depression’s got a hold of me

Since around 2001, I’ve had a online journal, which means that since 2001, I’ve chronicled the majority of my depressive cycles, sometimes in breathtaking detail, and sometimes just with one meaningful post heavy on the choking/drowning/black hole/night sky metaphors that really, you know, capture the feeling of a severe bout of depression and or despair.

Sometimes the post was to explain away an absence of posts for days or weeks or months and sometimes it was to round-about apologize to the friends in the audience who may or may not have been reading who may or may not have even been my friends any more, to say—I’m sorry I’ve been flaking. But it is hard to put on pants when you are choking in a black hole under a night sky that is drowning in sorrow, am I right? Except without the danger of possible embarrassment and potential ridicule and or doubt and or skepticism that might arise if I actually was brave enough to resurface and apologize in person.

Sometimes the post was to purge, and to say, hey, things are hard and I am sad and I just wanted to say that. My biology is messed up, my headology is a wreck and I never learned any useful coping mechanisms and here we go again. I’ve been aware of the endless cyclical cycling and I have always had the feeling if I were to look at a wide-angle shot of all the things I’ve ever written over the course of my online life, a very clear pattern would emerge and then I’d have to go cry into some pudding.

I’m pretty tired of documenting my bouts of depression. I’m tired of them occurring, and I’m tired of them hanging around, eating all my cold cuts and drinking all my beer and leaving crumbs on my couch and thumbprints on my mirrors. I’m tired of giving in to depressions and accepting the idea that occurs to me, that I cannot function and always I will be sad. I’m tired of saying that I’m tired of it.

I’ve been doing this a long time, and trying to cope with it for about as long. There’s not a lot left for me to do, besides  electroshock therapy. Medicines, doctors. Going for a brisk walk! Buying myself flowers. Making lists that include the items “get out of bed” and “take shower.” Aerobics. Sunlamps and heat lamps and changes of scenery. Just giving into the lying in bed and crying until I am all cried out. They help; they don’t cure. What I want is a cure. What I want is to never again have to write a post full of metaphors about being smothered under wet blankets/frozen in an icy sea/beaten with flannel-wrapped hammers, accompanied by an acknowledgement that I have a great life and am very lucky and I don’t mean to be ungrateful and I’m really sorry, I am, I am.

photo by loop_oh

  25 comments for “depression’s got a hold of me

  1. MR
    March 14, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    This isn’t intended to sound glib, but have you thought about medical marijuana? My partner uses it in combination with prescription antidepressants and finds the two together much more effective than either separately. I know a lot of people say ‘well, I smoke pot recreationally and it just makes me paranoid’ but the medical grade stuff really makes a difference in some cases.

    Also, WAY more fun than electroshocks.

  2. March 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I hear ya sister. I have been there too and occasionally still am there. What always helped me best was a night out with my best friend, bitching about the world, smoking a pack of ciggies (even though I gave up smoking in 2005) and having a few pints of Kilkennys.
    Since I left Europe I don’t have this support system anymore unfortunately. My husband is wonderful but he just wants to “fix” me like repairing a watch. He doesn’t understand that I can’t just be fixed because if I could, I would. I am not one of those people who want to wallow in sadness. I don’t want to sit there and cry for nothing and everything.

  3. March 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    But it’s not that easy to fix yourself is it?

  4. perreys
    March 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    girl, me too.

  5. March 15, 2009 at 2:20 am

    I want to link back to this post so badly because you are a much better writer than I am and I can never describe it like that even though that is exactly what it is and when I try I just sound like I’m whining. But I won’t link back unless I have your permission

  6. Mare
    March 15, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I tend to feel that way after any kind of vacation or mini-break. After the high of a few days of relaxation and escape and happiness, it’s a horrible spiral into the kind of funk that makes everything I see very ugly.
    I hope it gets easier for you, soon.

  7. March 15, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Oh man, I hear ya’. I was depressed, actually truly depressed, for the first time last September. I’d read about depression before and felt bad for the people with depression, but I did not understand depression until I was depressed. Then I was like, “Oh wow, this is more craptastic than I ever imagined.” And it sucked so hardcore. And luckily I am better now and on the medications, but I am sorry you are going through this. I give you a big Internet hug and wrap you up in a blanket of kitties and I will see about getting you your own personal unicorn.

  8. air
    March 15, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    I’m having a problem deciding if I should keep blogging at all. I’m sick of sounding like a wet blanket all the time, and also lying to my readers (pretending things are GREAT when really they suck so bad I don’t want to write about it). Perhaps NOT writing would be more honest. I’m so confused….

    Glad to have your feed in my collection now, thanks to a friend who sent me this post to read.

    Thx.

  9. Alice
    March 15, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Oh, Jen. I truly, truly hope that writing this helped with things. I’m still trying to figure out how to get out of my own metaphor-laden hole; even though it *feels* like I’m completely alone down here, and I really wish you weren’t dealing with all of this, too, I really appreciate your sharing it. It helps to give me a bit more of a push to keep looking for that elusive, rickety, ever-moving ladder that leads out of here.

  10. March 15, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I am right there with you in the hole/icy sea/etc. If I knew the way out, I’d show you. I’m willing to wander this hole with you as we both look for the way out.
    I’m sure the people who care about you don’t need an apology and know you are incredibly grateful for your wonderful life. I haven’t met you, and I know you’re not ungrateful and I don’t need an apology if you don’t write for a long while.
    Depression sucks, but you will get through it, because you have friends and people who care about you. And also because you’re stronger than it is. At least, that’s what I tell myself each day I get out of bed. I’m here to listen, even if your posts are apologies or metaphors.

  11. Monica
    March 16, 2009 at 4:58 am

    Me too, Jen.

    Because it seems like an opportune time and I have the courage, I’m going to tell you now that your blogging has made a significant difference in my life. Whenever I see that you’ve updated, I get happy, because your writing, in general, is so very delightful. Your posts at ElasticWaist, too, helped me learn to love my body (which I’m still working on).

    For the past couple of weeks I’ve been wondering where you’ve been, and it’s good to have the answer, but I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. I want to give some of the joy you’ve given me back to you. Can I, please? Please take this, and know that the sheer fact of your existence makes one college sophomore in rural Ohio happy. Don’t question it; don’t let the depression talk you down and devalue it; just save it. Keep it somewhere safe.

    I’m thinking good things for you.

  12. j lynn
    March 16, 2009 at 7:16 am

    My saving grace: Healing Touch Therapy.

    I’ve been in the black hole. Tried many things. Therapy and finding the right medication help, but you know that. I never knew how utterly relaxed, happy, and content I could be until I found Healing Touch. I even lost over 100 pounds! I explain it as being kind of like acupuncture without the needles. I still get down, but nothing even close to what I experienced before.

    Completely and utterly changed my life.

  13. March 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Me too.

  14. joykos
    March 16, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I relate, on so many points. Thanks for putting words to some things I have been feeling. I always feel like I am going to be a “downer” if I am honest with people about where I am at, or that I am being selfish. So, I often question whether I should be fully honest or partially honest, or avoid people altogether because I just don’t want to deal with anyone, even if they just want to love me. I guess I feel embarassed. I also am realizing I feel guilty about things I can’t help. My best solution has been trying new things little by little that might help, and trying to be consistent with them. The supplement 5-HTP has helped a lot more than I expected it to, as an example. I hope voicing this stuff has helped, and feel free to talk about it as much as you want! So many people are on the edge of their seats waiting for your next words, whatever they be!

  15. Punchy
    March 16, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I thought you were in your hammock on vacation this whole time. I get down too and I hide from everyone but I never want to apologize so I’ve lost a bunch of people because of it. Your blog makes everybody happy, even when you’re sad, but I will totally wait :)

  16. March 19, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and it’s too small. It sucks, no doubt about it. Drugs help, friends help, and writing helps. We don’t judge you, we understand you. It’s ok to write about your feelings. (Am I saying that to you or myself? Hmmmm).

    Cyberhug,

    Jules

  17. March 22, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Hi Jen,
    I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ve been there too and damn it sucks the big one. I won’t suggest anything cuz I’m sure you’re tried or thought of it all, but please know that I am thinking of you and wishing a speedy recovery from the drowning and the choking and the darkness.

    Longtime follower of you in your various web incarnations (always seem to lose you, then you pop up somewhere new!),
    Eileen

  18. M.
    March 23, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I understand what you’re saying in the abstract. But unless you’ve completely not blogged what you think, you always re-emerge in happier state of being, no? Is it possible to roll your eyes and say “damn it all, this sucks, now I have to wait for my brain chemistry to rebalance itself?” Then you don’t have to fight it or succumb to it or write about it or go sit in front of a light like a plant… you just have it. Like a brain period.

    I don’t know personally from depression, but I’ve dated guys who’ve suffered. It’s pretty awful, for sure. So, you know, just do your thing. Lie in bed or traipse around the mountains or brush the dogs or whatever it is you’re up to these days, and sooner or later you’ll be back and we’ll be here and all that jazz. Feel better!

  19. Liz H
    March 27, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Hey. Come back. Even if you are black cloudy and in your underpants. We miss you. Please

    (((Jen)))

  20. sarah
    March 31, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    i miss you. please come back! tell us your troubles & we will tell you how awesome you are in spite of them.

  21. April 1, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    I hope you are doing ok.

  22. April 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    I love you. Not in a creepy online stalker way.

  23. Jenn
    April 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

    I always enjoyed reading your posts… now I have nothing to read! Come back!!!

  24. Traci
    April 12, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Not to bring you down any further, Jen, but I wanted to respond to what M. said on 3/23.
    If you mean in a happier state of being than before the period of depression started (like getting some extra happy because of the break from happiness), I think, “No”. To me it’s just a return to the normal even-keel ups and downs of daily life.
    I LOVE “Is it possible to roll your eyes and say ‘damn it all, this sucks, now I have to wait for my brain chemistry to rebalance itself?’ Then you don’t have to fight it or succumb to it or write about it or go sit in front of a light like a plant… you just have it. Like a brain period.” This is how I try to self-talk while I’m at the worst (ie, “so I’m not able to do anything now, but it will pass”) but THEN I can start to think of how much of my life is forfeited to these times, and I can feel robbed, for me and my family.
    As Pastaqueen pointed out, I don’t think you can really totally get it unless you’ve been there, but thanks for the support and encouragement!
    PS I would like to acknowledge that I am truly blessed by both a flex-time job and by a psychologist husband who is willing to make arrangements and shoulder so much more of the load at these times as well as help the children by his display of attitude while he does it that I don’t think that the children will remeber having a childhood with “Mommy holes” in it!
    Thanks for bearing with this long post, it is the first time I’ve written online about my experience, and I guess I had a bit to say!
    love,

  25. July 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    hi jen!
    i’m glad we’re totally friends now too. thanks for introducing yourself.

    this post REALLY struck home with me. i have struggled with depression all my life, and then about 3 years ago it started to get worse than normal. it took me almost 3 YEARS to realize what was going on – that i was getting worse and worse – and the sadness was coming from inside of me, rather than a being result of outside circumstances.

    i’ve tried everything – supplements, herbal remedies, self-help books, you name it. i’ve always been terrified of the thought of antidepressants, but it got so bad that i finally went and saw a doctor.

    long story short (ish): i was put on a low dose of lexapro about a month ago. i can honestly say it’s changed my life. i haven’t had one of those “crashes” where it feels like a physical wall of sadness just slammed into your chest, since about 4 days after starting the medication. i feel like i can trust my thoughts and emotions again. the most amazing part is that i don’t feel like a drugged out or numbed-up person – i just feel like i’m functioning at the best level of “diana” as i can be. i still have emotions – they just feel more stable. it almost feels like i’ve got this safety net stretched out a couple feet below me, protecting me from diving into that “hole” again.

    antidepressants are a big thing – they’re scary, and it’s hard to even admit that you might need them sometimes. (it took me 27 years…) it might not be the right thing for you, but i just wanted to let you know, you’re SO not alone, and maybe consider talking to your doctor about it? a close friend of mine also went on lexapro a little before i did and she’s said the same thing – it’s ENTIRELY changed her life.

    sorry to get so long-winded (and i hope i don’t sound like a drug-pusher!!) know that there is hope out there though…

    xo
    diana

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