Thursday, July 16, 2009

The black dog: depression and why it appears

I don't have many psychotic symptoms these days, but I still have trouble with depression. My therapist's theory on this, which seems pretty accurate, is that my body doesn't absorb any medications correctly unless they're injected. That is why I get injections of Risperdal every two weeks, and why the Risperdal injections work for me, while the pills do not. Since there are no injectable antidepressants, I take those in pill form. But they don't appear to work for me too well.

I've had trouble with depression all my life, I guess. The first time I really remember it starting was when I was about 13, and my parents split up. I remember that I started to wish I had never been born then. This would later become the wish to die. That would later become suicide attempts. But, eventually, the depression faded into the background because I developed the primary symptoms of psychosis, and also because I learned how to live with depression over time. So it comes now, and I say hello to it, and I don't stare it down and wonder what I am going to do about it, like I used to when I was younger. I had several things I would do. I would go to bookstores and read stupid self-help and pop psychology books, but eventually I learned the pointlessness of that. I would cut myself, as a teenager and later in my 20's too, with razors and knives, because this gave me a sense of relief and release. I starved myself, and spent about a decade being anorexic, which seemed, at the time, a better fate than being morbidly depressed and not anorexic (but really wasn't). I would go to therapists, and take antidepressants, both of which are things I still do, and these things are helpful to a certain degree. And I'd write, which somehow always seems to help.

I had one friend who really understood depression, but we aren't friends anymore. There's no point in discussing that, as I've already done so, and it is also not remotely interesting to anybody who reads this, I'm sure. With most people, I've never talked about being depressed. I am more likely to tell a joke or rant at you about some political thing that is pissing me off. I rarely talk to people about being depressed outside of the people who kindly read this blog from time to time.

The way I think about depression now is different than the way I used to think. I don't feel it's a problem that has a simple solution which I am going to find someplace. I think it's the end result of other problems, which have complex solutions I must create myself. I am lonely; therefore I feel depressed. This would seem like a relatively simple problem to solve, but when you've been introverted and afraid of people all your life, it's not so simple. I am lonely even when I am with people sometimes. But most of the time in my life these days, I'm alone. So, yes, I get lonely. Anybody would.

I feel ashamed of my lack of accomplishments in life. This also makes me "depressed". I wish I had a Master's Degree, berate myself for not having a Bachelor's Degree, and am utterly baffled by the fact that I never even completed my Associate's Degree. Therefore, I feel like a failure, as education has always been an important part of my life, and something I have valued immensely, but also something which has proven extremely difficult due to my brain problems.

I am overweight; therefore I feel depressed. I don't want to eat anymore. I wish I could just completely stop eating altogether until I weigh 104 lbs. again, and then, I'd deserve food. I want to be myself, and my body all my life was very thin. Until the past four years, in which time I gained 100 lbs. and had the opportunity to despise what my body really looks like for the first time, as opposed to despising the way I thought it looked, which is, in some ways, a much easier problem to conquer.

Because I hate the way I look, I don't like seeing people who knew me when I was thin, and I don't like meeting new people. I feel so self-conscious about my weight that there is no way in hell I would date anybody, ever, while I weigh this much, because I cannot fathom the possibility that any guy who saw me in this state would be remotely interested. They're not. I don't care that much that I don't date anyone anymore, but it does leave me with time to spend alone. My ex-boyfriend took up a lot of my life, until he disappeared from it a year and a half ago (Jim). I can't picture me ever being involved with anyone that seriously again, because I am so fat. And because the fat was part of the reason he left me. How pathetic, that I should be hurt by someone being so superficial and cold-hearted, but I was hurt by it, nonetheless. He would tell me, "You're not attractive anymore", and "I don't want to touch you when you look this way", and "You shouldn't be eating that much", enough times that it made a definite impact. If he had punched me in the face, the pain would have been less than the pain I got from those remarks. You take a person who spent half her life being anorexic and call her a fat pig, and you know, that makes an impact that lasts a long goddamned time.

So.....yes, there are reasons I feel depressed. I have also been wondering if my medications are, actually, making me feel more depressed than I would be without them. There is a distinct possibility this could be true. I would like to get off Anafranil, and Seroquel completely and see how that works out. I don't think I need either medication anymore, and I also don't think they work for me in the first place. So it's just a matter of getting my psychiatric nurse to understand my point of view (or a matter of me taking myself off them, but that would be unwise according to the professionals of the mental health world). Both of those can make you gain weight; both also make me tired. Being tired can lead to depression. When you're physically completely worn out, it's easy to have your mind delve into a place of darkness and despair. I walk a lot now, to lose weight, and I get completely exhausted by it after 45 minutes. I know the endorphins of exercise are supposed to make people feel more happy and less depressed, but I'm not sure it always works that way. I do have some physical health issues that make me really tired.

Anyway, the moral of this story is, being "depressed" is not as simple as it sounds. I think it's a complex issue, and I don't think that popping pills is really the way I need to tackle it. It's not something that necessarily can be tackled in the first place. Sometimes it's just a part of life.

It's something most human beings probably experience at some point in their lives. Winston Churchill and others after him called it "the black dog". I see it as more of a sign that there are problems to be looked into now, rather than it being the problem itself. When one is suicidally depressed, obviously you must address the depression. But I'm not suicidally depressed. I'm just living my life, and depression is there, so adjustments must be made.

I've found that recently my loneliness is underscored by the amount of time I'm spending online conversing with so-called "friends", who are mostly people I do not know at all. I think my online persona - which is not necessarily much like my real self, or, at least, not completely in line with how I am really feeling at any given time - is something that some people like, but is a far cry from really being friends with people. I have one friend who I spend actual time with in real life. I have 454 Facebook friends, who I mostly do not know well. I think it's okay to have them as so-called friends, but I'm learning that I find an emptiness in that situation, which would apparently only be erased by real friendships with people offline. I'm not sure what I will do about that. I am involved in some groups where I meet a few people or know a few people, but other than those two groups, I don't do anything that involves meeting anyone.

Right now, I feel that my main priority is to lose weight and get into better physical shape. To that end, I go to physical therapy most weeks at least once, and I exercise most days, while I eat about half as much as I used to eat (also half as much as most people eat). Losing the excess weight is extremely important to me. I know, however, that there are other issues I need to address which lead to "depression", no matter what my weight is. I hope that I will find ways of fixing those areas too.

1 comment:

The Medcalfs said...

Ok...as one of your online friends I read your blog and it makes me realize how important real people are in the lives of those with SZ. I needed your blog today...maybe I can make a difference...hoping you are better...

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