Content Warning: Descriptions of severe depression, the aftermath of sexual assault.
I’m feeling much better. Turns out, it wasn’t a round of severe depression, as evidenced by my improved condition a few days later. I believe the suddenness (that word is spelled so redundantly) in which my happy-go-lucky stasis was shattered led me to panic and overreact. My bad. (Please, dear Universe, don’t use this as an excuse to teach me the difference between mild and severe depression.) I do remember on some level. A level I can push away at will. Usually.
The scenario that stands out the most for me is when I was an inpatient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I was severely depressed. I remember walking outside to a roofless enclosure within the ward. I don’t recall any thoughts. I crashed in a moment. I had to lay down on the cement. I remember only being able to muster the necessary energy to lower myself somewhat gently. Then that was all I had. I could only breathe and lay there. It was like I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move, but I had no idea why. I didn’t even feel upset or concerned about it because it took more than what I had. I’m the type of person who seriously considers abandoning my apartment over a spider. I hate bugs. I have the willies just sharing that fact.
That’s how I remember severe depression. It’s nothingness. No control, no abilities, and no drive. It’s laying on the bare ground while a Daddy Long-Legs spider crawls on my face (when typically it would have resulted in a frenzied attempt to practically peel the skin off my face.) It took 18 months of my life to get from that point to the person who could do a task without weeping. I remember my Mom suggested I do a load of laundry one day after I was out of the hospital. The question filled me with panic. I learned how to do laundry when I was 12. I relearned when I was 28.
The second time required me to trust in myself and my abilities again, after spending so long as an inpatient. I wish I didn’t remember that part so well. My mom’s suggestion sent my mind racing immediately. What else am I going to have to start doing again? Why is this so hard? Why are you doing this to me? Can’t you see I’m broken? I deeply resent the interruption to my life, the termination of my military career, and the murder of who I used to be. All because a man decided his momentary pleasure was more valuable than my existence. The mindset is where I focus my fury. Those who view women as mere sex toys and worse.
Severe depression is traumatic. The women who slept on my right at Walter Reed was undergoing ECT for depression at the time. She was funny, I liked her. There were people from all branches of the military at Walter Reed. I met a lot of individuals who were there for attempting suicide, often over their sexuality. They were always quickly processed out of the service back when it was Don’t ask, Don’t tell. I’m glad they stopped that bullshit. It should have been, Don’t treat humans like shit, Don’t drink and drive. I bet my slogan would have resulted in far fewer deaths. (Don’t worry, I’m keeping my day job.)
I just needed to clarify the varying degrees of depressive episodes. It’s easy to get the impression PTSD is a walk in the park based on what I share when in actuality, I’ve been living with it for several years. I’ve had psych nurses teach me all about coping skills, how to distract myself, and most importantly, how to trust my ability to endure. Then I had the remedial course, the refresher, and the graduation ceremony, (when the nurse kindly but firmly reminds you about having the skills but needing to actually use them.) I earned my walk in the park through endurance, experience, and a blessedly short attention span.
Side note: Thanks, J. and M.