This is my longest post ever. I apologize.
This is about my experience. It is not for me, nor is it for my amusement. It’s for you, each of you. It is the real New Year's wish I would make for everyone.
If it twangs only one tuning fork out there that ain’t hittin’ A440, then I hope it’s worth reading.
Last month I read a piece on depression that pissed me off. “A recent study revealed” (there’s one for Ray’s snap-lid dumpster) that women are almost twice as likely to be taking anti-depressants. The entire piece revolved around one question: “Why is this happening to women?”
Many avenues were explored—consequences of “liberation,” more work place demands, more single moms, more extra-curricular demands on their kids, blah, blah…
The question, “Who is more likely to seek help?” was posed. That answer was quick and simple; women, because they have more stresses. The pendant to the main question should have been, “Why isn’t this happening to men?” Right, it’s not happening to men. BS! I’ve taken you down the “men don’t take adequate care of their medical or psychological health” road before. We’re veering off right here.
Having logged far more couch hours than Tony Soprano could have afforded, let alone had the time for, I’ve been fairly confident that I have developed at least some tools to stay on top of my feelings. I got pretty good at clearly seeing what was, for me, that dreaded 4th day. If I had two of those “4th days” in less than 4-6 weeks, I was making an appointment before that second “4th day” was over. Sometimes I was very aware of the issue or issues that may have been involved, sometimes not at all. I only knew that I felt (pick as few or as many that apply, or create your own psych-sundae) listless, unhappy, trapped, occasionally hopeless, anxious, unsettled, disaffected, uninterested in what I usually wanted to do, or worse, uninterested in what I always had to do, etc. Hate to disappoint, but not even remotely suicidal, ever, no alcohol-infused self pity…really, never THAT low. I just knew I could plainly remember feeling “better,” but not "then." It's amazing how quickly recalling "felt better" becomes an entirely foggy proposition.
To avoid any confusion, I have never been diagnosed with a psychosis or anything that qualified as a disorder. These bouts, of which I may be free for years at a time…years…, slowed me down, but never stopped me, nor did they result in any significant compromise of function in any part of my life. Like most people’s, they were minor. I’d had therapy only, no meds until the last 9 years, and since then, only a very wimpy one at a very low dose. Over 32 years, I’ve never done therapy for longer than two years (26 weeks a year). Times between “the need” have ranged from 2 to 12 years. My “need” invariably revolves around being pushed off my little wall by surprise and by forces beyond my control, big forces. I’m good unless the fall involves serious head trauma.
Backstory over. The point.
What I’ve just described are some feelings everyone has from time to time. In the worst of times, they present themselves as extremes; times of desperation we all experience for ourselves our or loved ones--- serious illness, injury, death, career/financial disaster, failing parents. Or maybe it’s just that you’re out of meth for the 3rd time in as many days. Everyone’s got their reasons.
Friday morning I had the first appt. with my psych provider in almost 2 years. I’ve just told you that I feel pretty experienced at knowing when it’s time to dive in again. Well, Mr. Experience got blown out of the water with a new diagnosis (MDD) and new visits scheduled for the psychopharmacologist. And this is exactly my point! I have tons of experience with this, and, this time, I had no clue I was in for a Major Depressive Disorder diagnosis. No clue! Less than 20 minutes into it, the right questions from him and some honest answers from me, I realized I’ve been feeling this way for well over ½ a year, maybe a whole one. There is no defining instance, moment, event (doesn’t have to be and usually never is). Sometimes, you don’t see the little things piling up, until you can’t see over them.
Had you asked me on any average day in the past year how I was, I would have told you all was cool, and I would have (thought I) meant it. And I’m supposed to be Mr. I-Know-Myself-Smarty Pants (which are now dangling loosely at my psychological ankles.)
If, even in the deepest of your personal reflection, none of you sees any of yourself in here, that'd please me no end. Statistically, I have almost no belief that could actually be true, which is why I wrote this. However, deep beneath this crackly exterior hides the warm peanut butter filling of hope, which must remain closely guarded and kept under very strict control.
If I thought that revealing this would show any sign of weakness, I’d never have done it. It’s no sign of weakness to run to a doctor when you think your heart is unhappy, but I know you DO think that way when you feel like your brain is unhappy. So if you want to let yourself feel like that, do it. But if you think that any leak in your psychship is getting only your feet cold and wet, think again.
We all want to be thought of for who we are, not what we are. The “WHO you are” is in your f’head! If it ain’t workin’ like it’s s’pposed ta up there, you’re not being a very good “you” now, are ya?
I hope JP forgives me for slobbering all over his turf. This isn’t his job. He’s a healer, not a preacher. He really couldn’t do this without it coming off preachy. JP knows I'm kidding when I take swipes at him, because he knows how much I respect what he does and what it took for him to get there, even if he is an asshole. (Though currently of a far lesser order than I, ya gotta admit, he has "the gift.") If one of us on the boards were a dietician, we really wouldn’t like it if he/she were constantly reminding us of what we shouldn’t be eating (bacon thread endgame). But if one of us had dietary problems and found a way to feel better, I’m hoping we’d think it easier to hear it from him/her.
In BobWorld, there would be psych drive-thru’s hidden behind the dumpster fences at every McDonald’s, for quickies. If not, there should be one of Julius’ colleagues in every street corner office building, walk-ins welcome, for sliding scale-------------------- and they would drive Fiats and just GTF over it.
Again, perspective. Having done it both ways, it's far better to have a big depression, not caused by a concurrent minor illness, than to have a small depression, directly caused by a fatal one. Piece o' cake, this!
It's the only medical care (It's medical care, dillweeds! Whydya think they made JP go to MED school?) where you can directly affect how you recover (feel better), how well, and how quickly.
You have a hand in your own oxymoronic Happy Ending.
BTW, the BP has diminished by almost %60 in just 7 days. It was such a waste. I never really needed it to scare anyone.