I’ve been depressed for as long as I can remember. When psychiatrists ask me to pin down an age, I say “12” because that’s when the shit hit the fan in my life. My Dad, who up to that point had been a distant and sometimes harsh figure in my life, had a complete nervous breakdown. Also: puberty. But even before then, I remember this feeling of disconnect. My mother said it was because I was shy (and when I got older it was because I was a Christian).
The real shit kicked in after I started college; I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 21, so I spent a few years going fucking bonkers without understanding why. Okay, I still don’t “understand” but at least now I have labels. My first year of college is hazy because I was severely depressed for most of it. The few memories I do have seen as if they belong to someone else, as if I saw them in a movie.
I landed myself in a mental hospital at 21. For simplistic reasons, I’ll say I had a fight with my dad that lead to me swallowing pills and cough syrup (getting your stomach pumped is no joke when you have jacked-up sinuses–they run the tub through your nose). After 5 days in Brawner South, I left with a diagnosis of Major Depression. My psychiatrist, who I only saw for a few months, prescribed Prozac and talked to me as if I were a child.
About the time I turned 21 I started drinking. For the first few years, I drank as most people in their twenties do, sporadically and at parties. I can’t remember exactly what age I was when I saw my second shrink, but it was somewhere in those years. I started abandoning jobs. The booze exacerbated the depression, but I couldn’t see it at the time. I just thought I felt so damn guilty the next day because I was “sinning.” The second shrink actually made things WORSE by maxing me out on Zoloft, and then telling me to stop taking it for three days and then start back. A few months later I was diagnosed with panic attacks which I now realize I had as a child, but the Zoloft caused them to become full-blown.
I also started cutting. Only once was it bad enough that it took some doing to stop the bleeding. I used a shaving razor, dragging it up my wrists, so that when the cuts started healing it looked like I had been burned. Then I started cutting my hair. OFF. I think maybe it’s because I felt so little in control of anything, and yeah, there’s this weird calmness that comes with cutting. You don’t get quite the same release with cutting hair.
A few more doctors and meds later, and a ridiculous stream of jobs that I quit without notice, I’m back to feeling how I did in my early twenties. Lost. Hopeless. I ran out of the anti-depressant about a month ago and didn’t bother to do anything about it. I haven’t been to the clinic in a year. They don’t like me there because I won’t go to group or A.A. I tried A.A. and it’s just a bunch of miserable ex-drunks. Excuse me, judgmental miserable ex-drunks. The so-called Big Book is so poorly written it’s damn near unreadable, and the whole program was structure with men in mind in the first place. Plus, I don’t think any more self-flagulation is going to help.
I realized some years ago there was an odd comfort it being depressed. I could actually. feel. something. I’m not sure exactly what joy is supposed to feel like, but I don’t think I’m capable of it. But depression, that feeling of just waiting to see how far I can sink into the darkness, I know her well. I had (largely) stayed on medication for the last seven years because I also remembered the kind of depression that is so agonizing that being awake feels like hell. That kind of depression is so bad that I would start to pray for the courage to make it stop.
So I’m not sure how truly depressed I am versus how much I encourage it. Feed it. Nourish it. I know I’ve used it as an excuse for years for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes I even think the way more ignorant minds think, that if I just had the right attitude, it would all go away. I wonder how much of my histrionics are controllable. For example, last night when I chose to take the scissors to my hair, I actually MADE the decision to do it, and even considered the repercussions. Pros-Mom wouldn’t like it. Cons-My baby nephew might be scared of me.
Of course, as I have gotten older the rest of my generation seems to have settled into some sort of normalcy. Even some of my more screwed up friends are functioning nicely. I’m embarrassed to talk to most people because I am ashamed of who I am, of how my choices, and lack of choices, have lead me to this place. I dream about clawing my way out, but it never feels like something of which I am capable. I’ve deleted my Facebook page twice this week because the of the needs to be seen vs. not been seen.
At this point I have no plans of going back on medication. I was still depressed every day. Yes, it helped keep me from flying off the handle, but it also made it hard for me to cry, even when I was truly sad. To even get a prescription would require 2 or 3 appointments, which I’m guessing would take about 2 months. There’s the shorter route: straight to the mental hospital. Honestly, I’d like to just stop thinking for a bit via a 12-pack.