This is the twenty-fifth in a series of episodes, detailing my dawning realization, that I have some mental issues, that I must address, or risk losing those around me, who mean so much to me. I do not know how many installments this will entail, because I do not have an outline, for this particular avenue, that my Life has chosen to pursue. Because I have always found writing to be therapeutic, I am going to share my journey with anyone, who cares to read along. Believe me, I am not having that much fun.
For those of you who keep an eye on what appears at this site, I know you must wonder what happened to the guy who used to post all of this prattling, good-if for nothing else-for instilling in the reader a sense that he or she has it better than the poor guy trying to make some sense of it all. As I have said many times, but find myself compelled to reiterate, writing helps me sort it all out, and has done so long before anyone but my sister JT was checking out what I have written. There are still posts that have never had even one page-view, according to my stats page, but that doesn’t bother me a bit, because I know JT has read it all.
So my readership has gone from 3,000 page-views in thirty days, to 1,500 in thirty days, telling me that prattling about mental issues, is more interesting, than reading short stories. Since none of it is assigned reading anymore, I am not too worried about it, and I suspect that neither are you.
I will start with my favorite literary device, irony, and mention that at the conclusion of my last post in this series, I was feeling pretty upbeat about the big picture, while struggling with the day to day depressive features of “mood spectrum disorder,” the term with which I have replaced “bipolar disorder.” Hell, it’s only words, and if I really cared one way or the other, I sure wouldn’t be talking about it here on my blog. Obviously, much does not make it here, because of my desire to conform to the wishes of a very private person, who wishes to remain blissfully anonymous, despite my best efforts to the contrary.
Now, I am better able to deal with most day-to-day crises (I said most) in a more upbeat manner, but the big picture has the black cloud over it. In the beginning, and well past the point that I started to see “The Guy in Comptche,” Dr. Garratt, I felt there was some ridiculous error, or not so ridiculous from Annie’s perspective, and that I was being misdiagnosed. I felt that the shoe emphatically did not fit, and that a series of experiences, prompting an expenditure of emotional surplus, had occurred to transform me into a passionate voice of the oppressed. I felt that all of the seeming “manic tendencies” could be explained away by circumstances aligning themselves in such a way, as to distort reality.
Of course, it is the nature of the beast that the distortion is in the eyes of the sufferer. Others could see this paradox, but until I saw it for myself, it did no good for others to point it out, as diplomatically as they may have been able to do. Not until April 10th, when I had planned to attend the preliminary hearing for Billy Norbury in Ukiah, did I realize that the lethargy I was suffering from, had a clinical foundation in depression, and that I was able to add several other, far more tangible examples of the depressive side of mood spectrum disorder, to my expanding list.
Hey, mania I could explain away as being “amped,” or passionate, to use a more positive label. [Yes, there are lots of labels in my new world, and it still gets me in trouble occasionally, but I cut out the nasty ones (bipolar) and keep the ones that I like, MSD (mood spectrum disorder).] But the depressive side, one that I denied until about three weeks ago, cannot be explained away. The inability to stand cannot be “explained away.” It can be ignored to a certain extent, and it can be explained away in “old people,” but it has no place in me, a person who walks to Blue Rock every morning, and who walks the dogs up and down the road like a yo-yo.
Add to that a recent instance of a lost weekend, involving me under the blanket/pillow on my sofa, with no one else in the venue, and I have no explanation, except to combine all of the known factors, and possibly a slew of unknown factors, and conclude that I do fit the profile of mood spectrum disorder, I have had the requisite “episodes,” I am experiencing both ends of the spectrum, and that this is not a curable illness. The best I/we can hope for is to manage it. Anyone got a leash?
So the irony stems from my recognition that the depression is real, that it is debilitating, and that life was so abysmal on that couch a few weekends ago, that medication has to be a consideration. Just that realization, was what prompted the worst part of that recent lost weekend’s depression, the thought that I was doomed to the fate that has had me so scared shitless, since the beginning of this nightmare.
However, I have still made huge gains, in terms of knowledge, self-awareness, and personal acceptance. I have done this with time, Annie’s research, and my own determination to get to the bottom of it all, without feeling as though I have to worry about stigma, or self-recrimination, for past actions, or future ones for that matter.
Another huge piece of information, is that Annie, who balances her quilting business on one side of the scale, and our problem of my illness, on the other, has tirelessly continued to research pertinent information on all phases of the illness. This includes a book recommended to caregivers, which are not referred to as such, but, rather, as partners, in the process of holistically treating this illness.
This particular book has a plethora of helpful suggestions, designed to approach the whole illness with love and understanding, rather than as a survival guide, which described many of the works, written on the subject. Among many helpful suggestions was one that informed us that specific statistics governing specific side-effects, could be found on-line, so that we could see and inspect the incidences of specific concerns. What we found was immensely comforting to me, which by extension, meant it was comforting to Annie also.
Now I am back to decision time. If the incidences of depression are so extreme, as to seriously compromise my life as i know it, is it not better to find out what the meds have to offer, especially since I alone exercise complete control over the whole business, including stopping them at any point in time?
That’s where I am. Torn. Agonized. But continuing to consider all factors, including the support of Annie, and my desire to be free of the metaphorical leash which is comprised of “atypical antipsychotic” meds.