Can't think of one.
This is a post I'm not entirely comfortable writing. But when friends ask me if I need to talk to a professional about my depressive bouts, I guess the least I can do is offer a reply.
Recently, I've been going through a lot of stuff on depression. Dooce wrote about how medication keeps her steady and her husband wrote about what it's like living with her problems. I've come out of my cave and watched Amy Winehouse videos -- and ended up reading about her problems.
The thing is -- you may think I'm overanalysing yet again, if you like -- I have seen for myself how completely I can sink into depression. There were six weeks in my life when all I did was sit in a corner of my bedroom staring at the walls. Staring at them, sometimes crying, sometimes just sitting there like I had died and they'd forgotten to lay me out. I went out, for an hour and a half four evenings a week, for play rehearsals. Didn't go for groceries. I don't remember when I ate or what but I do know I didn't enter the kitchen for a week at one point. I didn't touch a drop of alcohol, not one joint. I didn't call up people and nobody called me. At that time I was not a fun person to know. I wandered down roads and didn't see the cars coming at me. Things went blurry at dusk. Speech had become a problem. I used to live alone and I had withdrawn myself from everybody who could help. I'm going into this in detail because it's not something I want to forget. Keeping this memory alive is the only way I can ensure I never become that way again.
I slowly came out of it. Time helped, and meeting new people. Actually, Hemant helped, just by being himself. He didn't know the reason but saw that I was sad. He called me on the phone, took me around, introduced me to people, got me to live again. And later, V helped. The shock of losing my hair helped. Nothing like burning off your hair to make you face facts. When I think back on what I had become, I'm glad I got off so easy. And with a sexy new look, at that.
But, but... what I was really going to talk about was what works for me. Depression runs in my family. Linked to uncontrollable rage and some OCD. No, that is not an easy way out of taking responsibility for my actions. But it is a couple of steps towards understanding and trying to cope with my, er, issues. (Not The Bhablet, although I'll grant he's an issue too.) Anyway, so every few weeks -- it seems to follow a monthly cycle of sorts, with some phases being harder than other, lighter bouts -- I can feel the ol' familiar sinking within me. It's hard to get out of bed, it's hard to sleep of nights, food seems a waste of time (or I feel hungry all day) and my temper is short, very short. When I sense these signals (and sometimes it's a day or two late, but I usually do sense them) I try the following things:
1. Getting out of the house. In very bad phases I go out alone and clear my head. Doesn't matter what I do or where I go, so long as I'm out.
2. Cleaning the house. It really does help. If nothing else, it battles the feelings of inadequacy. AND I get a clean house out of it.
3. Reading stuff. Surfing blogs, digging up old writings of mine, letters I'd written and received. Books that I love already. A new novel may help me out but odds are equally high that it may depress me further, so I prefer old favourites.
4. Comfort foods. Chips, savouries, chocolate, colas, phuchkas, whatever. It helps me feel hungry and once I eat, I feel a little better mostly. I don't worry about calories because otherwise I'd end up eating nothing at all. Also, because I'm still young enough to be able to ignore them!
5. Problem-solving. I find it very helpful to solve other people's problems at times like these. Not because of the misery-loves-company factor but because it gives my self-confidence a boost and because it takes my mind off my own troubles. Yes, it makes me count my blessings, even if I don't want to.
I'm not one to diss medication. But I do think one should try one's hardest to beat it on one's own first, because accepting medication for depression can itself lead to further depression, especially if you don't follow the medication instructions properly. I've seen a lot of that. Also people abusing the medication. I've spent a week in an institution with my brother and watched him play mind games with the doctors. With the exception of one gentleman they were all taken in by his nonsense. Eventually they cottoned on to him but by then I'd lost a lot of my faith in them. Doctors are people too and I could see they were having trouble discarding the earlier, nonsensical theories.
Some people need help despite their strongest efforts, because their very genes ask for help. Sometimes I worry I'm one of them. But mostly, I see myself leading a mostly normal, always very rich life, and I feel reassured. I've managed to put my moodiness alongside my knee problem and my painful wrists and my iffy tummy -- it's all something I look out for and try to get as much as I can out of life despite. Nobody's perfect. Nor is it necessary to be. Funnily enough, it took two institutions as stressful as marriage and motherhood to help me accept that. It's hard to self-flagellate when a Bhablet looks at you in adoration. Or when a husband tells all Facebook that you are likely to have the best butt cleavage.