So Bardiac has a post up just now about seeing a student in office hours who is missing a lot of class because of anxiety and depression. And I found myself having a lot to say in the comment I was going to leave because -- get this -- I just today went to my doctor to get meds because I'm having a major depressive episode. I found myself writing a comment that was really all about trying to explain what it feels like to have a major depressive episode to someone who either hasn't had one or has had one but copes well enough through it to not be a menace to herself or others. (I say that Bardiac may be a coper because she spoke of how for so many people "just getting up and dragging themselves through the day is how they get by a lot of the time." That is how depression feels, so I'm thinking she just was able to slug through it in ways that some of us may not be able to. I don't know.) Anyway, it became clear I have something to say on this subject.
Though I've felt low for a long time, until this point I wanted to avoid covering up my unhappiness with meds and tried to address it naturally through supplements and herbs. (Also perimenopause is kicking my ass, especially how it has amped up my PMS to the point I really do actually hate everything for a few days and am sure that every single thing in my life is poisoned.) That I went to go get anti-depressants is a measure of how bad things are just now. Part of why I chose to take meds this time is desperation -- I can't do
anything about the things making me unhappy if I have no energy and
motivation to do anything but be pissy about my unhappy lot. (Quite literally, I don't have the energy to catch up on my grading or to apply to job postings I've found that sound like much better jobs than my own. Help!) Also to control
the damage -- I'm so low now I can't quite keep myself from letting it
leak out, either in grumpy comments (you should see me cuss out every
other driver on the highway), or cursing, even in front of my child, or snapping at people, especially my child. So
while I do on a regular basis drag myself out of bed and through my day,
I'm doing it incredibly poorly now and with such bad grace. A huge part
of my ability to drag myself through my day at all has to do with habit
and responsibility and maturity -- absolutely zero of it has to do with how I feel or my energy level. I have a kid and a breadwinner responsibility; that, my coffee, and
more supplements than you would believe get me out of bed in the
morning. That's powerful force to counter the heavy weight around my ankle that is depression. But if I only had myself to care for, as I did when I started this blog,
I'd probably be in bed all the time. I've certainly documented in times past the struggles I have to get myself to do things on my own.
Because of the times that I really struggle to cope, I empathize with students who suffer from anxiety and depression. I get it.
Sorry to be Debbie Downer. That's what I'm really good at, these days.