The Not So Great Depression
Lisa H. Golden
It feels like one of the cats got my tongue. I've haven't been able to think of anything to say. I partially blame the medication I'm taking. It makes me feel so even. It's strange. My husband suggested that perhaps what I'm feeling is actually normal and because my moods have been so rollercoasterish I don't recognize it. Normal.
I thought about that. He could be right. Maybe I've been functioning for a long time with a low grade depression using a patchwork of coping methods to get by. Sometimes stressors made it worse and I would feel a deeper sense of gloom and then things would clear. For several years he has patiently waited for me to accept that I might need some medical intervention. He endured my blues, my acting out, my upswings like a champ. Like a champ who knows how to retreat into work, how to deliver a verbal ass kicking when needed, and how to pick around the psychic minefield that has been a life with me.
I have sometimes asked myself which of us is the sick one. Twenty-four years. That man deserves a certificate and a $20 Applebees gift card for perfect attendance.
The tipping point came when the coping skills no longer worked. Food didn't work nor did writing or a variety of other distractions. I was moving deeper within, becoming fearful and anxious about everything, looking for any excuse to not leave the house or have contact with people, losing sleep and gaining weight. I didn't leave my bedroom unless I absolutely had to, "forgetting" to go to the mailbox to get the mail many days in a row, letting the grocery stockpile sustain us to avoid trips to the store, not answering the phone.
And then came the job interview and I had to get out of my head and push myself. I did it. It felt good to get out of the house and into the city, to talk to adults and to revisit the ways I had actually once been a productive, thriving, successful executive. That I'd once been able to do a vast array of things including running a household.
That was a little like touching fire. I'd spent the last two years not letting myself think too much about the professional life I'd had because having it yanked from me made me angry. Oh sure, I tried to focus that anger, to put that energy to work finding other positions, but with each passing month and a visit to the Department of Labor to sit fidgeting and fretful with the other people who just wanted a job, I became less focused and more dispirited.
When you're looking for a job, you start with what you know. Then you expand. You look in other fields, other cities. Then you lower your expectations. And lower them some more. Then you look for seasonal work. And in case you believe the fallacy about unemployment being a deterrent to people finding work, know this - at least in the State of Georgia, you have to show that you're seeking work. You must report to the Department of Labor monthly and show a list of the jobs for which you have applied and they have to be jobs within reason. I couldn't say that I was applying for jobs to be a nuclear engineer, for example.
When nothing came of the interview and then the holidays were looming and my unemployment insurance was running out and the job listings dwindled, I went into full retreat. How were we going to manage on my husband's salary alone? What do I have to do to get a job? What can we sell? Do we find somewhere less expensive to live? How can we even afford to move? What the hell, you mean we can't take all the money out of the 401k? It's my husband's money for heaven's sake. All of it. No matching. We'll pay the taxes and penalties, just let us have the money because we can at least pay our rent for the next few months.
My high tolerance for pain evaporated and I cried uncle.
The doctor gave me two prescriptions - an appetite suppressant which I've taken before, and an anti-depressant. The rationale being that although the anti-d is supposed to be weight-neutral, my doctor didn't want me to gain. He knows me well enough to know I'm going to feel better if I'm more fit.
Here's how I know the anti-d is working. In the past, when I've taken this appetite suppressant, the kids have called it the angry pill. For good reason. Without it, I can be a bit, um, mercurial. With it I was like Bobby Knight with a lit firecracker stuck up his butt. I might have even thrown a chair or two.
But not this time. I'm like some Zen master of serenity. I've heard the kids talking about it when they think I can't hear them.
"Oh, man. When is she finally going to blow?"
"I don't know, but I hope I'm not home when it happens."
"She should have gone crazy when saw the mess in Sophie's room. Look at her. She's just lying there on her bed watching TV. No screaming, no raging around, no throwing things in the garbage. It's kind of freaky."
"Oh, yeah, well she didn't even curse once when Mitt Romney was lying about the President in his speech."
"Has anyone talked to Dad about this?"
"Hey, you guys. I can hear you!"
One of them appeared at the door. "Are you mad?"
"Okay. We --"
"It's fine. I know."
If this is normal, it's going to take some getting used to and I don't mean that in a negative way. At my last doctor's visit, he doubled the dosage. It's taken me a week to feel less foggy. Writing is difficult. Much of the time, I feel passionless, dulled. I lose minutes staring out the window.The political discourse that would have once had me in a frenzied lather results in a minor froth. I'm the flat beer on the emotional spectrum.
And oh my word, I finally had to ask my husband to use a taser on my G-spot because either this medication has moved my orgasmic cheese out of my ever-lovin' reach or I'm a guy suffering from Low T or Low Testosterone. Which obviously, I'm not because when I begged him to tase me, bro, my sweetie didn't have to move any junk to get at it.
I may have just wandered way off track.
The point is I'm having to relearn normal. The upside is that I've already shed fifteen pounds. That feels good. Working out feels good. Sleeping well feels good. Not running on adrenaline all the damn time feels good. Not losing my shit over little things feels good. And that taser? Well.... mustn't grumble. Too much.
Looking back at this post, I guess it's Lisa - 1; Cats - 0. Please don't tell the cats. They're sore losers with sharp claws.