Where have I been the last few months? I’ve been depressed. I still am, but I’m doing better now than I was. It was bad. It started in December and peaked in February I think. Between crazy workload issues and packing and moving and selling the house and renovations and migraines and awful migraine prevention meds and Duncan dying and other stuff I just got overwhelmed and anxious and then I couldn’t sleep and I would wake up in the middle of the night and worry for hours. And you know how that goes, it’s always catastrophizing, imagining the worst things that could happen. And everything just kept getting worse with the lack of sleep and the anxiety and the exhaustion and the cumulative effects of everything.
In February I started antidepressants. Within a few weeks I noticed a pretty significant improvement. I’ve increased the dosage a couple of times since, but the depression seems to have plateaued. I’m a 12 on the depression scale, if that means anything to you (I was an 18 initially). Last week my doctor added sleeping pills to the mix, and that seems to be making a difference. I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in six months, and now I’ve had seven of them in a row. I see two benefits: 1) I’m not exhausted, and 2) I don’t lie awake for hours stressing about work.
Anyway. Depression’s a weird thing, isn’t it? I always thought I wasn’t prone to it, but I guess that’s changed. This is my third depression. I had one bout as a teenager, and this is my second middle-aged depression.
At its worst it was really bad. I got to the point where I couldn’t handle anything else, so I was literally not opening my mail or paying my bills or answering my phone. My memory was completely shot. Even writing things down so I wouldn’t forget them felt complicated. I couldn’t keep lists. Everything felt overwhelmingly hard. I could feel gravity tugging at my face – it was an actual physical sensation. I literally felt myself aging. I cried a lot – many times a day.
GC was very supportive, of course. He was there for me, he made food, he didn’t tell me to cheer up, he took care of things.
It’s actually pretty amazing that I kept working. But I had a project I was very committed to, and that project had a looming deadline. (“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” – Bertrand Russell.)
When I went off antidepressants several years ago, I said I would never take them again because of the difficulties I had with withdrawal symptoms. But you know what? This February I knew I needed them, and I didn’t hesitate. I wanted them. I have no regrets. I’d rather take antidepressants than feel that dying wouldn’t be the end of the world.