Friday, November 11, 2011
Depression for Dummies
It's been a rough patch lately, and among other things, I've experienced three distinct forms of clinical depression. Allow me to taxonomize.
First came agitated depression, in which mania and depression occur simultaneously. This is regarded as a particularly dangerous state because the built-in safeguard of depression -- lack of energy, lack of will -- is bypassed. You're depressed, but you have the ability to act on that depression.
This is the most intolerable of my mental conditions. There is no way to settle down until things pass -- I'm compelled to physical activity, usually walking the streets.
When I'm like this, I'm a disturbing, unpleasant, even threatening presence. Frankly, it makes me feel like a terrible person, a bully and a bastard.
Then the agitation passed, and I got into the regular old 'there is no hope once the capacity for joy is eliminated' vanilla depression.
So my eating, sleeping, and so on have been thrown all to hell.
Thankfully, the missus has been particularly sweet and that's enough to lift my mood. This puts me into a particularly tricky situation.
Right now, I'm capable of experiencing pleasure and hope, and of feeling gratitude for the good things in my life.
This is swell so far as daily existence goes. But it's pretty much a pile of leaves and branches hiding a pit with spikes on the bottom. Because while this state is easier for everyone to live with, it is still clinical depression. Decreased appetite, decreased sleep, nausea, lack of motivation and focus, easily confused, emotionally volatile, etc, etc.
This state was a serious issue for me for a long, long time. I'd assume that since I didn't want to gouge my eyes out with a fondue fork I wasn't depressed. But when I'm like this, there's a genuine apathy in regard to my well-being. Last winter when I was like this while the missus was out of town, I wound up not eating for a number of days and then not drinking for three solid days. Pure inertia. Apathy. "Hmm. Seem to be going downhill here. Tongue feels slick, like leather. I bet this is real bad for my teeth."
So I've learned to keep a close watch on myself when I feel okay while displaying clear symptoms of depression. It's good, in that it's a step away from the pit. But it's tricky.
Right now I'm trying to decide whether I should try and get myself pumped back up again, or if it's time to start hunkering down for the winter and just accept that I'm going to be useless for a while.
Now that I put it into words, the answer seems obvious. So. That's the next question. What to do for a moral boost.
I will think of something. Goddamnit.