April 10, 2001

More on Depression


As I mentioned in the weblog yesterday, I've been feeling depressed the last couple of days.

I realized it when I thought about how much I was sleeping. A four hour nap on Friday and almost three on Saturday, with seven or eight hours each night as well. When the urge to nap hit around noon on Sunday, I knew something was up. That goes beyond just laziness.

Coffee does nothing for this kind of sleepiness. Some fresh air and/or activity helps. Loud rock music too. Getting out and being with people is usually the best cure.

The problem is, when I get into these moods, I don't particularly want to be jolted out of them. Everything seems to be too much trouble. My brain knows it's not good but the rest of me doesn't really care.

At least now my brain knows it's a symptom and doesn't get too upset by it all. When I was in my teens and early 20's and felt like this, it was scary. Often, then, I felt more anxious than depressed, and that's a vicious circle - I felt anxious about feeling anxious. Then I imagined something to feel anxious about, since there was no apparent reason for the anxiety in the first place. In my case, thoughts of death and dying provided a convenient excuse. Not suicidal thoughts, but a fear of dying.

That was my first big episode of depression. I was eighteen and in college. I managed to pass but I remember almost nothing of those months. I lived the next few years in fear of something like that happening again, for I had no way to predict it or prevent it.

My second major depression occurred in my 20's. That time I could no longer function, but would just sit down and cry. That one caused me to leave graduate school, and was when my mother tried to bribe me to finish by offering me a car. The school health service set me up with a psychiatrist, who gave me antidepressants (the old tricyclics) and a few sessions of therapy; I don't think either did much at the time. They certainly weren't enough to counteract the destructive effect of what was going on at home. My mother must have thought that convincing me that I was a failure for leaving school would push me into returning. I don't know if I can ever forgive her for that.

Eventually I got a job, got married and had my babies. I think I had some post-partum depression after the first birth but again I didn't recognize it as such. Hubby once remarked, "You don't seem to take any joy in being a mother," and that was exactly right. I felt all the weight of the responsibility of being a mother; I resented being on call with few predictable breaks; perhaps because of this, the baby was irritable and demanding.

I got through it and plodded along until about ten years later. Again, I wasn't functioning well but I had to function because of the kids. I did cry a lot. I remember having to pull over while driving (alone). I don't think I cried in front of the kids though.

I went to my family doctor and he recommended therapy and antidepressants. I resisted for a few months but the pain wasn't going away so in desperation I went to another psychiatrist. She put me on prozac and after less than two weeks I saw a difference. I remember walking up the stairs at home and suddenly feeling - good. For the same reason (no reason!) that I had been depressed, I felt content and realized how long it had been since the last time I'd felt that way.

Soon I found that I could again take pleasure in the small details of life. My problems were still there but receded in importance. I must have become more outgoing because people began to seek me out as friends. I had fewer social inhibitions and was able to express myself and be myself. I think I became a better parent as well.

The initial effect of the prozac did lessen after a few months but it still works well enough. I have occasional depressions but they last for a day or two, or at most a week, and they're nowhere near as severe. This latest one is gone today, and I'm back to my usual outlook and (such as it is) energy level.

I have mixed feelings about writing entries like this one. I do think that it's vital that depression and other mental and emotional illnesses be talked about and demystified. However as a reader I'd tend to avoid this type of entry. In any case, this one pretty much wrote itself.. I hadn't intended for all that to come out when I began.

I've received some letters (e-mails) over the months, all supportive of this type of entry. I don't want this to become a depression journal but depression is part of my life and is bound to come up in any account of my days. I have no good reason to filter it out, and every good reason to be open about it.

I'm opening up a thread in the forum, for anyone who wants to further discuss any aspect of depression.

EXTREMELY GOOD NEWS!!!

Linque Du Jour:   Human fat may provide useful cells

Fat cells have been found to behave as "stem cells":

Researchers show that cells found in human fat can be made to grow into muscle cells in laboratory dishes. the researchers also turned fat into healthy cartilage, muscle and bone cells...

Indeed, scientists said, given its abundance, accessibility and apparent versatility, human fat may someday gain respect as a premier biological building material, with uses ranging from wrinkle filling and breast augmentation to major bone, joint and muscle repairs.

YESSSSSSSS!

I shall sell my fat to science! It's certainly a readily renewable resource!!!

And best of all???

My Oreos will be tax deductible!

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