I’m pretty open about my depression. Of the eight of you who read this, six of you have a good understanding of where I am depression-wise. Still, from time to time people will ask me about it. I’m an open book, so here’s what I’ve got so far.
Revelation and Realization
In 2014 I wrote a post about Robin Williams in which I “came out” as a depressed person. I had been fighting myself on it for a while. For as much as I like to think of myself as a modern, smart person I was totally ashamed to admit I had diagnosable depression. I always encouraged friends of mine to seek treatment for their depressive symptoms, but I didn’t understand that I was in the same position until that point. It took the loss of one of my favorite actors, someone who had put a smile on my face all my life, for me to realize the danger in continuing to pretend I was okay.
I called my best friend when I got back from that vacation. I told him that I needed help and that he had to make sure I got it. I told him he had to come over and help me. He came to my house and I laid in bed for hours while he looked for a therapist. I ended up seeing the same therapist I saw as a child after my father died. Let’s just call him, “Charles.” Charles’ office had hardly changed since my time there in 1998. We had a few weeks of great conversation and I grew a lot. He encouraged me to seek medication for my depression, which I reluctantly did. My apprehension had nothing to do with science-denial. It had more to do with fear. I was afraid that I was screwed if the meds didn’t work. (They didn’t. But I’ll get to that later.) After about a month I stopped going to therapy. Mostly because I couldn’t pay for it, but also because I was super flaky in that state. I couldn’t get myself out of bed even to make the phone call to set up the next appointment. So I just kind of… stopped. I was a little better off, but no where close to well.
Learning to Cope
I started taking Lexapro during my time with Charles. While I did see an improvement in terms of my productivity (I literally could not get out of bed to do anything before that. After starting treatment I was able to get more done for my jobs.), I wasn’t seeing any significant improvement. When my prescription ran out in February of 2015, I just stopped taking the meds cold turkey. (That’s a bad move. Don’t do that. Ever.) After that I just kind of… coasted I guess.
I wasn’t any better. I just had better perspective from my time with Charles. My work in the parish helped keep my mind occupied. Even with all the griping I do about my relationship with The Lord, I am still a devout Catholic and I get a lot of joy from being around the Church and teaching the faith. Working at the parish was a good distraction. We have been over this before, but I stopped working at the parish last year. Around the same time some other, private stuff started snowballing and I crashed again. I got back to a place where I was really struggling to get out of bed. This past spring it was taking me an average of two hours to get out of bed every day (I started tracking it). I only managed during that time because I was working afternoons and evenings. It took me about three weeks to get up the courage, but I made an appointment with my doctor. That was April of 2016.
Currently (A.K.A. Conclusion)
I made the appointment with my primary care doctor, but they put me with a physician’s assistant instead. She is the nicest PA I’ve ever met. Let’s call her… “Toni.” I’m convinced they throw the depressed patients at Toni on purpose. She makes me all giggly. Anyway, Toni started me on fluoxetine and that’s been helpful. It doesn’t make me happy (I’m generally not happy), but it does keep me from bottoming out the way I used to. I’ve been having a really bad couple of weeks and I still wake up, go to work, get things done, and get through my day. I know I need to look for a counselor so I can keep working on myself. It’s just not a priority for me right now. Nowadays I’m stressing about money mostly.
I’m no longer “bottomed out,” but I definitely don’t have a lot of happiness in my life right now. I’m happy when I’m hanging out with friends, so I try to do that as much as I can. One thing I have that I know not every depressed person has is a fantastic support group. I have a lot of people who are willing to be with and around me and that helps a lot. I’m getting better. Here’s to hoping.
To be continued…