’t even like television. I don’t even have television. And yet, television filled my summer.
It wasn’t just all TV and no play though. There were errands strewn amongst the fictitious medical drama marathons – just enough to keep the house standing, the car running, the bills paid, and the kitties healthy. Talking of kitties – they thought this was the BEST. SUMMER. EVER. They were most disappointed when the last episode of Season 8 saw House and Wilson riding off into the sunset.
So what in the world would inveigle the girl that writes entire cookbooks in 5 weeks, builds kitchens, and regularly road trips around the country – all while also working a full-time day-job – slump on the couch, stare aimlessly at a screen for days on end, spend every other possible minute sleeping, and then have the gall to say, “I’ve been busy.” ???
Well, here’s where you get to meet The Elephant. While you may perceive that I have just spent the last 3 months being staggeringly lazy, what I was very busy doing while all this couch-surfing and napping was going on was keeping myself alive. House was an engaging distraction and sleep rendered me unconscious – excellent tricks as it turned out. I am still here.
Let’s back up.
It’s been a little over 8 months since my adrenal glands shut up shop. 8 months! I don’t even know where the time goes. At the same time as my adrenal glands went on strike, something in my brain broke, and for the last 8 months I have battled an unrelenting and enormous depression. For the past 6 I’ve been near-constantly suicidal. It’s been hard. Ok, ok. It’s been f***ing awful.
Life is certainly different from 8 months ago – my adrenals and my brain going down simultaneously caused me to commit to being hardcore *SANE. It was imperative that I did whatever I could to heal my body, and as you know if you followed my earlier series of posts, I transformed my body into a lean, mean, healthy machine, reaping the rewards of that over and over ever since. If you watched my video, you’ll hear me gushing excitedly about being a new woman and how fantastic I feel, physically. But there was one thing that steadfastly refused to partake in the transformation: my brain.
When my brain failed to respond to the SANE lifestyle that had healed the rest of my body I looked for other answers. I tried all the supplements, drank all the brain-curing oils, and focused on eating all the things The Internet swears will halt depression in its tracks. Nada. They switched up my meds – changed the dosage up and down, added new ones, added even more new ones, stopped some and started others, and then stopped them all. Nope, nope, and nope. Still my brain relentlessly filled my head – hour after hour, day after day – with thoughts of death: sweet, peaceful relief.
Positive thinking was a complete impossibility – those neuron pathways were simply gone. No matter the upbeat, loving self-talk I repeated over and over and over in my mind, it was no match for the streams of dire hopelessness and darkness that cursed through my grey matter. I buried myself in psychology and self-help books and videos, continually read and re-read your emails and comments and Facebook posts telling me I am valuable and how much I have helped you, talked my therapist into a coma, and my psychiatrist into therapy. I changed jobs, stayed away from negative, mean, or angry people, stopped reading the news, and endeavored to banish every last thing that was causing me stress. Nothing gave me relief. Not one damn thing. I thought I was losing my mind. Many times I almost lost the battle. And my life.
I have been on constant high alert, and had a bevy of friends at the ready all hours of the day and night – both here, across the US, and in England to cover more time zones. I’ve slept with my cell phone, run to friends houses when I couldn’t trust myself to be alone, and stayed at work until it was time to go to bed. Weekdays were manageable – long days surrounded by colleagues with plenty of engaging work that denied my noggin any opportunity to derail me. If I was going to die it was going to be alone. The weekends were a different story – until I discovered that an inordinate amount of sleep and back-to-back episodes of House, interspersed with just enough errands to keep the wheels on the bus would get me through to the next Monday when I could escape to the office at the crack of dawn.
I had to forcibly drag myself to do anything. I’d lost all joy. I’d lost all desire. Nothing gave me even the slightest hint of pleasure. Being awake was torturesome. Nothing had a purpose, everything was pointless, and life had no meaning. I felt like I was walking in a long, dark tunnel that I already knew had no opening at the other end. I was just waiting to die – and I hoped every day that day would be my last.
It was desperately excruciating looking into the future and imagining having to live another 20 or 30 or 40 years with this unremitting torment. Even one more day seemed impossible to endure. What if this was how the rest of my life was going to be? What if I never felt joy again? What if I never felt passionate again? What if I never wrote another blog or created another recipe or went on another road trip? What if this was it?? I simply could not survive.
And yet here I am.
The Elephant? He doesn’t seem nearly so big now, but there’s a lot more for me to say. I hope you’ll stay around for the sequel. It’s so much better when you’re here too.