The doctor entered the room, and asked how I was. "Not well," I responded dryly. "Otherwise I wouldn't be here, right?" She laughed as if she hadn't heard it before, or maybe she just wasn't expecting it from me. I had no energy for pleasantries, and small talk. My words were dry, and blunt. Any fears I may have held about what others might think of me were simply gone. It had been swept away in a torrent of blackness that had enveloped my entire being. It was such an odd feeling to be absent from anxiety, as it was replaced with a depth of depression that reached further down than I knew existed. In that office, that day I sat there with the last bit of strength I could muster, and admitted that I needed help.
What had brought me to that point? Surely it was not an overnight thing? It couldn't have been, and it wasn't. I have been depressed on, and off for the last 23 years. Quite a lot more on than off, I should say. I'd been told by numerous doctors, and psychiatrists that I had depression. When I was evaluated a few years ago the clinician tacked on dysthymic disorder to Asperger's. I balked. She didn't know what she was talking about. I was not chronically in a state of melancholy, I thought. Except I was, and I couldn't face it.
But, why couldn't I face it? What was it that made it so difficult?
I think there are a lot of factors that might go into such a denial. Part of it is the scary notion that there is something almost permanent going on with my mind that I cannot control. I can't just adjust my diet, exercise more, and think positive thoughts to get out of this state. To admit this was comparable to me as admitting defeat.
Another factor is the fear of psych meds. I, like many, don't like to take meds. I used to see it as a failure to thrive on my own. I felt it was a flaw in my character that I could not get over this thing in my head with my own resources.
So, for years, and years I have been pushing, and straining trying to get by without any help from antidepressants. Some years were worse than others, but the sadness, it always lingered. It would often dull everything around me in ways that I began not to notice, because I was so used to the grayness of my perception.It would dampen my best of days. There were only hints of sunshine that broke through the clouds every now, but mostly I couldn't shake this feeling of blah. It became so average for me to feel that way that it became my new normal. So much so, that I actually felt relief of my okay so-so days when I was not severely depressed. Those moments seemed to indicate to me that I was okay, and I had surrounded to a life of melancholy without even realizing that I had a choice.
That is until I saw the doctor that day, and began taking meds. That's when I realized that I was that depressed, and life could be infinitely better than I ever really knew. That is when I had to stop, and question what I thought I knew about antidepressants.
Then I came upon this article about the damaging effects of long term depression on the brain. Within it was a hard truth that I didn't want to read. It was confirming what my recent experience was hinting at, but that I didn't want to see. My avoidance of meds was much to my own detriment. Not just mine, but my daughter's very serious depression issues that I insisted she try to work out on counseling before starting meds, as well.
There is so much awareness of depression nowadays. It's everywhere, and very well known as something many people go through. The symptoms are somewhat well known, but the treatment? That is a whole different ballgame. Ideas for what can help depression are everywhere. Almost everyone seems to have an opinion from the most ill-informed to the self-proclaimed experts. There's vitamins, and self-help books being sold a dozen a minute. Herbal supplements promise to boost feelings of well being without adding all that poison to your body that the doctor suggests with psych meds.
I've been there, and done all of that. In the end I was ready to accept defeat. It's like the frog in the kettle who doesn't notice he's slowly being cooked, because the temperature is only going up a few degrees at a time. Once we get acclimated to a way of thinking it doesn't seem so bad, or out of the ordinary. We might not realize how far down we're slipping. I am glad that I ended up at the doctor that day. I am rejoicing in the new feelings of joy, and energy that I now have. Maybe it's not everyday, because even antidepressants aren't a cure for depression, but they are a very helpful tool. One that can be a lifesaver. Life isn't really short. Not for most of us. It's long. We shuffle along day after day not realizing how much time is passing by, and that is what makes it feel short. Don't let your days be spent struggling instead of living out your best your best life. You owe it to yourself, and your loved one to shine.
It is time to stop vilifying psych meds, People's lives depend on it.