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October 4, 2006

So where does depression come from, anyway?

Filed under: life — letslucky @ 1:08 am

For some people, it’s there all the time. For some, it’s circumstantial. When life gets better, it goes away. For me, I think it’s mostly chemical — not having enough of the right stuff in my head. But that’s the ongoing, managable depression. When I fall into a deep funk it’s usually triggered by something going on in my life. Here’s an example.

I became depressed after the following chain of events that happened over about a one-year span of my life, from Dec 1999 to Apr 2001:

  1. Y2K fears begin freaking me out. I suspect that even if everybody’s nuclear weapons auto-launch systems work, the rioting in cities will be dangerous in itself.
  2. But my mother in law dies two days after xmas. We’re off to Florida to deal with her burial and liquidating her belongings all while trying to
    get the hell OUT of Florida, state o’ guns, before Y2K causes all societal
    rules to fall to pieces.
  3. While getting dressed for MIL’s funeral, I get phone call from my mom, who
    informs me that my dad has fatal cancer and will die within 6 months.
  4. Did I mention that I’d been trying to travel to Europe for years? I cancel the trip once again
    so that I can be near dad. This was the trip where I’d been planning to turn 30 in Paris.
  5. The trip was supposed to assuage my turning-30 angst, which was so huge by this point that I would ask for an extra seat for it any time I went to a restaurant. “Table for two, me and my angst.”
  6. Someone I care about very deeply has an accident that may well destroy her life. I’m desperate with worry for her.
  7. I got her news while in Florida visiting my dying dad. During this visit, his dad (my grandfather) dies. So I drive
    for 1.5 days in a car alone with my parents (never a fun idea) to get them home for the
    funeral. (My dad is already on oxygen so can’t fly.)
  8. I arrive to a Indiana February with a suitcase full of Florida clothes. It’s snowing, I’m wearing sandals. I get more news about the life-destroying accident, and it just makes me worry more.
  9. Grandpa’s funeral is a completely surreal experience because
    it’s a bizarre dress rehearsal for dad’s funeral, which everybody knows will
    be occuring within the next few months.
  10. The funeral was on my 30th birthday.So much for angst about turning 30.
  11. I return home to discover that I’m being laid off.
  12. We plan to go to Europe anyway for J’s birthday in April. Then we end up cancelling trip so I can
    visit dad who is deteriorating. I spend J’s birthday without him, trying to arrange some non-depressing event for him long distance.
  13. Did I mention that during this entire time, I didn’t know where we were living? Nominally California, but every few days J’s work dances around the idea of moving him to Chicago at any time. Every time I buy a plane ticket I wonder where “home” will be when the trip is over. Do I pack the house before I leave? Do I buy only one-way tickets?
  14. We try the Europe idea again, and plan a trip to Italy for our 10th anniversary. Dad dies that week. So we spend our
    anniversary grieving with my family instead.
  15. I get new job. Then I get laid off.
  16. I get another new job. Then I get laid off.
  17. Then I get another new job. It’s not a good fit for me and I perform very badly there, which does wonders for my self-esteem, not to mention my feelings about job security.
  18. We spend a joyous (ahem) first xmas with my family but without dad.
  19. Once more, we plan a Europe trip. This time it’s only London, and it’s only for a weekend, and it’s only for my birthday and not even a special birthday at that. Three days before trip, J
    breaks his leg badly. At the time when the plane takes off, he’s in
    surgery.
  20. I get laid off.
  21. I spend the next 3 months being primary caretaker for J. I cook every
    meal, wash every dish, pick up every object because he can’t carry things
    with crutches. It’s a huge thing when he can at least shower so I don’t
    have to sponge-bathe him every day.
  22. On J’s birthday, our favorite cat dies.

The depression actually became acute at about #20. The summer was leaving the house mostly just to go to therapy. I couldn’t get out of bed most of the time anyway. Many many hours were spent just staring at the wall. I tried one antidepressant after another, and finally found one that lifted the fog enough for me to be able to do things like pick up the phone or brush my hair. Depression really makes you unable to do even the smallest ordinary things. My medications help me to be just plain functional while I deal with all the emotional compost that these events are rototilling up in my
brain.

Oh, and the list doesn’t end at # 22. The year 2001 was almost as bad as 2000. Then we were forced to leave California and spend years in exile, where I had no job, no friends, no social network, and couldn’t leave the house. Oh, life was grand. Things are better now, and I hope that those dark times are never repeated.

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1 Comment »

  1. damn. good for you for putting this in writing (and out into the world)!

    Comment by alchemist — October 18, 2006 @ 3:58 pm


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