Some of you fearless readers might be aware that I have been fighting depression for quite a long time – say, roughly ten years or so. I figure it was the first symptom of my Multiple Sclerosis.
Truth be told, it, and the cognitive changes, are the scariest changes with MS. I truly hate depression. I’ve seen what it can do. I’ve been there while it destroyed a lovely girl. I’ve found it sitting around my apartment longer than I can say, like the hoary black dog described by so many. It’s just there. Breathing. Despite me trying to bat it away.
It frustrates me because I am a logical person. And logically, I have no reason to be depressed. My MS is manageable for the time being, I have enough money to live relatively well, I have a cat who adores me, some fantastic friends and family members who check on me and keep me sane, two out of three children who appear to care about me, and the potential for a career as an artist. My problems are very first world and I feel bad for feeling bad. Darn Catholic guilt.
So why does it appear that sometimes, breathing air is, for me, a waste? Why do I occasionally envision jumping in front of a bus, driving into a wall, or seeking out fentanyl? It is totally bizarre and frustrating and I hate when I come over all blue and I try to pull myself up by my bootstraps and all that but you know, sometimes I can’t.
Last Mother’s Day, I was so close to the brick wall impact that it terrified me. I called in every single one of my helpers. God love them, they were there, and took me seriously. There is nothing like getting support to sustain you in a crisis – and all of my professional helpers were right on the money. Friends somewhat less so, but I didn’t tell them much, and everyone has their own load. I know how hard it is to respond to someone with deep mental health problems. It’s awkward. The words you might use for other illnesses don’t fit well.
“Get well soon!” seems insulting for some reason, and the suggestions of “You just need rest,” and all of that pop in the air and leave an door of superiority.
Because, of course, I KNOW what to do. Eat properly. Get some air and exercise. Laugh, play your ukulele, dance. Read a book that sucks you in and makes life seem worthwhile.
But see, when you are depressed, you know all of that but you can’t summon up the energy to do it. You avoid the cheerful. You hide the joys of your life. You can’t concentrate on a book.
I’m fortunate that I still cling to the “be a good parent” mantra – I can’t do anything like suicide to my kids. It would hurt them and for a long long long time. Often that’s the only thread that keeps me going.
So I’m playing with my brain again, trying a new combination of medications that should help me through the anticipated winter blues. It of course terrifies me to take brain altering drugs. Who knows what it may do to the rest of me! But I can’t risk the deep downs again.
I personally hope the drugs will make me even more charming and delightful….and slim and elegant…
My mother was so afraid of mental illness she wouldn’t let it be discussed in the house. She banned counselling and refused to deal with any issues. My mother’s family were dynamite people, but they had their little ways, God rest their souls. Denial ran rampant.
So she kept us away from my father’s family, where there was a history of mental illness, and by Jove I’m still mad about that one because that group are to a person delightful and I’ve missed out on sharing my life with them until just recently.
(XOXO to all lovely cousins, on both sides, by the way. You’ve enriched my life in so many ways.)
I cope well 98% of the time, though my output is less than optimum (book still unwritten, dishes unwashed, etc), but even so, I know that dog is nearby. I’m hoping this new medication will help put him in the closet where I can’t see him anymore. And for those who read this and wonder, I am OK, today. If you don’t see me for awhile, I might not be. Drop me a text? I’ll do the same for you. Life is grim in the Trump era.
And why write about this, in a public place?
There’s still a stigma about mental illness as I’m sure you know, and heck, if all I can do is bleat about it to highlight its existence and the fact that a fairly competent person like myself can also be suffering from depression so deep it frightens me, I’ll do it.