FWIW, I've been sitting on this diary for almost a month, debating whether or not to publish it.
For most of the last two years, I've been dealing with depression. At first, I tried to manage it - you know, healthy diet, regular exercise. And that worked for a while. But it stopped working.
The problem is that depression impairs the skills you need to deal with it. Even though I knew I was depressed, I couldn't do anything about it. That's one of the stranger parts of my journey - I knew I was depressed and I still couldn't do anything about it. Just thinking of doing something about depression seemed too hard.
So I sank into depression.
It started off as simple fatigue. Difficulty concentrating. It got worse because left untreated it gets worse.
It was last summer - a litte over a year ago - that I realized it had gotten really bad. I was sleeping ten to twelve hours on the weekdays. My weekends were almost entirely dedicated to sleep. I'd get home from work Friday night and fall asleep. I might get up at ten p.m. or so and have a cup of tea, then go back to sleep. Lots of Saturdays, I'd wake up at 7 a.m., which isn't entirely unreasonable. I'd have breakfast, check the news and go back to bed and sleep until noon or one. Have lunch and go back to bed and sleep till dinner time.
After dinner, I might be up for a while, watch some TV or read a book, but I'd be back in bed before too long and sleep until Sunday. Sunday afternoons were given over to sleep.
In the meantime, I was hungry all the time. I'd eat. And then I'd sleep. And eat some more. And sleep some more.
The downside of living alone is that no one was in the house to say, "You know this doesn't seem right. What can we do?" Knowing I was depressed wasn't enough. I needed some help.
Which is where my friend's comment startled me. You see, it's now been a little over two months since I started taking anti-depressants and I told a close friend and she said, "You hid it well. Nobody knew you were depressed. You never missed work, you never missed volunteer time, you never missed dinner with us. Nobody knew."
Since nobody knew, nobody was there to say, "Let's see about getting you some help."
My therapist says I have atypical depression - which means that my mood would brighten in response to good things but then return to the depression. Part of atypical depression is oversleeping and the weird over eating I experienced. Physical symptoms included upset stomach (seriously, my digestion was upset for two years), physical fatigue, a feeling of heaviness.
As I think back, I realize that most of the last 12 months have been characterized by the pattern of sleep, eat, work, eat, sleep. Day to day was easy, but I was on autopilot. Depression isn't just a sad mood, it's lack of response. Depression decreased my emotional range. I didn't do things because I didn't enjoy things. But I also didn't avoid things because I didn't not enjoy them.
Sometimes it was all but impossible to get out the door to go to work or go grocery shopping. I learned which stores near my house were open late at night, which, as odd as it sounds, made shopping easier. Being in a grocery late at night was easier - they turn down the lights to save energy, there are fewer shoppers and staff, which meant a lower chance of having to interact socially. I stopped buying things in stores and ordered them online and had them delivered so I could avoid being around people. I'd long since stopped going to the gym because it was brightly lit and full of people and conversation and I might have to talk with them. So I spent my time alone and at home.
I'd get home from work and not answer my phone or send or read texts. I'd disappear from the world.
It was in December 2012 that I began sliding into the depths, from simple depression to something more frightening. I'd get home from work and would be so tired that I couldn't think. Couldn't do anything. I'd sit in the house, in the dark, and do nothing. I'd sleep. Wake, sleep. Stay in the dark.
Each week was more difficult than the previous week.
Around me, my house got messier, more chaotic. Dishes piled in the sink. Clothes, clean and dirty, everywhere. Sometimes I just didn't have the energy to put the dirty ones in the hamper or the clean ones in the drawer. So they stayed where they landed.
I sat in the dark. I struggled through days at the office, counting the minutes till it was time to go home.
And I slept. Almost all the time.
I struggled. I told myself, "You're just depressed you know what to do to manage this."
I couldn't do anything.
One day, I wore dirty clothes to work. One weekend, I too tired to take a shower.
I've lived in a deep hole for a long time. My world was getting smaller and smaller and I liked it. Well, I wanted it because the world was too bright and too loud and too social. So I let my world shrink.
Nobody knew because I didn't tell them, I didn't ask for help. I could rally my energy and get through the stuff I committed to do. And I'd go home and sleep.
Obviously, you know I'm on medication now and getting therapy.
Things shifted for me the day I went to work in dirty clothes. I knew it wasn't getting better by itself. It took me another three weeks to call my doctor and make an appointment. Two weeks before I got in for the appointment.
I'm still in a hole but it's not as deep as it was. I've stopped avoiding public places. I'm sleeping and eating like a normal person.
I don't think this diary has a point or an end because I'm not there yet. Why I get depressed is probably the subject of another diary. Yes, my brain chemistry is out of balance but why is it out of balance? Medication helps. For the first time in a very long time, I feel a little bit like my old self.
I should end this diary with something - a call to action, a suggestion that you contact NAMI or your doctor if you suffer from depression or other mental illness. I know that. But I can't. That's too facile. I'm still too close to the depths and I'm not sure I could ask for help if I slipped back into them.