Thursday, August 13, 2009

(Un)comfortably Numb

Depression must be contagious. I read about a million blogs (I have an addition, ok?) and at least 3 of the authors are suffering from (and blogging about) depression. I'm just now getting over my most recent bout with depression and I guess I'm feeling the need to look back over it.

Now that I have a name for this illness, it's easy for me to look back over my life and see that I have suffered from depression as far back as I can remember. I can remember reading about depression in books and magazines. I can even remember thinking that I did, indeed, have the symptoms listed. And yet, I never really thought I was depressed.

Which isn't to say I didn't think something was wrong. I did. I KNEW something was wrong. I just didn't know what. I took my symptoms and looked for cures. Issues with eating? Nothing a good diet can't fix, right? Right? Hiding out? Social anxiety? Force. And booze. Nothing a little social lubricant can't fix.

But it didn't. I never got better. No matter how books I read, people (sorry Elaine) I talked to, therapists I saw, "traps" I set for myself. Nothing ever got better. Quite the opposite. It got worse. It didn't really occur to me that I was depressed until I started fantasizing about suicide. Not romanticizing it, just thinking about it. Like if I put a gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger, what path through my brain would the bullet take?

And I had those thoughts for a while. Until one day, I woke up. I was thinking about suicide and I just suddenly thought, "What the hell am I thinking?" That day I made an appointment with my doctor to get on medication. And I've been a different person since.

It's taken me all this time to figure out how I missed the glaring fact that I was depressed. It seems fairly hard to miss. But not until after I'd had Maggie did I figure it out.

When I think of depression, I think sad. I imagine constant crying and unexplainable grief. But I never had that. At all. For me, depression means numbness. It means curling up in bed or on a couch and zoning out (reading, watching TV, surfing the Web). It means avoiding friends and family and hiding in my house. It means not getting dressed or showering.

After Maggie was born I had textbook postpartum depression. It started exactly 48 hours after delivery and lasted exactly 48 hours. And it was exactly what I always imagined depression to be. I cried and cried and cried. I would lay on R or Elaine and just weep. Over nothing. Over everything. And it was really hard. I cannot imagine how anyone could deal with that for longer than 48 hours.

But numbness has it's own problems. I've been working on meditation and prayer and the man who's been helping me has noticed the numbness. The other day he said, "You know you're kinda numb. You don't really react to things you should react to. Have you ever noticed that?"

When I changed meds recently I started having bursts of irritation and anger. Something little would happen and I would get so angry. When I went in for my check-up to see how my new medication was working I told the lady about it. She said, "Well last time you were here you told me there was a marked lack of emotion and now you're angry sometimes. Maybe you just aren't used to feeling anything."

And maybe that's true. It's hard to say.

1 comment:

The Women's Colony said...

I have one medication-induced (weird antibiotic reaction) depression. I have so much sympathy for what a struggle it is. Good for you for getting help.--Jenn