Tuesday, November 15, 2011
It is not a form of insanity...
I want to tell you something revealing about me. There was a time in my life when I was clinically depressed. It was the worst time of my life. Everything was dark in my mind. I had feelings only of profound sadness, complete and utter worthlessness, and fear. I felt I didn't deserve to be alive and that the rest of the world would be better off without me. I did not, however, formulate any plans for doing away with myself. I suppose I wasn't completely dead inside. Somewhere deep down, my inner self was struggling for some light.
There are those who, first of all, just don't understand what depression does to a person. They think you should just get over it and cheer up. Like it's easy to do that. When you're in a deep abyss with no means of egress, there is no "up," cheering or otherwise.
I wasn't an idiot about it. I knew that it was a physical problem and that it was fixable. I just didn't know how long it would take. I went to my doctor and told her the situation. I didn't have to be diagnosed by her; I knew for a fact that I was depressed. She prescribed meds. I took them. The side effects were almost as bad as the depression. So I went back. She prescribed other meds. Same deal. So I went back. Then she referred me to a psychiatrist. He and I talked and he gave me an intelligence test. (Don't know what that was for, but I went along.) Then he left his office for a minute and came back with samples of some meds (one for depression and one for anxiety, depression's constant companion), handed them to me and said that anyone as intelligent as I could figure out how to take them. Well, it was written right there on the packaging.
Things got a little better. It took weeks, though, before I felt better. After a while I was not as afraid of the world outside our house. We started doing things. I went back to my night class. I drove by myself. But I could still feel the pressure of depression. I began to despair that I would never again be able to forget the sadness, worthlessness, and fear. I realized during all this that depression had been creeping up on me for most of my life before it hit full-force. I also found out that depression can run in families.
And then Richard found out that we were going to have to move. I was against it. I became disengaged from the process of preparing, packing up, and moving. But I did it anyway, though I felt like a zombie.
The worst of it happened years ago. After a while (and after we had moved), I thought I was over it and I weaned myself off the meds. I was okay with that for a while, but then it started to creep back into my life. I waited a little longer than I should, but I finally took some action. I got more counseling and more meds. I'm a little disappointed that I can't get rid of the depression and anxiety without the drugs, but after a while, I started having little nanoseconds of actual happiness.
They were few and far between, but these moments started coming more and more frequently and lasting longer than a nanosecond. I will be a slave to the meds for the rest of my life, but I remember and once again know happiness. I feel it. I'm strong. I can approach people I don't know at a party or meeting and start a conversation. I'm happy about my advancing age. I fought long and hard to get here. Now I want to live forever -- or at least as long as my long-lived grandparents.
Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The meds provide the balance. There is always hope.