When the darkness came again, I was not prepared. I was doing the right things. I was taking my medicine: each night 20 milligrams of that precious antidepressant—wonder of wonders—that kept me alive nearly four years and taught me to hope again. I was practicing self-care, my savings leaking out the bank for therapy and psychiatrists and vitamins purporting to lessen the misery and devastating hopelessness of the depression.
But those things were not enough: The medicine that saved my life was no longer saving me, and so the darkness came. The summer passed. Now I am in the in-between—the interminable-seeming space where I wait for my body to adjust to new drugs, brain careening between terror and acute despair. I am in the not-knowing. Perhaps the medicine will not work at all; perhaps it will work eventually, but only after eight or ten weeks. Perhaps after several years it will fail again.
As if to make the crisis more painful, my faith—no longer strong enough to sustain the crippling cycles of relative stability followed by drops into severe depression and panic—has failed, too. Or nearly failed: I find I can’t believe in much anymore, because the only thing that feels real is the dark. Maybe I believe; maybe I don’t. I don’t know. I keep praying, or trying to pray—trying to will the implausibility of this belief back into something tenable.
And yet, I am here. Every hour that I stomach, every minute that passes as I watch the clock and pray for the panic to end is a grace. I have made it one more hour, one more minute through the thing that they tell me is a brain malfunction—the thing that the doctors and the therapists and the preachers tell me I can learn to live with. It doesn’t feel like I can learn to live with it, but I remain, grasping at the straw of the SSRIs, waiting for the pills to work. Every day, every moment—grace to me.
Every day that I make it through this god-damned sadness sucking the life out of me is a fight, and it is a grace. A thousand times an hour I have thought I can’t make it anymore. I just can’t make it anymore. But here I am, given grace to see and feel—for the briefest of moments—life. And I live.
Laura E. Creel is an emerging writer and musician living in South Florida. As artist-in-residence at CityChurch Fort Lauderdale, she practices liturgical writing and songwriting, and works to cultivate and curate local art.
Up next, Survival as Neighbor-Love
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