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Turning Tides: Sailing Stormy Seas

As told to Leah Gebber

A diagnosis is perhaps the ultimate fear and the ultimate comfort. Ah, so there’s a name for the crazy way I’ve been feeling. Ah, there’s something very real and very frightening going on in my life. And Aaaaah, there might be a way forward.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I had been married for over a decade, had a houseful of children, and if you looked at me, you’d see yet another housewife, utterly ordinary. But my inner world roiled with emotion — grief, sadness, anger, disappointment. It was almost like I had no skin to protect me from the elements, so every passing whisper of feeling became a veritable storm. I was left buffeted, desperate, and fearful. I remember the time I asked my husband to bring me a tea. He added a heaping teaspoon of sugar instead of sweetener. Telling it over, it sounds ridiculous, but the disappointment I felt plunged me into a pit. “Don’t you know that I don’t take sugar?” I yelled. “You don’t care about me! You don’t even know me!” My husband was completely and utterly bewildered. What exactly did he do wrong? I didn’t know myself, only that my inner world was screaming that he didn’t care, that he would abandon me, that the world was a fearful place wherein everything that could go wrong would do so. And all of this about a teaspoon of sugar. Most of the time, and definitely on the outside, I’m just your average nice person. Inside, though, there are extremes fighting to get out. I found that I could keep the dike closed for a few days, weeks even, but eventually the pressure got too great and I would break down emotionally, feeling despair and terrible fear. I felt like my husband wasn’t supporting me enough through it and I was, at the same time, terrified that he would abandon me. I would cry, unceasing, racking sobs that brought no relief, but only hurt me more, and dug me deeper into my rut. I used the physical pain of the crying to cover up and distract myself from the emotional pain that I had no clue how to deal with. I tried therapist after therapist, and some of them helped a little, but nothing really hit the spot. Some I blame for incompetence, others told me what I wasn’t ready to hear. Like that I should visit a psychiatrist. Me? A psychiatric disorder? It was too much to contemplate. I desperately wanted to be a regular person, but just wanting to be a regular person is not enough. It’s hard enough to contemplate going through therapy, let alone having some kind of psychiatric disorder.

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