I'd like to talk about depression - always an uplifting topic, I realize. However, depression has played a huge role in my life. It doesn't run in my family, it gallops. Groan - old joke.
I have what the docs call 'endogenous' depression or 'free-floating' depression. I like the latter description, it's very airy fairy. This means that it is different from a reactive depression in which you'd be sad/depressed under certain circumstances, i.e. grief, divorce, job loss, etc. My variety 'floats' around, striking at any time.
In hindsight, I can say my depression started as a young teen. I suffered more than the expected teenage angst. And it did come and go, floated in the ether only to inhabit my soul again and again.
I have had several episodes of major clinical depression. I'm on a first name basis with the black hole. I'm told that the more (untreated) major depressive episodes you experience, the likelier it is that they will recur. Yup.
I've been down, folks. Yes, we're talking the 'S' word. Many times I numbed out, freaked out, spaced out and generally wanted to exit the planet. I did make a half-assed attempt at taking my life when I was 16 years old - more of a pitiful cry for help, really.
My adult life has been riddled with bouts of depression - it's not like I would grow out of it. I've been on so many different anti-depressants, I could be the poster-child for Eli Lilly. Some worked, some didn't. I didn't like the side-effects or they grogged me out. I've now come to accept that I will be on my meds. for life. I just do not function without them. I shut down. I now realize that my wonky brain chemistry is the cause and not a lack of character.
There have been times when I've been so low, felt so bleak that I simply did not want to live with the overwhelming sadness anymore. I played with my pretty-coloured sleeping pills: poured them out on the bed, counted them, put them into rows, counted them again. I wondered how many I had to take before I'd begin to feel sleepy. Should I take them in handfuls? One at a time? Could I get the whole bottle into my system before I passed out? The only thing that stopped me was the thought of my youngest child being left motherless. In my haunted mind, I truly believed that it would not matter (as much)to my husband or oldest child, if I was gone. They would get over it in time. But, my baby needed me and she alone has kept me going more times than I care to think about.
I was happy for long stretches of time, then out of nowhere, the blackness would come calling. As if depression isn't bad enough on its own, I also experienced paralyzing bouts of anxiety. Picture Lucy screaming with eureka-style enthusiasm at Charlie Brown. I, too, seemed to have a fear of everything. Driving, driving at night, driving alone, driving in heavy traffic, freeways, un-curtained windows at night, nighttime, the dark, deep water and on and on it goes.
It's like being an alcoholic. I have to take one day at a time. Actually, that's a model we should all live by. I take my meds and try to take care of myself as best I can. I have a host of medical problems that constantly vies for my attention and I get a little sidetracked sometimes. I don't have the anxiety anymore. Well, not much.
This has just grazed the surface of describing my depression. There have also been several traumatic episodes in my life that would have sent anyone into a spiral. Couple that with a genetic dispostion and well, it's not a pretty picture. I've been in the abyss, the black hole, the void far too many times but somehow I've always managed to crawl back out.
Depression is treatable. If anyone reading this recognizes themselves, get help. Start with your family doctor and spill your guts - don't sugar coat it. Life was not meant to be lived in shades of grey, but in vivid, spectacular technicolour.