Friday, August 28, 2009


I'm having trouble composing email. My thoughts aren't always linear and logical - I stare at what I've written and find myself incapable of correcting it so I stop and hope I can return to it later. I had some 25 drafts open in Outlook for work before I accidentally knocked the power cord loose and lost them all. I merely blinked when I saw the little lights weren't glowing on the closed computer and decided it was likely better to start from the beginning anyway.

I've therefore not attempted responses to your comments and emails. I do read them - more than once, actually - and they provide a warm reminder of what truly exists past my currently sad perceptions. So thank you. I will get better and remain very grateful for your thoughts and support.

When, however, faced with the reply of "Of course you can," to my statement of "I can't," I was torn between horror and rage for a moment before all went blank again. As I curled on my side and cuddled into a pillow, I wondered that someone could read what I've written, to know about an illness and to react with such...insensitivity? ignorance? Regardless, as I waited for sleep to claim me again, I decided that I'd not taken this opportunity to be clear. I've been thinking about it and while I'm not sure I'll do the topic justice, I can at least make an attempt.

Depression is not an indulgent state of sadness.

The best parallel I can draw is after Mom had her knee surgery. For weeks afterward, she would vomit at regular intervals. The incessant sickness stalled her recovery to an alarming degree and, after multiple nights tending to her, I was beyond exhausted. I had few resources left to answer her calls, help her to the bathroom or clean any messes. I wanted her to stop. I was frustrated and tired and I didn't understand what was causing the problem. Mostly though I was worried and helpless and I remember thinking, supporting her as she heaved, that she needed to just stop and begin getting better.

We never discovered exactly what caused the lengthy reaction - we changed medications, we took anti-nausea pills, we suffered through it. I found the energy to answer every request. I spent hours on the phone with doctors, ordering them to figure something out. And she improved.

Smallest One was actually born during this period of illness. And when Mom sadly announced that she couldn't manage to make it to the hospital, we did not say "Of course you can." With complete honesty, she could have. We could have drugged her heavily and arranged a wheelchair at the door. She could have thrown up at the hospital while looking through the window at her youngest granddaughter. But when she evaluated her desire to go versus the toll it would take to accomplish that, she said no. And if you think that makes her less loving or warm, amazing and enduring, then you're wrong.

What's going on with me can be loosely compared with Mom's reaction after surgery. I don't know why I'm reacting so badly to a small trigger. I've told myself for weeks to just stop and I can't. I spend inordinate amounts of time wondering what's wrong with me, feeling it morph into deep suspicion that everyone I know is just waiting to hurt me somehow.

It's pretty illogical. It's certainly not a good guiding philosophy. But it's what makes sense to me. I don't let many people in. And those that I do are good. This process of harming my overly-fragile psyche is utterly unintentional. But that makes it all the more terrifying. I never predict it - I think things are OK and then slowly realize they aren't and can never identify the moment where I messed up or something unrelated happened and then people are just gone.

I am currently unwell. And if you think it's "not contagious" then you've never dealt with a depressed individual. I remember Grandma sitting in a corner at Christmas just after she'd been released from the hospital. And she tried - I could see her effort to appear warm and engaged and could sense the frustration and exhaustion when she couldn't quite manage it. It made all of us deeply sad and frantic with worry. I'm quite good at bringing others down to my level, engaging them in some level of pity or sadness or concern.

So there will be presents. And hugs. But not now. I'd never planned to attend because of some travel plans and given that Smallest One is already have two weeks of birthday parties because of her divided family dynamic, she can celebrate with me when I'm better. When it's not so painful to talk to people. When I can sincerely smile and laugh and enjoy her. And - of course - that's OK.

I will respond to the other comments later. It's just easier to fixate on the awful right now.


DRD said...

I still skim via bloglines... and couldn't read without offering my support. As someone who has spent the year recovering from an awful depression episode, of course you can't. Certainly, you will have to eventually get back to life, but if you are changing/increasing meds and in contact with your doctor, do what you can and leave the rest. Very little is so important that you have to deal with it today, birthdays (of children who likely won't remember if you are there or not) included.

Anonymous said...

Are they being ok with you not making it to work?

Anonymous said...

That comment yesterday was insensitive and I had to stop myself from getting angry and wrote that they had misunderstood rather than sometime more harsh.
As always my thoughts are with you

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

You have to take care of yourself and do what is best for you-- this includes dealing with Birthdays and work. Also, if Smallest One is anything like most kids, she will be thrilled to have her birthday extended by her Aunt Katie. You'll continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Seeking Solace said...

Please take care of you. I know from experience that putting on the brave face for the sake of others just makes it worse.

Do what you need to do. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Amanda's sentiments. Again, I'm keeping you in my thoughts and sending you some virtual hugs, too, sweetie.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to agree, and say that reading your posts is comforting as I am dealing with my guilt over anxiety issues.

Thank you.

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