First… I’m not doing my usual Year in Review post. It was fun while it lasted, but honestly? 2015 can go to hell. There was some good (concerts with friends, motorcycle rides, time with Kristen, Gen Con) but more bad. Fuck it.
I’m writing about depression, and I feel fine doing so ’cause… well, no one really reads this. If you know me, you know that I’ve dealt with depression for a long time. It’s something that is a part of me. It’s something that will, unfortunately, always be a part of me, regardless of what I do.
I’ve been reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, which deals with depression (and social anxiety, and the urge to cause pain to oneself, and all sorts of other fun mental illnesses). She handles ’em through the time-honored practice of blogging, staring at cat pictures, acquiring odd taxidermied animals, and generally being “fun crazy” (as opposed to actual crazy, I guess?). I can only read small parts of that book at a time because I get too reflective on my own stuff.
The only thing that I am aware that I’ve been definitively diagnosed as is having moderate to severe clinical depression. I get the feeling that there are other things wrong with me (a dash of social anxiety here, a pinch of ADD there) but don’t want to self-diagnose, because down that path leads… well, me thinking I’m more fucked-up than I actually am. I use anger as a coping mechanism. I downplay how I’m feeling if people ask or even if I think I need help because I’m afraid of negative reactions if I tell them how I really, honestly feel. I think about how much worse (insert person/citizens of a region/people who lived during a historic era) had/have it than I do, and who the hell am I to get sad about X thing when they survived Y thing… and I should feel shame for being sad. And then I do and then it spirals into an ouroboros of shame and disgust.
Lately, though, it’s getting worse, not better. I’ve heard the saying “Depression Lies” (which, as it turns out, was mentioned by the selfsame Jenny Lawson whose book I’m reading) a lot… but I’m having a hard time believing that it lies all the time. Hell, I know there’s truth to the self-criticisms that I assail myself with. And the anger! When I read something about how someone is so depressed they can’t get out of bed for a week, all I think is “what the hell kind of job do YOU have where you can just spend a week in bed? I have no recourse but to drag my fat ass to work no matter how shitty I feel.” I frequently have the urge to react physically just to get rid of the flush of adrenaline in my body when I’m angry on top of everything else. Usually I’m good at keeping it in check. Sometimes I punch a wall. I live in constant fear that somehow I’ll lash out AGAINST someone. That I’m some kind anger-beast who is only driven by how pissed off he is.
None of this is healthy, and I’m in control of myself to realize it. Furthermore, I’m in control enough to know that I’ll never act on whatever seriously harmy negative thoughts I have, because I realize how badly any sort of action would hurt my family and friends.
That’s cold comfort when you feel like you’re nothing but shit a good portion of the time.
How have I dealt with it? Medication (prescribed shortly after I moved to Georgia) and trips to a few different psychiatrists for medication maintenance and some discussion. Most were ineffectual at best (and the one pushing herbal remedies for everything was the worst), but then again, I’ve only really had one counselor that has made a difference for me. I don’t think that the pills are working as well as they once did, though. Occasional deep breaths. Attempts to remove myself from situations. And… that’s it. Back in the heady days of LiveJournal i’d write more about how I felt, but the less said about THOSE posts, the better. (They still exist, imported to this blog but locked up with an “Only I can view this” filter).
I’ve tried a few times to find counselors to talk to. Most of ’em that I found were faith-based, and as I’m not a believer, that’s not going to do anything for me. The few that weren’t either didn’t answer their phones, weren’t accepting patients (and seemed like I was inconveniencing them for even bothering to talk to them), or, in one particularly egregious case, the counselor no-showing to their office when I had a scheduled appointment.
I am, in short, wary of trying to talk to someone… but things are bad enough that I think that I have to. I’ve gotten two referrals. Maybe one of them will work.
Hopefully one of them will.