I have Major Depressive Disorder. When I say that I'm "depressed," people assume that they know what that means. Usually, they don't.
This diary attempts to explain. I feel pretty strongly that people need to understand this, that's why I talk about it.
When I'm sick, I just disappear for a while, and few people ever experience the "depressed" me. Below the fold, the "depressed" me is exposed.
"Depressed." That just means "sad," or "down," or "low," maybe "moody," or "unhappy." Right?
Nope. Not in Pam's Prickly Dictionary.
In my book, "depressed" means "self-loathing," "paralyzed," "angry," "crying for no reason," "not interested in anything," "unable to function." Oh, and "suicidal." Which goes along with "in the hospital." I also call depression "the black pit."
When I'm just starting down the slippery slope into that black pit, I can act for a while. Before I go someplace I tell myself, "Okay, time to put on the happy face." And I smile and act like everything is okay. But as soon as I leave, my face drops and I'm right back the way I was. Or maybe worse, because playing the "happy" role is exhausting. So I start limiting my interaction with other people.
After a while, the happy face cracks. I can no longer put it on at all. Then I just stay home. It's a huge effort just to get to a doctor appointment. If I have to go out, I just look down at the ground, trying to be invisible.
The people I love -- my husband, my daughter, my friends, my co-workers, my family -- I feel . . . I know . . . that I'm a burden to them. I have failed them all. Of course, they'll never say that.
And I am such a disappointment to myself. I was so smart. I could have done so much more. I should still do so much more. But I can't. I can barely take care of myself.
I get paralyzed. I will sit or stand in one spot for half an hour. Or more. Like a statue. With no thought process going on. Sometimes I try to do something. I want to take a shower, but I can't do it. I want to go to work, but I can't do it. I want to exercise, but I can't do it. I mean PHYSICALLY I cannot do it. Really. Wish I could explain it.
I am angry. At any big or little thing. I get ferocious: so angry that I cry and shake. It is free-floating anger, ready to erupt at any time. I feel sorry for the people who have to live or work with me.
I cry. I sob. For long periods of time. Why? Wish I could tell you, but I don't have the answer. Something is screwed up inside my brain, I guess.
The beautiful things that I normally find joy in -- a blue sky, an adorable dog, a fuzzy caterpillar, God's amazing creation, sunshine (especially sunshine) -- just make me cry. Why? I haven't a clue.
I am not interested in eating. Not even chocolate. I'm not interested in word puzzles or reading. Or even politics. Dear God, you know I'm sick when I'm not interested in politics or chocolate.
I am in so much emotional pain that I cannot stand it. And I cannot explain it. It makes me scream when nobody else is around. No words, just screams. Somehow it feels like if I scream loud and long enough, the emotional pain will go away. But it doesn't work.
I want to die. But it's not a passing thought, like, "I might as well kill myself."
Suicide is my old friend. It comforts me. I have been thinking seriously about it for a very long time. I have read countless books about it. It is my daily companion, even when I'm well. I have several well-thought-out plans of how I can kill myself. I know how to get past the fear of the pain of death itself. Suicide is my plan B.
I often think that I'm going to die by suicide eventually anyway so I might as well just get it over with.
But I have promised someone that I won't kill myself. And I don't break my promises, especially to this person. So now I am trapped. There is no way out. I am down in the black pit, death and pain are churning all around me, dragging me down and down, and there is No. Way. Out.
Sometimes I have to go to the hospital to keep from killing myself. And then my insurance company gets to decide if I am sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. Not my doctor, not my family, not the professional evaluator at the hospital, MY F**KING INSURANCE COMPANY. Talk about a death panel.
Now I've been through this drill many times before. And I have finally learned that I can get better. I desperately try to hang on to that thought, to keep me from being swept down by the churning pit. I even have a large tattoo on my leg to remind myself that I have gotten well before.
My doctor will add in a new medicine (already has, actually), and after a few weeks it may help (already hasn't, actually). So now we'll try a different combination of medicine and give that a few weeks to work. Patience is one of the unwanted lessons of depression. But eventually, agonizingly slowly, I will start to feel better. I hope.
Do you think I'm crazy for writing this, insane for feeling this way? Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. I only write for those whose minds are open enough to learn. If you're not one of those people, then you can go straight to hell. I'll be waiting for you here, because depression truly is hell.
Cross-posted from www.PricklyPam.com