Coming up for air

Being depressed feels like so many things. We have all read the articles and the information from help sites. If you’ve been in treatment, like me, you’ve got books and worksheets and lists of tasks to complete that help you to understand your blue funkiness and to try and push through the murk.

Except that it’s never that easy, is it?

Depression can take you down into the depths of a cold ocean that feels like it has no bottom. The silt and the lack of light that encloses you once you do stop sinking makes it impossible to see anything. That’s why it’s so easy to feel only the numbing cold of medication and the sense of despair and hopelessness that accompanies a truly bad episode. You’re down there, uttlerly alone, lower than low. That’s what I call them in my head – Low times – and it pisses me off that I don’t realize that they’re creeping up on me until my ass settles at the bottom of the ocean and the deafening silence consumes me. I always feel like I might have been able to “head this one off”, or better yet, understand with full clarity that if I stop taking that unassuming little white pill, it’ll be a quick trip to the bottom of the sea for me, where there are no mermaids to fill my lungs with air until they can help me rise to the surface. There are menaces in the form of octopuses (memories) and sharks (self-destructive actions) and there is seaweed (hopelessness) and if I am not careful, they will win someday.

I was under for a relatively short period this time. I’m finally getting the hang of the whole “just because you feel okay doesn’t mean you are” reality that is mine. The medication takes away so many things! I hate that. Too much of it and all the joy that I find in this life completely recedes and there is only the buoyancy of the life preserver that’s allowing me to float along the surface of the ocean. I don’t want to merely float, you see. I want to be a dolphin! I want to jump out of the water and to expose my belly to the sunshine and bask in the pleasure of life. Through trial and error, I have discovered ways to find that joy and to keep it within reach, but it still means medication. I know what an unmedicated high time feels like and a medicated to a lesser degree high time feels like. Unmedicated has come to feel wrong. This has finally clicked somewhere inside of my head. It’s remarkable that at nearly 49 years of age, I am still capable of learning. Unmedicated high times are scary. Even while I’m reveling in music and crying during emotional movies and thinking that I might split in two like a supernova and that stars will burst out of my body because Oh my GOD my husband knows every inch of my body and what to do to it to make me feel good…..in the back of my mind, there’s a voice. No, not like that Inner Goddess bullshit in those completely awful Fifty Shades of Grey books that made me question my ability to just say no to commercialism,  but a quiet, calm, reasonable voice.

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A voice that says to me, “What the fuck are you doing? This is great, yeah. But you know there’s gonna be a price. You’re too loud. Too bright. You’re TOO EVERYTHING. It’s gonna go bad. You can’t swim, remember? Quit being a stupid bitch.”

That voice preaches moderation. Moderation makes perfect sense.  But moderation does not run in my family, you see. I come from a long line of idiots who could do nothing in moderation, and so they all flamed out before their time, tragic tales of alcoholism and sloth and excess. But in a world where there has been so much darkness, I have not been able to exercise moderation. I feel SO much. I’m an artist. I create. I am so right-brained that it’s as if the left side never existed for me. And to stifle those inclinations and desires and sudden, clear pictures of beauty that my hands can make is to put out the flame that burns within the very center of my being. Like a stubborn child, I have not wanted to figure out how to save some embers to burn an eternal votive inside my soul. It’s been “all or nothing”. Until this time. This time, the gears clicked into place and something aligned itself and I can’t explain it any better than that. Have you ever seen the amazing film, Love Actually? The part where Andrew Lincoln, he of The Walking Dead fame,  appears at Keira Knightley’s door and professes his love with placards and a boom box, and then, as he departs, says, “Enough. Enough.”

That’s what it felt like this time. I know that, if 50mg of the drug stifles me to the point of totally disappearing, then 40mg might allow me to feel a little.  25mg might be too little to stop the sinking, but 30mg might restore nearly everything to a moderate level that allows for a quiet sense of contentment. This is what I’ve learned, during the moments when the panic has been quashed by another drug and a tiny pinhole of light has shone down upon me at the bottom of the ocean. Take the full pill in order to rise, and then work to find the happy medium that enables both the ability to float and to feel. Then?  Just quit being a dumb bitch who needs to feel everything clearly. Because it’s like alcoholism, depression is…..you don’t know you’re dying until you are, in fact, dead.

This message has been brought to you by The Reasonable Bitch who exists in the quiet recesses of my brain. Thank God she doesn’t  have depression.

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