I started this blog way back in 2006, when I wrote about the Mack Truck of depression that had rolled over me -- and then parked. Well, I'm happy to report that I traded in the truck for a scooter, and even that is easy to move off down the street these days. My December mental message for 2008 is this: I'm feeling just fine over here.
Turns out, way back in 2006, I'd developed SAD, otherwise known as Seasonal Effective Disorder. It would come on three days after daylight savings time rolled back and not lift off my poor psyche until the daffodils bloomed. It was like a very bad smell that I never got used to -- and that no amount of cleaning could get out of my brain.
Depression isn't what I thought it would be. It's not feeling sad, so much as it is not feeling anything. It isolates you from people, from any interaction that could pull you out of it, almost like a kind of emotional quicksand. The harder you struggle; the worse it gets. And those people who tell you, "Snap out of it! Look at how great your life is"? They might as well be pouring on more of the stifling mud. It's not about getting happier, it's about getting energy, your power, your juice back. At least for me.
One therapist, two shrinks, one homoepathic nurse practitioner, encouragement from some dear fellow SADers, and a lot of just plain putting one foot in front of the other -- and I am enjoying life this winter season. This turn of heart and mind has come about as a result of several things. My chemical cocktail includes Wellbutrin, 5HTP, massive quantities of fish oil, vitamin D, and a special anti-melatonin mixture. My personal practice to sooth my depressed brain and plump up its happy parts include walking the dog outside every day, morning meditation, other exercise, and scheduling regular dates out with the hubbie and friends. Digging in the dirt helps too. I've learned that, rather than surgically excising the depression, mentally accepting it as a part of me, is a much more helpful tack. I think of it as a fitful toddler, who needs just the right pats and incentives to feel better. Hey, it works for me.
As I write this, the sky outside my window is grey with immovable clouds, the light is weak at best, but I cheerfully drink my coffee and type away. I am looking forward to the day, some work on a window, cooking another batch of baklava. But I am also feeling sad that my favorite Christmas champion, my mother-in-law, will not longer be able to share in our tradition of buying the tree together, now that she has had that terrible stroke. I'm a little anxious about driving in the holiday traffic to the mall today to do some last minute shopping. And all of that is okay, just a part of life.
Still, the SAD care and protection will probably continue to be an exercise in minding my inner toddler: I'll probably always have to make adjustments here and there to keep her from turning on the stove or soothe the odd tantrum. To be able to laugh at one of my husband's bad jokes on a really cruddy winter's day makes it all worth it, though.