Depression

I’ve heard it said that all great writers are depressed. Watch out Hemingway, here I come.

I have always been a “look on the bright side” kind of person, but my ability to see all sides of an issue always had me aware of the dark side as well. I just ignored it. I told myself that was part of the life drive, to remain positive at all times.

I know my brain isn’t always honest with me. I don’t carry many unhappy memories. I can remember things that were bad, they just don’t inhabit my daily experience. If I don’t think about them, on some level they did not happen. At least the pain they caused did not happen. For instance, there was a period of my life that I remember rather vividly. It was filled with exciting events and good friends. If I really focus on it, I can remember the hell I was living in and how very close to death I came a number of times, how those good memories comprised a very small percentage of the actual tour. As long as I don’t focus on it, it was a really good time, but if those memories were in my mind all the time I would not be much fun to be around. Maybe I’m not, and everyone is just patronizing me.

When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis my neurologist mentioned that depression could be a symptom, and that fifty percent of people with MS get divorced. It occurred to me that fifty percent of people who get married get divorced, so I didn’t let it bother me.

When my second wife and I were later considering divorce, I went to a psychiatrist. My wife had told me I was crazy and I was looking for a second opinion. The psychiatrist asked me about my childhood and such, and then told me that I was very depressed, because I had had such a traumatic childhood. Really? I just couldn’t believe it. I had never thought of my childhood as anything other than good. My parents rarely beat me, we did happy family things, we were moderately well off financially, what was traumatic? He said it was because my family had moved so often and my parents divorced when I was thirteen. Lots of kids move about, hadn’t he ever come in contact with an upwardly mobile family? Or a military family? This was in 1994, wasn’t divorce rather common by then? It just didn’t make sense, but I’m not a doctor so I took his word for it.

My mother told me that depression ran on her side of the family. My grandmother had been bedridden for the last ten years of her life, and my grandfather took care of her twenty four hours a day. They never appeared outwardly to be depressed, but yes, I could see being depressed under those circumstances. She said she was “clinically depressed”, which I later discovered was a way of saying a doctor had confirmed that she was depressed. Well, so was I then.

A few years later I had a really bad incident, and started taking an anti-depressant, and it worked rather nicely. The only problem was that it interfered with my ability to enjoy alcohol, and working at a winery I needed to be able to drink on a regular basis, so I left the winery. That was more depressing. No win there.

I’ve gone back to the anti-depressants, having learned how to adjust the dosage when needed, and my daily depression has largely subsided. I still have days when I just cry for no apparent reason, and depressing events can get to me more than they “should”, and I tend to be much more emotional than I used to be, but I can tell that the pills do have a positive effect. My current psychiatrist is either a really good actor or he believes I’m handling the ups and downs rather well. He doesn’t tell me I’m depressed, he asks if I feel depressed. I usually don’t. On the other hand, I know that if I allow myself to laugh out loud at disasters he’ll want to give me something a little stronger. So maybe I’m the good actor.

All in all, I know I’ve weathered storms that have sunk others, I know I can make it to tomorrow. I also know that I have depression. I just try not to suffer from it.

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8 comments on “Depression

  1. That was a brave thing to write about. Too many people hide that condition, others use it to manipulate people and become more depress when that doesn’t work. You are fortunate to have medication that works. No, I’m not depressed, but I’m now old enough to know that I’ve known many people that were. They never received the help that you have.

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  2. Alice Sanders says:

    If most people were honest, I believe they will suffer from depression at some time in their life. Also, I undestand there are those who still hold on to the thought there is a stigma attached to depression. I haven’t taken meds in the last four years for depression, but I did take them for several years while it took some time for my doctor to get the right combination.

    If one has difficulty functioning, I think they might understand they are in a depression, and it might be that some medication would help them work through this particular period. However, a lot of people who are mentally ill would never believe they are …no matter what. They are in complete denial, and usually they are the ones who are dangerous either to themselves or to others. Mental derangement and depression are two different disorders.

    Deep thinkers such as Blake would be prone to depression, and living in the world as it is today, I think there is something wrong with people if they are not depressed. One of the greatest Christian writers and preachers of long ago… Charles Hadden Spurgeon suffered from depression. Just try to read some of his writings and read how deep his thoughts were. The news reporter from 60 minutes, Mike Wallace suffered from depression. One must understand what a high achiever he was.

    Let’s put it this way, should you mention you have been to a psychiatrist, some people who are uninformed might think you are crazy. They do not understand, and it doesn’t matter. If anyone can function better by taking an anti-depressant, I say “more power to them”. I have been there and I understand; perhaps there are others who have never known it, but that is actually harder to believe.

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    • tpc2001 says:

      Thanks for sharing, Blake. Depression is a part of life for some, and a disabling condition for others. Some people can draw on their sadness, and create art, write, raise child, hold a job, etc. Other folks just can’t get out of bed.

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  3. […] Depression (kblakecash.wordpress.com) […]

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  4. Thanks for writing this. Before I was diagnosed with MS I had spent two weeks in a mental institution because I wanted to kill every doctor that I saw. Once I had finished my stint there I had been prescribed 3 different types of mental medicines. I finally saw a Neurologist that found out I had MS. He told me that most of my acting out, and deranged thoughts, were because of the lesions in my brain due to the MS. Now it has been three years and I feel a lot better, so much so that I tried to cut back on one of my pills. Trying to stop taking the pill was a bad idea, It made me feel frantic and it led me to the same feelings I had when I had to rehab myself off of a pain pills addiction.

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    • kblakecash says:

      Reducing meds has to be done slowly and carefully, if you don’t have medical training it is best to let your doctor direct your process.

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      • Yeah I had asked my Psychiatrist on what she thought I should do, and she told me I would be ok. I went down to half a dose every day for a week, then down to half a dose every other day for another week, then completely off of them. I still felt sick and I couldn’t bare it. It was Invega by the way.

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