*Spoiler alert: this is a long post and most probably a 2 parter at least. In this part, I am making it personal. I have not yet gotten into practical stuff or helpful advice, let alone the retarded stigma that this topic still has. I will leave that for the next time. In the meantime, this is about me and how I dealt with those big bad demons. (sadly, it was without the Brothers Winchester)*
I have thought about doing this post for a very long time. Because I am a wuss, instead I chose to bring up the topic in a half-assed way while skirting around the actual thing. Wait, that’s not quite right… it’s not ‘a thing’, it is The Nothing. Because that is what depression is – the absence of everything. And yes – that is what I have. Call it major depression, clinical depression, the sads, the slumps, whatever. Personally, I prefer The Nothing. After that big, destructive gloom in the Neverending Story that destroys everything in its path.
How I came to discover The Nothing is not really important. Honestly, it was probably always there. Many studies show that genetics plays a part in it. Others say that environment does too. Considering that I come from the School of Hard Knocks, and that my sister also has depression, that makes sense. Personality? Heck, I am a creative control freak with no filter, absorbing everything like a defective sponge. My chemicals are pretty wack too. I would even agree with the new age theories on the sub-concious and whatnot. It’s not important why or how or even what. It is what it is, and how we deal with it that matters.
I have had pretty bad slumps, and extremely bad ones. Once I actually went and got diagnosed and went onto medication, it was a bit easier. Until the meds stopped working. Or rather, until a useless quack (let’s call him Dr Do-Little) suggested I increase the dosage of said meds that had stopped working. Oh and he also gave me hardcore sedatives too, bonus!
That appointment was on a Thursday. By the time that weekend rolled around, I had hit a very dark place. I remember sitting at my desk, with the feeling that something was about to break. And then something did break: me. The tears that started were worse than the ones that came watching the one person who was closest to me in the world die. It felt like *I* was dying. I took 2 of Dr Do-Little’s pills and dried my eyes and power walked to the shop, fighting to stay in control. Because the best thing to drink after dropping 2 hardcore sedatives is an energy drink (not really), I clung to some semblance of normalcy by getting a Play. When I got home, I threw it up.
My mom came over I think, and the rest of the weekend is an Ativan induced blur. I slept a lot. On the Saturday, I had managed to start believing the alien, warped brain chemicals that made me think that maybe it was my destiny to die. I took mental stock of all the various pharmaceuticals in my flat. Then I worried about who would feed the cats and what they would do if I went and died on them. Jasper can’t even handle being ignored for long and he is scared of everyone other than me and Debra. I was still living with my loss of Lotus – how would my family deal with me taking the easy way out?
“I can’t do this.” “It is too much.” “What is the point.”
Those thoughts permeated everything. Maybe I am too lazy or maybe there was still some hope buried way beneath that despair. Or maybe it was my mom, calling me to check up on me. That weekend, my dad had driven himself from Pberg to Cape Town to check into hospital with a red cell count of 3. I couldn’t care at the time. But my love for my mom and her infinite level-headed wisdom (“Stop taking those meds NOW Rox!”) were enough to get through that weekend.
On the Monday, I went to my GP, feeling at least strong enough to get help. She gave me something else to try, and listened as I cried. And she told me that she had been through depression too and that I was going to be ok. It took a bit of minor side effects, a few months of being slower, less focused, spaced out, scared and desperate for relief. But that relief came.
And here I am – sitting on the couch I have cried on countless times, in my lovely new house, crying once again. Not because I have hit a slump, or because I am grieving, or because I am sad, tired and hopeless. I am crying because I got another chance that weekend. Because all of those scary thoughts were just chemicals. Because I realised how many people love me and how easy it is to be alive.
I am crying because after 32 years of living, I am only now starting to really understand what living is all about. All of those years trying to find ‘zen’, and it took a huge scare to get it at last. Happiness, zen, life… chemicals, heart or soul. It’s all the same bloody thing – even an animated fish with amnesia learnt it before I did. And I had to learn the hard way (and remind myself every waking moment).
Three words, 16 letters…
Just keep swimming.