The Art of Self-Medication - Reprise

Mon Jul 14 2003 07:33PM -0600

I need to keep tabs on whether I am becoming hypomanic or not. I shit you not: I have decided to partake of the magical blue pill. Not because I like to experiment with psychotropic drugs (although, I suppose, I do), but because I have finally come to grips with the fact that I really do have depression, or at least dysthymia.

I don't really know if this has been going on continuously from since I was in high school, or if there were really times when the gloom would break, and I would be OK, at least for a while. Now that I think about it, for much of the past 10 years or so, it's only really the shitty memories that stick out the most. I mean, I know that good things happened too, but they're just harder to remember. Or somehow they're always attached to depressing memories. I can't seem to separate them. For the longest time, I haven't had anything that even remotely resembles a "happy place." The closest thing I could think of when I was asked was probably the last time I almost died.

There is the non-biological explanation for all this. I mean, yeah, I've had a few rough times here and there. Rejection, betrayal, abandonment. (OK, maybe that sounds more melodramatic than it really was, but, oh well, bear with me.) Extreme stress. Having no purpose in life. Failing at things that meant a lot to me. But these things lingered too long. They ate at my insides too much. It wasn't until now that I realized that they were affecting my ability to function. And that this wasn't normal at all.

Now, needless to say, this isn't exactly something you bring up to people in normal conversation, no matter how close you are to them. In this span of time, I think I might have told only one person how I felt, and this is only because he brought up the topic of suicide. I mentioned how a lot of times I've felt hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty for things which I didn't do or couldn't've had control over. How at some points, I've thought about ending it all, though I never really planned anything. I never really ever tried to do it, except for that time I got hold of a lot of hydrocodone. I was tempted to drink it all. But that's the worst it ever got, I think.

It's ironic that I am spewing all this bilge over the Internet. As I've told R, it's like cheap psychotherapy. My health insurance doesn't cover psychiatric visits, so I'm paying for web space instead.

I've been meaning to get evaluated for a good year now. Especially since one of my college friends recently started going to therapy. And my psych rotation really impressed upon me the need for professional help. This really isn't something that can be handled alone. And yet, I stood still. Mostly, I was afraid. Which, of course, fed further into my depression.

I finally talked seriously about all this with my parents these past two weeks that I spent in L.A. Despite the fact that they're both in health care, they aren't big believers in psychotropic medication. They kept trying to exhort me to just be strong, keep a stiff upper lip, don't let the bastards grind me down, mind over matter. Pray to God. Hah. They are afraid that the meds will make me crazy. Well, hell, technically, I'm already crazy. We're talking what is most likely an Axis I diagnosis here.

See, suicidal ideation doesn't necessarily mean you want to kill yourself. The way we thought about it on the psych ward was that if you wanted to die, you were essentially suicidal. A lot of the patients with major depression hadn't ever planned anything, but their biggest complaint was that they simply didn't want to be alive.

So, to be fully treated, I should probably still go see a therapist. While it's been shown by studies that pills alone or therapy alone are generally equivalent, the two of them together are synergistic, more than double the effect. But I'm not taking these pills to be happy. I just want to stop feeling so crappy. So far, they seem to be working. God knows it might just be a placebo effect, and sure, I'm having relapses now and then. It isn't that I can't get sad, or that rejection doesn't hurt. It's just that it doesn't eat away at me. It doesn't keep me awake at night. Sure, I'll dwell on dark depressing thoughts as I lie awake in bed, regret a little, but when I wake up in the morning, I'll be ready to start my day. I won't just lie in bed, stuck. Wondering why.

You know, nothing has really changed. I still think about my same fears and my same regrets. I still have my own personal failings and my bad habits. But, you know what, for once, I'm content with this. Life goes on. There doesn't need to be a happily-ever-after ending. I just want to live.

Postscript: I suppose, mostly, I was inspired to write this all out by this blog. It's really depressing, written by someone who eventually killed herself. (God only knows how the hell I stumbled upon it on Google.) Eerie, isn't it? Despite my deep-seated sense of inevitable doom, and my belief that my life from this point on is going to be relatively static, this is not the way I want it to end.

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