Thursday, October 29, 2015

So, Hold On

ALWAYS THIN. GETTING THINNER.
A few months before my 32nd birthday, San Geraldo and I were heading home from a walk through our neighbourhood in Georgetown in Washington, D.C. We were talking about nothing in particular when I broke down and sputtered, "I can't do this anymore."

As I think back to this moment, I realise San Geraldo must have thought I was leaving him or had some terrible confession that would make him want to leave me. "What can't you do?" he asked in concern.

Through sobs, I explained, "For months now, every night I go to bed and my last thought is, 'I hope I don't wake up in the morning. I hope I die in my sleep.' "

Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is, 'Oh fuck.' "

I don't remember the rest but I distinctly remember that opening.

After some discussion and lots of moral support, San Geraldo said I needed to "talk to someone." When he saw I didn't know where or how to begin, he said he would get me an appointment with "someone."

He asked colleagues and got the name of a psychotherapist and I saw him the next afternoon. The therapist first had me fill out a long questionnaire, which I found kind of fun. I like questionnaires. We then talked. Well, I mostly cried. But the result was that he felt certain I suffered from clinical depression. Through a psychiatrist, I was prescribed an antidepressant called Sinequan.

This is now an old-style antidepressant with loads of side-effects, one of which was to make me really drowsy. I could only take the meds just before bedtime. That side-effect soon became a major bonus. I immediately began to sleep more soundly than I had ever slept.

Other side effects were more problematic for me — like cotton-mouth and reduced sex ... um ... "follow-through." (How's that for a euphemism?)


AT HOME IN GEORGETOWN; A LIFE FILLED WITH SO MANY GIFTS.
STILL, I KNOW I WENT TO BED THAT NIGHT HOPING I WOULDN'T SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.

After a couple of weeks I began to notice a fairly dramatic change in my mood. In fact, I felt as if I were meeting a person I had never known before. I woke up one morning happy. I didn't have to talk myself into facing the day. I couldn't remember a time in my adult life when I had actually experienced that.

It wasn't a complete turnaround but I no longer hoped to die in my sleep. So, I went to the drugstore and bought some Biotene toothpaste for the cotton mouth. I figured the sex issues were survivable. Besides, I had had an overactive sex drive to begin with.

And since My Mother the Dowager Duchess will read this, I'll not say another word about sex.

I thought I'd be telling you today the entire story of my battles with clinical depression. But, as I began to write, I realised there's a lot more to tell if the story is going to be of any use to anyone. I didn't take pills for two weeks and solve all my problems. But I did discover that I wouldn't mind sticking around for a good long while.

You know what's really depressing? I have some great photos to share of that year (1986) in Georgetown but I can't get my f$%&ing scanner to work. I've shared two shots from our home in Georgetown and will share more another time. So just listen to the music; smile if you're able; and, well, hold on.


Everybody Hurts. Sometimes...

32 comments:

  1. And you know I love you Mitchell.

    Through sobs, I explained, "For months now, every night I go to bed and my last thought is, 'I hope I don't wake up in the morning. I hope I die in my sleep.' "

    Every morning when I wake up, my first thought is, 'Oh fuck.' " Yes, this... I've been there and it's a horrid, bleak, impossible place to be; I am so glad and grateful that San G was there for you and knew what to do and I'm equally glad and grateful that you grabbed that rope and hung on.

    You have courage to spare. Sending both of you, and the Butt Brothers, huge hugs and a ton of love.

    (Btw, that is my absolute favourite REM song.)

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    1. Jaqueline:
      I don't take credit for courage. But I'm glad I had support and got help and that I've survived. That's also my favourite REM song!

      Delete
  2. Yes, everybody hurts, sometimes.
    In the early 90's 'things' were beginning to pile up for me and I needed to talk to a professional. She helped me work through some of the issues that had been plaguing me for years. She thought my main problem was that I was brought up Catholic and those values stuck to me.
    I must say that I cherish a few things that I learned in my early days as a practicing RC.

    Another thing she recommended was to 'get to know' Pema Chodron and Buddhist thought/philosophy. I started to read Pema's 'When Things Fall Apart'. It opened a door for me, one that I didn't know existed. Her simple, yet profound, lessons taught me that I wasn't alone in this world. All humans experience insecurities and feel the earth beneath disappear on occasion.
    It was good that to learn that I was salvageable.
    I must have read every Buddhist book I could get my hands on over the next few years. I finally shed some guilt and learned to stay with feelings of insecurity that had been part of me since I was a baby, instead of running from them.

    Mitchell, thanks for your honesty here. You are a brave man and a courageous one as well. You have a lot to offer your friends and family of which I am sure they are aware. This is not a pep talk.....just a fact.
    Your telling of your experience with depression will help someone.

    I never really listened to that REM piece before......sometimes we just have to let it all go and move forward.

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    1. Jim:
      I have had plenty of issues and history to deal with over the years, and I searched for reason and forgiveness and everything else. And I did well! But I still suffered from crippling depression. For me, accepting that MY specific problem was chemical helped me so much. I've loved reading about your life and experiences and have always felt a kindred spirit there! Me honest? Yes. Brave and courageous. I don't know, but thanks!

      Delete
  3. I am so grateful that you broke down and spoke to San Geraldo so he could help you find what you needed to be with him and us today.

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    1. Michael:
      We've have been very good for each other over the years. And we're both so grateful.

      Delete
  4. It's so good you have S.G.... he really is a saint. But reading your words make me sad for another reason... my son "probably" suffers from depression. He has a lot of other problems, but to me, the depression is the scariest. I think one of the hardest things is that being a generally optimistic, happy, "get over it" kind of person, I just don't even know where to start with a 53 year old son and his problems. Okay... TMI.... I know... but your words hit home. I'm so glad I've met you and can see that life is good for you now.

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    1. Sharon:
      OK, now you know he really isn't a saint. But he's definitely a keeper! I hope what I've shared (and I'll be sharing more) will help you better understand your son. Hugest hugs!

      Delete
  5. I'm beginning to think that humans are pretty much the same with varying degrees of sanity and depression. Yes, I too fell to the depressed side of my world. My mom had just been diagnosed with multiple myeloma just after Jim and I took her to Bermuda for Xmas. Highs and lows prevailed for 2 1/2 years as I spent all those days as a care-taker. Cancer isn't fair, it just isn't. Just 3 months before her passing I crashed and after talking to a professional and meds I continued on. We can only handle so much and when we can't we crash. This was 20 years ago and guess what I survived and so did Jim because he is my rock. Thanks for sharing your world Mitch because it helps us all understand ourselves. I do believe this was all meant to be. Hugs for SG and belly rubs for the kitties.
    Ron

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    1. Ron:
      You and Jim are exceptional. Jerry and I are each other's rocks and it's clear you and Jim are the same. Wishing you a contented November!

      Delete
  6. Thanks for relating your experience in such a soul-baring manner. I am so glad you survived and are still winning the struggle to remain interesting in living. Love the REM song; it always leaves me in tears.

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    1. Wilma:
      Yes, that R.E.M. song does that to me, too, and especially while writing this post. Thanks so much for listening/reading and for the moral support. I've got a lot more to tell!

      Delete
  7. I for one am glad you're still around. I hope life is better for you these days.

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    1. Stephen:
      Even during the bad times, life is never as bad as it used to be. And I am so much more grateful, and able to find joy and beauty and goodness in my life and in the people I meet. Thanks.

      Delete
  8. A salient example to those who are against or eschew drugs to treat depression.

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    1. Andrew:
      I know for certain that they have saved (and continue to save) my life.

      Delete
  9. It's hard to know what to write in response to such a serious topic, but know that I'm reading intently, so glad that meds are available, and so glad that you have San Geraldo in your life :)

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    1. Judy:
      You don't need to worry about what to write. Just seeing your name and face is all I need. And I'm thinking San Geraldo was a lucky break in my life.

      Delete
  10. That line, "I can't do this anymore." made me want to weep, for the fact that you said it, and the fact that San Geraldo, Saint Geraldo, HEARD it.

    That's a great thing you did, speaking it, and a great thing he did, listening to it.

    I am glad you're sharing this story, because It will help tons of folks wondering about why they feel the way they feel.

    PS Loved the euphemism.

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    1. Bob:
      That thought, "I can't do this anymore," was constantly running through my head. That was the first time I said it out loud and it changed everything. San Geraldo really couldn't completely understand at the time (he was the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps type), but he was there for me. Later he experienced his own issues that made him truly understand that sometimes you just can't control your life. And I have been there for him. Very fortunate.

      Delete
  11. Thank you so much for sharing that, Mitchell. In some strange way it helps not being the only one that felt that way - not that I am in any way happy that you did. My depression, while not clinical like yours, was very debilitating. Thanks to a great friend, a good psychiatrist, and some meds, I'm in remission now - but the thought still lingers in the back of my mind, and I still find it hard to go to sleep because "what if?....." Love you so much! Jo

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    1. Jo:
      Sorry about those what-ifs. I found photos of Christmas (with you) in Washington and, once I get a new scanner, I'm sure they'll bring a smile to your face.

      Delete
  12. I too am honored you would share this.
    I had to smile as soon as I read "Sinequan" I thought oh dear that has a lot of side effects, and lo! you listed them all. Poor fellow. Happily we got better things now.

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    1. Spo:
      I knew you'd want to know the specifics. I can't remember all the meds I've been on since. Some worked but only temporarily. Some didn't work. Two that stopped working had horrific withdrawal -- one was like narcotic detox for three weeks and the other held the risk of seizures. (I stopped seeing THAT doctor!) I'm in the midst of adjusting down on one med right now. So far, so good. But I have to admit I really miss those wonderfully restful nights with Sinequan.

      Delete
  13. Thank you for sharing, I have helped someone through this, and I am so glad that I did.

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    1. Travel:
      So glad you've been able to be there for someone. It's tough to go it alone and it's also tough to find people who can empathise and not judge or offer solutions.

      Delete
  14. Your account of those dark days brought me to tears. I'm so glad you reached out and got help! Please know that you are a treasure to all of us who follow you and love you. I sometimes wonder what fluke of genetics programmed our brains for depression! How can there be an upside to such misery?

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    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      Sorry to bring you to tears. I got a little teary writing it, but I've survived and am happier than I could ever have imagined despite the challenges. It's strange. But I don't think I'd wish now that I had never suffered with clinical depression. As long as I know I can deal with it healthily, I can't imagine who I'd be if I didn't experience it. As I said... strange.

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  15. As I wrote you on an earlier post, my brother had attempted suicide a few times, that I know of. He died choking on a Krispy Kreme doughnut. Even though the ambulance got to him very quickly, under 4 minutes, they could not revive him. I believed he decided not to come back. His girlfriend got the house.

    The fact that you followed through with the appointment San Geraldo made for you proves that you were ready for help. All the therapists in the world cannot help if you are not ready. You are a strong, lovely, talented soul!

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    1. Page:
      I was desperately ready for help at the time. Sadly, not everyone accepts that about themselves. Thank you for your very kind (and generous) words. I am so so sorry about your brother.

      Delete
  16. It's good you are sharing this... I bet it's making more than one person out there feel less alone. Glad things are better now. It's a journey, isn't it? xox

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    1. Knatolee:
      I hope it makes a difference to someone else. It feels good to share the basics here. It's definitely a journey. (Maybe that's why I've moved so much.)

      Delete

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