February 6, 2007
I went to see my family doctor today. I told the nurse that I was there for three reasons: blood pressure recheck, antidepressant discussion and my right ear. But I was really there for one main reason—the antidepressants and the fact that they didn’t seem to be working anymore.
The doctor listened to me tell him how I felt empty (I didn’t tell him that my heart felt empty, something that had come to my mind yesterday and seemed to really describe how I felt.)
He talked about upping one medication and keeping the other at the same dose and coming back in three weeks to re-evaluate.
I was tearful and said that I didn’t even know what I was like normal. I guess I was getting that idea from some of the essays that I’ve been reading in that book about depression, writers on depression. The doctor said, probably when you are really low—and he meant the low without any meds—that is your normal.
That struck me. That was my normal? But that wasn’t normal!
But the doctor said that a bright side to it was that there were so many meds that could lift me up from the bottom and things were getting better in the treatments for depression. He said that I would probably always—the rest of my life—have the low times and have to have the meds tweaked and changed. But like people who were born with something physically wrong with them, I could learn to adapt.
So I up the one medication, keep taking the other, try to get more light (because he said that it could be partly the time of year and the darkness that was affecting my mood), and try to have a more positive outlook.
And that I needed to go to work. I asked him if it would be a good idea to miss a few days of work. He didn’t think so, because he said being at home might make my depression worse. He thought I needed to be out there.
That didn’t please me much, because I was hoping for at least a short reprieve from work. He said that he could write a note for work, but that he thought the best thing for me was to work. So I didn’t push it.
He also brought up the possibility of seeing a counselor, preferably a psychiatrist, if things didn’t get better within the next two or three months.
Is my normal depressed and OCD? Or just depression? Is the OCD keeping me from being normal? So many questions. I wish I was a happy spirit. I wish that I had faith and belief in God that would sustain me. I don’t have enough faith or belief though—it’s so fleeting and so nebulous, I don’t think that I can build a life on it. And I don’t like that feeling of not being able to.
I wrote the above in my journal more than five years ago. It’s a picture of one of the many times I’ve found myself sinking into hopelessness. One of the many times I’ve had to admit to myself, I’m depressed again.
I think differently now about those words “depressed again.” I’ve haven’t been “not depressed” for many years, if my therapist is right about my having chronic depression.
Has my life been all bad, all sad? No. I’ve had many good times and happy times. And I believe that there’s a firm base within me that is content and hopeful.
But depression comes calling with more subtlety than the obsessive-compulsive disorder. I feel exhausted even when I’m not busy. I complain more. I sleep a lot. I have a hard time concentrating. I have a hard time caring about my life. I feel like I’m heavy and have a hard time moving. I don’t want to do things that I enjoy other times. My heart feels empty.
And I don’t even realize it until I’ve been experiencing those symptoms for weeks.
I am doing more now to fight the depression, though. My psychiatrist tweaked my meds, and I’m already feeling better. And I am doing the Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy. We start the real work on Friday.
I told my therapist that my family doctor had told me that I would have to adapt to life because of the depression. My therapist told me, “Oh, you’ll do better than that.”
I believe I will.