Sunday, April 30, 2006

Powerful truth

So I was reading a blog earlier, and I came across this description of her experience with depression and how it has affected her relationship with her significant other. I'm linking to it because I find it such an amazing description of how I feel, and in much better prose than I could write.

Most people would never think I have depression. Even people who know me are surprised. When I break down, it's usually in private, because I want it that way and because I'm more likely to break if I'm lonely. I weep and weep, sobbing with grief over my life, trying to cry past the painful lump in my throat that keeps me from breathing. I then try like the devil to hide the red face and puffy eyes that signal I've been crying for 3 straight hours (a frozen spoon applied to the eyes works wonders). By the next day, I'm *fine* again, and the previous day's bottomed-out experience is nothing more than a blip, a dip in my road. What frightens me, though, is how low I go in those dips. Sure, I'm okay the next day, but that doesn't mean it's okay to sit here and weep because I'm just SURE I have no friends and no one could possibly love me and I don't want to live anymore.

Because it's past the horizon by the next day, it is very difficult to take my medication. Like any chronic, mostly asymptomatic disease, when I feel fine I think "eh, I can skip today's pill". One becomes 4 until I end up having a break down and realize it's been 3 weeks since I took a pill. I have no one to blame but myself for these breaks, then, and I then use that to beat myself up with.

My fiance is remarkably caring and supportive through all this, but sometimes I still feel a twinge of anger/jealousy because "how could he possibly understand, he's never felt this bad". I'd never want him to suffer, but sometimes I'm still angry because he doesn't understand my pain. He is the only person I will allow to see me when I'm really down (except my former counselor, whom I STILL miss since she retired). He will hold me and tell me he loves me and remind me that I have friends who care about me and that I'm not really alone, no matter how dark and cold it is on the inside.

It even feels shallow writing about it when I'm not down, because it's truly like I'm watching another person's suffering instead of my own (if I may use such a strong word as "suffering"--forgive my hyperbole). I can't allow myself to re-experience those moments because that could trigger another one, so I can't empathize with myself. If I do try to talk about such moments, it's either in the voice of a robotic cheerleader (most often) or through tears--I can't speak normally about my depressive episodes. Again, this contributes to many people not believing me when I tell them that I've been taking antidepressants off and on since I was 18. My father once asked me "if it wasn't maybe more of a woman thing, you know, a problem with hormones". Without knowing about me, I've heard med school classmates say things like "psychiatry isn't a real science--those people [the patients] need to just suck it up and quit whining". Since this feeds into my own fears and dislike of taking psychiatric medication, it's easy to let uneducated comments like these sting deep.

I could probably keep going, but sleep is going to be more cathartic. And that reminds me: I need to go take my SSRI.

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