Monday, March 05, 2018

Depression

I have depressive spells. Not sadness or stress, but spells that are nearly indescribable, but I'm going to try here and now.

Yesterday, I had a few spells of just not being able to continue the tasks I was doing. Nothing overly spectacular, but a few key points to these spells did display themselves. First, utter exhaustion, like a feeling that I will absolutely just fall over if I don't lie down. Second, an inability to laugh at anything. I find humor in anything. I can be on the third day of the flu still throwing up my feet and I will still find something humorous. I lose that ability in these spells. Third, I get a sense of great shame, hopelessness, and dread. It's as if someone is looking at me and knows something about me that even I can't identify... and I can't. There's nothing technically wrong. There is a fourth key, but I'll get to that later.

I managed to make it through the day yesterday without toppling too badly. I made a couple of trips to the bedroom for 15 minute lie-downs. But I did work and I did make the walk to the mailbox and things like that.

Today, things got worse. I excused myself in the mid-morning after breakfast. I went to bed for a rest and did fall asleep for about 15 minutes out of the 1.5 hours I was there. I felt awful. This intense dread, exhaustion, and cloud hung down heavily. I got up in spite of this. My "normal" self knows this is not an okay state and I fight to come back to earth. I got up and went back to the living room. As Anne offered several kindnesses, tea, etc, I found myself staring back at hear like I was underwater. I could barely speak. I even reviewed my morning to see if I remembered taking anything, even advil that might have given any cause to this feeling at all. Usually, when I have spells like this, I am alone. With another person around, I have an added sense of responsibility to be myself and I think that is both better and worse. In the moment, I feel HORRIBLE that I am being not just a lump on the couch, but a humorless, staring person who might, to some, appear mad at the world. The better part comes as the other person calmly patiently feeds and cares for me which helps even though I feel guilty for not seeming grateful and my usual playful self.

I have described these episodes as something like a migraine. They are oppressive, overwhelming, and take everything that I know to be my normal self and throw it out the window. Then, with some time, patience, a feeling, a literal FEELING of the oppressive cloud lifts. It could take a few hours, it could be a few days. It could be completely gone, or little flare ups may occur here and there. Today, after a few hours of a particularly bad spell, I pulled up and out. I carefully, cautiously went out and picked flowers for our dinner table. Another flare happened after dinner, but I managed it okay.

I have described this to doctors, therapists, friends. Someone said it sounded a bit like a PTSD episode in its severity and in its episodic manner. Someone else classified it as "Major Depressive Disorder," but the definition of this term is for longer episodes than I have, but possibly a little less severe. Friends listen with sympathy and encourage me to visit a doctor. Friends feel like this is on a spectrum of treatable situations.

The fourth red flag of these episodes is that my brain is on autoloop of any and all manners of self-destruction... from minor afflictions to death. This is the reason I have sought help in the past. The thing that makes doctors not take it seriously is that if someone asks if I am suicidal, I say "no." I say this for several reasons. 1. To say "yes" means I give up my rights, and I could be locked up and drugged - a real and serious possibility. It's not just for the movies! 2. I have a sense of my real self in these episodes as if I am sitting next to this sick version of me. My real self is there reminding me to just hang on. This will pass. So, as long as I stay strong enough, I am NOT, in my mind, suicidal; I'm just having constant suicidal flashes. 3. My ability to see reality is completely gone. I am in a cloud that is physically heavy. I don't actually know what I am capable of.

This fourth flag is why I have sought medical attention. If an episode lasts too long, will I continue to be strong enough? Why are these episodes happening at all? There is migraine medication. Might there be something similar for these episodes. I CAN NOT be the only living person on this planet that has this problem. Yet, no doctor or therapist has come up with anything helpful, and more often they look at me like I'm making it all up.

I worry that some day I will be under actual real stress when one of these episodes occur and that it will last longer than my strength can hold out. That's how real and strong the death-flashes are. It both comforts me to think that Anne would be around to see signs and find help, but it also crushes me to think she would ever have to deal with this.

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