Sunday, April 17, 2011

I only wish this was not serious. And sorry Mom.

Depression sucks. In September of 2010 I sent this to someone I don't know in "real life" but respect tremendously, because I was feeling like I was suffocating under the weight of it all, and didn't feel safe turning to people closest to me. So here's what I wrote to her.
Consider this a giant set of beginning quotation marks. (I'll do the same at the end.)

“Shit, I’m Writing Poetry Again—It’s Worse Than I Thought”
September burns through my core
Every thoughtfeelingmovementache
Another year starts its slow fade
Its death can’t come soon enough
This has to end soon
Can’t go on like this
I feel so heavy
The depths of darkness pulling me
Funny (sad?) how little effort it takes
It’s easier to sink every time, easier to stay there
The way smoothed by the tears, frustrations, shame, emptiness of previous
Whittling down what I am
Less resistance next time I drop
Lighter and lighter I’ll become
(But for now I still feel so heavy)
Until soon I’ll float down like a feather
Casually making my way to the
At least, that’s what I hope
Tell me this gets easier
Better yet, tell me this will go away
I’m waiting…
*                 *                 *
You see, I’ve been dealing with some major depression for the past couple of years. Untreated at this point, of course, since I’m a stubborn idiot. I dealt with a less major version of it as a teenager through artwork (painting, drawing, poetry, typical tortured artist stuff), but stopped once things started looking up a little more. Misery’s great inspiration. Then things went horribly wrong. I lost a family member I adored, switched to a workplace that is always in multiple kinds of crises that I have to deal with, a coworker went through her own massive downhill slide (which I totally could relate to, but it was simply too much for me to take up her responsibilities and the whole situation seriously contributed to my own already precarious situation), and hubby decided he wanted a dog, which would be just fine if I didn't know that although I like dogs, they are in need of way  more attention than I'm able to give them at this point. And he didn't get just any dog, he got a high maintenance dog that has severe separation anxiety and cries all night. We both work full time. We built a pen outside for the dog to be able to get him out from under our feet when we need to, but can't even put him out there by himself because he cries. REALLY LOUDLY. I recently mentioned to my mother that I’ve been having a difficult time lately and with everything our family’s been through maybe I need to finally seek counseling, and her response was a sarcastic “Doesn’t everybody?” accompanied by one of those eye-rolling/snort combos. I may have imagined the eye-roll, since this was a phone conversation, but Mom almost always pairs snorts and sarcastic comments with eye-rolls, so I’m pretty sure it happened. Yes, most people go through minor or major bouts of situational depression in their lives, and that’s nothing to sneer at. But not everyone goes through long-term major depression that feels like it is crushing you inside and out, where you’re lying on your bed with your husband holding you as you tense every muscle trying to hold in the screams of misery unable to breathe while you’re sobbing buckets of tears and you think to yourself, “Wow, I can understand why some people cut themselves, because I would do almost whatever it takes to get this feeling out of my body before it tears me apart.”
I have never self-injured or ever considered suicide, but the fact that I’m at the point where I can understand people feeling like those things are viable options terrifies me. I think that is a good point where counseling and medication are things to be taken a little more seriously. But I didn’t explain all that to my mother, so I can’t blame her for being “insensitive” when I reach out.
And now I’m writing f*#&ing poetry again. Does that mean I've regressed? I am happily married to a good guy, have a job that stresses me to no end but is still fulfilling something in me, have a couple of coworkers that I adore and can truly talk to about almost anything, have a good relationship with my family, have a fairly close network of friends, and despite the multiple traumatic experiences I’ve had I consider myself lucky.  But then there’s this THING that I feel that I worry they won’t understand. I don’t feel comfortable sharing this with them. I don’t want pity, I don’t want people to worry about me, and I don’t want people to downplay it, secretly thinking I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, because “everyone gets a little down sometimes”, and I don’t want them to back away from me. Plus it’ll seem WAY out of left field to some of them since I’m a master at hiding my problems. Years of practice at seeming nonchalant. I guess what I’m really trying to do is share my experience of depression (through bad poetry, I guess…), but I don’t really know how (obviously).

Consider this a giant set of ending quotation marks.

Yeah, long email, huh? Especially to someone who essentially was a stranger. But you know what? She responded. And not with something generic and empty, but with a real, true meaningful response. She understands, as I knew she would, because she has dealt with depression and anxiety also. That's what I needed, and that's what I got. It was way more than I expected, but it was so helpful. I don't think I could ever thank her enough. I knew at this point that I needed to get some help, and that I was strong enough to do it. It was at that point (well, a couple months later...) that I finally got on some medication to help.

Things have changed since that email was sent... I left that stressful but meaningful job, and started working elsewhere. The poetry didn't continue, I started this blog as an outlet instead. The situation with the dog has gotten moderately better (eventually I'll tell more about that). I wish I could say that everything is better now, but obviously it's not. It seems that when you stop taking antidepressants because you don't know whether your doctor just wanted you to call his office about a refill or if he wanted you to set up an appointment to check on you in person, any question about whether it's actually depression and if the medication was even working is soon put firmly to rest. There is no question in my mind now whether I am suffering from major depression. It is affecting everything now. People that I've worked with for two days (they move me around a lot at this job) ask me if I'm okay, because I look miserable. There was actually a point a couple days ago when someone asked me this and I thought to myself, "I can make excuses for now, but I'm totally going to be crying about this when I get home." I used to smile all the damn time, apparently now I never do. I either have that "flat affect" (severe reduction of emotional expressiveness) symptom typical of depression or I guess I look mad or upset. I seriously keep to myself at work, because trying to forge relationships with new people is too difficult. Apparently they've noticed. I hope they don't think I'm snobby or stuck-up or hateful, but honestly I don't have the energy to put in the effort right now. And I've never been the person to initiate conversation anyway. I'm cool if someone talks to me first, then I'm animated and joke around and all that. But until someone hits that switch by initiating, I'm stuck in the "off" position. And as soon as the conversation is over, it's right back to "off" almost immediately.

The one bonus to all this, I suppose, is that it's not the agonizing kind of depression I experienced before at times, although the more I've thought about it the more I believe there's been at least a slight component of anxiety to it that may have led to that combination then. Then there's my constantly changing work schedule, which I'm hoping is the reason why I'm having a ton of trouble getting to sleep, which means that it seems like I'm sleeping all day since I didn't sleep all night. And when I do sleep I'm constantly waking up, so I sure don't wake up feeling rested. All I ever want to do anymore is sleep. I don't want to go anywhere, do anything, see anybody. I haven't even been upset that I haven't gone out anywhere with The Hubby in weeks. It was a hell of a problem for me to set up an eye doctor appointment this past week for that reason, but I was motivated by the need to get a new pair of glasses so that I won't have to mess with contacts anymore between "naps." Seriously. I was motivated by the idea of making sleep less of a hassle.

I hope within the next week or two I manage to go back to the doctor. Maybe I'll see about getting something stronger, because I didn't notice *that* much of a difference on the medication, which may have contributed a bit to my not rushing to refill the prescription. Which has led, as you see, to all this. Yeah, it totally wasn't just due to MWW, although that certainly didn't help. Maybe I'll also ask ask him about something to help me sleep better. How about this, dear readers:  If two weeks from today I haven't gone to the doctor and filled a prescription, you have my permission to yell at me, call me (if you have my number) at all hours of the . . . day. . . forcing me to wake up, leave mean comments, or bring The Hubby into it. Or even Mom. Just please keep me accountable, otherwise I know I'll keep making excuses. And yes, I know that two weeks seems ridiculously excessive.


  1. *smack!* Make an appointment!

    (Dave btw. Crystal's Dave)

  2. I will seriously bring an even LOUDER dog to whine at you, and I will blow your phone UP! You are my friend and I love you, and I respect the courage it took for you to post this. If you need someone to drag your ass to the doctor kicking and screaming, please call me! I would be happy to do it :)

    (This is Emily, just so you know, and I know a lady that has some great pyrenees mix breed puppies that are large AND loud, heehee)

  3. Your sister Liz :)April 17, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    I've said it before, but I will say it again... YOU are the one who motivated me to go on meds and that has changed everything dramatically. And I guess obviously you do need a different med if you feel like you do, but I did notice a definite change in you when you were on them for awhile (hence the inspiration for me to go). I will absolutely get on you if you haven't gone (and I respect the timetable, for what it's worth).
    Never forget how much I love and adore you!!!!!

  4. Dave, Emily, Liz... I love you guys. This was tough, because I hate when those close to me realize I sure ain't got my shit together at all. I appreciate the support, and the threat of ass-kickings! However I must say I most appreciate the threat of an even bigger and louder dog... *facepalm*

  5. Your sister Liz :)April 18, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    You do have your shit together. Like I always say, this type of situation is no different than if you broke your arm and needed medical treatment for it. It just has the self- and society-appointed stigma to it. If anything, it speaks to your incredible resilience and coping skills that you are "functioning" as well as you are, believe it or not. (And like we have said before, putting up a front is *exhausting*. You are and have been a champ, but it's time to let the doctor put the cast on.)

  6. As I am recovering from death atm all I can say is *HUG*

    also..i made you anappointment to go to the dr. you need to call and reschedule it for the correct day (since i did not know your schedule). also, if the receptionist pretends to not have your apointment recorded she is just messing with you. it's part of their new treatment plan :D


  7. It is what it is ... and while I am all too well aware of the self- and societal stigma(s) attached to medication/appointments aimed at treatment of what is a very real condition, please don't let that stop you. Do what you have to do to make YOU feel and/or function better. Do you think any less of me because I take multiple meds (well, most of the time) to control my blood pressure? Daddy wasn't a medication bottle, but had a required daily regimen to help control his Parkinson's. Quite frankly, my dear, (I do give a damn, but that's not the point I was going for), it's no one's business what (if any) medications you take, unless you choose to share that information.

    I know it's easier said than done, but I have been where you are ... and the fight with self was far stronger than the "wondering what society thinks about me because I need pills to get through the day, or night, or dinner out, or a walk around the damned block." Thank you for sharing, and know that I stand behind you (which puts me in the perfect position to give you a loving nudge in that bony bootie if necessary). Go to the doctor, take the medication(s).

    My favorite compliment of all time? "You are the calmest person I've ever met that doesn't take Prozac." I did. And because they didn't know me outside the work setting, they didn't need to know. It still makes me smile to think about it.

  8. Thanks, my sweet. Much love, right back atcha!

  9. This made me giggle, and want to give you a *HUG* in return. But only an internet *HUG*, since I SURE don't want your sick-cooties right now! ;)