Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Depression--Evil Suck Hole of Pain, or "Growth Experience?" DIscuss

I don't know if you know this, but I suffer from depression.

Okay, so, you might know that, although I haven't be tremendously voluble on the topic. I think. Or so it seems to me. If you are tired of it, you may be excused. It's okay, we'll wait.

Anybody left? Okay. Well.

Depression. I have struggled with it since not long after the birth of my first child, and at times it has been a heavy heavy burden. The emotional pain made it literally, physically difficult to get out of bed or out of the house, and all my personality got swallowed up in the hamster wheel of panic. This went on for a very long time.

The other trap of depression is that I was perfectly incapable of being able to manage my own care. Depression, among other things, stripped me of any perspective on my own life, so I would go to doctors, or therapists, and I had no way to evaluate whether they were actually helping me or not. What did I want to talk about in therapy? I don't know--what would be helpful? Can't you tell me? After all, I was not the professional in this!

Thank god I ended up in a doctor's office (after about 7 years of this) who listened to me for about 10 minutes and said "norapinephrine." I had been taking medication to regulate the levels of seratonin in my brain, but apparently I was a textbook case of unregulated norapinephrine. I got on a second medication, and the world got better.

Not immediately, of course--depression medications are notorious for having to be "ramped up" to reach a certain level of presence in the blood, and that can take six weeks, more or less, to achieve. And even once you have reached the proper dosage, the improvement takes some time to manifest itself. So, medically, it takes a while, even once you are on the right medications, to get back to feeling even semi-normal.

So I found this doctor about five years ago, and over time I have slowly begun to feel better. The experience is like walking on an icy lake: there are some places were the ice is safe, but thin patches can show up unexpectedly and drop you into the icy dark. So, I began to slide slowly across this treacherous surface, learning to trust that I wouldn't fall in.

It is only recently--I mean, VERY recently--that I have come to trust that I won't go under. I have begun to put myself out into the world, and have found that I can do things that I haven't been able to do for years. Mr. Sweetie and I have gone out to social events where I had to meet new people and talk with them--and I found that I can do that, and even enjoy it again.

So, after an appallingly long time, I am finally seeing that I am coming back to the person I was FOURTEEN fricking years ago. That is a lot of time to lose, for anybody. So, I have struck a bargain with myself. I deserve to have some of that time back. I'm not going to be greedy about it, but dammit, I need at least some of those years back! And I don't want to just tack them on at the end. Who wants an extra fourteen years at the END of you life? No, I want those years NOW.

So, I have decided that I should get at least half of those years back, and I now declare myself seven years younger. My birthdate is now officially 1970, and I am the youngest of my siblings instead of the oldest. (Unless they want seven years back too--I'll share!)

This works out okay with my children--the oldest is 14, so I was 24 when she was born, which isn't scandalously young. It does wreak havoc with my wedding anniversaries though--I must have been 15 when we got married, unless we drop seven years off that number too.

So, congratulations, Mom and Dad! You had a baby in 1970! I guess you are entitled to an extra seven years as well.

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