Well, shit. I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to do this again, but here I am, light-headed and slightly dizzy at the doctor’s office. It has been a little over two years since the last time, and three-and-a-half years since the first time. To my own credit I am handling it very nonchalantly this time around – I ordered the appointment by text message yesterday morning and now I am here. I am wearing comfortable but smart clothes, brought sunglasses despite the rain and avoided mascara, as mascara is always best applied in the ladies room after these things are over and done with.
30 minutes later it is over. To call it a consultation would be a joke, because it is so laughably obvious that I am depressed. Reciting my symptoms to the doctor seems almost redundant, because I know exactly where we will end up – 10mg a day, call my old shrink, Kleenex, done. The doctor is behaving perfectly and seems very concerned about my well-being as well as annoyed that he can’t spend more time on my consultation, but it is time for his next patient and I honestly just want to get my paperwork ready and get out so that I can start letting my parents, friends and closest co-workers know what is going on. Within hours they’ve all been informed, and we’ve started cooking up a plan on how to tell the rest. Why tell? Well, first of all I don’t believe in hiding these things, but secondly it is the biggest hassle when everyone thinks you’re pregnant because you can’t mix your meds with alcohol. Meds I can handle, therapy I can handle, but having to dispel pregnancy rumors several times a week?
That shit gets real old real fast.
So there you have it: I’m depressed. Again. I won’t get into the finer details of how I ended up at this point, because
1: That is far too personal, and
2: Honestly, I am so over it.
Except no, scratch that – I am over not being over it, because obviously I’m not over it. People who are really over things don’t cry in doctor’s offices and take meds, after all. They run and skip and don’t have to tell their co-workers about their malfunctioning body chemistries.
But what I do want to do is write about depression. I have wanted to do so before, but somehow I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t dare to (because honestly you can fuck right off if you have a problem with it), but because depression is a pretty difficult thing to articulate. You can’t quite describe how it works or how it feels to someone who haven’t experienced it before. It is a glorious mix of feeling helpless, hopeless, pointless, pathetic, useless and talentless all at once, but not in a big and extravagant way. You’re just less, less than everyone else. Nobody really likes you, they’re just humoring you. Everything takes much more effort, you have much less energy, and you can’t think as fast as you usually do. Thinking slowly makes you feel stupid, and not having any energy makes you feel lazy. It gets harder to express yourself and articulate the things you want to say, which in turn also makes you feel stupid. Your mind feels foggy.
Having less energy means that you get easily exhausted, which means that you get annoyed a lot easier, and you can lash out at loved ones over really insignificant things. It is hard to concentrate and you forget things, which also makes you feel rather dumb. You’re always worried, often for no reason at all, and your brain insists on re-playing scenes in your head of every stupid thing you’ve ever thought, said or done. You then proceed to feel guilty about feeling and doing the things that are the very symptoms of your depression in the first place, which again sends you even deeper down the spiral. And above all there would be no point in seeking out help, because really, this is just you being your regular, stupid, useless self – right?
Luckily I know, intellectually, that this is utter nonsense. I have been down this road before, and I know that the difference between me feeling like this and me feeling like a normal human being is a well-chosen SSRI and some help to untangle my thoughts. It isn’t permanent, it’s not a personal flaw and it is really not my fault. It’s brain flu. Well, to be perfectly honest, it is not quite that easy. Getting treated for depression is hard work. The medication can have some pretty nasty side effects, and therapy makes you take a long hard look at all the things in your life that you would rather just sweep under the metaphorical rug. A session leaves you exhausted like you just ran a mental marathon, and that is on top of the exhaustion that is caused by the thing you are trying to cure in the first place. That said, I would recommend it to anyone. The treatment that is, not the depression. When you find the right medication it is like you can finally feel like a normal human being again, and therapy has pushed me into making some pretty great decisions for myself. It truly is worth it.
Now, before you say anything: I am aware of the privilege that allows me to say this. Trust me, I know. I’ve got privilege flowing out my ear holes. First of all I live in a country where, most likely, the amount of money I will have to spend on getting better this year equals what I earn in about three or four days. Second of all I have a support system: a boyfriend who is here for me, a family who checks up on me, friends who I can talk to and colleagues who simultaneously show me tremendous support and dish out the appropriate amount of good-hearted mockery. On top of this I have a doctor who takes me seriously and a therapist who knows how to help me. As far as depressions are concerned mine is glittery, sparkly and sprinkled with sugar-plum fairy-dust.
So what now? Well, I’m going to do what it takes to become healthy again and not try to be overambitious in other areas of my life. If I can work, get my butt to the gym every once in a while and not bury my face into a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s every time I feel like it then that’s plenty. If the blog goes quiet for a while then you will know why, although I quite like the distraction of writing about how much I simultaneously love and try to avoid the acquisition of shiny pretty things. I bought a faux fur leopard jacket the other day because fuck it, I’m depressed and I deserve a leopard jacket for handling it so awesomely.
If you would like to learn more about depression then these are my all-time favorite links:
Stanford’s Sapolsky On Depression in U.S. (Full Lecture) – The first 15 minutes are a perfect explanation of what a depression consists of.
Hyberbole and a Half’s “Adventures in depression” – pretty much regarded by the entire Internet as the most understandable description of depression ever created.
The Spoon Theory – this elegantly explains why sometimes, just putting on pants and mascara in the morning can be a huge accomplishment.
Phew! It took me 5 days to write this. I will now sit here in cold sweats and try to convince myself that this post will not ruin all my future career opportunities. Think of the leopard jacket, think of the leopard jacket, think of the leopard jacket!
EDIT: I wrote another post three months later to update everyone on how I was doing. Read it here.