Today, it felt like the fog cleared, and a bit of sunlight peeked through the clouds.
I had a large list of chores I had to get done today. My wife and I are hosting a board game night tonight with 30 or so of our closest friends. I had neglected keeping my mancave clean for far too long. Frankly, it had even started to smell.
That chore had been on my list to do for over a month. And every time I went to start it, I despaired. Even worse, I would start to berate myself. How could I let it get so bad? What kind of person lives like this?
And that's just the beginning of the cycle of depression.
Look at things are that are implicit in my words above. I have a lot of friends, many of them very good ones. I've done well enough for myself that I actually have a place to host 30 people. I have a wife, and she loves me dearly...a reciprocal feeling, trust me. She puts up with my shit, after all!
But when that cycle starts, every single one of those things becomes negative.
You don't deserve those friends. They just put up with you so that they can visit with your wife.
You don't deserve your job or your good fortune. You screw up at it all the time. They're probably going to fire you. You were already unemployed once this year. Why do you always fuck things up?
Think of all the pain you're causing your wife by being this depressed.
That cycle of thoughts...it would continue for months. Even worse, I have enough trouble speaking to people face to face as it is. I think much faster than my lips can move. I jumble my words when I have to speak them rather than type them. The autism has made it so that I've never been able to read body language, so even if I talked about my problems, I could never tell if the person I was telling was trying to comfort me, or viewing me with ridicule.
What I hate the most is that I know these thoughts are irrational. I know my wife loves me, and loves me knowing that I have a cross-wired brain. I know those friends are our friends, and not just people who put up with me. I know I'm damn good at my job -- whatever else the autism took away from me, it blessed me with the ability to understand computers and computing at a fundamental level -- I could connect with them and how they thought, because it was logical. They didn't show emotion. If they communicated something, it was straightforward and easy to understand -- no guile, or social couching, or anything like that.
That knowledge, however, didn't help me one bit. In fact, it made me feel worse, because I knew I was being irrational, and that meant I was just fucking up one more thing.
I already see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. I have an autism spectrum disorder, along with adult ADD. When I went in for my checkup with her and to get a refill of ADD meds, I had a plan. See, I also smoke, and I really need to quit that. Too much cancer runs in my family -- quitting might not stop it from afflicting me down the road, but it sure as hell isn't going to help it. So I asked her if I should try an antidepressant...Wellbutrin, to be specific. It's also marketed as Zyban...the stop-smoking medication. Even when trying to help myself, I figured... Well, if the Wellbutrin doesn't help with how depressed I am, at least I can quit smoking.
I started taking the antidepressant medication. I had to monitor my blood pressure, since that made two medications I was on that ran the risk of increasing it. They make those monitors inexpensively nowadays -- found one that reads from the wrist and cost about $50 after shipping.
It actually helped me stick to my morning routine. You see, I'm scatterbrained as all hell. Without calendar programs and electronic reminders, I'd forget to take my ass with me when I stand up! But that funky looking electronic wristband reminded me that I had to use it. And I was using it because of my medications. Which reminded me to take my medications.
Today, I woke up. I ate a small breakfast. Hashbrowns from a bag. A 1 whole egg, one egg white omelet, with two small pattiest of turkey sausage. Did I mention I'm overweight and trying to fix that too? I took my medication. Took my blood pressure. It's normal. 121/78.
We're having people over today. I need to clean my mancave. We need the space to host this many people.
Today, I looked at that mess.
I turned on some punk rock. NOFX. Bad Religion. Rise Against.
I started cleaning.
It wasn't insurmountable. I could finish it. I wouldn't have that anxiety of being ashamed if I left the door open to the mancave, and someone peeked in and saw the mess, or worse, smelled it.
I cleaned up the trash first. Piece by piece. The dishes that had piled up were next. Then came the floor, putting away all of the things I'd left strewn around. The table that serves as my desk was sticky. That had to be cleaned next. A quarter of a bottle of Formula 409 and a sponge that has earned its right to eternal rest took care of that.
But the carpet. It needed more cleaning. I got the vacuum out. Winced as I bent over to plug it in -- I had a back surgery a few years back. Never quite healed up perfectly. I could have used it as an excuse to stop. I often did. Not today, though.
I turned on the vacuum. Took just a few minutes to make my carpet feel normal again. Then out came the Pledge and a dustrag. Even in my best moods, I never dusted. That changed today.
I looked at the mancave, and for the first time in a while, I smiled about something I had done rather than beating my self over what I had, or hadn't done.
I held the line against my depression today.
There's no way for me to beat it for good. We don't know enough about the intricacies of the mind to actually cure this illness. We can only treat its symptoms. It has always felt like a losing battle before.
But today, I held the line.
I can't win the war against my depression. Not yet. But I finally asked for help. I got reinforcements. I won the battle against it today.
Today, I held the line.
One day, there will be a way to cure what ails my brain. When that day comes, I can win the war.
But until then, I can hold the line.