Depression

I’ve been gone from here a lot lately, with my latest absence – six days – the second longest since I began this blog in early 2007. The longest was during a 3,000-mile trip to Texas and Arkansas that spring during which the Texas Gal and I kept a count of the roadkill we’d seen and were oddly enough able to include a llama in our tally.

But this has been no road trip and no dead llamas. This absence I have to ascribe to my own biochemistry and the resulting depression with which I’ve struggled my entire adult life.

I take my medication, at least most of the time. There are days I forget, but I do pretty well. For example, the current bottle of pills within reach here at my desk is one I got on June 4. I should have taken the last pill of those ninety around September 3. I have a pill left in the bottle for tomorrow, September 10, so I’ve missed seven pills in the last three or so months. That’s not too bad.

But one of the features of my particular depression is that sometimes it doesn’t care if I’ve taken my medication. Every four to six weeks, I head into a deep ditch of sadness, whether I’m medicated or not. My time in the ditch varies, from one or two days to – as I’ve been learning in recent days – as long as a week. I’m still there, and I see no way out of the ditch. (But then, it seems to me that I never really see the way out; I just find myself one morning back on the highway).

One of the worst things about depression – and I’ve been dealing with it for more than forty years, although I’ve had medication for it for only the last twenty or so – is that it not only settles a layer of sadness on life, it also makes joyless those things that would otherwise bring relief. Thus, in the last week, I’ve found far less satisfaction than I normally would have in sorting things and memories at my mom’s storage unit; celebrating my birthday; and anticipating the beginning of the pro football season, as it brings with it fantasy football and my ongoing (since 1970) attempts to predict the winners of each game.

And other things that I cherish have gone undone, things like digging into genealogy, playing table-top baseball, cooking, and yes, writing this blog.

Not even the Texas Gal can slice through the darkness. All I can do is tell her where I’ve found myself and trust that she and her love will be there for me when I find my way out.

As I indicated above, I don’t know when this particular stretch of dismal days will end. I just have to trust that they will, and I’ve decided to pick things up and truck on. I’ll likely call Dr. Julie or her nurses and talk about upping the dosage of my medication (or adjusting another medication that was recently altered, come to think of it). And in the meantime, I’ll get back to the things that enrich my life, trusting too that sometime soon they will be joyful pastimes instead of just things to do.

Depression is a tough thing to write about because our culture tends not to want to think about it or sometimes even recognize that it exists. I think we’re better in dealing with it, culturally and personally, than we were, oh, forty years ago. And that’s good, but we still have a distance to go. Lastly, I’m not looking for sympathy. I just wanted to explain what seems to me to be a long absence from this place where I share my life and the music I love.

So when I went looking through the digital stacks for some joy, well, I found lots of it. Here’s Howlin’ Wolf with his 1963 Chess single, “Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy.”

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One Response to “Depression”

  1. AMD says:

    A powerful post, whiteray, and beautifully written. I’m rooting for you.

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