Friday, January 11, 2008

A heavy, wet blanket

I suffer from major clinical depression. This isn't new. It's something I've dealt with since I was a teenager.

I need drugs to keep me on keel. Unfortunately, I haven't had the insurance, and thus, I haven't had the drugs, since moving to Illinois. This is not good. This is not good at all. Fortunately, I've recently signed up for insurance with the company I work for. So with any luck, I will be restocking my medicine cabinet with happy pills again in the near future.

Meanwhile, I will try to describe exactly what major clinical depression does to me.

I feel almost as though a heavy, wet blanket has fallen on me. A very large wet blanket. One that I can't seem to find my way out from under. It's a blanket that I can see and hear through, but everything I see and everything I hear is muted.

The sounds of my children's laughter has a dull ring to it. The sight of my new nephew is though I'm looking through dark sunglasses. Colors are virtually non-existent in my world. Not literally. I can still tell that a stop sign is red. But as far as I am concerned, my world is gray. Nothing is bright and beautiful. Nothing sparkles.

This blanket covering me is heavy. It is sometimes very, very difficult for me even to reach out to the table to pick up my soda, even though I'm quite thirsty. It's simply too hard a task. To get up and fold the laundry, do the dishes, or make a bed is virtually impossible. It takes an incredible amount of strength and determination to get up and do things that simply need to be done.

I live in a constant state of boredom. Nothing holds my interest for more than a few minutes. Even if I'm involved in an activity - like Link's Crossbow Training on the Wii - I get bored quickly. I just get stuck in doing it and can't manage to figure out what else I would rather do. Nothing sounds good. Nothing sounds interesting. Nothing sounds like it's worth the effort.

It is a struggle for me to get up everyday and shower. It is a struggle for me to get dressed and go to work. It is a struggle for me to do my job once I'm there.

I want to sleep. The boredom, I'm sure, helps facilitate this desire. I can sleep most of the night, wake up in the morning, go pee, get something to eat, and want to take a nap again from the effort. I would nap morning, noon, and night if I could. If life permitted it.

But then, most nights, I have a difficult time sleeping. And that's even if I don't nap during the day. I lay there, staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, adjusting and readjusting my blankets and my position, and I watch the minutes tick by on the clock. I think about how exhausted I am, and I just grow more and more frustrated because no matter how tired I am, I can't fall asleep.

It isn't that I have a desire to get up and do something else. That's not the case at all. It's not that I would rather be reading a book, watching tv, or playing a game. Sure, sometimes I think about all of the things I *should* have gotten done that day. But not being able to sleep doesn't have anything to do with me wanting to get up to finish those tasks left unfinished. I just simply can't relax enough to fall asleep.

There are times that I worry and obsess on things I can't change. Anxiety often accompanies depression, and sometimes it affects me. I worry that I didn't do the dishes. I worry that I m not spending enough time with the kids. I worry that when I do spend time with the kids, I'm not in a good mood, so what was the point? I worry that I don't have the money to pay the mortgage, or that I haven't yet paid the electric bill for the month. I worry that my husband hates his job. I worry that he will resent me because I wanted to come back to Illinois to be near my family - even though I know the job market is shit around here.

Even breathing becomes more difficult when I'm really in the dark recesses of depression. I breathe more shallowly, even though my body craves a deep breath. Sometimes, I think I forget to breathe at all. I only notice when my body forces me, involuntarily, to gasp for breath. I can be sitting on the couch, and suddenly I hear a big gasp, and I think, "Wow, that was me." How strange is that?

The depression, for me, is always worst during the winter, when the days are shorter, and when the colors of nature fade to browns and grays. It's the worst when the sky is gray all day because of impending snow. I don't spend a whole lot of time outside, even in the summer, so I don't understand why my brain chemicals react so strongly to the loss of sunlight. But they do.

I know that even without the drugs, I'll feel better in the spring. Not 100% of course. The depression always affects me, even in the middle of summer, if I'm not on what I call my happy pills. It's just not as bad, then. I'll be able to enjoy it when the crocuses start to peek out of the snow. I'll be able to enjoy it when the tulips and daffodils bloom. I really do miss color. Of everything, I think I miss it the most.

I'm doing better this winter than I have in the past, when I've had to go without my antidepressants. I think it is because I have different responsibilities here. I *have* to go to work because mine is the bigger paycheck in the house right now. I didn't have to work outside the house before, and, well, at home, I could always say, "If I don't get around to it today, there's always tomorrow." Well, the time sheet isn't as forgiving as the house is. And I am forced to smile and joke and be pleasant at work. I work with developmentally disabled adults - if I don't at least pretend to be in a good mood, it affects everyone. A bad mood in a staff member can create all sorts of undesirable behaviors from the clients. Heaven knows, we don't want that! But forcing myself to smile does help my own mood. I know that to be true. I don't feel quite as...heavy...while I'm there. I also don't have time to be bored while I'm at work. There is always something that needs to be done. At home, again, I can always say, "I'll get to that tomorrow."

I try very hard to remain as "normal" as I can while I'm wearing this heavy, wet blanket of depression. I try not to let it influence the way I deal with my family. I don't succeed by any stretch of the imagination, but I try really hard. I just can't wait for the happy pills.

It's rather silly that I call them that. They don't *make* me happy. They just let me lift that blanket off so I *can* be happy. They don't make me that fake, chipper, annoying kind of happy. Not at all. They just let me feel like me again. The me that gets happy sometimes, and gets sad sometimes, and gets upset sometimes. They simply let me feel.

Right now? I'm pretty numb.


Kitty said...


Willow said...

((HUGS))) Sweetie... I know exactly what you're saying. I'm wondering if it's not just depression in the winter, but also a touch of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). My father struggled with it (as do I, but unofficially diagnosed) and it can be horrible.

Hang in there. When the meds kick in, you'll feel a lot better and can be yourself again.

I hated that "not comfortable in my own skin" feeling of adjusting, but it's necessary, I think.

I'm an email away if you need to scream.

kate said...

Oh Meg, that sounds tough. And horrible that you haven't had access to your medication... Hopefully soon you will again.

Would you mind if I linked to this post? I think it could be very helpful for others to read. :)

eatmisery said...

Oh, Meg. I understand how you feel. I've been there time and time again.

You are not alone.

Mindi said...

How did I miss this post before? I know I read about your son turning 13... Anyway, many hugs to you! I could have written this post myself, truly. And that's on 300 mg of Effexor XR! Someties I'm not sure which is worse, depression or anxiety. I can live with my dirty house, but I feel like an idiot when I go to visit my best friend in Ohio and end up in the ER for an anxiety attack. Sometimes life just sucks. I make the best of it and just wait for spring... I'm thinking of going back on Paxil. I didn't have to take as much and it really controlled the anxiety better.

dee said...

wow not that is powerful i never heard it put that way and you know most of what you said i see in her i dont think it is me any more it is her now i have to find a way to help where to start