Reflections on 2014

This past year has been filled with horror, sadness, hurt, pain, joy, happiness and above all, tremendous love. I don’t mean the love where we so casually tell our partners we love them at the end of a phone conversation. I mean love that you feel with your gut, your soul, your entire being. This is a new phenomenon for me as I had never felt that before. I was not able to feel it.  Now I begin and end each day with these incredible feelings, for my husband, my daughter and for my family and friends. I still get tearful as I think of how monumental this is for me, at the age of 40. 
I began this year with therapy and numerous medication trials. What followed was the sadness, hurt and pain that I could never accurately describe. It is a hell that you want to desperately exit, but there are no signs of where to go. The horror was my summer when I was so severely depressed, my thoughts were closed to any possibility of relief. I inhabited my own personal hell where it was dark, lonely and scary. In the hospital, where I needed to be and am so thankful to work with an amazing psychiatrist for getting me there, there was more fear. I had to take ownership of my thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t hide behind the “mommy” mask or the “wife” mask. I was just “Risa” and that was all I needed to be. No pressure from the real world. The focus was on me. My focus was on me. 
And then it was time for a new treatment: one that would literally shake things up. I needed this. I needed something that would give me a rapid response as it was time for my horror to end. I needed to find that exit from the hell I was living. I found it as a result of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The terror that I felt prior to my initial treatment will never be forgotten as it was a fear I had never experienced before. As I called my outpatient psychiatrist numerous times the night before that first treatment, she gave me the language I needed. While I was telling her I was “scared,” she was able to really hear me as she said, “you – are – terrified.” I will never forget that moment. I was able to make the language connect to the feeling. Indeed, I was absolutely terrified.
Countless electroconvulsive therapy treatments later, and still more to go, what has happened in these past months since it began is a true testament, not just to this particular treatment but to medication and therapy, too. I look forward to a new year while I continue this process of recovery. I am happy to feel the space of time since my summer of horror but am also moved by all I went through. I am in awe that I endured so much for so long. I am proud of the work I have done in my therapy, intense and difficult as it is. Without this work I never would have arrived at this point of feeling such love. You can’t feel love as a result of taking a pill or having ECT. Having this new gift is a direct result of my therapy and while I cannot clearly explain how it happened, it did.
The process continues and I have more work to do but I am in a much better and healthier place today than a year ago. 
Moving forward, I hope I can be strong, emotional and loving to and for my husband and daughter. I feel that love…intense, sometimes overwhelming, amazing.

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