Thursday, November 12, 2015


My writing process is extremely unpredictable.  My readers are not. Victorious, happy entries get copious likes and glowing comments. Those entries that "pull back the curtain" get crickets. I'm OK with it. Everybody likes a "happy ending". Few lack the stomach for the details that created it, or worse, the chapters that end in unmet goals, unanswered questions, or hazy, unknown outcomes.  Those are the "real confessions". They are the reason I write.  Those fated to face them need them far more than the rest need to feel pride, joy, or get a good, old fashioned "warm fuzzy".

Never fear dear ones. I have a glorious "happy victory story" processing in my head.  I just can't write it yet. For now, you get another raw, gut-level confession.  I won't hold your reaction, or lack thereof against you.

“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality and my life, as I write this, is vital even when sad." -- Andrew Solomon

I've previously written about my new "heavily medicated" state and its benefits.  With time, I've learned the boundaries my medications possess.  What my psychiatrist and I have done is medicate away "the darkness". When depressed, I virtually never experience the deep feelings of isolation, failure, and worthlessness.  Make no mistake.  This is an immense blessing.  Removing the darkness has exposed facets of Severe Depressive Disorder that I'd learned are there, but had never been able to directly examine.

Andrew Solomon is absolutely right. The opposite of depression is vitality.  The lack of happiness and the dark feelings and thoughts hide an equally insidious symptom.  Depression suppresses my "ability to live".  Removing the darkness has left me with an almost persistent, "smoldering depression".  The debilitating darkness is all but gone.  In its place remains a passionless existence.

Only my passion for my family and closest friends withstands it.  Cooking, shooting, musical study, astronomy, astrophysics, all of my most passionate activities hold no allure.  My "group aversion" goes into high gear.  If there's a group and you want to put me in it, even if my dearest friends are a part, I ain't gonna.  Social interaction drops to very small groups of my "inner circle", one-on-one, or not at all.  A large part of me just ceases to live.

Thankfully, the meds keep my head clear enough to work and significantly dial down my irritability.  The meds do nothing for the often intense physical pain that accompanies depressive episodes.  My doctors say they have nothing to offer for that.

The strange dichotomy for the "medicated me"  is that I always knew the darkness was temporary.  I knew it would pass like a storm.  I still believe that depressive episodes are just that, episodes. This passionless existence feels permanent.  It's strength varies at seemingly random intervals, but feels quite permanent.

It's like standing under an overcast sky.  You know the beautiful blue is up there, but can't currently see it.  You know that the clouds always pass, but there's always a nagging fear that maybe this time they won't.  Until they do, I put one foot in front of the other and live for each moment when a little blue peeks through.

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