I believe it is impossible for anyone — and I know it’s impossible for me — to write about depression from the inside and read her own words back and not feel like an absolutely pathetic whiner. All of that said, these days I’m having a really, really hard time finding reasons to keep breathing.
I have never gone from what passes for happy for me to absolutely miserable so quickly. Basically, here’s how it works:
My brain chemistry is fucked up somehow. I’m sure it has something to do with serotonin: it must, otherwise why would Ely Lilly and Co., GlaxoSmithKline, SmithKline Beecham, and Pfizer have devoted so many research and development, and so many advertising dollars to their respective products. So one morning I wake with my brain chemistry slightly out of whack, and then something happens.
It could be something small, something that really shouldn’t matter, and very often is, but that something small is enough to start the chain reaction of doubt. Whatever has gone wrong has gone wrong because I am not smart enough/clever enough/happy enough/nice enough/polite enough/fill-in-the-blank; whatever it is didn’t turn out because I am somehow deficient.
Putting this little seed of self doubt in the greenhouse of my hard-wired neurology and my soft-wired learned experiences and it sprouts like a dandelion at a Super Fund horse manure cleanup site. It grows and grows and grows on negative feedback — everything that goes wrong is just more evidence of my deficiencies — until the brain chemistry shifts or I get some external feedback that I believe. But every single descent into the pit, every single episode takes a toll. It gets a little harder to come back; the physical symptoms — the slowing thump of my heart, the tightness in my chest, the grayness of experience — get worse and more persistent each time.
I’m certainly not going to bore any of my friends with this. All three of them have other, more important things to deal with in their lives. And besides, any reasonable person can only take so much whining before she gets fed up.
My girlfriend, well, I love her a lot but our relationship isn’t exactly fabulous these days, and hasn’t been since she went back to college (talk about having a lot of other things to deal with; in addition to studying for a Ph.D she’s also the household’s primary means of support…which is a polite way of saying she supports me).
The American solution to this problem would be to take a pill and forget about it. But I’m not doing that: I’m still suffering the cognitive effects of antidepressants I took a decade ago (selfish of me, I know, but when I’m not feeling like shit I like to write a little bit and in order to do that one needs to actually be able to remember words)
I’m also not crawling back to therapy. Clearly the tools and coping mechanisms I’ve spent 15 sporadic years in therapy trying to develop haven’t been serving me all that well lately.
All I know is that I’m tired of not being happy, and I’m tired of wondering what the fuck is wrong with me because I can’t be happy like everyone else even with my objectively fabulous (loving girlfriend, decent health, loving family, job that doesn’t completely suck) life.
At this point, the only reason I can think of to keep breathing, beyond the fact that I don’t have the courage to do anything violent and that it’s impossible to get a doctor to prescribe anything you can OD on, is that it would be hell for my mother to live the remainder of her life with the knowledge that her one and only offspring was too weak to manage something as simple as life.