I am now in recovery from depression, neither cured not expecting to be It is a chronic disease in my case and it would be unrealistic not to expect another occurrence or two in my remaining lifetime. When I think back on my life, before my diagnosis I suffered 5 major depressions; since I have suffered 3 more. The longest was the recent one, two years, provided I remain in remission. The deepest one was at age 29 when I was finally ushered into treatment.
Thus through age 29 I suffered five major depressions, and since being diagnosed, through age 53, while under treatment, I have suffered three more. This is not statistically significant in terms of prevention, unfortunately, but who knows how much I would have suffered without treatment?Just as alcoholics are in recovery, think of me as a melancholic in in recovery, though this parallel cannot stand much scrutiny, as the latter is more difficult to treat, in my experience.
Now you may rightly ask what concatenation of fortuitous circumstances led to my current recovery. In no particular order:
Spiritual: My friend Eric had a dream about Christ weeping over my body and healing me। About two weeks later, before the new antidepressant had had any effect, I wept in prayer while trying to pray as honestly as I possibly could. For the first time in I don't know how long, I felt some brief, inexplicable connection with the Light, a momentary piercing of the veil, so it seemed.
Chemical: On March 24 my doctor changed my antidepressant again। Within a week we upped it to therapeutic levels. Two-and-a-half weeks later, the usual time frame for response to an antidepressant (2 – 6 weeks), I began to feel a little better. This was on Thursday, April 10, when I was stranded in Lost Hills, CA, with a cracked radiator. Being confronted with a minor crisis was a pleasure in my state, as it got me out of myself. Thanks to a tip about some mechanics who hung around their shop late, we were able to move on the same night. (FGI (for general information) a plastic radiator can't be fixed with “Insta-Weld.” It must be replaced.)
Behavioral and Social: In visiting my daughters and my oldest friend, though cruelly prevented from seeing my grandson, I had a chance to pretend to be myself, to pour myself into the mold of the upbeat, humorous, philosophizing, friendly, garrulous (and sometimes offensive) person I usually am. My second daughter, Keturah, invited me to Happy Hour the next day, April 11, and we had an exotic martini-drinking jamboree/competition at half-price. I was also able to see Sarah perform in a play for only the second time since middle school. And I sat for two hours in an old familiar bar, Joe Jost's, with Eric, talking while trying to avoid any mention of depression. I was so sick of talking about it.
When I returned home I continued to pretend to be myself with dogged courage. There were times when melancholy begged admission, but I refused to discuss my depression। I lied to Kathleen about how I was feeling as a matter of course. I even avoided seeing my psychiatrist because in nearing his office I burst into tears at the memory of all the times I had sat in his office depressed. I told him by e-mail and he understood। This Wednesday I will likely be well enough to see him.
Socially I should also mention that traveling 1200 miles with my stepson, Derek, was a tonic He's funny and upbeat Among other things he taught me the difference between Hip Hop and Gangsta Rap (through a plethora of too-loud examples).
In returning home my volunteer work began to pick up, obligating me to work with others while Iavoiding any mention of my condition. I am now involved with six different volunteer groups, including a musical gig for a group sing with the homeless and mentally ill every Friday.
To sum up, there was Eric's dream and my later prayer; a significant change in medication (I went off two meds and on two others); and the social/behavioral opportunity to be myself, a chance I clung to like a life raft in a flood! Without all three features I do not know if I would have improved, but I consider the change in antidepressants the most important, as without a slight elevation in mood I would not have thought of pretending to be myself. Antidepressants sometimes make you just well enough to get better with other help. And that help comes through doing, not being, as my shrink is fond of saying.
In my next post I hope to create a plan for preventing relapse. Meanwhile I'll re-post my most encouraging poem, many readers' favorite:
I will love myself today।
Here are some fuzzy slippers
and a lollipop,
a warm hug and a wet kiss.
Let me tuck this
old familiar blanket
around my shoulders
and read this poem
before I nap.
Whatever I do today,
If I spill milk, I’ll clap.
If I button my shirt wrong
it’s a new style.
If I wet my pants
it was on purpose.
My, how well I walk!
How well I speak!
It’s so good to be
good to myself.
Where have I been
all these sad, long years?
Kiloneutral (though ever vigilant),