To honor my 500th post since July of '06, I'm running "A Best of" series for any who missed my earlier narratives. This is from Oct. 5, 2006:
Yes, the black cloud of clinical depression has finally descended on me after a year-and-a-half of bad luck. I know from experience that once my brain chemistry is adequately adjusted, my wife's dear face will look familiar to me again, but one symptom of depression is derealization--the sense that everything is foreign, even the chairs at the restaurant this morning (where I didn't eat), as if every object in the world were new, entirely inexplicable and vaguely sinister.
The last time I was hospitalized for depression, January 1996, I remember how daunting it was to tie my shoes. It took much study, but after a while I managed it. However, the whole process of tying my shoes seemed as if I'd never done it before.
This is one reason I tell folks that ECT is a whole lot better than depression. My memory has been more damaged by depression that my one course of ECT, which restored it back in 1983.
Anyway, in writing about this I escape the feeling for a while. In the formation of words we are forced to ignore inner weather for a moment, perhaps because of the very demands of logic placed on the left hemisphere where depression is mainly centered.
Recent studies also show the use of antidepressants may keep the brain more agile over time, contrary to earlier fears.
I'll share with those likewise afflicted my rules for depression.
First, and above all, be evaluated biologically and enter treatment with the proper medications; wait for the worm to turn, it always does eventually. And if medications don't help a serious depression within two to three months, especially for manic-depressives, I think ECT a very good choice.
Now, behaviorally, here are Dr. Chaffin's rules:
1) It is better to do something than nothing.
2) It is better to do something active than something passive.
3) It is better to be with or around people than alone.
4) Try to set a modest goal each day. Mine is: "I'm going to try not to hate myself too much today."
I try to follow my own advice. Here I am writing, right?
As for the lawyer thingie planned yesterday, the public prosecutor is absent and won't be back until Thursday so we couldn't go.
Kathleen ate some excellent Eggs Benedict this morning. I had one bite and made a lame joke about the current Pope--as close as I came to humor.
I can still read. That's a good sign. When worse I can't concentrate enough to remember what I'm reading.
Here's a poem about depression:
Psychologists call mania
a defense against depression
but I find that silly.
There is no defense
and no adequate metaphor
for its recurrence, but I'll try:
You love someone with all your heart.
They are brutally murdered.
After an interminable grief
they magically reappear
and you fall down on your knees
and thank God with tears.
The second time is worse.
After the third funeral
you dread their resurrection
as much as their death
and love becomes a poisonous thing.
You would drive a stake through their heart
if only you could.
Here's a link to where it was published along with others, in Tryst:
All for now. Thanks for listening.