The plain and honest truth of the matter is this: I am depressed.
I have been fighting depression for most of my adult life—likely much of my childhood, too—and I think it's reasonable to assume I will be doing so for the rest of my days on Earth. At times I have received counseling for it; medication has also helped in the past and, some times, caused more problems than it has solved. But the simple truth—although there is truly nothing "simple" about it—is that I am at constant risk of a wave of depression coming upon me with very little warning and virtually paralyzing me emotionally.
Other factors that have led, as far as I can tell, to this latest go-round with crippling depression are equally obvious to me and yet not really avoidable. I spent a great deal of time focusing on Sarah's party—several weeks, in fact—and once the day had passed and that goal was taken away it became easier to "give in" to my foe. It didn't help that I actually did get sick right after the party, a virus I likely had in the days leading up to the event but I simply couldn't allow it to take hold right away. But I'm not sure which is the chicken and which the egg here; at least I was starting to sleep better with the load of the party off of my mind and a new white noise idea Sarah came up with for our bedroom. The spring-back effect, though, caused me to sleep for many, many hours last week and yet never really feel rested.
Then there's the part where my new business venture comes into it. It was a very exciting summer while I, with the help of Sarah and Lisa, was forming the plan for the Grumpy Penguin content writing enterprise, culminating in the launch of my website on August 8th. In the heady days that followed, I received lots of praise for, and interest in, my business and was introduced to some very influential people by Lisa and others. However, in recent weeks the early euphoria has tapered off and I am in a process of trying to exorcize the demons of self-doubt. From past experience I know two things: 1) I will be able to overcome these demons; and 2) it will take a little time, but at the end of it I will be blessed with a huge burst of energy and can then get the show back on the road. (That's the "manic" part; bipolarity certainly runs in my family but I seem to spend more time on one "pole" than the other.)
The thing I have found about depression, as least in how I relate to it (and vice versa), is that, despite what I have written above about logical triggers, there is simply no real rational reason for it to keep happening. I find public awareness has greatly improved over the past few years, which is terrific because I am pretty tired of being asked, "What do you have to be depressed about?" I don't know what I have to be depressed about; if I did know, do people think I would really choose to be depressed instead of conquering it?
Actually, that raises an interesting point in and of itself. There have been times in my life where I think it's possible that I have "chosen" depression simply because it's an emotion I can feel. I have taken medication that has caused me to kind of "flat-line" and I can truly say I don't care for it. Sometimes in order to avoid feeling "nothing" I chose to feel "something" and didn't actively pursue a remedy as hard as I might have otherwise. I've read of this phenomenon from other people, notably Michael J. Fox as he has described how his Parkinson's meds have caused him to be so foggy and numb that he has chosen not to take them.
|The McGovern Family, Teresa at centre|
So that's what's been going on. It's like a "perfect storm" of confluences: lack of sleep; new venture excitement wearing off; a huge project coming to completion and having to readjust my priorities. Just the fact that I am able to create this blog post today is a sign to me that things are starting to turn back to the "good"; I expect a flood of activity from my keyboard in the next few days because, let's face it, the Romney-bashing isn't going to write itself. I don't purport to have all the answers—or, indeed, any answers—but I thought that the people who frequent my little corner of teh interwebs deserved an explanation. I don't expect anyone to have a great epiphany due to what I have written here; rather, I feel that open, honest discourse about mental health issues is the only way to beat back the stigma so many people felt for so many years about their "hidden illnesses". And remember: these are my own experiences about which I am writing. I am not a doctor and I don't even play one on television.
Thank you for your patience. Get ready, I hope, for a bit of an onslaught over the next few days. I have a lot of catching up to do.