Mid Term

So I look at it this way.

If I use a hopeful sort of math, I’m about midway through my life.

I have a fair amount of stuff I want to do, still. I have a sense of getting my shit together in an existential as well as practical way, and part of that was making a decision that probably has been too long in coming.

I got meds.

I’ve had depression that’s ranged from mild to life-threatening since I was in high school. It’s disrupted my life over and over, and although I’ve developed amazing coping mechanisms for dealing with it, got very good at arranging and maintaining my life around it, it’s been this huge, inconvenient elephant in my room for a while. A long while.

Don’t get me wrong, I like elephants. It’s just, as far as big creatures or big emotions go there’s a time and a place, and yes, I can live in a house with a huge enormous elephant in it and vacuum around it and things. But in terms of my life, as a house, in terms of who I am, doesn’t it sound nice to just have the whole of my life, my house to live in and maybe I can visit the elephant but not have to constantly fight my way around it as I go from room to room?

I wondered if I’d miss it. I got used to it, it was who I was.

I got used to the big emotions. I got used to rage and sadness, to a lot of things I assumed were simply as they should be, accepted them as part of my personality or fought them constantly to keep my relationships, life, work stable.

Sometimes I succeeded, a lot of the time I didn’t.

I worried about my art, I worried if I stopped feeling so much all the time I’d be a terrible writer. I worried I’d lose whatever spark my writing had that made it good, real, truthful.

Frankly?  I made a dozen excuses because I was used to something and having my shit together, the idea of being okay and whole and in control was a little scary.

*

So how is it?

It’s good. It’s a change.  There’s no elephant, I have a whole house to move around in, and suddenly my palette of emotions has opened up to include more options. I can be briefly annoyed, I can lose my temper, I can cry at a TV ad, I can choose a moderate lack of response without stuffing a whole lot of emotion under the surface that will explode in my face or someone else’s later.

Self destructive impulses are largely gone.

I don’t have a horror of being a bad person. I actually contemplated shoplifting because I didn’t care about being a terrible person if I did. I wound up not shoplifting because rationally I don’t want to live in a society where people do that and it’s just not the right thing to do. Logically, intellectually. You know? Without a lot of emotional crap attached.

Writing is different. I’m better mentally organized, and there is exponentially less emotional risk to the act itself. I don’t care about X reader. I don’t care if it sucks the first time around. I see organizational problems as they happen and sometimes I go back and edit now faster. There’s much less emotional baggage.  Writing is writing, and when it’s fine I leave it and when it needs fixing… I fix it. No big deal.

*

Is it that huge a change?

So, yeah. It is.

I held off writing about it in part because of the stigma, in part because ironically my impulses to overshare are diminished, and I wasn’t sure it was really anyone’s business or if anyone needed to know so much about me, or this thing, this struggle.

But for those of you thinking about it, particularly artists and writers, particularly those of you with high coping skills who have gone too many years with this big huge elephant standing around… it’s worth doing, if you can manage it.

I like the new living room.

 

 

5 thoughts on “Mid Term

  1. Ah! The elephant! And I though you’d done some new window treatments!

    I like what you’ve done with the place. Looks pleasant and homey.

  2. Thank you for putting into words one of the things I’ve been struggling with. I have been managing (barely) depression and an eating disorder on and off for much of my adult life, about 20+ years, and just started back on meds this week. I worry about if it will impact my writing, if it is “cheating” or taking the easy way out, if I really need it, and why I’m not strong enough to do this on my own. I have such judgement about something so minor and yet I suspect it’s part of what’s going on in my brain.

    What people don’t understand about depression is that it changes who you are, in some cases so subtly over time, that you can’t point to a moment when you were “depressed” – you just realize that at some point you can’t keep doing things this way, that it shouldn’t be this hard, and that your problems are affecting those you love.

    Good luck & thank you –

  3. Hi, complete stranger here, but I’ve encountered your stuff before. As a fellow depressive, I’m so glad to hear you’re trying it, and it’s working. I waited several years before trying meds, and I could kick myself for it.

    That said… can I ask what med you’re trying? Because I recognized what you wrote about the big emotions. I’ve been on SSRIs for about 10 years now, and they do help manage the unfocused cognitive funk and the seasonal affective disorder and the anxiety. But my emotions are still so inconveniently large at times. They are shocking; they are inappropriate. They are far too large for other people to want to deal with.

    I’ve made an informal pact with my counselor that I will *consider* mood stabilizers if I have another major depressive episode. But I don’t really want to. Stigma again, I guess. But I’m worried about losing what feelings I do have, however inappropriate those may be. I have friends on mood stabilizers who tell me that’s not an unfounded concern.

    Anyway, if you’re comfortable answering such a person question, I’ll leave an e-mail attached to my signature.

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