About the time I finished my last post, I realized that I have been being, potentially, dishonest with myself, my family and everyone else, too. I have refused to realize and denied the presence of a slow trend in my mood. I simply cannot stand the idea that I might be getting depressed again with a depression that isn’t superficial and short-lived and circumstantial. I can’t live with the idea that my real illness, the real mood swings and depressions, might be returning. Acknowledging that fact scares the shit out of me, and required me to put a burden on Melissa and my family that I just can’t do.
As I said in my last post, my mood is fairly stable. That’s the short, incomplete story. My mood is stable as long as I ignore several things in my life, isolate myself from Mic to a large degree, and stay very busy. Absent those practices, my mood fluctuates more.
I’ve noticed a more and more predominant depression creeping in each time my mood dips. The depression is like a tide coming and going. There are high tides and low. During high tide, depression is more evident and I have to work hard to get through the day and ride it out. That looks, to people around, me like a grumpy, bad mood. Until the last couple of days, I have allowed myself to write those high tides off to too much work, or too muych time with Mic, or the downswing to a more manic period, or to the overall stress level produced by the move. The truth, however, is that, looked at carefully, I’m not so sure my mood IS stable. And the depression is getting worse with each swing. Its like every high tide reaches a little farther up the beach than the previous. Each depression grows in intensity just a little. At first they were just bad moods. Then they became really bad moods during which I could fight off the thoughts of hopelessness and suicide if I tried really hard. I’m to a point, now, that these depressions are effecting my life, and they show through my attempts to hide them. When I’m in one of these depressions, I’m certain that its not situational, and that I’m getting sick again. When the depression lifts (usually not more than a day or two), I can more easily believe that the mood was “move” related. Its just so hard to tell.
Today, Saturday, I’m pretty down and I’m writing this post in that context. In the last few weeks, two people connected, distantly, to my life have committed suicide. One was the girlfriend of a co-worker, the other a pharmacist that worked with my mother-in-law. If honest with myself, I don’t look at those events in the same horror and tragedy as everyone else seems to. Somewhere, not quite on the surface yet but closer than it has been, is an envy or a realization of the peace that such an act might bring. I find my thoughts, with each period of depression, going more and more to suicide. Mostly to HOW I would do it, which is usually an early stage. When I get to thoughts of the ramifications for those I leave behind and rationalizing the act as “best for everyone around me”, that’s when I am dangerous to myself.
The times between depressions are good. Some days are a little on the manic side, and there have been those days since the end of ECT. The depression days were completely gone for a while. And they stayed gone through a long and very stressful period leading up to and through the physical move to Arkansas. I am coming to realize just how scared I am of depression’s return. I’m scared to death. I can’t DO another round of ECT. The first round did too much damage for the sake of lifting the depression for that to be an option. IF my mood is on a down trend that continues, I don’t know what I CAN do to combat my illness other than continue to avoid focusing on the negatives in my life, stay away from Mic to the extent possible, and stay busy. And I fear that those things will only forestall the inevitable return of the Beast. The fear of depression returning is that, now, I’ve tried everything to make it go away and stay away. I’ve used the weapons of mass destruction. If the enemy is still alive in me, I don’t HAVE any more weapons for battling it. I can run, and I can hide, but I fear that those are temporary remedies. I also fear letting Melissa know what’s going on. I’ve asked too much of her already, and she is carrying too much load for me to add another round of my illness to it. Between work, and Mic, and Maggie’s tough time settling into a new school, and missing her friends in Denver, and dealing with the idea that she has to be the bread-winner, Melissa is already carrying too much. I can’t, I won’t, add another round of my illness for her to deal with. And, from my own perspective, I can’t do another big battle with depression either. I just don’t think I have another big fight in me.
For now, I’ll keep remembering that I have just gone through, hell, am still going through, an interstate move, one of the hardest emotional things a person can face. I’ll keep remembering that much of my mood swings and depression is likely to be associated with the move and the many changes it has brought, and the incredible stress related to those changes. I’ll keep trying to focus on all of the positive things in my life and being thankful for those things. But, for the first time since early 2006, I’m scared. Scared that all of the anti-ECT people are right, that ECT, if it works, is temporary and its effects fade with time. Right now, I am living day to day watching for signs of the return of the Beast. If nothing more, I have bought myself a happy, albeit chaotic, 8 months with my family that I would have not had absent ECT. Somehow, knowing that death is always an option is a relief, and makes thoughts of suicide less pressing when things are at thier worst. I keep coming back to (1) that everyone is subject to downward mood swings, and (2) that I have just gone through one of the most emotionally difficult things a person can go through. I just need to give it time, and hang on to where I am.