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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Depression: Not just the word of the day
by Kathleen Guzman
2014-08-20

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I am not sure how I got there. I am not sure how many hours I was curled in the corner on the bathroom floor. I am not sure how loud my cries were or how long the screams of despair choked the breath from my body.

The folded towel I clutched in my rigid arms stifled the sobs as they poured uncontrollably out of my mouth, unable to stop, unable to pause even for a moment. The emotions flooded uncontrollably out of my retching body and there was no sense of time or purpose. Where all those tears came from, I may never know. Who was that woman rocking hysterically in a rhythm all too familiar and why did she look like me? Why did no one come to save her from the darkness of those torturous hours?

The kids were at school. I took another sick day. The dog lied silently outside the locked door on the bedroom floor, patiently waiting for me to make an appearance. I was alone—desperately alone. The panic and solitude has devoured me in a way I had never experienced before. I knew I had to end the suffering; I knew that no one would ever be able to save me from the pain I alone was experiencing.

I was logical—I did not want to leave this world—but I more certainly did not want to remain a part of it. It was just too hard, as every single moment of every single day was simply too hard for me and I was certain that there was no one who could make the shadows disappear. I was at the end—and I knew it. I knew it and, in all the madness, I understood that it was pathetic and desperate and real.

Life of the party, good daughter, wonderful mom and dedicated employee—I was all those things. No one in the land of the living would, for one moment, know the agony that ran freely through my 38-year-old body, landed in my brain and clouded my life with certain darkness. I told myself I was strong, smart and unique enough to save myself from these periodic episodes. I told myself that for more than five years, until I found myself that day on the bathroom floor, unable to stand, function, breathe—unable.

I did not want to hurt my parents or disappoint my friends but, more than any of those things, I did not want to suffer anymore. The sadness was too great, the burden too big, the void of meaning too vast and my heart was losing the fight—my will was all but gone. And I was ready to leave this world.

No one will ever know what saves some of us and what takes the rest. Thoughts of my children raced through my head and, with each vision of their sweet young faces, the heaving sobs became louder and more violent as my love for them fought the demons inside that wanted me to take myself from them.

I have no idea how long I was on that bathroom floor. I have no idea when the crying stopped or when my hand unlocked the door above me. I know the dog was happy to see me as I crawled on my hands and knees to his somber, unmoving gaze and wrapped my arms around his enormous neck and sobbed a little more. I have no idea what saved me that day—and what continues to save me today.

Depression is a word with so little definition. It is experienced by so many in a million different ways. There is no cure ( there is no finish ) but there is hope in the hopelessness—and I think that strange paradox forced its way through and somehow found my reason. It helped me to find the help I needed—help I still need, each and every single day.

Kathy Guzman is a writer, an activist, a mother and a woman living with depression.

Here are a couple key resources: www.centeronhalsted.org/mentalhealth.html and www.mentalhealthamerica.net/about-us .


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