I am, blessedly, not a depressive. I truly can’t imagine the challenges of that existence.
I bring this up now because of last Friday.
It was a day where something so emotionally heavy came over me that it felt debilitating. And I felt like I had no control over it. This was particularly unsettling because I spent years in therapy and the most important thing I learned is that I have control over my moods. I can choose to be in a good mood or a crappy mood. I can choose to control others with those moods. Or not. Almost anyone who grew up in an Italian household knows about the prevalence of this in the culture.
Subsequently, I recognized the behavior in myself and decided to approach each day as the gift that it is. I’ve worked hard to become glass half-full. Some would argue I may have gone over a little too far to the chipper or positive side, but I’m proud of the enormous shift I’ve made. My life is markedly better and I am a better friend, daughter, sibling and professional.
Given all that, last Friday threw me for an emotional loop. It was the culmination of a week where I took a risk that showed me a major change I need to summon the courage to make and one where I was reliving a life-altering relationship on the pages of my journal in the name of research. I was angry and expressed it in a healthy way. I was surprised by my level of re-engagement with a person who died two months ago. And, ironically, I so wanted him to magically appear because I knew he would be the one person who would get all of this madness. We handled each other’s base level shit in a way I’ve never experienced before. Perhaps because we saw each other’s goodness so clearly that it got us past everything else that surfaced.
Meanwhile, what I also learned in the journals was how often my workouts are stress release. I write about it more than I ever realized, sometimes just a sentence extolling the virtues of a particular day’s exercise regimen. Let’s just say I know its value now. It’s been nearly three months without that outlet and maybe it all caught up with me.
Ordinarily a plan for happy hour with my friends would have been more than appealing, but I bailed, such was my fear of putting them in a position to say the wrong thing. I was swirling in overwhelm. I knew I was way past the point of stopping myself.
Another friend, in an email exchange, asked if I needed a conversation. Of course the answer was yes, but that was not my response. Because what might he say to unleash what was roiling within me? What might come spilling out of my uncensored vitriolic mouth? I couldn’t know. I didn’t want to know.
There was one quick business call I had committed to and the person asked if I was OK. I hedged and said something like, “I could say I’m great, but I’d prefer to be authentic.” So weird for me to not easily put something aside.
What in the world was it? The super moon was more than 24 hours away, so I can’t blame that. I just know it felt like what depressives describe as their typical existence. Overwhelming. Heavy. Paralyzing. I folded into myself. Slept. Read. Watched TV.
I cannot imagine feeling like that on a regular basis. I just can’t. I’m not even sure why I’m writing about it. Perhaps because I promised myself I wouldn’t hold back in these Unfettered 50 posts? And because I never would have admitted to feeling anything that even bordered on depression before?
Oh no, my imperfection is showing again.
You hit the nail on the head about depression. What you feel is not your choice. You have no control whatsoever over the emotions you’re experiencing. Depression is not a psychological state but rather a *medical disease.* I cannot stress those two last words enough. The chemicals in your brain are not working.
Like a Type II diabetic who cannot absorb his/her own insulin, persons suffering from severe clinical depression cannot absorb their own serotonin. The brain is making it but it’s not getting through. That’s why antidepressants are not “feel-good” pills. They simply open the receptors so that our brains can absorb the necessary chemicals that bring us to ground zero. THEN the therapy can begin.
I’m so sorry you experienced this, but thank god it was just for a day. You are indeed blessed.
Thanks for the feedback, Mary Ann. The experience deepened my resentment for the growth of the antidepressant industry in this country. I’ve always said there are people who need them and people who use them. I don’t pretend to be trained to know the difference. But it disturbs me how quickly a lot of people — and their doctors, apparently — embrace them as inevitable.