07 December 2010

Dealing with Depression

Today, a friend of mine linked to this article where a woman talks about the stark truths of depression.  And as I read through it, I saw every single things that I deal with on a daily basis.

I've been depressed most of my life.  I didn't officially get diagnosed with it until I was in my 20s, but the problem was there far longer than that.  When I was 12, I went to see a therapist because I was having a hard time dealing with my parents' divorce.  That was also around the time of my first suicide attempt.  I don't think the word "depression" was ever mentioned in relation to my visits, but I know that was one of the things I was dealing with.

In high school, when I was living with my dad & step-mom, my step-mom thought I was lazy and a hypochondriac.  I don't think she realized until many years later that I was dealing with depression.  Because my funks wouldn't happen all the time.  I still managed to function, though not as well as I would have liked.

It wasn't until I was in my late 20s, when I had my last suicide attempt and was hospitalized, that I was diagnosed and given medicine to try to keep myself under control. I was given a somewhat low dose of Wellbutrin - one of the few medicines out there that doesn't have weight gain as a side effect.  It was combined with talk therapy and, for awhile, the two helped.  I still had a lot of days when I couldn't face getting out of bed.  But at least my lows weren't quite as low as they'd been.

Over the years, I've been on and off my medication.  Usually my "off" times were when I had no insurance and couldn't afford it.  (Wellbutrin only recently became generic, and it would have cost me $400 a month for my 30 day supply of pills.)  More often, I've been on the medication and off the talk therapy.  That's where I am now, though I've made an appointment to talk with a new therapist near the end of the year.

I hate the fact that I suffer from depression.  I hate being "sick" and having to take meds.  I hate the stigma that comes with depression and the guilt that I feel when I give in to it.  I hate wondering if people are thinking I'm lazy because of it.  I hate that there are days when I don't answer the phone because I just don't want to talk to anyone, that I don't want to deal with anyone.  I hate being caught in the catch-22 of depression - being too depressed to force myself to do things that need to be done, seeing the lack of progress because of it and throwing myself into deeper depression.  I hate that I can't remember or believe that the things I can't face aren't as bad as I think.  I hate having this disease.

For the last several weeks, my depression has been worse.  I sit in front of the computer and play mindless games when I know I should be doing housecleaning or playing with the boys.  The swaps that I need sit untouched until the last day, and then I work hard on finishing them, feeling guilty that I hadn't done so before. There are days when I can't force myself to get dressed or to eat because I can't stir myself to do it.  There are days when I wonder if I'm taking care of the boys the way that I should be.  I've been beating myself up because of the things that, mentally, I can't do.  Making phone calls have been difficult for me.  Talking to anyone that might be even the slightest bit negative in their opinions of me has been difficult.  Intellectually, I know that I'm doing what I can - making sure the boys aren't in any danger, feeding them, talking to them, cleaning or playing when I have the mental energy to do so.  But when I see the things that don't get done, it's hard to remember that I suffer from a disability and, even if few others will do so, I, at least, need to cut myself a little slack.

Depression is not an excuse for me to not get things done. It's a fact of my life.  Something I will be dealing with for the rest of my days.  I will have to adjust medications to help me have some measure of quality of life. I will have to have someone to talk to that can help me accept myself for who I am, to find ways that I can reduce the stresses that enhance my depression and who can listen to my problems.  (Though I have that in Rich, there are a lot of times when I'm not willing to believe him because I think he's prejudiced in my favor. So I need someone "professional" to talk to.)  And since it's never going to change, I've got to accept it and keep working toward keeping it controlled.

Some days I'll be able to do this.  Others I won't.  And that's just the way it will always be.