Depression Is My New Roommate

Writing is harder these days. But writing about my experience is much easier than talking about it. I can't tell you when it happened, but it all started a few years ago when I began to keep details of my personal life ... personal. All the good things, and all the unbelievably crappy things, and the dull, boring everyday things. I've kept it all to myself. Even close friends are in the dark about what has been happening in my life over the last year, and some family members probably know even less.

I guess maybe part of it comes from not wanting people to worry about me. Since I'm so far away from them, then the old adage that "ignorance is bliss" kind of applies. As does "no news is good news." Why upset the status quo? I can say that everything is fine and make idle chit chat and no one would be any wiser. I'm also not the best at asking for help. That's been a lifelong thing, I think. I've always held the stubborn belief that I can do it all by myself, and I'll do it my own way. If it doesn't work out, then I'll find another way. By not saying anything, I avoid all the forthcoming questions and situations that I'm just not ready to deal with.

I guess I don't make loving me - as a friend, family, lover ... whatever - easy.

Writing also means that I only have to use my words once. And right now, I really don't want to repeat myself. But it still scares the crap out of me. It feels like I have so much stuff to unpack and I don't know where to start with any of it.

Accepting that I have depression is still something I'm working on. It's here. Hopefully not for the rest of my life, but for now, it's here. There are good days and bad days, just like with everything. Some days I almost feel like my old self - the sun shines in, I'm laughing and game to do anything. Anxiety isn't anywhere to be found and I'm almost convinced that I'm gonna be ok. The big black voice is eerily quiet, and I can look at my reflection in the mirror and see a person that I love.

Other days, I am a prisoner in my own bed, unable to do the basic things. The big, black voice is strong - we've named this voice Alex, by the way. I keep secrets on those days where Alex wins. I don't tell anyone that I didn't make it to work, or that I couldn't get out of bed long enough to shower, or that I've been in the same jammies for two or three days. On days like those, Alex is my constant companion. She says tells me that I should have my shit together for a woman my age. She makes everything feel empty. She tells me how dare I have depression - that there are people who have real problems and struggles in life, and who am I to be depressed?  She makes me feel inadequate in every way.

But, now that I've named her, I'm learning to tell her that she can take a long walk off a short pier. Having her around constantly is exhausting. True, telling her that she can go pound sand only gives me a brief respite, it is a bliss of sorts. And there are times when telling her to go play on the yellow line doesn't work, it takes too much effort to put up that boundary with her. But you can't win 'em all, so the saying goes.

The first week of being on medication was rough. It felt like my brain was wrapped in cotton. Thoughts were fuzzy, everything was spinning constantly. It takes more concentration to drive now. Even writing takes more concentration than it used to. My first day back to work was a lot more harder than I thought it would be. For the following two weeks, I walked around feeling like a zombie. I wasn't happy, I wasn't sad. I simply just ... was. I saw everything through a mask of numbness - like my whole body, my whole being was suffering from a case of pins and needles. I felt like a phantom in my own skin. It's a weird feeling. It was also during those first few weeks that anxiety really decided to make it presence known - fun little side effect of medication that I wouldn't wish on anyone. 

My breaking point in admitting that perhaps this particular medication wasn't for me came about a week and a half ago, after I found myself hunched over my friends kitchen counter with an anxiety attack that left me feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck. My hands and feet were numb, and I felt like I weighed a tonne, it just took so much effort to move. I slumped into a chair, clumsily grabbed a cigarette and a lighter, tugged open the patio door and spent the next ten minutes trying to feel like I was back in my body again. I called a girlfriend on my drive home and just listened to her talk randomly to me - half way through our conversation we got on to RuPaul's drag race and I perked up a bit as we gushed over our favourite queens. But I didn't sleep that night. I was afraid that anxiety would come back and my mind was racing a mile a minute so I spent countless hours scrolling through social media and playing games until I had reached the point where I was too tired to do anything except fall straight to sleep.

Then came more doctor's appointments. Several more days in bed, hiding from the world. A new prescription to be filled. So far, so good.

I'm not walking around in a fog anymore. I have longer and longer moments where I feel more like myself than I have in months. Sometimes, it lasts a whole day! I can listen to music again. I cannot begin to tell you how lonely the world is when you don't have music in it. For months all that played in my vehicle was talk radio. I've even started reading again. It takes more concentration than I remember and I probably can't read for any length of time longer than twenty minutes before I loose all comprehension of what I was reading. But it's a start to get me back to where I was.

As an emotional person, it's tough when you loose them all. Slowly, it's all coming back to me. True, old companions like guilt and shame are still there but they've been joined lately by a lot of anger. I'm angry at a lot of things, and various people, and at myself - some of this might be justified, and perhaps some of it is just a symptom of depression.

But, I'm making progress.

It's so painfully slow. I wish I was just back to my old self again, but just like with any illness or injury it takes time and patience. I've never been very good with patience - at least not where I myself is concerned - but I'm trying.


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