posted on Sep, 24 2012 @ 11:07 PM
As I sit to write this it is nearly 11:30 at night and I've just finished watching a television show that, for many years was a ritual and staple of
my normal life - a wresting show called Monday Night RAW. It used to e a running joke in my former social circles... my enthusiasms for such
base entertainment. And a lot of good natured fun was poked at me for enjoying it so much. I had good friends back then... friends who would laugh at
me for liking the show - but then who would also tape it for me on weeks when my work demands had me on the road on any given Monday night.
But that's not really what I came here to talk about tonight. I came to discuss depression. Not the type of depression one gets when their bank book
falls a few bucks short on a tight month, or when their lover declares that it is time to move on. Not even the depression one feels when they stand
in a manicured field, dressed in their best clothes, trying to hold it all together as they watch a box being lowered into the ground - fighting to
hold back the emotions and at a loss as to ponder just how difficult it is to reconcile that the wooden box, before them could possibly have anything
to do with the vital, living, beautiful human being who now rests, still and silent, within.
These situation depressions are powerful and have their own place and their own conversations. But, for tonight, I wish to discuss a different form of
depression. The chemical kind.
Throughout my ATS career I have spoken openly about my psychiatric history... Primarily about my PTSD and my Bipolar disorder. This has caused me some
grief. I have been judged a bit by a few people, seen my input summarily dismissed by rude people who find it easy to simply say "So says the crazy
guy", rather than to debate the topic at hand. Once a member even contacted staff and requested that I be removed from staff and banned from the site
based upon my open disclosure of a history of mental health issues. Most of these things did not affect me at all. Ninety-nine percent of the time I
am as emotionally stable as most of you are - and, to be honest - more so than some who have never bothered to seek help for their issues. I have put
myself out there, here on ATS and in my real life as well for a single reason. To educate people about the reality of mental illnesses. To educate
enough that the blind stigma and instant judgment of folks like me might, one day, be as archaic as racial slurs are today. I am willing to accept the
snap judgments and the cheap shots if it means furthering the cause. And I happily smile through all of it.
Tonight my perspective is different. Not my morals or my resolve. But my own body chemistry. Tonight, despite taking my medication as prescribed, I
find myself in a state that most psychiatrists would refer to as a profound depression. I could, quite easily just go lay down, pull the covers up,
turn off the lights, turn on my white noise machine, and lay there until I fall asleep. In fact that is, honestly, what every cell in my body is
screaming for me to do. But I am refusing. I am refusing because I see an opportunity here to try and help those who do not suffer depression to see
what it is like, in real time, from a person who really deals with it.
So I write - in spite of my own urges not to do so.
Trying to describe a true depression is, in and of itself, a very difficult think to do. It's not a feeling that most normal people would understand
as s depression. I was not always this way and am blessed with the ability to compare the way I used to feel, when I was depressed ( in normal ways )
to how depression feels now. The closest thing I can summon as an analog is having a major case of the flu and getting fired from your job - both in
the say day... Oh, and on one of those days when everything else seems to keep going on. It feels like being physically ill, weak, feverish, and also
overwhelmed by life. But even that requires a caveat because, though I do feel totally overwhelmed, I cannot put my finger on a single issue that
should be causing me to feel this way. There is no rational trigger or cause. It is just chemicals in my brain that are not in balance.
One might say that understand the cause is half the battle. Sometimes in life this is a very true approach. With chemical depression ( nor anxiety )
is it so. I can list off the "emotion" chemicals of the brain by rote. I can discuss exactly which areas of the brain they effect. I can even tell
you which foods and natural plant products contain the ingredients that should right my woes. Chemicals obviously highly concentrated in my meds.
None of it helps.
A good starting point for trying to explain to the average person what this feels like is to take the flu example and expand. You've got flu and
you'e got some substantial external stress making the flu feel that much worse. Now add in a sense of overwhelming boredom. A boredom that is a bit
like a random food craving... you know, when you walk into the kitchen wanting something - but you can never quite figure out just what it is
that you want? No matter how hard you search, nothing will do. Apply that quality of feeling to the flu/stressed/bored feeling. Now take all of that
and imagine that you fell off of a ladder yesterday and, on top of all else, your body is aching all over and it feels like you got run over by a
truck. Finally add in the feeling you get when you've been awake about 12 hours too long and your body is screaming for rest.
Throw all of that into a blender and you get what chemical depression feels like - at least in my case. It's a painful, demoralizing,
inconsolable, exhausting, feeling of being sick and utterly disinterested in everything. And it is totally frustrating because I know damned well that
there is no rational reason for it. And, yes, even in this state, I do possess my rational mind. Knowing that I've taken my meds is equally as
frustrating as they should be preventing this - even as I know that, upon occasions, they simply fail to work.
All of the above comes together to create another symptom - loss of self-esteem. When one is smart enough to know that a thing should be controlled,
and it isn't - that still, small voice in the head will whisper ugly things to you. It will tell you that you deserve this. It will tell you that
it's all happening because you're too weak to master your own thoughts. It will repeat every hateful thing anyone has ever said to or about you and
add "They were all right you know..."
All one can do is distract themselves and wait for their pills to kick in. By tomorrow morning I will likely wake up jovial, eager, and ready to begin
my day. But, for tonight? It's the dark place and the hard times.
The reason I have posted this is that I know there are others on ATS with similar symptoms. Maybe not exactly the same - but their own versions of
this and I want very much to show them that they do not have to be ashamed. They do not have to be quiet. And they are not alone.
And to offer this advice: Never contemplate permanent solutions to temporary problems. Don't let go, it will get better. I promise. And that is a
promise made by a person far more infinitely qualified than even most professionals. These depressions are just speed bumps in the road of life and
you can learn from them. Always force yourself to keep them in perspective.
And with that, I head to bed. Goodnight ATS