Major Depression · medication · Mental Health Issues · suicide

Shades of Dark

lost inside myself

It’s been a rough week. Rollercoaster time. Not sure if it is the new meds, or just me, or all the crap going on around here, or a combination of all these things, but I’ve been sliding farther and farther into the darkness. Depression is something that I’ve lived with since I was very young– the first episode that I remember was the summer after my tenth birthday. I spent as much time as I could hiding out in the spare bedroom in our house, or in the treehouse, always with a book, and finally, after a couple of weeks, I started to feel like hanging out with the other kids, and kinda snapped out of it. That was one of the shortest episodes in my memory, and one of the easiest. I just thought all this weirdness was part of “my changing body,” a phrase that had been tossed around a lot that year. If that’s what it was, well, then my body is still changing, because the weirdness, that darkness, has never completely gone away.

I’ve been on different anti-depressant meds over the year. Prozac was the first they gave me, but it made me feel as if I was wrapped up in cotton batting. I couldn’t feel anything, good or bad; there were times even my senses were dulled, as if I were under water. I told the doc I’d rather feel lousy than not feel anything, because at least then I knew I was alive. She understood that. Next we tried a very low dose of Zoloft, and I stuck with that for a while. I was never sure if it actually did anything for my depression, but I know it affected my sex drive. Eliminated it. Antidepressants are the antiviagra. ¬†Either way, after a couple of years I stopped taking it, since I seemed to be feeling better. (This was about the same time I was taking Keppra for my seizures, and it caused such obnoxious mood swings that I was ready to give up all meds.) Two and a half years ago, after Michele passed away, and all the other stuff that was happening around that time, I began having panic attacks again, something that hadn’t happened in over ten years. And, I could feel the darkness creeping up. So back came the Zoloft, and that’s what I’ve been on ever since.

Until the last month, when, in trying to figure out a solution for my TMJ, Dr Jeff added a small dosage of Valium to the mix, I’d been taking Flexeril to ease the TMJ pain at night, since the muscle relaxant stops me from grinding my teeth so much, and Valium had the same effect. Flexeril had a couple of obnoxious side effects–Sahara strength dry mouth, and, well, I’ll be polite and call it “blockage.” So we tried something else, and it worked, as well as having none of those side effects. It did make me a little sleepier than I am normally (because I’m not tired enough as it is), and I am afraid it may have made the darkness fall a little faster.

I found myself in tears at least twice a day, and on Monday, as I curled up on my bed, trying to take a nap, I scared myself. All these years, all this darkness, and for the first time, I thought how nice it would be to go to sleep and not wake up again. I started an inventory of the various meds in my room, and realized if I took them, I could make it happen. Honestly, this both terrified, and comforted me. If you’ve never been in this place, I don’t know if you can understand, but knowing that there is something there that would take away all this pain, for good, it is an amazingly soothing thought. Fortunately, I am not that far in the dark. I called my sister, told her how I was feeling. She said she’d be home as soon as she could, and told me to take my big basket of meds out to mom in the front room, which I did. Within minutes, our niece, Shelley, was at the house, and then Jolene arrived. Shelley understands more than anyone else. We sat in my room for the next few hours, talking, crying, and eventually laughing. The dark faded from ebony to charcoal to fog.

The fog bank is still hanging over me. Depression doesn’t just go away. I’m seeing the doctor again, and will be for the first time since college, going to therapy of some sort. Get these meds adjusted. Let some light in. There is a part of me that fights the urge to sleep all day, but I am fighting. As long as I’m fighting, I know I’ll be okay. When I’ve stopped fighting, well, then darkness will truly fall.

2 thoughts on “Shades of Dark

  1. I’m glad you have supportive family around you. I have no idea if it’s helpful for you to know that I’m struggling too. I just woke up from a long, restless nap, even though I got plenty of sleep last night. For couple of months now I’ve been mostly fatigued and numb and uninterested, I do know that reading this made me feel not so alone, so thank you for that. (And yes, I do understand that awareness that maybe not waking up wouldn’t be so bad. I don’t have meds around so I don’t have temptation. Tried all that, never found a solution that worked. But my situation is pretty mild, compared to others.)

    Other than just trying to reach out so this post didn’t go into an empty place, I also wanted to tell you that the following bit was exceptionally elegant:

    “We sat in my room for the next few hours, talking, crying, and eventually laughing. The dark faded from ebony to charcoal to fog.”

    Remember, the world needs you voice. And try to find a patch of sunshine. It’s low-low-low-tech but it’s often more helpful than you think it will be when you’re in the fog.

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    1. First, let me say, you are not alone, and I am very glad my little post reminded you of that. I haven’t written too much about these dark patches of mine, because for a long time, I was worried about what others would think of me. Clearly, I no longer care about that.
      Secondly, let me thank you for your compliment. I’m pretty sure nobody has ever called any of my writing elegant before, and that truly made my day. I will treasure that forever. Thank you!
      As for finding a patch of sunshine, it’s something I attempt, but living in Portland, it’s not an easy thing to do; when sunlight peeks out from between the raindrops, it’s cause for celebration.

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