“Oh no. No. No. No. No. No. I still have stuff to do.” I pleaded to myself. I was growing more and more disheartened by the second.
I had just completed stop two and still had three more errands (and a freeway full of commuters) between me and home.
“Do I have enough time? Can I fight it off for a while?”
I could feel the fog rolling in. No, I could see it. It was coming for me. The gray skies I was accustomed to, my new default setting, were starting to get darker.
Once again I had to ask, “Do I bag it now and get home safe or do I try to push on?”
This happens a lot. Sometimes it’s in a grocery store parking lot. Other times I’m sitting in church or a meeting with a client. It doesn’t matter where or when – it all looks the same.
My vision gets faint. The sounds around me become muffled. My breath gets shallow. The gears in my brain start to buckle. I can see the depression roll over the horizon like a dark fog.
“It’s coming. I might have half an hour,” I said to myself.
You can’t see in the fog.
You can barely breathe.
I went to work. This happened all too often so I had a protocol.
I quickly glanced at my to-do list first. I had to prioritize the rest of my day fast before my brain shut down.
“Can I make it to the bank before it hits? I’ll have to take the freeway. Wait, it’s 8am, I’ll get stuck in traffic.”
Recently driving had become more and more of a concern. The depression brought with it increased anxiety so panic attacks were becoming a regular thing. Lately, I found myself blacking out for brief periods of time. Terrifyingly I was driving when a couple occurred.
I knew I could drive sad but I couldn’t drive with a panic attack.
“Okay, I think I can knock these out before it gets too bad.”
Next on the list, I sent a text to my wife. I let her know that it was starting to get bad and I was out running errands. I always did this for a couple of reasons. First, so that she could pray for me. I needed that to get through.
Second, so that she would know what was happening if I didn’t respond for a while. For some reason when it hits even looking at my phone aggravates the anxiety. I wanted her to know what was up so she knew I wouldn’t be as responsive but that I was still surviving (and alive).
We are now on our twelfth year together. She’s been with me as I’ve struggled to keep it together every day. She’s held on to me whenever I started to fall back down the mountain. She’s had my back every time I fought off suicide. She even fought for me when I couldn’t fight it off anymore. At this point, a simple text that says, “I’m surviving” is a welcomed relief for her.
And with all that, I started the car and went on to my next errand.
I was fortunate that day. You have to run what the course gives you. Sometimes I have to go right home and cancel the rest of the day (or week). The fog often becomes too thick to bear so I was grateful I could manage awhile longer.
Many days I wake up and the fog is already there. Thick and black, it feels like it’s been there for hours before my alarm even goes off. I wake up and I’m already choking on it. The day ends before it begins. I won’t eat that day. Won’t shower, won’t brush my teeth. I’ll only look at my phone every 4 or so hours for the obligatory “I haven’t killed myself yet” text to my wife.
I believe it is important to keep those things in perspective. The story I just shared sounds miserable. Well, okay yeah it was miserable. But compared to the really bad days this was okay. I managed to shower and go run errands! That was a win.
The depression fog was gone long enough for me to go outside. If only for a couple of hours. That was more than enough to be thankful for.
By the time I got home the fog had fully engulfed me. The air was thin and the sky was dark. It was hard just to get up the steps to our front door. I was running out of time but I made it. I was there. I fumbled with my keys and tried not to drop all the bags. I was getting weaker. I knew it.
The door opened and I stumbled in.
“I made it,” I said.
“I’m home now.”
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