I’ve been in a closet. I’ve had a secret few know about. I need to write my way into some kind of acceptance, and come clean to my loved ones.
For the past twenty-five years, I have been trying to manage chronic depression. Most of the time it rides just below the surface, always there as an annoyance, but not taking over. It stays put until I experience one of those bumpy things that happen in life, and then rises into something which takes over. During those periods, there is little to do but ride it out, and reminding myself that it will pass.
The clinical checklist for major depressive episode includes experiencing symptoms for two weeks or more. The side dishes include being unable to get out of bed, feeling exhausted, self-loathing, and self-isolation.
Social anxiety is also on the menu. As episodes have increased over the past several years, my world has become increasingly small. I’ve lost the ability to sustain relationships. My true friends can be counted on one hand. Even so, I don’t want to bother them. The effort involved feels immense.
Between episodes, cognitive therapy helps. In the middle of an episode, nothing helps much. You try different medications which lessen the episodes and frequency somewhat. You remind yourself with constant mantras that there are people who love you, to whom you matter. But in the middle of the darkness, you have trouble remembering this. You forget that you are highly accomplished and educated. That you were born with prodigious gifts, and have contributed greatly to the world. You forget how much you’ve enriched others lives. You forget that people are depending on you to keep your shit together.
I’m weary. I try to be graceful and grateful. But I seek grace most of all.
A major depressive episode means you’ve got your head up your ass, and can’t get loose.