Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Realization: Depression




Today on my way to the garage to drop off the car for a brake job (sigh), I passed my old apartment. The very last one, that I left because landlord was a crack addict with guns and a grudge against his ex-wife and my neighbors... and he lived two doors away. And the apartment was a crackerbox, which was why I was thinking about it before I found out about the crack/guns/grudge business.

Today I realized this: the last two years in that apartment I was just depressed. In a depression. Emotional and physical.

Wow.

I mean, I already knew this--which is why today I am actually not as depressed as I was and doing fine, thank you, but I was depressed then and there in more specific, focused, real way. And that apartment had become the setting for my depression. So today as I drove by it, I realized why I didn't even want to look at what was a perfectly good building (nice georgian brickwork and a lovely, lovely magnolia tree I actually do miss).

That building equals two messed-up years and my own fault. I was depressed. and getting no help--because I didn't know what was wrong and thus wasn't questioning my feelings and thus ignored the signs of my withdrawal and tiredness and lack of engagement with anything beyond the needs of a single day's duration. And apparently my situation wasn't evident to anyone. (Did I mention I was oblivious and not asking for help?) I don't blame co-workers, friends, or family, because frankly how could they see what was invisible to me?

I didn't break down in tears in public.
I didn't gain or lose weight in big numbers.
I didn't stop shaving or washing or cutting my hair or my nails.
I didn't cut myself.
I didn't not show up for work or meetings or other commitments, although I was aware of taking sick days, or "mental health days" or rescheduling meetings to never or... no one else was.



What happened? I did talk to friends--because I wanted to find the name of a good therapist. The surprising result was wasted time and money with two "therapists" who were useless, except that the second blessedly sent me to an endocrinologist, which was what physically started me on the road to help... but conversations with friends--all women--who said, yeah, you're depressed and I know because I was/am depressed and you've got my symptoms.

Huh.

What was wrong with me? I had changed--and you've have to know me to understand that these things that follow were 180degrees unlike me--but they were where I was at.

First, I had no goals and couldn't plan anything long-term (meaning beyond the week).
I had no ambition for my job or career.
I was wearing the same clothes every day--with minimal variations.
I was sleeping on the living room couch every night--without pulling out the sleeper. I wasn't cleaning my apartment beyond the necessary.
I was watching the entire canon of MURDER SHE WROTE on Netflix, season after season, hour after hour after hour...

What did I do?

  1. I met this endocrinologist, and we put me on bio-identical estrogen and progesterone and testosterone and thyroid hormone. 
  2. I stopped going to/paying the bad therapist #1 and #2 and made my own list of goals, short-term and long-term--and then I made those goals, or some of them. Some are still in process. 
  3. I stopped sleeping on the couch... mostly.
  4. I stopped "retail therapy" and started saving and paid off debt in a big, bad way. 
  5. I moved and decluttered my stuff along the way (dumped out the past and moved on!). 
  6. I took a vacation I planned that was in no way work-related. 
  7. I grew my hair and colored it the way I had wanted to for years.
  8. I set goals for 2011 and worked to meet them, with the overall goal of increasing balance in my life. 
  9. I started writing daily, again. 
  10. I decided not to look for validation from my boss or boss's boss or students, but from my work (teaching and writing), my creativity, and my friends and family.
  11. I stopped making myself crazy with the things I couldn't control--like bullying and mendacity and misogyny and rudeness (ok, well, mostly!) and let things gooooooooooo!


It wasn't until today that I realized how well I am doing, and how far I have come in two years, a little at a time. So, yay me!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for such an inspiring post. I've lived with that kind of depression for 50 (!) years, on and off, so I have learned that your approach works, though I have not used the hormones. Congratulations on your success. Yay you, indeed!

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