Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogging The Big D

This week, I was formally diagnosed as being severely clinically depressed. In case your mental health glossary is not handy, that's the especially bad kind. The Big D. The kind where, for example, a doctor may advise the patient to try to spend as little time alone as possible. That's the kind I have.
What happens is I go into these funks (that's what I call them) where I become mercilessly self-critical, focusing intently on any and all flaws and errors and talking myself into believing...not thinking, believing...that I am the most useless, unnecessary and insignificant so-called human being wandering around, wasting resources, good will and time while providing no value of any kind whatsoever to any people who actually matter. It gets to the point where I say, aloud, really horrible things about and to myself (like that last sentence, actually), tearing myself to pieces and reducing myself to a twitching bundle of raw nerves, hopeless, helpless and spending every available second lying in bed. These periods come and go without any real stimulus, at least that I can pinpoint. I'm always seconds away from it coming on or going away (as I write this, I feel like I'm on an upswing). Lately though, they come on more frequently, last longer and are more intense, which is what spurred the visit to the doctor.
The doctor recommended (along with the suggestion to hire myself a sitter) that I see a therapist. Two problems with that:
  1. I don't have the kind of insurance that covers therapy and don't have a lot of scratch laying around.
  2. I've tried therapy, more than once, and have never gotten good results: the first attempt ended when the therapist suggested I could get a discount in exchange for a hook-up for concert tickets. The last one ended before it started when I showed up at the office for my first appointment and found that they had moved, a fact not mentioned on their web site where I got the address (maybe I was wrong, but I took that as a bad sign). As a result of these interactions, I've come to view therapists the same way I view teachers (and some cops): It's a profession whose members enjoy a reputation greater than what's truly deserved because of the efforts of a few dedicated, concerned individuals who do amazing things on behalf of people who come to them for help while a majority of the rest of them are just coasting along in the wake. Sorry, but that's my experience.

The doctor suggested that the problem could be an internal chemical imbalance that could be corrected or at least aided with medication. I'm scared to death (ha ha!) of these new medications that seem to pass through the FDA with little more than a cursory wave of a rubber stamp as long as there is a long, horrific disclaimer about all the possible negative side effects, especially the anti-depressants that may increase thoughts of suicide (would Sears be allowed to sell a lawn mower that may very rarely cause the spontaneous growth of Poison Ivy? I doubt it). I'm not trying to make excuses for not getting treatment, merely listing my concerns and limitations.

So I agonized for a few days whether or not to write about the situation. It took a while because there are pros and cons to such an undertaking...

The Cons:
  • It's pretty personal and there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with putting deeply personal information out on the internet.
  • Who the **** do I think I am? Jesus, get over myself.
  • It's not very funny.

The Pros:

  • Maybe there's some therapeutic value in writing about it. Since I can't afford a professional to sit there and listen to me talk about myself, maybe this will suffice as a reasonable substitute.
  • If I'm going to be honest as a writer, with myself and an audience, it's kind of disingenuous to not discuss a condition that is pretty significant influence on me and my opinions.
  • Maybe it can help somebody else. I don't know. That would be nice though.

Anyway, I'm writing about it and I'll do it from time to time as needed/if necessary. I'm not doing it to hear "oh, poor baby" or "you're sooo brave". Fact of the matter is I'm (currently) incapable of accepting sentiment or praise like that anyway, which is a big part of the problem. I'll title and label any and all posts dealing with this topic with "The Big D", so if you want to skip over them and come back for the fart and dick jokes, you can. Go ahead. I won't mind and completely understand. Thanks.

PS: And special thanks to my pal Jane for giving me crucial, critical advice about doing this.


citizen janey said...

Three things:

1. Proud of you.

2. Have you borrowed my "you suck" mental tapes, because it sounds like you have...

3. Proud of you.

Wildhair said...

Dude, as a self-proclaimed princess of TMI, I say write about it. It's cathartic AND maybe, just maybe there is a therapist who isn't looking for cash but the desire to help. Like the truth (and aliens), it's out there.

I have no advice. Hell to the yeah for being human

Denise said...

I read you everyday, still, Sir - so "talking" here will always fall on my caring eyes and not "deaf ears." You know I've dealt with this same subject in my own life for quite some time ... and have been a lot lower than most think. I also know that all of those words may mean absolutely nothing depending on where you find yourself emotionally right now - and that doesn't offend me in the least. I'll be thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me, and I just stumbled on your blog while Googling photos of River Tower Park... I kept reading because I liked your writing style, and the things you've chosen to write about.

Bottom line, here are my two cents: There is no price too high to pay for better emotional health. I shared your feelings towards both therapists and psychological pharmaceuticals for many, many years... Until I actually found a therapist who didn't suck, and finally agreed to try an SSRI (in my case, Zoloft). I'll keep my story short: It worked, and the past six months of my life have been steadier and more productive than I can ever remember experiencing. I'm 42, so it's not like I was expecting any miraculous transformations... but it's been damn close. I'm still me, I'm now just better able to control some of my reactions to the world's various crap-storms.

I really hope that you'll give therapy and/or medication the chance they may deserve (WITH the appropriate skepticism and caution, of course)... Money is money, but - as I said - there is no price too high for being happier. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope you will keep us posted.

- Daisy