Around and around I go

How the f*ck does anyone with depression get anything done?  Stupid question, I know.  It’s been about 3 weeks since my doc altered my meds.  While I’ve felt *some* relief, last night I found myself sobbing again.  I can’t say it was for no reason…kind of a “what have I done with my life” kinda thing.  I’m in my early 40’s, so it’s not like my life is over, but when I look back on what should have been my most productive years, the years I could have gotten a healthy start on the dreams I had as a youth, I see one regret after another, stacking on top of each other until I’m crushed by the weight of them.  I wanted to make movies, so I studied film in college.  A college in California or New York?  Nope.  North Texas.  I was so out of touch with the film department that I didn’t even know they were filming a major motion picture, ON MY CAMPUS, until all they needed for the project was extras.  Did I sign up, even for that?  Nope.  I flunked out of my film class (couldn’t for the life of me figure out the technical specs of camera operation).  Graduated with a C+ average, and promptly moved to…Oklahoma.  What the actual f*ck.

For years after, I told everyone, and myself, that I did it so I could spend time with my aging grandparents, who lived there.  While I AM grateful I got that time with them (I miss them all dreadfully now), it was a chickenshit move.  I worked for a crappy TV station that rebroadcast old John Wayne movies at 3am and sold second-hand junk on live tv.  Even though the job sucked, I grew in it and learned I was a good boss, and could be an asset in the tv industry.  So, where did that lead?  To me being fired by a sociapathic boss who, I discovered, had a pattern of mistreating his employees, then accusing them of theft so he had an excuse to fire them for gross misconduct.  I actually had to hire an attorney and threaten to sue him to get him to return my property and stop lying.  So, there went that reference.  The experience so shattered me, I experienced my first panic attacks.  I moved back to Texas and attempted once, just once, to get a job at a tv station, but didn’t have the confidence to make it through the interview without the interviewer, quite sympathetically, telling me I should have more confidence in myself.

So I became an admin.  Yeah, because that position is great for the ego.  I saved up enough to move to California, ostensibly to work in film.  I spent 2k on Avid editing classes, then promptly took a job as…an admin.  Fear wins again.  I took an acting class, and was impressive enough to my teacher she invited me and just two others to join her advanced class.  So, did I go on auditions?  Nope.  I let the fact that I was 30 pounds overweight stop me.  See, in my acting classes, both the beginner and the advanced, I noticed my teacher had a tendency to always cast me as the mother, the comic relief, the sister, etc.  She never cast me as the ingenue. That role she always gave to the (really very sweet) pretty girl who at one time boasted less than 5% body fat.  Another crush to the ego.

I had always enjoyed writing, and had written a few screenplays in my time.  I even had a table reading once with some of my friends from the acting class.  My brother, himself an independent filmmaker, told me he felt I was just one or two passes away from a great script.  Did I heed his advice and try to edit it?  Nope.  I continued as an admin, and eventually spent more time drinking than even considering my dreams anymore.

I’ve been sober for 6+ years now.  A combination of a back injury, drinking myself to oblivion and feeling I’m sh*t personified left me now 100 pounds overweight.  Another ego boost.  I’m married to a man that adores me and we have a beautiful daughter.  I’m no longer an admin…I’m now an account manager.  An insurance broker.  It bears repeating….what the actual f*ck.  I moved to California in my late 20’s.  I’m now in my early 40’s.  Depression has me by the throat.  I’ve lost some weight, but spending most of my downtime in my darkened bedroom doesn’t exactly burn up calories.  My brother thinks I should take more creative risks.  How can I do that when I can’t bring myself to get out of bed?  The only thing that gets me out of bed these days is going to work (when I can manage) and my daughter’s requests for food.

Truth is, it can be traced further back than just missed opportunities in college.  What I want to know is, how come, as (sadly) prevalent as child abuse has become in our society, how come there are survivors of it who seemingly overcome it, and others, like me, who let it serve as a weight around our neck, forever holding us back?

I’ll feel better once I overcome the past and my regrets, but am so beaten down at this point, I can barely function.  How do I get off this merry-go-round?

Two steps forward….

Well, after the super deep pit I was in last weekend, I finally started to feel better on Tuesday…only to collapse again yesterday.  Not quite so bad, but just that general, “what’s the point of doing anything” feeling which BLOWS.  I still have no energy whatsoever and can’t kick this cold(?).  My cat is trying to offer kitty therapy but, who’s he kidding?  He’s not properly trained.

Ew, weird

Went to webmd today to launch the symptom checking, and noticed a picture of Kurt Cobain on the front page.  Having just included him in a list of suicides, the picture caught my eye.  Next to it was a link to Myths and Facts About Depression .

Included in the slideshow:

Myth: Depression Is Just Self-Pity

Our culture admires will power and mental toughness and is quick to label anyone who falls back as a whiner. But people who have clinical depression are not lazy or simply feeling sorry for themselves. Nor can they “will” depression to go away. Depression is a medical illness — a health problem related to changes in the brain. Like other illnesses, it usually improves with appropriate treatment.

Thank you!

My view of depression

From allpsych.com (found by searching for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)), the symptoms for dysthmic depression are described as:

“Depressed mood for most of the day, for more days than not, and ongoing for at least two years. During this time, there must be two or more of the following symptoms: under– or over eating, sleep difficulties, fatigue, low self-esteem, difficulty with concentration or decision making, and feelings of hopelessness. There can also not be a diagnosis of Major Depression for the first two years of the disorder, and has never been a manic or hypo-manic episode.”

Okay, so that’s been me for about 20 years.  I’ve gone through patches of “clarity”, which is usually when I’d go off my meds, thinking, “I’m fine, don’t need ’em”.  Then, boom goes the dynamite, I’m back in the hole.  Every once in a while, my brain has changed things up by offering up Major Depression, evidenced by:

  • depressed mood (such as feelings of sadness or emptiness)
  • reduced interest in activities that used to be enjoyed, sleep disturbances (either not being able to sleep well or sleeping to much)
  • loss of energy or a significant reduction in energy level
  • difficulty concentrating, holding a conversation, paying attention, or making decisions that used to be made fairly easily
  • suicidal thoughts or intentions.

Just to be clear, that SUCKS.  And it’s not something one can “snap out of”.  I’ve come to describe depression as this, to those who’ve never been cursed with it.  It’s like being stuck at the bottom of a 20 foot hole.  It’s pitch black, and I can’t climb out.  I may very well have a loved one, maybe more than one, standing on the edge of the hole, looking down at me (usually literally and figuratively), telling me, “What do you have to be depressed about?  It’s a beautiful day!  You have all this wonderful food and sweet music to listen to, and people who love you!”  Um, down a mine shaft, here.  Can’t see the sun, hear the music, or taste the food.  “Well, you know, there’s lot’s of people suffering like you.  You’re not alone”.  Yeah, I’M DOWN AN EFFING HOLE.  I CAN’T SEE THOSE PEOPLE OR HELP THEM IN ANY WAY.

But I haven’t become bitter.  No, not at all.  Actually, in recent days, perhaps better described as recent hours, I’ve had a realization.  See, this last weekend, I had the deepest, darkest depression I’ve had since my boyfriend blew his brains out 16 years ago. I was so close to the edge, the wind coulda knocked me over it.  What was probably most frightening to me is that I’ve been taking my meds for years now, with no real gaps.  They just stopped working.  In my effort to connect to something, anything, I found the memoirs of William Styron.  It’s called “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness”.  So I bought it on my Kindle and read it.  I found myself highlighting many passages, and sharing them with my husband.  And after reading it, I realized, that I had been guilty of the same denial and condescension I’ve become accustomed to from friends and family.  I’ve been feeling guilty for years, feeling like such a burden on family and friends because I was “moody”.  Well, to hell with that.  I have a disease.  A disease with the capacity to be just as deadly as cancer.  Yes, those who die from depression die by their own hand, but they’re still dead, right?  I quote William Stryon:

…the pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.  The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.  Through the healing process of time – and through medical intervention or hospitalization in many cases, most people survive depression, which may be its only blessing; but to the tragic legion who are compelled to destroy themselves there should be no more reproof attached than to the victims of terminal cancer.

So, who are some of these “moody” people, these sufferers of depression who succumbed?  A brief, brief list:

  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Jack London
  • Ernest Hemmingway
  • Abbie Hoffman
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Spalding Gray
  • Michael Hutchence
  • Richard Jeni
  • Alexander McQueen
  • Freddie Prinze
  • Hunter S. Thompson

Wimps, right?  Hardly.  And having spent more than a few moments in that blackest of moments, the moment when absolutely nothing matters to you, not your job, your money, your house, even your husband or your child, I can tell you, I’m grateful I survived them.  Here’s hoping I continue to survive, and maybe someday, live.  Here’s hoping I stay out of the hole.

Something that makes me giggle

I’m coming out of a major depressive episode, so the disease is heavily on my mind.  So to WordPress I go, and start plugging in possible names.  When I see that so many are taken, I decide to check them out.  What amuses me is that the two I checked into haven’t been updated in years.  Why?  Just a guess….the people who started those blogs ARE DEPRESSED.  I know when *I’m* in the 20 foot hole, I have no will to do anything.  Let’s hope I don’t drop down there again.