I have a mental illness you may know as clinical depression. There. I said it. To the world. Well, at least my small part of it. Now all tens of you know.
It’s not a pretty thing, oh no, my friends. When I’m in dark deep end of it, I’m a walking cliché of symptoms: deep sadness, death of motivation, repetitive thoughts, sleeplessness, sleepiness, severe introversion, irritability, fear, guilt, feelings of worthlessness, etc, etc, etc (holy crap, just writing those makes me feel ill!) I’m really not here writing this to list the symptoms, that’s what Google is for. Despite being in therapy off and on for the past fifteen years, I still Googled the symptoms and it was quite strange to tick off every one of them, I must say. What I am here for, is to simply get it off my chest. I am also reaching out to other similarly afflicted writers, because I think there are a lot of us out there, more than we know, and that, like me, keep it under wraps. I don’t know if this is going to do anyone any good, or even if it will do me any good. I’m going to put it out there, and go whew. Be prepared for rambling diversions.
A small bit of history: I first recognized something was wrong, and sought help, about a year before my first wife died. I wasn’t a surprise. It was coming. We both could see it getting nearer, though we didn’t talk about it. We fought her illness and complications barely keeping hope alive. I was her caretaker, but despite the love and support we gave each other, it was wearing my emotions and strength thin. I knew I had a problem, when one day, sitting in another waiting room of one of countless visits to an endless list of medical specialists, my vision closed down to a turning red tunnel as I became detached from the world. Ihad to use every fiber of mind and muscle to keep from running, screaming out the door, through the clinic, across the parking lot, running to Thor-knows-where, and never to return. I was on the verge of a full-blown massive panic attack. I knew at that moment that I needed help. I found a therapist and within ten minutes of our first visit, she said, “Okay. You need medication.” I’ve been on medication of different varieties ever since, going into therapy when things were at their worst. It’s been fifteen years when I was first diagnosed and I’m still living with this deep-sea, mental monster.
But let me sooth any fears you may have for me at this point. I’m doing better, really. I’ve got a good doctor and therapist and I’m learning new skills to deal with my dark ever-friend. It ain’t easy and some days, or weeks, are better than others. And this past nine months has been an emotional hole for me that now I’m only starting to crawl out of. My therapist says I’m doing well, and I’m taking her word for it.
(Ya know the movie, “As Good As It Gets”, where Jack Nicholson lays his face in his hands and says, “It’s exhausting talking like this.” That’s how I’m feeling right now as I type.)
Okay. That’s the confession part of it. I can say no more. Next comes what my depression has to do with writing, or more importantly, the non-writing, in–
See Me In Black: Block to Wall