Depression Strikes Back

Depression has been kicking my ass for the last eight weeks.

A major contributing factor is my doctor reduced my meds. I was pretty shocked. I’ve been on them since 2001, and there’d been no discussion about this being a possibility. I asked why. She replied, “Well, you’re not as fat anymore.”

Since I lost my job in 2016, I lost weight. Partly because I can’t afford snack food, but mostly because I’m not commuting three hours a day, leaving the house at 5.45am, mainlining caramel lattes all day to keep me going, and falling exhausted onto my couch at 8pm with barely the will to inhale a pizza before I collapse into bed (spoiler: I still inhaled the pizza. The whole pizza).

For clarification, my doctor didn’t mean a weight/dosage thing. No, according to my doctor, because I’m not as fat now, I don’t have reason to be as depressed.

The consultation was the day before I moved. I didn’t have the spoons to argue with her, or express how outraged I was she assumes depressed people are depressed because they’re fat. I figured I’d give it a go. Although, I stopped my meds back in 2015? 2014? and things went very, very badly.

Sure enough, things have not gone well this time either. I started a reduced dose in early November, and spent the rest of 2017 slowly spiraling down into the delightful & familiar state where I only want to lie in bed all day, without even the strength to try to sleep.

The other contributing factor has been the reality of how much worse my mom is – and how much worse she is getting – between her brain tumor and her MS.

I feel guilty at leaving my grandmother in Auckland. And I feel pissed off at my cousins and aunt for implying through their shocked silence I’m a neglectful granddaughter and should have moved her down here to a facility close to me. You’re supposed to know the limits to your own capacity, though, right? And dealing with my mom now is going to be all I can manage.

I struggle with the knee-jerk reaction that because my mom can’t go out without me, I shouldn’t go out without her. It seems utterly unfair. How can I expect her to watch me happily heading off to experience the outside world, when she cannot?

Because of this, I screwed up.

I signed up to a beginners yoga class starting last week because I wanted to make new friends in this city. But then I felt like a piece of shit because I was going to get to go and meet humans and move my body. And I crumbled under the guilt and screwed up and asked if she wanted to go with me. And she eagerly jumped at the suggestion.

This was a terrible idea because she can’t do yoga. She can’t remember a sequence of instructions, she has terrible body-awareness, and she can’t walk unaided. I felt overwhelmed at the thought of trying to manage her environment for her – to manage her –  so she could participate.

But rather than address these issues with her, instead, when the class came around I said I felt sick, and I bailed on something I’d been looking forward to going to.

I know it sucks for my mom, to be trapped without being able to drive, to have language recede from her grasp like a racing ebb tide, to find the world more bewildering each day. But do I have to be trapped by MS, because she is?

It’s like a plane crash, right? Look after yourself, before you look after anyone else. Put my own oxygen mask on first. And if I look after myself first – which means acknowledging I have the right to have a life outside this house – then I will have more energy to look after her.

I need to sit down and work out three things a week my mom and I can do together. Like, a simple exercise class, a visit to a gallery or small township, and a movie. That seems pretty good. And reasonable. And when NZ life kicks back into normality in February there will be MS Society activities she can join, to which I will drive her.

I’m trying to remind myself I cannot be everything for my mom, even when I am trying as hard as I can. That I’m not wrong or selfish for wanting to create my own activities outside of her life.

I’m also rereading The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology.

This book helps me. Gregg Krech shares the concept of arugamama. Right now I feel depressed and sad, and I accept that. I don’t wish I felt otherwise. I do not try to escape my experience of feeling depressed and sad. I adopt a state of non-resistance. I feel how I feel, but continue to devote myself to what it is important to me to do: my life’s purpose. I invite depression to accompany me as I write.

Action isn’t something that will come after getting over my depression. Action is a way of getting over my depression.

So, I’m depressed. And I’m practicing non-resistance. And I’m writing. And trying to get un-enmeshed from my mom. And most importantly, I’m going back on my full dose of meds.


11 thoughts on “Depression Strikes Back

  1. I’m continually thankful for all the honest, brave and compassionate friends I have, who are able to speak up when things aren’t going great, and articulate their struggle–it’s a really difficult thing to do on many levels, but it’s really inspiring–and I feel like I’m being given permission to also be vulnerable and imperfect and to need things. So thank you for this post.

    I’m also glad to see you taking steps to take care of yourself! That is so important, and so easy to overlook. I hope you’ll keep us updated!

  2. *pats gently*

    I thought you were quietish because of exciting new home things.

    *more gentle patting*

    I REALLY, REALLY hate your old doctor. WTF. Sounds like it’s time to find a new doctor??

    And it sounds like you have a reasonable plan for moving forward. Good for you!

    1. *snorgles you* thank you for the patting, it is perfect. Yeah, I go quiet. You ever seen that pic of the guy who drowned while his friends were RIGHT THERE taking a selfie? (warning: distressing content )
      It’s a bit like that. Just quietly going under, without being able to call for help. Sorry 😦

      I definitely should find a new doctor, especially as she’s in Auckland. I’ll put it on the to-do list :/

  3. Like Chris, I too thought that you were just overwhelmed with the amount of changes in your life the last couple months. Ugh, about your doctor. Hope you find equilibrium again, soon.

  4. kimberlyrose

    Hi, E-cat!
    I love how you journey through your recent life and thought processes in such an open, honest, humble way–in a self-aware and loving way.
    I relate to all you say: the guilt, the sadness, the anger, the wishing to speak up (I hope you can get a more advanced-thinking doctor), and the resolution, the take charge hope and actions.
    You’re inspiring, and I send you and your perfectly imperfect, lovable self a big ol’ hug.
    Keep sharing!
    Meslef, details aside, I try to never give up, and view each “fall back” into negative coping skills as, “okay, thats over, start fresh with a new idea about moderation and self-kindness.” I am continually reminding myself what makes me happy and trying to go for that instead of “punishing” myself.

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